Ever wonder what supplements you should take to boost energy, make your workouts more effective or help the body recover after a strenuous session at the gym? Taking supplements can be beneficial for many people, but choosing which ones to take can get downright confusing. To defuse the confusion, we asked Ethan Marine, Master Trainer at Body Machine Fitness (BMF) Plano, for his insight on which supplements to take, when to take them and why.
Let’s get real about the role of supplements first
People often believe they can get the nutrients they need by replacing meals and whole foods with supplements and vitamins. But according to Ethan, this just isn’t the case.
As he explains, “FOOD FIRST is always my motto. Supplements should be treated as such … a supplement, not a replacement. It’s like an insurance plan. If I’m aiming for five servings of veggies each day, but I only get four servings from whole foods, then a vitamin supplement may help provide the additional nutrition I need. The supplement shouldn’t be taken INSTEAD of eating the veggies.”
For some terrific tips on eating healthy, check out this recent post: 10 Super Easy Ways to Eat Healthier Now
Ethan has also seen people benefit from supplements if their goal is to optimize workouts, speed recovery post-workout or support their nutritional needs as an endurance athlete or someone who works in a physically demanding job.
“Supplements may help fill in the cracks. They also can become more necessary as you place increasing demands on your body, making it harder to get all of your nutrients through whole foods. For example, people who place high demands on their bodies from multiple challenging workouts each week should assess what may be lacking in their diet in order to see if they need additional supplementation,” Ethan says.
Six key supplements that may help support your health and fitness goals
1). PROTEIN POWDERS
Potential benefit: Aid post-workout recovery, support muscle health
When to take protein powders: Right after a workout
Ethan’s take: All things considered, whey protein is king in terms of recovery because of its ability to be absorbed and used by the body (bioavailability). There’s plenty of science to show that whey protein will be absorbed faster and utilized more than any other form (including through whole foods). That being said, it’s not a necessity, and plenty of people see amazing results without it.
For people who do not consume whey for health and/or personal reasons, vegan proteins come in a close second. They still provide the predigested benefit over eating a piece of chicken, but without the adverse reactions or guilt. Both whey and vegan proteins are a great choice for taking directly after a workout in order to begin the recovery process and shift into an anabolic state, where the body builds and restores tissue. BMF’s proprietaryRawthentic Nutrition line offers a Vegan Protein powder supplement.
Potential benefit: Aid post-workout recovery, prevent injury
When to take collagen: Post-workout
Ethan’s take: Collagen is a living, growing tissue found in hair, skin, nails, teeth and bones. While it’s essential for supporting bone density, collagen has also been shown to speed up the recovery of damaged ligaments and tendons. In addition, healthy collagen levels can help prevent injuries by increasing the integrity of those soft tissues. You can support collagen production with a supplement or by eating omega-3 rich fish (like salmon and tuna), tomatoes, green leafy veggies, berries, peanuts and other foods.
Potential benefit: Enhance performance, minimize muscle soreness
When to take beta-alanine: Pre-workout
Ethan’s take: Beta-alanine is an amino acid that can help reduce the lactic acid build-up in the muscles that cause muscle fatigue and post-workout muscle soreness. You can get this nutrient naturally by eating animal proteins or opt for a supplement instead. Most pre-workout supplements, including the Woke Energy supplement in BMF’s Rawthentic Nutrition line, include beta-alanine to help boost performance.
4). BCAAs (BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS)
Potential benefit: Aid recovery, prevent muscle breakdown during a fast
When to take BCAAs: Before, during and after workouts
Ethan’s take: BCAAs are essentially the building blocks of protein. They typically have higher concentrations of certain amino acids (like leucine, isoleucine and valine) over others in order to help build and maintain muscles and provide an additional boost in recovery. These nutrients can be consumed at any time of the day, most notably DURING a workout in order to keep feeding the muscles. BCAAs can also be taken during a fast in order to prevent muscle breakdown while staying in a fasted state.
You’ll find BCAAs in animal and vegetable proteins and many protein supplement powders – like our Rawthentic Vegan Protein powder, which contains a highly-digestible pea protein loaded with BCAAs. If you eat a healthy amount of protein or are already using a protein powder with BCAAs, adding a BCAA supplement isn’t necessary.
Potential benefit: Build muscle, aid recovery
When to take creatine: Pre- or post-workout
Ethan’s take: Creatine is a substance found naturally in our muscle’s cells, and it plays a key role in helping the muscles produce energy. Simply put, creatine helps shuttle more water to the muscles, keeping them hydrated and aiding in recovery. It’s one of the few supplements out there studied heavily and is typically considered to be safe and effective at helping to build muscle. You’ll find creatine in our Rawthentic Nutrition Woke Energy supplement.
Potential benefit: Prevent muscle breakdown
When to take glutamine: Daily for people who are extremely active
Ethan’s take: Glutamine is another important amino acid that serves as a building block of protein. The body produces glutamine naturally, but you can boost this nutrient via a supplement or by consuming animal proteins, nuts, milk, eggs, beans and other foods. People who are extremely active may need a glutamine supplement to prevent the breakdown of muscle used for energy. Endurance athletes or people who work many hours of manual labor may benefit from glutamine supplements. Glutamine is included in Rawthentic’s Repair + Refuel supplement.
Want to learn more about supplements and natural ways to boost nutrients AND fitness?
If you live near our Plano boutique fitness studio, our certified personal trainers and onsite nutritionists are here to help. We can provide additional insights on the supplements mentioned above and more.
You can also purchase supplements from our Rawthentic Nutrition line at BMF (or on Amazon). Our Rawthentic supplements are all-natural, vegan and hypoallergenic and contain NO added sugars, preservatives, artificial coloring or artificial sweeteners.
While you’re here, stop by our Smoothie Bar for a nutrient-rich snack or check out one of our HIIT (high-intensity interval training), group personal training classes.
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Have questions about BMF? We’d love to hear from you. Give us a call at 214-396-8585or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DISCLOSURE: Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or health condition. Before taking any nutritional supplements, changing your diet or beginning a fitness routine, speak with your doctor.