Do You Really Need Supplements When Working Out?

The most important factor in deciding your level of health and fitness is irrefutably your body’s nutritional intake.

And whether your ultimate goal is weight loss or muscle gain or strength gain, what you have to eat and drink as part of your everyday diet can have an even greater impact on your goals than any workout.

But, it’s certainly worth noting that these nutrients do not have to come in the form of supplements. It is very easy to consume more protein by changing your diet and what you eat, without ever having to take a pill or ever make a whey protein shake or some other concoction with protein powder.

Do you really need supplements when working out

Supplements are what they say they are - their job is to supplement your health and fitness nutrition plan and not to replace it altogether.

Later on, we’ll be discussing whether or not exercise supplements really work, and we’ll give you a spoiler alert now, because it’s relevant…

Noticeable fitness improvement through the use of workout supplements only appears to be significant for professional elite athletes.

In which case, unless you are a professional athlete, then our advice to you is to focus first of all on your nutrition plan, as this will have a greater impact on your fitness than a mere supplement.

Though by all means there’s no harm in taking an FDA approved workout supplement in combination with your nutrition plan if you so wish.

Are fitness supplements good for you?

With such a wide array of fitness supplements on the market, and with them being so effectively marketed, often with claims of being backed up by science, you may well succumb to the idea that supplements are the answer to improving your fitness...

However, despite all of this, there are also experts out there who argue that some supplements are potentially dangerous if not used sensibly and with due care and caution.

According to the UK’s National Health Service, even legally available protein powders can be damaging to health if used incorrectly. They say that there’s evidence that “in the long term, consuming too much protein can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis and can also worsen existing kidney problems”.

According to your RDA, you should eat 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of your total body weight.

For professional athletes however, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine, 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day is recommended, depending on the training regime or sport.

If you are not deterred by claims that fitness supplements can be harmful to your body, and you have decided that you want to take such supplements, then our advice to you is that you seek out supplements that are FDA approved. 

And it’s important to note at this point that dietary supplements do not require FDA approval in order to be sold. So this means that you have to be watchful and do your homework before you buy your fitness supplements.

Do exercise supplements really work?

Despite how heavily many exercise supplements are marketed on the net and on TV and in social media, there is still much debate on whether they have any real or worthwhile impact.

Sure, there’s a lot of well known science thrown about with regards to what these supplements can actually do once they’re in your body, but as to whether they will make a noticeable difference to your energy levels or your overall muscle mass, that’s another thing entirely.

The truth of the matter is that some types of exercise supplements are far more effective at what they do than others. The best players in the game are whey protein, creatine, and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs).

But some of these supplements, such as BCAAs aren’t particularly effective when taken alone, and are best taken as part of a broader pre- or post- workout regime, combined with other helpful exercise supplement ingredients.

But perhaps more significantly, the positive benefits of exercise supplements are more clearly seen to be effective in those that are professional elite athletes according to Dr. Thunder Jalili of the University of Utah Department of Nutrition and Integrative Physiology.

What is the best supplement for muscle recovery?

We would argue that creatine is one of the best supplements for muscle recovery, if not THE best…

Creatine is basically the number-one supplement for improving workout performance, and is one of the world’s most tested workout supplements, with an outstanding safety profile. 

But it’s certainly worth noting at this point that some post-workout creatine formulas are better than others. This is because they present the supplement in different forms, it can be given in pill form or powder form and can also come with added minerals or electrolytes.

Our favorite creatine supplement is Creatine HCl Capsules, from Kaged Muscle. Creatine HCL is a patented formula that uses creatine hydrochloride as opposed to the more common creatine monohydrate supplement.

This means that it has a much quicker absorption rate, thanks to it’s enhanced solubility. It is broken down quicker in your body and absorbed faster into your bloodstream and then in turn, more easily absorbed by your muscle cells for muscle recovery.

It’s available in different forms, and there’s a nice lemon-lime powder that can be mixed into shakes, smoothies, or juice.  Or if you prefer you can get it unflavored. Or there are vegetarian capsules you can try out.

What is the best workout supplement?

This question should really be split into at least two other questions, namely “What’s the best workout supplement to build muscle mass?” and “What’s the best workout supplement to fuel my workout?”

We’ve already covered “What’s the best supplement for muscle recovery?” and to be honest the supplements aimed at muscle recovery also have the additional benefit of being ones that help to build muscle mass.

So for now, we’re going to concentrate on the best supplements to fuel your workouts. And for this, we’re going to assume that you plan on doing either a cardio workout or a high intensity interval training workout, since these will require more fuel than a brief weight training workout.

And of course, this would be a pre-workout supplement rather than a post-workout one.

First off, you don’t need to limit your pre-workout supplement by just focusing on one ingredient. Some of the best pre-workout supplements out there are actually a combination of several useful nutrient ingredients that can prepare your body for your upcoming workout.

One of our favorite supplements for high energy cardio and HIIT workouts is Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Sport Pre Workout Formula. It is suitable for both men and women, and has several top ingredients that will help you take your workouts to the next level…

The effects are four fold, the supplement is designed to increase your energy, increase your focus, increase your endurance and improve your hydration. It’s main ingredients include organic caffeine, vegan citrulline and carnosyn beta-alanine. And it tastes good too!

What supplements should a woman take when working out?

We are pleased to report that work out supplements, as much as they branding may appeal to one gender more than another, are pretty much gender neutral. Both traditional pre-workout and traditional post-workout supplements are just as advantageous to women as they are to men.

Sure when it comes to fertility treatments men and women need different supplements, however what should motivate your choice of supplement should be the goal of what you want to achieve as opposed to your gender.

So, as a woman, if you‘re in the market for something to boost your energy levels, then you can use the same supplements as men. And likewise, if it’s muscle you want to build, again you can use the same supplements as men.

However, it’s certainly worth noting at this point that women do have slightly different nutritional needs to men, and they have a greater need for iron. That said however, there should be no need to take iron supplements unless blood tests have shown that you are anemic.

So, to sum up, we recommend that as a woman you can follow the same supplement taking routine as a man would when working out. The top supplements we would recommend are whey protein and creatine.