If you’ve been lifting for more than a month, you’ve probably started downing protein shakes like your life depended on it. While there are some uneducated rumors that get spread about how/when/how much, if you don’t go crazy, protein powder is a safe and important supplement.
But if you walk into any nutrition store, protein only takes up a couple shelves. Yeah, it’s their biggest seller, and they have 100 different options, but there’s a whole store full of pills and powders that you haven’t even looked at.
I’ll be upfront: most of it is garbage. You’ll see all sorts of fat burners and muscle boosters that don’t actually do anything. Some of it is terrible for your body, and there’s a real body count behind excessive supplement use.
But some of the stuff they sell is great. If you’re looking to buying more supplements, here are the next few you should buy. They won’t kill you, and they’ll actually pump you up.
This goes buy a few names. You might hear it called a meal replacer, but be careful. Some “meal replacers” are just protein shakes. If you’re looking to put on some serious bulk, a mass gainer is your best friend.
Your serious formulas (Like Serious Mass from ON Nutrition) have over 1,200 calories a serving.
Yes, you’ll be putting close to a pound of powder in your blender, but it’s a perfectly formulated nutrition. If you use this during bulking season, you can guarantee a huge chunk of your calories are coming from a healthy source.
If you want something lighter, MRM makes a plant based meal replacer that gives you double the calories of an average protein shake, plus extra vitamins and probiotics. It’s a perfect option for someone that just has a hard time packing in enough calories.
Creatine is a popular supplement used to give you an extra boost in the weight room, or on the field.
It’s actually produced by your body, and helps promote production of ATP, which is what gives your cells energy.
It’s still a little controversial. However, most science points to it being safe when used in moderation.
Don’t think of it like a pre-workout, however. Taking it before, during, or after a workout has no effect. You need to take it on a daily basis to keep your body’s creatine levels high. The easiest way is to just mix it in with a protein shake.
Proper dosing is important. You always want to go with a pure creatine monohydrate. Otherwise, you don’t know what other junk is mixed in.
For the first week, take 0.3 grams per kilogram of bodyweight everyday. After that week, drop to 0.03 grams per kilogram.
Most people prefer to do cycles. Creatine causes your body to store extra water, so you may feel a little bloated. If you’re trying to look cut, you need to cycle off and let they water weight drop.
When you’re ready to go back on, repeat the cycle.
Final Note: Creatine dehydrates you. Load up on water.
Pre-workout can actually be garbage. Brands are constantly being taken off the shelves for illegal ingredients, so you need to be careful.
The best tactic is go with a long lasting formula like C4 Pre-workout or Vega’s Preworkout (if you’re an all-natural fan).
The goal of a pre-workout is to give you a burst of energy to power through your sets.
Some brands will actually throw in some creatine. If you’re taking it regularly, calculate that into your creatine intake.
Most of them, however, are just relying on caffeine and B vitamins, and most are healthier than a Redbull.
Branch Chain Amino Acids are simply blocks that build up protein.
If you have a high intake of complete proteins, you probably don’t need to supplement. However, if you know your diet isn’t balanced, or you’re in a cutting phase, throwing in some extra BCAAs is crucial for muscle growth.
In addition, If you find yourself getting fatigued easily, it might be a BCAA issue. Two of the main BCAAs, leucine and isoleucine, are proven to help with that.
They’re usually available in low-cost pills or a BCAA powder and can be taken on a daily basis.
As long as they’re not mixed in with anything else, they’re considered pretty safe. Of all of the above supplements, this is really the only one where you can say, “hey, why not?”
None of these supplements are crucial. In fact, no supplements are crucial.
You can replicate pretty much every effect with a good diet, plenty of sleep, and maybe a cup of coffee. However, they just might give you the edge you need to take your body to the next level.