Do you remember the very first workout supplement purchase you made?
I certainly do.
I had just got into training fairly regularly, and I was beginning to see some progress – this got me hooked.
However, it wasn’t coming quickly enough. I wanted to see the gains instantly, and my beginner knowledge told me that supplements were the most effective way to gain mass.
So, I went out in search of the best supplement and landed upon the cheapest mass gainer I could find.
That should work, right?
Well, let’s just cut this short and say it didn’t.
I fed a load of BS into my body and it paid the price.
And that is pretty much the story for a lot of supplements out there.
They look like they work, but are actually pretty useless.
That leads us to our all-important question.
How exactly do we differentiate between a “good” supplement, and a “bad” one?
And which should you choose?
In this comprehensive guide, we will be discussing what you should look for when choosing a supplement, the ones you should avoid, and my top 3 for building muscle and recovery.
Let’s get into it.
How Should You Choose An Effective Workout Supplement?
Choosing a supplement is more than just looking at its protein percentage and determining whether it is effective.
Just remember, this is a powder you are putting into your body, and a lot of them will be filled with unnatural and unnecessary additives that will stop your body from consuming the nutrients you need.
So, first things first, check the label.
You want something that is made with natural ingredients, that won’t do more harm to your body for the sake of some extra muscle mass.
If there are ingredients you don’t recognize, or quick research tells you it is a very peculiar element to put into something meant to be ingested, then you probably shouldn’t put them in your body.
I also tend to look for something with a reasonable dosage.
By all means, bulk, but if a scoop of powder has over a thousand calories, then you must ask yourself where the vast amount of these come from.
Something else to take note of is allergies.
If you are allergic to any ingredients, whether you think it would be in protein powder or not, then check the label.
Some of these supplements can take you by surprise with what is in them, so this stage is very important.
What Types Of Supplements Should We Avoid?
Supplements have been an age-old discussion in the fitness industry.
Some argue that consuming certain products is great, while others would be completely against it.
This means that while I strongly believe in avoiding these supplements, it is ultimately an opinion and should be taken with a pinch of salt.
First up we have a pre-workout.
A little bit controversial I know, but I believe you can consume all the energy you need through a coffee, rather than all the extra additives and sodium bicarbonate that can cause headaches, nausea, and cramps.
It has plenty of extra health benefits, too, all of which have made me swear off pre-workout supplements, and drink more coffee.
Next up on the supplements you should avoid putting into your body are any that use bold claims to help with the sales.
If a supplement is stating it will dissolve fat in days, or put muscle on with just a few scoops of powder, then news flash – something dodgy is occurring.
Anything that makes statements like this is going to include ingredients that the majority of us would never ingest, and will result in a waste of our hard-earned money.
If it seems too good to be true with supplementation, then it probably is.
Last but not least, this one goes without saying, but if someone dodgy-looking approaches you in the gym, offering his “special” supplements, then make sure that you refuse it!
Are Supplements Always Necessary?
When adding supplements into their lifestyle, many decide that they can begin to use them to replace meals, however, this has a negative effect.
Supplements are supposed to be used to add nourishment to your diet and workout, not as a substitute.
If you are finding it difficult to add that extra 20g of protein into your diet, then have a protein shake.
But do not have a protein shake instead of eating a proper meal with natural proteins for simplicity.
Remember, before you purchase any supplements, make sure your diet is as good as it can be.
Make sure it has the perfect amount of calories and macronutrients for your body and goals, and ensure that your nutrition is balanced.
After that, you can begin to add the right supplements and the right dosage, but this isn’t at all a requirement and you can build muscle without it.
Want to see me eat a crazy amount of protein?
Check out the video below. The day I tried to eat Brad Pitts diet from fight clubs
What Are The Top 3 Supplements You Should Take To Help Build Muscle?
Whey Protein Powder
Protein Powder is the most common choice of supplement in the fitness industry.
And there’s a variety to choose from, whether it be Casein Protein, egg protein, or whey protein, the latter always comes out on top.
It’s reliable. It’s effective. And you can get ingredient-free versions depending on your allergies and ethics.
Usually, this type of protein powder is extracted from the whey separated in a cheese-making process, which is a liquid by-product that tends to settle on top of the cheese.
Have you ever noticed a liquid layer on top of your yogurt after opening it?
Well, this is Whey protein.
Ingesting this type of protein powder inhibits muscle growth and recovery in a variety of ways, with a vast amount of health benefits.
First of all, the nourishment it provides consists of a large percentage of protein and amino acids, which are the main components required for muscle growth.
As well as this, having a regular intake of whey protein in your diet can help release anabolic hormones, also known as growth hormones.
This can make gaining muscle and strength a lot more efficient.
I have also noticed, over my time as a personal trainer, that why protein is a great tool for weight loss.
By adding some fruit, ice, milk, and protein powder to a blender, you can make a very high-volume protein shake, that has very few calories.
Having a supplement is perfect for changing up your diet and giving you some room to maneuver with your macros, too.
Some studies have also proven Whey Protein is absorbed into the body a lot quicker than others, making it the most efficient supplement to enhance muscle gain after your workout.
This is the best period to drink a protein shake, as it can get to work on recovery instantly.
What Whey Protein Powder Would I Recommend?
There isn’t just one Whey Protein Powder that is miles above the rest.
Each one has characteristics that may make it better or worse than the others. Some may be higher in protein, but have a lot more calories and artificial sweeteners, while others are very natural, but taste horrendous.
I think the most balanced Protein Powder you can get is the Optimum Nutrition(ON) Cookies And Cream.
It takes a perfectly balanced blend of isolate, concentrated, and hydrolyzed whey protein to create an effective and efficient supplement.
ON uses the safest and highest quality ingredients in its products, with health inspections proving its products do not contain pesticides, heavy metals, or other contaminants.
I haven’t even touched on the flavor yet.
And I am not exaggerating at all here, it is incredible.
For such a high-protein supplement, I was taken aback by how much it tasted like cookies and cream ice cream.
Click the link below to head over to A1 Supplements and get yourself some Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein!
Nutrition In Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Cookies And Cream Whey Protein Per Serving
Calories: 120 Kcal
Click here to shop now!
Most supplements have had some sort of bad press over the years, and creatine has been at the forefront of it.
For years, there have been rumors that creatine can cause poor gut health, fat gain, or even accelerate the rate at which you go bald.
However, many of us forget one thing…
Creatine is a natural supplement produced in our bodies.
That’s right. It’s a natural Amino Acid found in most of your muscles and the brain. We can produce approximately 1g of creatine a day, via our Kidney, Liver, and Pancreas, which is significantly lower than the amount you can ingest through supplements
Creatine is best known as energy for your muscles, helping you to work out longer, more frequently, and recover more efficiently.
Ultimately, this results in your working muscles adapting to be stronger and higher in volume.
Adding creatine as a supplement to your diet is also a great idea to reduce the likelihood of developing an injury or cramps in your muscles, as it prevents the frequency of dehydration.
I have also seen a lot of studies and research on creatine affecting your cognitive health positively, with a lot of them concluding that this supplementation may help the performance of your brain in tricky tasks, especially in older people.
What Creatine Monohydrate Would I Recommend?
Fortunately, when it comes to creatine, there isn’t an extensive variety that you need to choose from like other supplements.
So you can purchase it from any drug store that sells Creatine Monohydrate.
Make sure to check the label first, though.
Your creatine should be flavorless, with the only ingredients being L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine.
Also, check the expiry date, as creatine can be unsafe to consume after this period.
Universal Nutrition Creatine is my go-to, as they are relatively cost-effective, and I know there are no added chemicals or other unwanted ingredients in their production process.
But you can vary the brand you choose based on availability, and whether you want to consume it in powder form, or pill form.
To check out my favorite click the link below and go see my friends at A1 Supplements.
Click here to shop now!
Branched Chain Amino Acids – BCAAs
Recovery is essential for building muscle and increasing strength, and branched-chain amino acids are perfect for helping your muscles recover after a workout.
BCAA’s are made up of 3 vital amino acids: Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.
Unfortunately, these are not created naturally in our bodies and must be obtained through food, or supplements.
When you ingest a BCAA pill, the amino acids get to work straight away on your muscles.
They reduce muscle breakdown and inhibit the production of protein so your muscles recover bigger and stronger.
Those of you with liver problems, such as Cihhrosis and liver disease will have experience in consuming BCAAs, as they are known to improve your liver function and reduce major complications due to an increase in protein metabolism.
Which BCAA’s Do I Recommend?
Fairly similar to the creatine recommendation, you can’t really go wrong if you go to a drug store and pick up a bottle of Branched Chain Amino Acid pills.
As long as you check the nutritional information and they only include the 3 essential amino acids, then you should be fine with consuming them as long as you follow the dosage.
Some do include caffeine and other ingredients to help as a pre-workout, but as long as you recognize the ingredients, you are good to go.
Again I would recommend going over and seeing my friends at A1 supplements. Check the link below for the BCAA’s I recommend.
Click here to shop now!
So, there we have it.
The 3 best supplements you can ingest to help add nourishment to your diet and build muscle more efficiently.
Again, these are meant to be added to your diet, and not used as a replacement for food or drink.
Everything in this article is an opinion and is not to be taken as a guarantee that it will work for you, or that they are good for your health.
If you have any health issues, make sure to check with a medical professional before consuming any additional supplements in your diet.
What are your favorite supplements to help with muscle gain?
Do you have any you would avoid?
Let me know in the comments below.