Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Top-Five Supplements To Help Improve Performance

Everyone loves certain supplements for certain reasons. I for one have experienced a numerous amount of different supplements from experimentation. From the staples such as fish oil, to the ergogenic aids like beta-alanine, I have tried a bunch of different supplements to see what works best for my body and what can actually give the best results. I also read about what really works, and dosages from, something that I really stress to everyone before they begin to take something. With that being said, I figured I’d share with you my personal top five list for what supplements are my favorites. 

*One More Point* I only recommend supplements to those who have their training regimen and diet down pat. Supplements only SUPPLEMENT what you currently have going. You can take any supplement and it will have no effect if you don't train well and eat right. Training and diet first, then LEGAL supplementation after!

Number 1: Fish Oil

The all-star supplement in my opinion, and a supplement I feel as though everyone should be adding to their stack. Fish oil is staple for many people, whether they are in fitness or not. Fish oil has an insane amount of benefits. Some off the top of my head: Lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, reduces total triglycerides, increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind), reduces cognitive decline as we age, helps our brains function properly, and can help increase fat tissue oxidation. Whew. Obviously that’s a lot of benefits from one pill, and many also report a decrease in joint pain when supplementing with fish oil. 

Dosage: Minimum of 250mg daily, but the inflammation reducing effects is seen at 6g daily. I take 6g daily, sometimes doing up to 9g daily.  Remember though, 1g of fish oil is the same as 9 calories, and 1g of fat, so be sure to factor that into your diet.

Number 2: Beta-Alanine

The new creatine? Maybe. Beta-alanine has really come on as the new potent ergogenic aid. Beta-alanine has been proven to help performance in the 60-240 second range, which shows it has a direct positive effect on endurance. Obviously, greater endurance means a greater work potential, and greater work potential can eventually lead to be better results. According to several studies beta-alanine has been proven to increase muscular endurance, decrease fatigue, decrease fat mass (Most likely because of the lack of fatigue/increased endurance when working out), and can increase lean body mass. Again the increase in lean body mass is nothing to do back flips for, but every little bit can help.

Dosage: 2,000-5,000 mg (2-5g) daily. It can be broken into two doses, or taken at once. Most will take it pre workout to really capitalize on the extra endurance. It’s also been noted a tingly sensation to occur after supplementing with beta-alanine, which eventually will dissipate off with continued use.

Number 3: Leucine

Here’s where I differ from some. I prefer to supplement straight doses of Leucine instead of the more common placed BCAA’s. BCAA’s include Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine, usually at a 2.5/1.25/1.25 dosage split per 5g. For those who have a high protein diet and consume enough daily protein, supplementing with BCAA’s is somewhat pointless, as all food contains BCAA’s. But, my boy Dr. Layne Norton has proved Leucine play’s a direct role in stimulating protein synthesis. Leucine has also shown to help prevent muscle from catabolism when in a calorie deficit, so when cutting this can be extremely beneficial. Leucine truly is the all-star of the BCAA’s trio, and is the most extensively studied and research of the three.

I love memes.

Dosage: According to Norton’s study, adding Leucine to a protein rich meal can help elevate muscle protein synthesis. He recommends eating 4-5 hours between meals in order to let protein synthesis come to baseline and then “spike” synthesis again with another 2-3g of Leucine with your meal.

I personally like to consume 5g-pre workout (I train fasted, so to prevent muscle catabolism) and 3g-post workout for the effects mentioned above. Then I’ll have another 3g later in the day.

Number 4: Creatine

Creatine, the original superstar ergogenic aid. While beta-alanine aids with performance in the 6-240 second range, creatine helps improve endurance in a wider range and supply muscles with ATP when placed in moments of stress. Creatine is a supplement that really can benefit anyone no matter the goal. Effects from creatine include: increased power output, increased lean body mass, an increase in hydration (Pulling water into muscle cells), increase in muscular endurance, and a decrease in fatigue. Some good things right there. Creatine is really the true champion in fitness and the most researched and clinically proven supplement to work.

Dosage: 5g daily. No need to “load,” as you’ll eventually reach saturation levels. Can be taken at anytime of the day, but I prefer to take it post workout with my 3g of Leucine.

A recent addition to my stack, and now one of my favorite supplements, Acetyl L-Carnitine, or ALCAR, is a supplement involved in energy metabolism. It helps support brain neurons through mitochondrial capacity and can give you mental alertness. It also has been shown to help prevent the effects of aging. In addition, it could help with fat burning, but the evidence in this regard isn’t 100% solid yet. But the main reason I take it: The mental focus and brain boosting ability it has. ALCAR dosed pre workout helps me focus, and it helps decrease fatigue. Other benefits to supplementing with ALCAR: decrease in muscle damage, an increase in insulin sensitivity, improved brain cognition, and again a reduction in fat mass – most likely due to the increase of movement and motivation one usually experiences after taking ALCAR. ALCAR is a supplement I really like, and will continue to suggest it to others to see if it fits their goals.

Dosage: 500-2,000mg. I take 1g pre-workout, and 1g later in the afternoon.

So those are my top five favorite supplements, and staples for me. Other supplements are important to me, but if I had to sell everything, and only got to pick five, these five would be my picks!

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