There are hundreds of different supplements out there in the world of fitness, and all of them promise you the results you want in 30 days or less! The supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and new players are entering the game every day. It can be hard for most people to tell the difference between a good product, or a bad product with good marketing. Here are reviews and suggestions from Building The Better Man!
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There several types of protein supplements available on the marketing, with the most popular being Isolated Whey, and Casein. I suggest:
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard is the best whey you can get for the price. It is also the most popular item on bodybuilding.com for that same reason. It comes in several flavors, but I have found most of the non-chocolate flavors to be subpar. I suggest sticking to the chocolate flavors (Double Rich Chocolate, and Extreme Milk Chocolate), although the Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor kind of taste like nutty buddys, if you enjoy that stuff.
Whey protein is a fast digesting protein that is good for getting a quick infusion of essential amino acids. Contrary to popular belief, protein timing is largely irrelevant when it comes to training. This means that you can take your protein whenever you want, as long as you get enough protein in for the day.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard is on the top of the charts again in the Casein category. It is the most popular casein available and it comes in a bunch of great flavors. Personally, I prefer casein over whey, not only because of the profile of the protein itself, but I think it just tastes better and it is very versatile in the kitchen. Casein does not get as much coverage as it should, mostly because everyone is on the whey wagon. I suggest sticking to the chocolate flavors again here, with Chocolate Supreme being awesome. Casein is much thicker than whey, and it will blend into a very nice, thick shake.
Unlike whey, casein is a very slow digesting protein. The digestion of casein can take 7-9 hours in most cases; this means that you will stay satiated longer, and see a nice steady release of amino acids. You can use casein whenever you want, but it is especially good for those doing intermittent fasting. Taking a couple scoops of casein to close out your fast will keep you satiated for hours and give you that steady flow of AAs throughout the beginning of your fast. Since casein is generally more expensive than whey, it is worth noting that if you mix a fast digesting protein and a slow digesting protein, the slow digesting protein will actually slow the digestion of the fast digesting protein down. This means that you can “cut” some of your casein with whey if you are looking to save a few bucks!
The amount of controversy and misinformation surrounding creatine is just mind boggling. Everything from juicing to “it just adds water weight” and a dozen other silly claims you will hear. Fortunately for you, I am here to clear up any confusion. Creatine is one of the only legal supplements with dozens of scientific studies to show its effectiveness in weight training, and it has been used for years as a staple in weight lifting circles. Why? Because it works.
Creatine has a direct impact on performance in weight training, it increases muscle hypertrophy, decreases recovery time, and does a whole slew of other things. There are a few things to note with creatine though; for some people it just doesn’t work. Essentially, creatine is found in food, mostly red meat. Some people already have as much creatine as they can absorb in their body. This means that any excess creatine consumed will just be excreted. Creatine is cheap enough and the dose is low enough that there really is no excuse to not take it if you are serious about lifting. Since it doesn’t like to dissolve, I suggest mixing a spoon full with just a small amount of water and taking it as a shot.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)
BCAAs aren’t necessary for most people, but I am including them here because I am such a strong proponent intermittent fasting. When training in a fasted state, you should be consuming 10-12g of BCAA’s at least 10 to 15 minutes before training. This basically prevents the catabolic effects of training fasted while still being able to benefit from the anabolic effect of fasting.
I suggest Purple Wraath by Controlled Labs. I am fond of the Purple Lemonade flavor, but the Juicy Grape is fine too. BCAA’s have kind of a bitter flavor, so you can add a little bit of Splenda or something if you prefer. I just mix it with really cold water and it tastes fine. It is worth noting that Purple Wraath also has Beta-Alanine which will give you a odd tingly feeling at first. Don’t be alarmed, that is normal.
I am sure you have heard about essential Omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil by now, but if you haven’t, I will catch you up to speed. You should be taking them. Unless you eat a ton of fish or other foods full of Omega-3, you should be supplementing.
There are a bunch of benefits to maintaining a good Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio, which you can read about here, here, here, and here. An increase of Omega-3 in the diets of inmates has even been shown to decrease violence in prisons!
N.O.-Xplode from BSN Labs has a ton of great reviews for a good reason, this stuff packs a punch. This pre-workout comes packed with the full line of ingredients you would expect. Full compliment of vitamins and novel creatine sources, as well as a huge dose of caffeine (close to 250mg!). If you are sensitive to caffeine, be careful with this one. It also includes some other goodies like beta alanine (be ready for the itchy tingly feeling, because it will be there), L-arginine, L-citrulline, Cinnulin PF,L-tyrosine, and a bunch of other L-whatever’s that are supposedly good for endurance and hypertrophy.
I have used this supplement a few times and will probably continue to use it as my pre-workout of choice. The price is cheap, the flavor is fantastic (watermelon is insanely good for a workout supplement), and the amount of focus and energy I receive are noticeable. If you are looking for something to kick you into gear and give you an extra boost, definitely check out N.O.-Xplode from BSN Labs!
Optimum Nutrition has a history of producing awesome supplements, and PRE is no different. As far as pre-workouts are concerned, it has a good profile of ingredients, including caffeine, L-Citrulline, beta-alanine, DMAE, and capsicum. PRE doesn’t have any secret ingredients or anything on the label, and it goes to show that they stand behind their blend and have nothing to hide. I have used both the Raspberry Lemonade and the Fruit Punch flavors, and both of them taste fine.
I am very resistant to stimulants, but I was still able to notice an increase in energy and endurance while training. PRE takes about 30 minutes to kick in, and you will notice the tingle from the beta alanine. If you don’t like the tingly feeling that you get from taking beta alanine (think of your foot falling alseep and waking up), be wary. If you are ok with it, I definitely suggest PRE.