Updated: Apr 5, 2021
Supplements have always been advertised to be the solution to all your problems. Are you tired? Take this! Do you want to burn fat? This one’s for you! Although like anything in life, there is no quick fix, supplements can help provide your body with key nutrients and ingredients to give it a boost. The number one thing to know about any supplement though, especially the ones marketed form a fitness perspective, is that you do not absolutely need them. You can 100% obtain all the nutrients you need from foods you eat.
In this post, I will go over some of the most popular pills and powders and give you a little break down about each. I’ll also give you recommendations on my personal favorite brands, that I’ve found through years of trial and error. My recommendations are just my own opinions based on what brands have great tasting flavors and awesome ingredient list, also this is my second post and I am clearly not sponsored by any brand (yet!!)
What to Avoid
So to start off I j just want to list some supplements that are red flags. These are usually marketed as quick fixes or to appeal to a certain gender as a performance enhancer.
Weight Loss Pills: I strongly recommend against any product labelled as a weight loss or "fat burner" as they can be dangerous and never provide permanent healthy results. they are marketed to those looking for a quick fix and are honestly just a scam. If you do not believe me, the FDA strongly advises against them as well:
“These products are not legal dietary supplements,” says Michael Levy, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance. “They are actually very powerful drugs masquerading as ‘all-natural’ or ‘herbal’ supplements, and they carry significant risks to unsuspecting consumers.”
Detoxes and Cleanses: Any results you get from these products are temporary and they are designed so you keep purchasing the product. there are studies on the damages that these products can do to you over a repeated time. Drinking juice for a few days as a "fast" can actually do more damage than good and most of the time can make your weight increase in the long run.
Supplements for Training and Recovery
BCAAs: Branched Chain Amino Acids are essential amino acids that we need to consume to live, since the human body does not make them on its own. The main BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine and valine. Two main benefits of the product include enhancing protein synthesis and preventing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Basically they help preserve/ aid in building muscle and can help you from post workout soreness. BCAA's can be found in protein rich foods, but the supplement version is usually sold as a powder. these aren't a necessary supplement as they are also found in protein powders and food along with other essential aminos. I like to drink them when I workout, if anything they make water taste good and can help you consume more during the day!
My favorite brands of BCAAs:
First brand I ever tried and I would still recommend them. They have great flavors and are affordable!
These are my all time favorite, such good flavors and they are so refreshing. I love sour cherry and lemonade and have been purchasing for years. I currently still use these.
PE Science is a top notch brand and their BCAA's and EAAs have 9 amino acids in them as well as taurine for an energy boost. Just be mindful of evening workouts and using this product, a mistake I made in college where I would be up all night afterwards.
Creatine is a substance that is found naturally in human muscle cells. It helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise. In high-intensity exercise, its main role is to increase the phosphocreatine stores in your muscles. Creatine can help boost overall workload, enabling a person to push more volume in a workout session, which is a key factor in long term muscle growth. Basically it works by increasing your capacity to produce ATP energy.
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance and can be obtained from natural sources such as red meat. I don't eat red meat which is one reason I take a supplement form of creatine before my resistance workouts. Creatine is actually the #1 supplement used for improving performance in the gym. It is also one of the few supplements that is not banned and Olympians are allowed to use during the Olympics.
My top recommendation:
I have tried many brands of creatine but I am a big fan of the PE Science one. Amazon carries a few good brands as well!
Fish Oil: Fish Oil is probably one of the best supplements to take and bone I would recommend to people who are not getting enough in their natural diets. I don't eat fish so I currently take this in the morning. There are numerous benefits and studies showing the positive things fish oil can do for the body. Fish Oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids. Research shows due to its anti-inflammatory properties, fish oil may prevent/ reduce muscle soreness, inhibit the temporary loss of strength and range of motion after exercise , and improve muscle sensitivity in older adults. It is a common supplement you can find in many stores and online.
There are a few popular types of pre-workout. These are usually taken to increase energy or performance in a workout. I’ll dive into some of the main ingredients used in many popular pre-workout powders.
Caffeine: In any form, plain ol' caffeine is good for alertness and an energy boost. caffeine is better for endurance and speed training, but not the most optimal for weight training. It is good for runners or athletes who need steady and sustained energy. Many supplements including BCAA's and sports drinks have added caffeine in them, so make sure to check the labels before you buy!
Beta- Alanine: This is the ingredient in pre-workouts that is responsible for those "tingles" or "itches" you get when taking a pre-workout blend. If you have anxiety or do not like this feeling, make sure to check the ingredient list of pre-workouts to make sure this ingredient is not listed! Beta -Alanine is known as a non-essential beta-amino acid that’s naturally occurring in the body and also found in many meats and eggs. The main use of this ingredient is help reduce fatigue.
Non- Stimulant: A Non-stimulant pre-workouts does not contain caffeine or other stimulants. They contain other ingredients that help to enhance blood flow, improve focus and increase your energy in a subtler way. These types of pre-workouts are geared toward giving the user a pump and providing increases in endurance. Currently this is the only type of pre-workout that I take. These are really great for strength and resistance training work, as well as late night workout sessions where you do not want to be consuming caffeine.
My top picks:
This is hands down my favorite PE Science product and my go to workout for years. I love the cotton candy flavor.
I like their flavors and the ingredients of this pre-workout. No jitters or anything and I get a nice energy boost from it. Mango Sorbet is my current favorite product.
Protein is a macronutrient that is used to build muscle tissue. It’s a great supplement for those who are looking to maintain muscle or build muscle. Protein is one of the most commonly used supplements and it is great for someone who is not getting enough protein in their diet. The daily goal of protein a person should be hitting is defined as one gram of protein per pound of body weight. Research shows that hitting this goal can aid in strength gains.This daily goal can again be reached by eating just food and having a protein shake or a protein bar isn’t a must, it’s just another way to help you hit the daily goal.
There are a few types of protein supplements out there, but whey is the most popular. Whey contains all of the essential amino acids. It is absorbed more quickly than other types which might be the reason why. Isolated whey protein powder has most of the lactose processed out of it, which is good for those with a mild lactose intolerance as it is digested easily.
My favorite brands for Whey Protein:
Bowmar has some of the best flavors out there. They also have many protein products such as mug cakes, bars, and more. Bowmar's formula has a mix of casein protein and whey which makes it workable under heat - aka you can bake and make hot chocolate with their whey.
PE Science proteins are awesome and have a great ingredient list as well. I mention them a lot in this article because you can't beat science backed products that taste good. They also have a sampler kit you can order to taste all their flavors before you purchase!
Quest is a great brand, love their bars especially. The protein powders match some of the bar flavors if you are a fan and they are very reasonably priced at $30 a tub.
There are plenty of vegan options out there if you don’t want to consume dairy. The most popular types come from different nuts, seeds, grains, and soy. Most marketed vegan proteins will contain a mix of one or two of those ingredients.
Most popular types:
Brown Rice Protein: This protein is common mixed with other veggie proteins because it does not have a complete amino acid profile. Keep an eye out if a powder contains brown rice that it has other proteins listed or else you won’t receive the optimum nutritional benefits
Pea Protein : The body digests pea protein well and it is hypo allergic. Pea has one of the closest amino acid profiles to dairy and eggs.
Hemp Protein : Plant based and also contains omega-3 fatty acids. Hemp protein is known to cause some bloating if consuming too quickly, so be mindful of that.
My favorite brands for Vegan protein:
This protein is a Pea Protein and Brown Rice Protein blend. I think its one of the best tasting ones out there and the ingredient list is quality. Chocolate is my go- to but they have a really good peanut butter one and a snickerdoodle one if you want to spice up your flavor options.
This protein is a Watermelon Seed, Pumpkin Seed and Pea Protein blend. I love this brand for their flavors. I recently tried their version of vegan pre-workout in the “Fruity Cereal Flavor” and was very impressed. The powder with just water/milk has a slight earthy undertone (not bad at all for a protein) , but it is undetectable when I blend strawberries in with it.
This protein is a Pea Protein, Pumpkin Seed, Sunflower Seed blend. Bowmar is an underrated brand that has a lot of flavor variety as well. It's my third favorite as it does have a bit of an earthy taste, but still well done for a plant protein.
In my opinion whey protein powder tends to taste better than most vegan options out there, which have more of an earthy taste to them. My go to flavor for vegan protein is chocolate because it covers up any other taste.
I hope this post gives you a little bit of clarity on some popular supplements and what they do! I may make some in depth posts on individual supplements, make sure to like this post to let me know if you want more of this content! :)
Remember that everything can be obtained naturally from food! Check with a doctor if you have any health issues before starting a new supplement.These are only my recommendations, so definitely do some research to see what else is out there!
I'll be doing some posts on these topics so make sure to follow my instagram : @happyhippiefitness_ for more!