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Creatine always tops my list as an ergogenic aid. It is, by far, the most researched supplement, with actual research backing it up as something useful and worth your money. Whether you are a bodybuilder, strength or bikini athlete, or simply a gym bunny, I always suggest creatine. My favourite is the tried-and-tested creatine monohydrate powder, which has all the research behind it.
It helps with exercise performance by rapidly supplying the muscles with energy during activity. We are also starting to see visible cognitive benefits, along with a host of other health benefits and cardio protective properties. It’s effective, cheap, and it’s safe and healthy.
When you take it is of less importance, although, I usually just have it pre or post-workout. Dosage wise, anything from 3g per day for a smaller lady, to 5g for a regular lifter, and 7g for a vegan or vegetarian.
3D Nutrition Mono Crete contains high-quality, ultra-pure creatine monohydrate. Creatine is the most studied supplement on the market and has been proven to increase muscle mass, strength, performance and endurance. Supplementing with creatine helps to replenish ATP levels.
Whey protein powder is the most common form of dairy-based protein powders, and is a by-product of making cheese. Dairy proteins (whey and casein) are considered complete proteins as they have all the essential amino acids in sufficient amounts.
Whey is fast digesting and it contains an optimal amount of leucine per serving, which is perfect for stimulating maximum muscle protein synthesis. Drinking a whey protein shake causes an increase in blood amino acids levels in under an hour, with peak levels at just under 90 minutes.
I often use whey in my clients’ nutrition to boost overall protein intake, or as one of their meals to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Its quick, convenient, and digests fast before a 5 am workout, or on the go when you don’t have time for a meal.
If I don’t have time for a meal, and I know it’s going to be many hours before another meal, I often combine a serving of whey and a serving casein, as a blend to tide me over till I can get to some food. This is my perfect ‘go-to’ meal; chuck it in a blender with some cucumber, celery, beetroot, kale, and spinach to add some fibre and nutritional punch. I add carbs and fats as is needed, and depending on my requirements for the day, I may throw in nut butter or macadamia nut oil, with some cream of rice or grind up some oats, nice and fine.
3D Nutrition Whey Isocon is a superior quality protein blend which has been developed to provide the highest possible natural rates of nitrogen retention and amino acid conversion in order to help build and repair body tissues, thereby assisting with gains in lean muscle mass.
Protein powders, gramme-for-gramme, often works out cheaper than solid food options, so it can be a cost-effective way of raising your protein intake, when you look at the protein variables. Whey also delivers a large amount of the amino acid L-Cysteine, which can alleviate deficiencies that occur during aging and diabetes. Furthermore, in situations of oxidative stress (such as exercise), this could be an important substance to help with recovery.
Typically, whey will come in three varieties: whey concentrate, whey isolate, and whey hydrolysate. If you aren’t lactose intolerant, opt for the cheaper whey concentrate, as a lot of the ‘good stuff’ gets lost, the more and more it’s filtered along the way.
Whey isolate is almost devoid of any lactose (99% free) and almost no fat. They achieve this by an extra step of processing, either by ion exchange (which is cheaper but loses more of the benefits due to the heat process), or crossflow micro-filtration, which does not heat up the protein and denature it, retaining more of the ‘good stuff’, but this adds to the cost.
Whey hydrolysate is ‘pre-digested’, leading to even faster absorption and release of amino acids into the blood stream. Bbasically, you take the isolate and hydrolyse it, which is the chemical breakdown of a compound. Unfortunately, you cannot prevent losing the ‘good stuff’ due to the breaking of these peptide bonds. These extra steps come at a steep cost, and unless specific reasons are being looked at, it’s not something I typically recommend.
Casein is another favourite supplement of mine, and, sadly, does not get the marketing and ‘hype’ of its popular sister, whey. The real magic lies elsewhere from the its leucine content, and despite being lower in leucine, it’s higher in glutamine. Casein is made from the solid part of skim milk when treated with an acid (like lemon juice), and is, essentially, what you get when milk curdles.
Casein takes longer to increase blood amino acid level compare to whey, but lasts longer, with elevated levels lasting over 5 hours. This slower digesting process, and longer elevated levels of circulating amino acids, makes it a great addition when going through long periods of time without food, such as before bed. Casein is also more filling when ingested and makes a thicker, somewhat milkshake, consistency. I personally mix it with Greek yogurt and nut butter to make delicious puddings for my pre-bed meal.
We often glamourise leucine based on how it maximises muscle protein synthesis, and rightly so, but there are only so many times this is needed per day. After that, no additional benefit is derived. A whey shake, 2-3 solid complete protein meals, and you are set for the day.
Casein assists with whole-body protein synthesis. Remember, we build muscle when we achieve nitrogen balance, whereby we have a balance between muscle protein breakdown and muscle protein synthesis. The body is breaking down and rebuilding muscle tissue 24/7. So, 1-2 servings of casein at night before bed, or for me I make a pudding as mentioned above, and you have all-night protein synthesis. You could just as well have any solid protein source but sometimes a quick and easy shake, or yummy pudding, beats a chicken breast, let’s be honest.
Casein Zero contains only slow-absorbing protein – calcium caseinate protein which provides your muscles with nutrients in the long-term. It is an excellent choice before going to bed or during a long trip, because the digestion of casein-based proteins can take up to 8 hours. The new formula is adequate even for people suffering from lactose intolerance.
TNT MERCURY MICELLAR CASEIN is yielded from Micellar Rich Milk Protein Isolates. This pool of amino acids is high in essential aminos , which are responsible for muscle protein synthesis, or MPS. This slow and steady flow of amino acids creates a prolonged yet low rate of MPS.
Vitamin D3 is one of the most common nutrient insufficiencies, as it’s tough to get enough in our diets, and we don’t spend enough time in the sun. Also, if you do have darker skin, you are at an even greater risk of a deficiency. We do get some in our diets, usually from oily fish, egg yolks, butter, meat, and some cereals that are fortified (such as Kellogg's). The recommended daily intake is 400 IU per day RNI, although it should probably be higher.
Considering it’s cheap, and one is at a greater risk than other vitamins of a deficiency, it is something I often recommend. That said, I always suggest a blood test done by a doctor to accurately assess if you are, in fact, deficient.
Omega-3 is another nutritional shortfall we suffer from, since we simply do not eat enough oily fish in our diets. When looking at fish oil dose, the 1000mg is not what is important, so rather look at the EPA and DHA amounts on the label. For general health, a combined dose of 500mg between EPA and DHA is sufficient.
Most tabs are 120mg EPA and 180mg DHA, so 2-3 tabs a day would be more than enough, but the dose can be as high as a combined EPA/DHA of 1800mg. Typically, DHA will be the higher value over EPA, which is exactly what you want.
Fish oils have been associated with a host of benefits that I will list below. Just be mindful that some of these benefits were found in far larger doses, and again, I would speak to a doctor or dietician to assess what you are possibly trying to treat and let them determine the dose. Also, be aware that large doses may interfere with some medications, such as Warfarin, as it is a blood thinner, and fish oils have a blood thinning effect. So, be sure to check first.
Essentially, it has cardiovascular benefits, helps reduce inflammation, may increase strength and size gains, and may improve fat loss. The dosage is goal and person dependent.
These are my top 5 supplements that I recommend to all my clients, existing and new, as these are the 5 supplements I consider essential when you are on a strict training and eating regimen. If you are unsure about any of these, please consult with your medical professional regarding any possible influences to your health. Otherwise, get ready for a healthier, fitter life, with these 5 supplements.
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