Supplements. Every day we hear more and more about a new supplement or a new colleague/teammate who started taking a new one. Today, there are plenty of supplements and the market is filled with them, each one stating to be better than the others. So, what are the types of supplements and which ones are the most popular ones? I give you a list, divided by types of the 12 most popular supplements out there:
Pre – Workout:
- Nitric Oxide (NO)
This is the king of all pre-workouts for high performance athletes and bodybuilders who are looking for a more “vascular” look. Nitric oxide is used to improve the vascularization of the blood vessels of the body, to enhance the quality and volume of oxygen transported in the blood, from the heart/lungs to the muscle tissue. By doing this, the athlete should get a better performance output in its higher end. This means that the threshold of exhaustion increases, making it harder for the athlete to become tired and to be able to perform at a higher intensity. This supplement should only be taken by cycles.
- “Pre Workouts” mixes
Nowadays this is a really common supplement used by athletes for almost any physically demanding sport to be able to train harder and stay focused. Most of these are a mixture of caffeine, taurine, essential and not essential amino acids, glutamine, electrolytes and creatine. What they do is they stimulate the brain to be more alert so we can train at a higher level, every training session, not regarding how we slept, if we are tired from yesterday’s session or if we just don’t feel like training. Also, it provides nutrients that are needed for the body to perform during the training and recover after it.
This one has 2 common uses. For body builders, creatine works by recruiting water to the muscle cells making it look bigger in volume and for athletes, it increases the overall strength of the muscle tissue by giving it more active molecules from where to grasp energy from. It is a non-essential amino acid which comes in meat normally and when we have high concentrations of it in the blood, it helps to the conditions described above.
Intra – Workout:
As we now know, every time we train we need to have our body’s nutrient reserves filled and, in the case of amino acids (or the amino acid pool), if it gets depleted during a workout, we start using muscle as an energy source. Taking amino acids during every workout is intended to avoid this from happening. It really does not matter if they are Branched Chain Amino Acids or not, they both do almost the same job. The crucial ones are leucine, arginine, glutamine, valine and isoleucine.
This is one of the best supplements you can use, and also one of the cheapest and most unknown by the general public. Maltodextrin is just a type of simple carbohydrate which is used to avoid the glucose in the bloodstream to decrease while we train, resulting in mental or physical fatigue. Regardless of if your goal is to lose weight/body fat or to improve your performance, having a steady glucose level during the whole training session aids to achieve your goals.
- Rehydrating beverages
This category includes all of the -ade beverages, which supply electrolytes (minerals) and glucose. When we train, we lose minerals by sweating to cool down our bodies and we use glucose as an immediate energy source. Unfortunately neither of these 2 lasts long, and that is why we need to supplement them during our workouts. This is a really weird one: if we train hard and only use water, we dehydrate ourselves.
Post – Workout:
Protein is by far the most popular supplement out there. It has been promoted by every athlete in every sport and for every reason we can imagine. Why? Because it is a great business to have most of the people doing any sport in any level taking it. Protein is used to supply a greater amount of “building blocks” to our bodies, so it can be easier for it to heal itself. When we train, we hurt our muscle tissue, and when the body heals it, it grows. To aid in this process, protein is used. The thing is that most people are using it wrong. More on this here.
- “Post Workout” mixes
After training, our bodies need to recover from the stress we exposed them to and the best way to do this is by providing the best nutrients, in the best distribution possible. Post workout mixes provide glucose, maltodextrin, amino acids, protein and vitamins. Why? To improve the speed and effectiveness with which the nutrients enter the muscle cells and repair the muscle tissue, making it bigger, stronger, leaner.
Glutamine is one of the non-essential amino acids and it is the one present in the highest concentration in the blood plasma and in the muscle tissue, since it takes part in various metabolic processes in the body.
During the day:
- B Complex
B complex is a mixture of the vitamins of the B group, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 and B12. These vitamins are useful for a lot of things, but when it comes to athletes and sports, they excel in energy metabolism, making it possible to get the energy we need from our bodies reserves when we train. It also helps regenerating muscle tissue, lubricating joints and brain cells and helping with muscle cramps and explosion.
- Vitamin D & E
These vitamins are the best antioxidants for athletes. When we train, we expose our bodies to oxidizing processes by putting them under stress and generating oxygen radicals. To diminish their damage to our bodies, vitamins D & E act as antioxidants, capturing, nullifying and excreting these toxic compounds known as free radicals. They help us recover faster. Simple right?
- Multivitamin Complex (Ca, Fe, Mg, Na, P, K Cl, Zn)
Calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium, phosphorous, potassium, chloride and zinc. These are the minerals that the body uses when we train, and that we need to regulate our metabolism, produce more anabolic hormones, improve our blood cell count and increase our metabolic rate.