By Travis Coblentz
Have you ever been confused and overwhelmed by all the different supplements? Where do we even begin to try to find a product that will work for us among all the hundreds of different labels out there, and what will actually help us get to our goals? This is a crash course in the more crucial and important products that everyone can benefit from using. No matter if you have been in the supplement and exercise world for a while, or you’re just starting out, everyone will be able to pick up helpful information to better your life and reach your goals.
One of the most important supplements you can take would definitely be a quality multi-vitamin. A good multi-vitamin helps bridge the gap of a diet that doesn’t include all of the nutrients that we need in a day. No matter how good your diet and how well rounded it is, there will almost always be something missing from it. The multi is able to give you the nutrients that you don’t obtain through food during your day. Many of the ingredients in a multi-vitamin found at your local grocery store will pass out of your body without being absorbed. Paying a little more for a quality vitamin that your body can actually absorb and use is essential and will be well worth the money in the long run.
Fish oil is another product that should be consumed daily. It contains omega-3 fatty acids that play a key role in helping your entire body function optimally. Most people get enough omega-6 through their diet in things like snack foods and anything fried in oil, but lack omega-3 which is typically found in seafood and beans. It’s very important to have both of them in a 1:1 ratio. Supplementing with fish oil has shown increases in healthy cholesterol levels along with improvements in bone density and overall bone health. Fish oil also boosts levels of Leptin, which is an appetite suppressant, helps regulate serotonin levels, which assist with mood and depression, and should be used by everyone no matter health or fitness level.
Amino acids are what make up the proteins we eat that enable our body to rebuild, repair and survive. When you eat protein like chicken or steak, your body will break it down into different amino acids. Each of these amino acids does something important in the body that usually pertains to overall health, muscular health or exercise performance. Amino acid supplements are able to give you exactly what aminos you want, when you need them. Many people have probably heard of the branched chain amino acids or BCAA’s, but most people don’t know how essential they are for our bodies. The three aminos that make up BCAA’s include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The most important amino acid for increasing muscle mass and performance is leucine. It is the only amino acid shown to engage the metabolic pathway called MTOR. This pathway has direct correlation to protein synthesis or the formation of muscle. Research shows that the more leucine you have, the more times this pathway is able to trigger and this equals more muscle being formed. This is just one example of what an individual amino will do in the body. Each amino has a certain job inside the body and knowing which ones would benefit you will go a long way in determining a good product that will help you reach your goals.
Protein supplements are another product that people have trouble understanding. There are a good amount of questions that can come up. Like, when is the best time to take protein or what kind should be used. The best source of protein will always be food sources like chicken or steak, but protein powders are a good alternative and are really helpful for bridging any gaps you may have in your nutrition and helping you get enough protein daily. Since your body can only absorb around 25-30 grams of protein at a time, you have to get protein at different times throughout the day.
Protein is also very crucial after workouts. If your body doesn’t have enough protein and nutrients after a workout, it will go into catabolism. Catabolism is something your body uses once it doesn’t have enough nutrients to use as fuel. This means your body will literally break down muscle to turn it into energy.
Confusion can also arise because of all the different types of protein on the market. There are numerous kinds but I will stick with explaining the few most popular types currently on the market.
- Whey concentrate is the least refined of the wheys, and is the cheapest. It goes through less purification than the others so it is usually higher in fat and carbs. The actual protein content within the powder can range from 40-80%.
- Whey isolate is a step up and more expensive than concentrates since it goes through more refinement stages. Because of the refinement, isolates have considerably less fats and carbs and usually average around 90% protein within the powder.
- The best protein currently on the market is whey hydrolysate. Hydrolysates are still considered an isolate and still hover around 90% protein. What sets this protein apart from the others is the extremely fast absorption rate. During the hydrolyzation process, the actual molecular chains of the proteins are broken down into smaller chains to help your body digest and absorb the protein faster. Hydrolyzed protein is able to spike amino acid levels quicker than the other which makes this the best protein to take post workout.
- The slowest digesting protein is casein. Casein digests the slowest and is able to release aminos for hours at a time. This protein is perfect to take before bed to fuel your body throughout the night when it has nothing else, or for helping to bridge long gaps you may have in your schedule.
Supplements are not supposed to replace any part of your nutrition but to simply enhance a healthy diet. They are meant to fill in any gaps you have and are crucial for getting added benefits to helping you reach your life and fitness goals.
Travis Coblentz is a Certified Personal Trainer through the NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine). His passion to help others feel their best fuels his desire to continue to strive for excellence in the fitness industry.