Yes, you’re absolutely right, the supplement industry is over saturated and it’s hard to make sense of it all. What should I be taking? What should I be taking to supplement my endurance training? What should I be taking to help me lift heavier weights? What should I be taking to help me recover better? Those are some valid questions that I am going to help you find the answer too within these blogs. I will talk about some of the main supplements out there and what their purpose is.
At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself the question what you’re trying to achieve and what your fitness goals are. Just to give you a quick example of what I am talking about here: protein powder was not created to take over your nutrition or make you lose weight, instead it was made for better recovery between sessions.
In this blog we will cover the 2 basic and well know products: protein powder an creatine. I will cover the basic information behind these products, what they should be used for, what might be misleading, what it’s not going to do for you and more. Let’s dive into it
Why not start off with the biggest one of them all and a product that most people are using or thinking about buying. Should you?
Like I mentioned earlier, protein powder was originally created to simply benefit your recovery between training sessions and make it easier to get some protein in throughout the day. Your muscles need protein and amino acids (the building blocks of protein) to heal themselves in between workouts because that is what happens when you workout, you damage your muscles, while during your recovery it tries to grow in order to get stronger. The majority of your protein powder should consist of essential amino acids, not the non-essential amino acids (read more on amino acids here).
Whey protein, casein protein, vegan protein and pea-based protein are all different versions of protein and there are way more out there. Each company is trying to fill the need of their customers and they’re pretty good at meeting that need. The 2 protein powders we should really be concerned about are whey and casein protein. Whey protein being a fast release protein product, where casein is more of a slow release protein. In my opinion I wouldn’t worry too much about the casein protein since there’s not a big need for slow release protein in your life. Casein powder does do well with baking and mixing it with other products, like overnight oats, if you want to use it for that reason I would recommend you to look for a product that has a little bit of casein mixed in to help out with that.
Protein powder is not designed to lose weight or take over your nutrition entirely because you’re missing a lot of great nutritional value that you get from real/whole foods. Things like vitamins, micronutrients and anti-oxidants is something that you’re missing out on if you let protein powder take over the bulk of your nutrition. Don’t try to lose weight by just using protein powder for the same reason plus it will only be temporarily weight loss anyway, those results won’t last.
Should you buy protein powders? If you feel like you’re not getting the amount of protein in that you should and want to make things easier on yourself, you absolutely can. Make sure you consider what I said before, you’re going to miss out on valuable nutrients if you let it take over your nutrition. It’s so easy for people to depend on protein powder too much, so be careful.
Just like any other supplement, creatine is designed for a specific reason. The thought behind creatine is to help you lift more weights and inevitably get bigger/stronger because of it. If you’re able to lift more weights, obviously you’re getting stronger, if you lift at the right intensity, fuel your body right and recover enough, you will able to a good amount of size too.
Some people are worried about muscles cramps while supplementing with creatine. Creatine pulls water into the muscles for more energy and volume, if you don’t drink enough water throughout the day you could end up experiencing some cramps. If you add enough water and electrolytes/salt into your nutrition, you shouldn’t have a problem with it.
Creatine is produced and stored by the body already, that’s why it’s not necessary to supplement with creatine. However, it has been shown to work really well for some, on the flip side, some people don’t experience any benefits at all. The cause of this could be the difference in products and brands, not needing the supplementation or you might be taking it for the wrong reason.
What do you mean by the wrong reasons? Well, just like the protein powder, we need to understand what the goal and value of the product is. With creatine, we can’t expect it to produce results that it’s not created for. If you’re a long-distance runner you’re probably not going run a PR marathon by using creatine, unless you hit the weights as well, it’s probably not going to benefit you that much. If you’re trying to lift heavier weights or gain muscle mass and you’re not seeing the difference, that is another story. There’s another potential reason why you aren’t seeing results while on creatine. The reason could simply be that your storage is already full. Imagine your creatine storage as a fuel tank, if it’s full, no matter how much you add to it, full is full. The difference in brands/products is a story that’s shared by many products and companies. Something that you should realize about some supplement companies, they’re not always truthful about the amounts of (whatever it is) in their products. Creatine monohydrate is the ingredient that works, there are other forms of creatine however that companies can use to ”make up” for the lack of creatine monohydrate in their product. Just because it’s some form of creatine, that doesn’t mean it’s going to work the same. Just like with protein powder, if your powder mainly consists out of non-essential amino acids, it’s not going to benefit you that much. Always, always check the full ingredient list and make sure what you need is actually in the product.
Both of these products work, but we have to be smart about what products and companies we buy from. I hope you see that companies can be misleading about what they’re selling/ putting in their products. Just because it has the ”main/advertised ingredients” in it doesn’t mean it’s enough to make a difference in your performance.
They’re both great products when bought from the right company, with the right ingredients and used for the reasons the product was made for. For protein powder make sure that your products mainly consist out of essential amino acids (look at the list below). For creatine, make sure that the product is 100% creatine monohydrate.
This part covered some of the basic products that are being advertised and used around the world. Next time we’ll dive into some products that people take on a daily basis but the general knowledge about them is lacking.
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