When it comes to sport supplements I use the absolute minimum. Here’s some guidance on the basics.
1. Vegan protein powder
People commonly use protein as supplementation, alongside resistance exercise, to help improve muscle protein synthesis and promote the growth of lean muscle mass.
After training, your body uses protein to help repair and rebuild muscle fibers. Protein powder is easily digested in the stomach, meaning it provides a fast delivery of protein to muscles. This is especially important immediately after training, when the muscle has been broken down. It can also be taken first thing in the morning or before training.
Creatine is a substance that is found naturally in muscle cells. It helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise. Chemically speaking, it shares many similarities with amino acids. Your body can produce it from the amino acids glycine and arginine.
About 95% of your body’s creatine is stored in muscles in the form of phosphocreatine. The other 5% is found in your brain, kidneys and liver. When you supplement, you increase your stores of phosphocreatine. This is a form of stored energy in the cells, as it helps your body produce more of a high-energy molecule called ATP. ATP is often called the body’s energy currency. When you have more ATP, your body can perform better during exercise. Creatine also alters several cellular processes that lead to increased muscle mass, strength and recovery. Creatine is most beneficial before and after your workout.
You can supplement with creatine in one of two ways. You can follow a loading protocol followed by a maintenance dose, or you can skip the loading phase and take the maintenance dose for longer.
The standard way to take the supplement is through what’s known as creatine loading. Creatine loading involves taking 20–25 grams of creatine, split into 4–5 equal doses for 5–7 days.
The purpose of loading is to saturate your muscle cells with creatine quicker so that you can experience its benefits sooner. To experience the effects of creatine, your muscles must be fully saturated with it, which typically takes 5–7 days of loading.
Following loading, 3–5 grams (30 mg/kg) per day is necessary to maintain your muscle stores of creatine.
Skipping the loading phase and taking the maintenance dose of 3–5 grams daily is the other way to supplement with creatine. This method is just as effective as creatine loading, but it takes much longer — typically 28 days — to experience the same benefits.
3. BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids)
There are 20 different amino acids that make up the thousands of different proteins in the human body. Nine of the 20 are considered essential amino acids, meaning they cannot be made by your body and must be obtained through your diet. Of the nine essential amino acids, three are the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine, isoleucine and valine.
While BCAAs can increase muscle protein synthesis, they can’t do so maximally without the other essential amino acids, such as those found in whey protein or other complete protein sources. Whey protein contains all the essential amino acids needed to build muscle.
BCAAs can also help prevent muscle wasting or breakdown. The best time to take your BCAA powder is before exercise (as/or alongside) your pre workout supplement. Taking BCAAs post workout or throughout the day will not boost performance or recovery to the same effect.
4. Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin Carbohydrate (fast absorbing complex carb)
Highly-branched cyclic-dextrin carbs are a soluble form of carbohydrate that’s perfect for pre- and post-workout, powering your training and supporting the recovery of your muscles after exercise, making 100% Cyclic-Dextrin Carbs a popular post-workout supplement.