Millions of pounds of supplements are sold each year and people, especially gym rats LOVE supplements . Most fitness enthusiasts have a daily supplement “stack” to maximise their progress in the gym. But are supplements really helping? Or are you wasting big money on snake oil?
In this article we are going to take you through Revolution’s top 3 supplements that actually work and that have the best scientific backing so you can stop worrying about supplements and focus on your workout.
What are supplements?
Nutritional Supplements provide concentrated doses of nutrients found in food. They generally come in pill form but can also come as a drink,gel or even a powder which is added to water.
Nutritional Supplements can be synthetic or created using natural ingredients but often have a high concentration of the chosen nutrient allowing you to achieve your daily recommended intake quickly and easily. Try not to think of supplements as replacements for food but rather companions
Dietary supplements are generally considered safe when dosage recommendations are followed but can have medical complications for people suffering from certain illnesses.
What are the benefits of dietary supplements?
People generally use supplements when they believe they have a deficiency in a certain micronutrient but in the fitness world supplements are also used to maximise levels of certain nutrients that are believed to help with certain goals.
Food Supplements provide a quick and easy way to achieve daily micronutrient and macronutrient goals. For example one protein shake can contain a 30 gram supplementary hit of protein and a micronutrient list as long as your arm.. Just not as big ;)
Here is a list of supplements that are most popular for gym regulars
- Protein powder
The question is do vitamin supplements actually make a difference? Well some people swear by supplements religiously and others give up on them and opt to eat better and train harder. But let's talk about the BEST supplements that are actually proven to make a difference in the gym and at home because missing out on these micronutrients could be making you feel worse day to day.
Vitamin C - the most popular supplement on Earth
Vitamin C might be the world's most famous supplement. It’s cheap, effective, there are literally hundreds of studies on Vitamin C and people use it for many different reasons but what does it actually do?
What is Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a micronutrient found in many plant products however is one other few micronutrients not to be found (at amounts high enough to consider) in cooked animal products.
When you think about vitamin c your mind may instantly jump to oranges however there are many fruits including peppers, brussel sprouts, kale and kiwis that have higher potencies of Vitamin c than oranges.
Benefits of supplementing with Vitamin C
The main benefit of Vitamin C is known to be the support for your immune system and has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of common cold. Helping you to feel better on a daily basis.
For gym users the biggest benefit of Vitamin C is improved energy levels. Whilst this benefit has come under some scrutiny, studies show that vitamin c plays an important role in transferring energy from food to your body.
The list of benefits and functions of vitamin c seems to grow annually is thought to include Improved Healing of wounds, Reduced ageing and help with stress levels.
Vitamin C is a winner and is very affordable. Most of us here at Revolution supplement Vitamin C on a daily basis.
Creatine - The Gym rat’s favourite supplement
Creatine is one of the world's most tested and true supplements. People praise Creatine for its low price tag and for helping them grow muscle in the gym. Gym users LOVE creatine but does it actually work?
What is creatine and why is it a popular supplement?
Creatine is found mostly in meat products and occurs naturally in the human body. Creatine is part of the ATP energy system that helps your body to move and put simply, creatine is responsible for bursts of strength, energy and movement. There are over 500 peer reviewed studies on Creatine; it is shown to be a safe and tolerable supplement with many beneficial effects.
How does Creatine work?
By boosting your levels of creatine via a high quality creatine supplement your body can feel a little stronger in those initial reps often allowing you to add volume to your workout. This hails back to a training theory called progressive overload, one of the fundamentals of muscle growth.
By consistently adding volume to your workout you can achieve additional strength and size (assuming your diet and workout style are correct)
Benefits of supplementing Creatine
The benefits of creatine are often considered to be muscle growth however as we have just learned the real benefit of using creatine is better and more intense workouts! This in turn leads to muscle growth. Creatine has also been shown to improve recovery.
People also report “looking bigger” when they begin to use creatine. This is mostly down to the fact that creatine can cause water retention and as such it is often recommended to drink more water when supplementing creatine
Vitamin D - The supplement you might be deficient in
Why is Vitamin D so important as a supplement?
Vitamin D is thought of as one of the most important micronutrients for both mental and physical health. Deficiencies in Vitamin D can lead to “depression-like symptoms” and those who suffer from depression are more likely to have deficiencies in vitamin d.
Vitamin D is not only important for mental health it has been shown to have many physical benefits including the strengthening of teeth and bones as well as supporting the immune system.
One of the main sources of vitamin D is exposure to the sun making deficiencies more likely in the winter or for those living in colder or darker areas of the planet like northern Europe and even the UK.
Other great sources of Vitamin D include
- Oily fish
- Red meat
What are the benefits of a Vitamin D supplement
Vitamin D plays an important role in the growth of your muscles. That's right, Vitamin D helps your muscle gains, bone density and general mood.
The side effects of vitamin D efficiencies are concerning and can include low mood and softening of bones. Not a good mix for someone looking to maintain motivation for the gym through the winter months.
Whilst Vitamin D is available through natural light and a balanced diet this can be harder to achieve through the winter months making a supplement of vitamin D a convenient win in the dark of winter or year round.
So what should you do?
A balanced diet and regular outdoor activity are great ways to achieve your daily nutritional goals but in reality that isn’t always possible. On those days where you turn to fast food or burn the candle into the evening your nutrition shouldn’t need to suffer.
These supplements are our top 3 as they are the supplements with the best scientific backing for results but they are still just supplements and not replacements. At Revolution we advise our personal training clients who wish to use supplements to do so alongside a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle for best results. And to always consult a health professional before starting any new dietary or physical regime including the use of supplements.
https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/complementary-and-integrative-medicine/dietary-supplements/safety.html#:~:text=Most%20people%20 can%20use%20 dietary,who%20are%20getting%20 cancer%20treatment.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707683/#:~:text=It%20is%20a%20potent%20 antioxidant,innate%20and%20 adaptive%20immune%20system.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34234088/#:~:text=In%20 addition%20to%20strength%20 gains,may%20be%20relevant%20to%20 sports.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2129105/#:~:text=Vitamin%20D%20 plays%20an%20 essential,function%20%5B8-11%5D.