Supplements are becoming extremely popular within the fitness, sports and bodybuilding world. While a lot of supplements can be a waste of time, certain types and brands are extremely beneficial. Research has shown that many supplements can quickly improve performance, aid recovery, health, strength, fat loss and muscle mass.
While a whole food diet is recommended, this isn’t always possible for most people. As their name suggests, supplements can add in what you may miss from your diet. In some cases, you actually need supplements to hit the recommended daily intake, as it’s logistically impossible to reach the RDI amount from food alone.
If you are fairly new to the world of supplements, here are 10 commonly asked questions, answered!
Where do I start?
It can be awfully confusing when making your first supplement purchase. Don’t be fooled by clever marketing, false advertising or uneducated staff members at the local supplement store. Here are 5 staple supplements you should be including in your stack, backed by years of research!
What brands should I purchase?
It’s important to buy only those brands who use quality ingredients, in the correct doses, and which are free from banned substances. This is hard to find; you won’t find this kind of product at your local supplement store or in Walmart. Head online and search for the efficacious brands. Here at KAGED MUSCLE we strive to educate the consumer, often comparing other popular brands. Our aim is to create the optimal, high quality, evidence based supplements. If you’ve not looked already, take a look at the steps we take to provide the best product around.
Are Supplements bad for your health?
As with anything, some products can be good and some can be bad. As long as you are making educated decisions, purchasing safe and high quality supplements you have nothing to worry about. Many scientific studies have backed the safety of popular supplements such as creatine and whey protein. In fact, there’s more chance of harm from chronically consuming processed foods, which may contain artificial ingredients and environmental toxins.
To ensure safety, keep to the recommended dose and keep with the core products. Remember, many supplements have been shown to aid with health and even improve markers of disease.
Is Real Food Always Better?
We definitely agree you should focus your efforts on whole foods, creating an enjoyable and sustainable diet. However, in order to take your physique and health to the next level you may need to add supplements into your regime. While whole foods such as vegetables, meats, nuts, fruit, fish and dairy provide plenty of key nutrients, some specific nutrients cannot be obtained from the average serving of a given food. Here are some examples of where you may need to supplement your diet:
- Optimal Vitamin D levels are unachievable from food alone. Even if you spend time in the sun, you would need to be in it every day over a consistent period of time. For many people working 9 – 5 or living in countries away from the equator this is almost impossible.
- To consume an adequate amount of Omega 3 per day you would need to eat 3 – 4 salmon fillets, every day. This is unrealistic and too expensive for most; it’s much easier and more cost effective to consume 3 tablets every day.
- Other amino acid based products such as Creatine, Beta Alanine or Citrulline are hard or impossible to obtain from food alone, another reason to add supplements in.
Will additional Protein or Protein supplements be stored as fat?
Another common misconception is protein supplements such as Whey Protein will cause weight gain unless you have just exercised. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Studies on exceptionally high protein intake (5x higher than normal intake) actually showed people LOST FAT and GAINED MUSCLE. This was despite them eating more food than they burn and being constantly full up!
Other studies specifically on Whey Protein have shown it will aid in weight loss, help you add muscle and improve satiety. Research has also used Whey Protein in diseased populations, such as people with type 2 diabetes. These studies have found improvements in health and metabolic markers, along with weight loss. Out of any food you eat, protein is actually the HARDEST food to be converted to fat.
If you’re looking to lose weight and add muscle, adding in 2 – 3 scoops of Whey Protein per day can really help!
Don’t you only need supplements if you are an Elite athlete or Bodybuilder?
Many people think the use of supplements is exclusively for the elite sports person; whereas, to the contrary, supplements are important for anyone wishing to improve health, lose weight, add muscle or combat nutrient deficiencies. From my experience, elite athletes may actually use less supplements than intermediates and beginners. An elite athlete has their diet, health and exercise extremely fine-tuned, often with their own dietary advisors, so has less reliance on supplements.
However, the average fitness enthusiast or bodybuilder could still make many nutritional and lifestyle adjustments. While this should always be the long term goal, supplementation can be a quick and easy strategy to fill the void. Remember, these habits take years to build, you can’t expect to go from beginner to elite in one year.
While you work on the long term lifestyle changes, adding in some core products mentioned above can give you the added boost you need, regardless of whether your goal is general health, fat loss, performance or building muscle.
For example, I have all my clients start on whey protein to quickly increase protein intake, omega 3 to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, Creatine to boost performance, help add muscle and lose fat and some form of pre workout to maximize focus and performance in the gym.
Shouldn’t you cycle all supplements or only take when training?
Another common misconception is only taking supplements for a limited period of time or only on training days. This holds some truth for a specific few supplements that you can build up a tolerance to; however, this applies to less than 5% of all supplements. In contrast to this belief, many supplements should be taken daily and may actually lose effect if taken inconsistently. For example, supplements such as Creatine, many vitamins and minerals and Beta Alanine must be supplemented for a consistent amount of time to saturate the levels in the cell. Sporadic supplementation means you may be under dosing over the long term and not receive the desired benefit they provide.
Are all brands/types of a specific supplement the same?
Again, this is a very important point to consider. The quality, type and ingredients can vary drastically between every BCAA or Pre workout. When deciding on which supplement to go with, many people just look at quantity and price. However, you should actually consider many factors, including:
- Value for money based on desired ingredients only
- Amount of fillers and random ingredients in the product to make it look “better value for money”.
- Fermented vs Synthetic
- The production methods and the safety / quality measures in place.
- If it is banned substance free
- If it contains the research proven dose, NB - most are under dosed.
- Use of artificial flavorings and colors
As you can see, every supplement can vary drastically, even if it looks and reads the same. Unless you’re a supplement expert who can interpret all this information, stick with the high quality, trusted brands.
Aren’t all supplements overpriced and expensive?
While some over the top supplement regime can wreak havoc with your bank balance, this isn’t always the case. In fact, some of the key supplements are actually cost effective, especially when compared to whole food or to the amount of benefits they provide.
For example, the list provided at the start of this article would cost less than $100 per month. Other supplement stacks such as a good Pre, Intra and Post workout can be relatively cost effective, especially compared to buying all those supplements separately or eating lots of expensive, high quality protein based food. Watch out for clever marketing and eye catching product labels - a lot of mainstream products are marked up by over 300%. Again, by staying with the reliable brands that do not have a ton of middle men or affiliates you are more likely to get a high quality product at a realistic and fair cost.
Are all pre workouts just expensive Caffeine?
This is a great question: until recently and with most pre workouts the answer is YES. Most typical pre workouts use high levels of caffeine as it’s extremely cheap and effective. They do this and then skip on all the other key ingredients, which cost more. So, when discussing most pre workouts the answer is yes, you are likely paying $40 for expensive, fruit punch flavored caffeine.
With that being said, there are a few products on the market such as PRE-KAGED using the research backed doses for ALL the important pre workout ingredients. This includes the most efficacious dose for:
If you’ve ever taken PRE KAGED, you will see the serving size is about 3 times the size of most pre workouts. This is actually the correct serving needed to elicit the desired effects, i.e. improve focus, strength, pump and time to exhaustion. When buying your pre workout, make sure you do your research and stick with a proven and trusted brand, such as KAGED MUSCLE.
As you can see from the points in this article, the supplement world can be a complex money trap for most. Until you become a supplement guru, stick with genuine companies providing high quality products.