I receive questions on the daily about which supplements are absolutely ESSENTIAL to achieving your fitness goals. While you’ll never hear me call any supplements “necessary,” there are a handful of items that I highly recommend incorporating into your routine regardless of whether you’re looking to burn fat, build muscle, increase endurance, or simply lead a healthier lifestyle.
Whether you're new to the supplement game or fancy yourself a supplement guru, here are my top 3 picks for the items that should be in your cabinet:
As with macronutrients (protein, carbs, fats), there are several micronutrients that your body requires to function optimally. These include: (1) vitamins, which control the chemical reactions within our bodies that convert food into energy and living tissue; and (2) minerals, which promote everything from healthy skin and bones to optimal heart and brain function.
In many cases, we don't receive enough of these nutrients from the food we consume and thus can benefit from supplementation. Bodybuilders, athletes, and active individuals in particular need more vitamins and minerals than the average couch potato and should not go without a multivitamin in their supplement regimen.
It’s the most popular (and also one of the most expensive) supplements on the market. Although there’s no substitute for solid food when it comes to meeting your daily protein intake, incorporating whey protein as part of a pre- or post-workout shake can definitely help boost your body’s lean muscle-building and, in turn, fat loss capability.
There are three types of whey protein: concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. Each form of whey has its own unique characteristics. I typically favor whey isolate, which is mostly (at least 90%) protein. It’s essentially whey concentrate that has been further processed to remove even more of the fat and lactose, and it’s a solid, high-performing form of whey protein.
When it comes to science-backed supplements, branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s) fall at the top of the list. There’s more research out there supporting the use of BCAA’s than most other supplements, which is why they’ve gained considerable momentum in the bodybuilding and general fitness community over the past few years.
BCAA’s are useful for those looking to gain muscle mass, as well as those trying to preserve lean muscle while eating at a caloric deficit. There are three amino acids that comprise the BCAA’s: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAA’s—particularly leucine—not only stimulate protein synthesis but also increase our cells’ capacity for protein synthesis and reduce protein breakdown. They also can help boost workout intensity.