Most people tend to misunderstand how supplementation works. Any time I am training in the gym, every day I’ll have some new person I haven’t met yet who will come up to me asking what I take, to which I always simply respond – “food”. Supplement marking is so good, it’ll have you believe that without a certain brand’s products you will not be able to achieve the same physique as the people in their ads, which is completely and entirely untrue. I used to be the guy downing more protein shakes than the meals I had a day thinking that all my body needs in order to grow is protein. Trial and error led me to discover ways that worked for me over the period of 10 years, we all make beginner mistakes by rushing into the gym without warmups, proper combination of exercises and most importantly – a vision. Sure supplements help, but be smart about what you actually need and what you simply take blindly in hopes of getting results. Why waste money on products only because you saw someone else at the gym take them?
The first step to supplementation is understanding what these products are, how they work and why your body and training could benefit from them. What I see a lot of is people taking excess supplements that their multi-vitamin already contains, in the end they end up spending more money than they need and on top of it all the body can’t use it, so it gets rid of it. What I recommend is getting some basic multi-vitamin, then adding certain vitamins or minerals to take along with your multi. Another thing people tend to buy a lot of blindly is “stacks”, basically a supplement stack that’s pre-packaged with ingredients a brand put together for you to take at once. The problem with that is, if you’re like me and like to spread your supps throughout the day, this would not work for you. What I like to do is buy what I actually need and spreading it out evenly throughout the day, this allows your body a good amount of time to process what it needs without overloading it with agents it simply won’t be able to utilize at the time.
Once you have your supplements on hand, plan out times you need to take them at and make sure you have enough meals throughout the day, as proper nutrition is what will get you growing, not supplements. Be aware of how much protein you get through your meals, so you don’t go overboard with protein shakes. If you have a large meal containing around 40gm of protein, then make sure you let your body digest it, give it a few hours before you have another protein packed meal or a protein shake.
Don’t go crazy with counting precisely how much you take of everything (even though it’s a great way to track and monitor your diet, but after a while it just becomes a chore), simply approximate how much you had and how much you still have to take in, whether it’s carbs, protein, fats. Know the difference between protein as certain kind will digest slower (casein protein) than say whey isolate for example, know when you need to take it and map out the time frame your body will need to absorb it at. Here are the basic supplements for any beginner to look into – Multi-Vitamin, Fishoil, BCAAs, Glutamine, Whey. Will be focusing on more of those in further articles, stay tuned!