Supplement Review

By John Hart Published 07/31/2007 | Fitness

So, you've figured out your diet. You're eating frequent small meals that are high in protein, whole grains and vegetables. Now, you'd like to add a few supplements to your diet. (Make sure your diet is rock solid before adding supplementsbecause a supplement is just that an add on, not a base). However, with so many supplements out there and a limited budget, how do you know what to purchase and what should be disregarded as marketing hype? Well, below is a list of supplements in order of importance:

  • Daily MultivitaminA lot of people may overlook this supplement, but it is nonetheless the most important. Vitamins and minerals contained in multivitamins are essential to many functions of the human body. These include regulating hormones, metabolism, proper digestion, and immune functions.
  • Whey ProteinWe know that a high protein diet is very helpful in gaining muscle and losing body fat. Whey protein is great post-workout because it enters the bloodstream the fastest when your muscles need that protein the most. On the other extreme, casein (which is found in diary products) is a slow release protein and is great before bed because you are not getting any nutrition during the seven to nine hours you're asleep. I would not recommend a casein or nighttime protein supplement though, because it would be much more cost effective to drink a glass of skim milk.
  • CreatineIf you are looking to get stronger, creatine will definitely help. It is used in muscle to store energy for explosive movements such as weight lifting. It enhances recovery and ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate is the primary energy currency of the body) replenishment, which will allow for the creation of an anabolic state in your body. The efficiency of creatine delivery is greatly increased if it is consumed with simple carbohydrates, which spike the insulin. In turn, insulin helps to deliver the creatine to your muscle where it can be used to hydrate and replenish ATP levels. I recommend five to ten grams post training with a generous serving of simple carbohydrates. Creatine should also be cycled (try eight weeks on, four weeks off) as oppose to protein which you can take continuously.
  • GlutamineWhat is the most abundant amino acid in your muscles? That's right glutamine, and it supports protein synthesis and immune function, enhances recovery, glycogen & glutamine replenishment and reduces catabolism (muscle breakdown).
  • ThermogeneticsI personally do not take any of these supplements as I am an ectomorph. However, they do increase your base metabolic rate and help burn body fat.
  • ZMAIf you want to try it zinc magnesium aspirate, research has shown that it may aid in sleep and increase growth hormone. Many athletes are deficient in zinc and magnesium, and this supplement will help correct that issue.
  • Other supplementsSome other supplements you might consider include BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids), essential fatty acids, and nitrous oxide. BCAAs are essential amino acids, however, I personally have not seen any improvement when supplementing with these. Essential Fatty Acids are healthy fats such as flax seed oil. I try to keep my diet high in fish, nuts, and olive oil, but you might consider this supplement as well. Lastly, I've heard mixed reviews about nitrous oxide (which supposedly gives you a better pump when lifting) but I have never tried it myself, so I can not attest to if it actually improves performance or not.

Well, there you have it. In order of relative importance, these are the supplements you might think about taking after you've solidified a rock solid diet.