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Here we will be looking at some supplementation specifically catering to the needs of women, to suit any goal that you may have. Supplementation does differ between men and women, as the needs of men and women are vastly different when it comes to supplementation.Supplements are a great addition to your diet to accelerate your lean muscle growth or weight loss goals. The differences in supplementation are not as great as it may seem though, just that some women benefit from certain compounds compared to men. Below we will look at these compounds.
While whey protein is a pretty gender-neutral supplement, it is an incredibly lean source of protein. Protein is essentially a transport molecule, carrying nutrients around the body, but is also responsible for signalling where nutrients need to go, and the recovery and repair of muscle tissue.
Protein breaks down into amino acids, all of which have various functions in the body. Whey protein is a protein source that is derived from dairy products, mostly cheese and milk. These amino acids are responsible for the recovery and repair of muscle tissue, therefore, whey protein increases the body’s ability to repair and grow lean muscle tissue.
Caffeine is present in so many various supplements and energy drinks, as it is the most common and effective stimulant currently on the market, Caffeine increases the body’s metabolic activity, increasing energy expenditure. If you combine caffeine with lowered calories, the body is forced to tap into fat tissue for energy resources. In fact, caffeine can increase your calorie requirements by as much as 300 calories a day. Therefore, caffeine enhances the body’s fat burning capability and increases mental and cognitive function.
Casein protein is another dairy-derivative protein, mostly coming from milk and yoghurt. Casein has a much thicker texture and consistency compared to whey protein, because of the structure of the protein molecule. Casein composes several similar proteins banded together, to form a multi-molecular, granular structure. Casein protein is high in calcium and phosphorous, which are both essential for enhancing muscle tissue structure and connective tissue strength.
Due to the complex molecular structure of casein protein, it takes significantly longer to break down than whey protein. Casein also has high concentrations of glutamine and a decent Branched-Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) profile. Casein protein is best taken at night to keep the body fed with lean nutrients so as to not spike insulin but prevent the body from becoming catabolic.
Creatine has so many negative superstitions behind it, especially with the ‘effects’ it has on women. The only effects that creatine has on women are that it makes them stronger, faster, and enhances their performance while training.
Creatine is a molecule responsible for replenishing adenosine triphosphate (ATP) stores. During short, intense training sessions, muscle tissue burns ATP as its primary energy source. Once ATP is used, it becomes adenosine diphosphate (ADP), essentially a waste material.
Creatine turns ADP back into ATP by donating its (creatine) phosphate molecule, thus turning diphosphate (two) into triphosphate (three), which can then be used by the muscle tissue again for energy.
Pre-workouts are, as the name implies, taken before your workout to increase muscular endurance, muscle performance, vasodilation, enhanced energy, and cognitive focus. Some pre-workouts cater more for vasodilation, muscle performance, or for energy. It all depends on what you are looking for.
Pre-workouts are also super tasty powders that you add a cup of water too, turning them into delicious fruity drinks that enhance your training session.
Thermogenesis is the process of increasing the body’s core temperature, thus increasing the metabolic rate. A higher metabolic rate requires increased energy (calories) to meet its needs. If you are burning more calories than you are consuming, the body needs to tap into another energy source: fat. Fat storage is nothing more than excess glucose molecules that have been stored by the body for later use.
Thermogenic fat burners aid your weight loss by increasing the body’s core temperature (thermogenesis), therefore resulting in fat stores being tapped into to meet the energy requirements of your metabolism.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) compose Leucine, Iso-Leucine, and Valine, and are intrinsic components in the muscle recovery process. They get their name from the branched-like structure that they are formed in and are amino acids responsible for activating the mTOR pathway, which is the muscle repair signalling pathway.
Leucine tells the brain where to prioritise nutrient transport depending on where there is muscle damage. Nutrients are then re-directed to the specific location in order to facilitate muscle repair and recovery, enhancing muscle growth. It is important to remember that Leucine is the only molecule to signal the mTOR pathway, and it must be acquired through diet, such as BCAA supplementation.
Essential fatty acids are more commonly known as Omega-3 and Omega-6, and they are essential nutrients because they cannot be synthesised by the body so they must be acquired through diet. Omega-3 is required for many metabolic processes within the body, including keeping muscle and connective tissue well lubricated, significantly lowering the risk of injury. Omega-6 is the brains preferred fuel source, hence the term ‘brain food’, rather than carbohydrates like most other organs. Essential fatty acids are also responsible for building the protective membranes within cells, and chemical messengers within your body.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a branch of fatty acids related to the Omega-6 family. CLA has been proven to enhance weight loss and promote muscle growth. It’s actually fascinating, CLA removes fat from the fat cell (an essential process when burning fat) for the body to use as energy. Using fat as energy is a taxing process, and the body will only activate this mechanism if it is absolutely desperate.
By getting the fat ready to be burned for energy encourages the body to burn more fat for fuel, as fat actually yields an abundance of energy, more so than glucose. CLA also promotes muscular energy as glucose is converted into ATP (remember from Creatine?), and 1g of glucose yields roughly 36 units of ATP. Fat, however, yields 140 units of ATP per gramme.
The problem is that fat is significantly harder to break down for energy compared to glucose, which is why the body prefers glucose. CLA assists in the metabolization of fat tissue, therefore encouraging the body to use fat further, as its fuel source, thus losing weight.
Nitric Oxide (N.O.) boosters enhance nitrogen retention in the body. Nitrogen is a gas inside the body that assists with carrying signals between cells. It also influences protein synthesis inside the body, or the body to metabolise and synthesise protein in the body. N.O. boosters contain arginine and citrulline, which facilitate blood flow in the body by dilating the blood vessels within muscle, connective, and organ tissue.
Increased blood flow results in increased nutrients, water, and oxygen being carried around the water, enhancing the performance of muscle tissue and lowering the risk of injury. This results in increased recovery process as more nutrients can be sent to assist repairing muscle tissue.
Overall, these are some of the most effective supplements for women. The best part is that they do not influence your hormones, and they do not cancel each other out, so you can combine all of them together for the ultimate female fitness machine.