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When you start training it is important to put just as much focus into your diet and supplementation as your training. I have noticed that the majority of people that come into the shop look for Pre Workouts, Fat Burners, or another one of the more popular supplements. I rarely have anyone come in for something to help their immune system, digestive system, or anything else that has to do with internal health. And while I agree that those more popular supplements will help you get closer to your goals but I like to start with what I call “The Fundamentals”.
The Fundamentals are things that we all need for our health regardless of the goal on the other side. Things like multivitamins and minerals, digestive enzymes, pre/probiotics, amino acids, and protein.
When you train hard and watch what you eat, you want to make sure your body will respond and be able to keep up. That starts with vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals help to run the body’s many processes.
We have receptors all across our body. Picture these receptors as antenna on your tv or radio. They receive and send out signals to other parts of the body. Some of the important signals the body sends out are to build proteins and cells, build bones, heal wounds, strengthen the immune system, and regulate hormones. They also convert food into energy and repair cellular damage.
When you don’t get the nutrients that you need through food then it is important to supplement with a multivitamin to ensure that your body is able to keep up with the many demands you put on it.
One thing that I point out when explaining a good multivitamin and mineral supplement is the doses. In an article on the US Department of Health and Human Services’ website it states that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides recommendations for only specific populations such as women who may be or may become pregnant, women who breastfeed, and people ages 50 and over. But what about everyone else? There is no one-for-all dose. This is why I recommend specific multivitamin supplements depending on someone’s lifestyle. Popular multivitamins that claim to have all the nutrients that you need for the day in one tablet but have percentages of vitamins and minerals well over 100% of the daily recommended intake aren’t really giving you what you need.
When you use a multivitamin like this your body will reject whatever is over the amount it can absorb at one time because too many vitamins and minerals at one time can be toxic and can lead to negative effects such as liver damage, vertigo, nausea, hair loss, fatigue, and seizures. That is why it’s important to choose a multivitamin that will support your lifestyle and help you in reaching your goals in a healthy manner.
Your gut health is directly linked to the health of your whole body. That’s why digestive enzymes & pre/probiotics are another fundamental on my list. They help us to ensure that our digestive system is healthy and able to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients when we intake food and supplements.
The average person can have a few pounds of waste backed up in their system. When this occurs it can be dangerous because the waste begins to go through the walls in the digestive tract and into the bloodstream. That can cause a weakened immune system, inflammation throughout the body, problems with digestion, problems regulating hormones, higher water retention, and can affect your mood. Supplementing with digestive enzymes & pre/probiotics is super helpful to promote healthy digestion and gut health ensuring that you make the most out of everything you put into your body and in turn allowing you to maximize your output in the gym and in your life.
Amino acids are often referred to as the building blocks of proteins. They are compounds that play many critical roles in your body. They are needed for vital processes like the building of proteins and synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters.
There are 20 amino acids and out of the 20, nine are in a group called Essential Amino Acids. They are considered essential because they are necessary for proper function of the body. These nine essential amino acids are also aminos that your body cannot synthesize on it’s own so they are necessary to get from outside sources. One of the best being through amino acid supplements. The nine essential aminos are: Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine, Methionine, Histidine, Lysine, Tryptophan, Threonine, and Phenylalanine. Each one of the nine aminos plays a specific role in the body such as protecting muscle, triggering muscle repair and growth, regulating metabolism, absorption of minerals, producing collagen, and producing energy. If you are active, if you skip meals throughout the day, or the meals that you are eating aren’t quality meals then you will definitely need to supplement with aminos. The aminos that I recommend are different depending on your goals, your lifestyle, and your training.
Protein is the last on my list of Fundamentals. Protein makes up everything in your body. Hair, eyes, organs, skin, bones, and muscles. It is important to get enough protein throughout the day regardless of your goal. If you’re trying to put on muscle then you need to make sure to consume enough protein to not only maintain your muscle but to allow new muscle fibers to grow. This is normally around 1.1-1.4g of Protein per lb of bodyweight. If you’re trying to cut down body fat then you need to make sure you have enough protein to maintain the muscle you have while on a calorie deficit in order to keep your metabolism high. This is normally around 1g per lb of bodyweight. And if you are just trying to maintain and live a healthy lifestyle then you still need to get an adequate amount of protein to allow your body to recover properly and continue to produce certain hormones as you age such as testosterone and growth hormone. According to Dr. Gabrielle Lyon, D.O., the minimum required protein intake for the average person wanting to live a healthy life as they age is 100g/day. For someone that is active that requirement is higher. The Protein Summit reports in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest that Americans may eat too little protein and that the potential benefits of increasing protein include preserving muscle strength despite aging, and maintaining a lean, fat-burning body.
Once you have The Fundamentals, you can move on to more goal-based supplements such as Fat Burners, Mass Gainers, Muscle Potentiators and Testosterone Boosters. I consider these goal-based because not everyone needs the same product. It comes down to your lifestyle and your goals.
For someone trying to burn body fat I suggest a combination of CLA and Carnitine. CLA, conjugated linoleic acid, is a fatty acid that will help you to more easily break up fats. When you combine that with Carnitine then you will now allow the body to utilize the fat that is stored as energy. That will not only allow you to reduce overall body fat but it will also allow you to protect the muscle longer through exercise. Carnitine also helps with focus and improves blood flow so it is awesome before a workout. According to an article on The US National Library of Medicine titled “Pros and cons of CLA consumption: An Insight From Clinical Evidence,” the minimum dose to burn body fat is 3.2g per day. The minimum dose recommended for Carnitine is 3g per day for fat loss.
There are also fat burners with a mix of ingredients that help to provide energy and other benefits on top of burning body fat. Some fat burners will include caffeine, focus ingredients, and help to flush out excess water retention.
For someone that wants to put on more muscle I would ask a range of questions such as, do you track your calories and macros? Do you skip meals throughout the day? If you do, when you have the other meals, do you make up the calories from the missed meal? Do you use a protein supplement?
If you want to put on weight you need to make sure you are in an excess of calories at the end of the day but where these calories are coming from matter just as much. Protein is always going to be my first target for you to hit when trying to build muscle. You can start off with a regular protein shake if you aren’t missing meals to have more control over your macros since most protein supplements now are low fat and low carbs.
If you are missing meals though or are having trouble meeting your calories, I would definitely recommend a mass gainer. Mass Gainers are going to be higher in calories, fats, carbs, and protein. If you are new to mass gainers then I would start you off with something on the lower calorie range such as MRE which has 525 calories per serving and 47g of protein to help strengthen and grow your muscles. If you are missing a lot of calories at the end of the day, then I would recommend something heavier such as Serious Mass. At 1250 calories and 50g of protein, that is definitely going to help you gain the muscle you want.
When it comes to muscle gain there are also other supplements that can be used to help. A muscle potentiator like Laxogenin would be great for both men and women. Laxogenin is awesome at speeding up your muscle’s recovery rate allowing you to rebuild and grow the muscle you have a lot faster. Laxogenin can also be beneficial for anyone cutting because of its ability to maintain muscle on a calorie deficit.
Test Boosters are another great way to add extra muscle and even shed a little more body fat. Higher testosterone levels lead to faster recovery, increased muscle gain, and reduced body fat. This I only recommend to men though since it increases testosterone and for women that may lead to side effects they don’t want.
On top of The Fundamentals and Goal Based supplements there are also Lifestyle supplements such as Pre Workouts, CBD, nootropics, and sleep aids. These are also very important to maintain a healthy balance in your life.
When it comes to pre workouts, there is so much that goes into recommending the right one for any individual. That’s why I have added it to the Lifestyle supplements. It depends a lot on your caffeine tolerance, your goals, what time of day you workout, and what you need help with through your workout.
Pre workouts are supplements that help with energy, focus, and endurance but they can be more focused on any one of those benefits. Pre workouts range from no caffeine to over 400mg of caffeine. Someone that drinks coffee throughout the day or energy drinks might require a higher dose of caffeine to feel the energy boost. On the other hand, someone that doesn’t drink any caffeine throughout the day will be able to start at the lower range.
Pre workouts will also include ingredients to help with endurance such as Beta Alanine. That’s the amino acid responsible for the tingly sensation you get when you use a pre workout. It helps to fight lactic acid buildup in muscles when you exercise. Lactic acid buildup is the burning or tightening feeling you get when you lift weights or do cardio. Beta alanine helps to push that feeling away so you can workout for a longer time.
Another benefit of using a pre workout is the focus that comes along with it. Pre workouts will use different ingredients such as Tyrosine, Alpha GPC, DMHA, N-phenylethylamine, and more. Some are aminos that we produce which gives us a boost naturally. Some others are stimulants that help to trigger our body to release the compounds we need in order for us to have better focus.
As you can see, there is more to a pre workout then just the energy you get. I consider it a Lifestyle supplement because not everyone will need the same one but it can also definitely be part of your Fundamental stack. If you find it hard to gather the motivation or energy to be active then I would recommend this along with the other Fundamentals to ensure that you get that workout in.
CBD, cannabidiol, is derived from hemp. There are many benefits in using CBD such as stress and anxiety relief, pain relief, reducing inflammation, and helping with sleep. CBD is non-psychoactive and there are so many different ways to use it. It comes in the form of oil, lotion, candy, bath soap, bath bombs, and water. This is a must try for everyone.
Nootropics help with mental focus, energy, and mood. They are very helpful for anyone that has to stay focused at work or school. Nootropics also help with learning, memory recall, and linear thinking. If you ever find that you tend to start a story or when you explain something you get side tracked into another story or topic then this will be huge for you. They’ll make sure you are always on your A game.
If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep then this is for you. Everyday your body goes through what’s known as the circadian rhythm. It is the process your body follows that guides it telling it when to wake up and when to fall asleep. It is also responsible for hormone production and release. It has been shown that we need a minimum of 6-9 hours of sleep depending on the individual. That is in order for your body to complete its recovery process through sleep. Sleep aids help to ease you into sleep and boost your recovery. Some of the ingredients that may help with this are Zinc and Magnesium, CBD, melatonin, and mushrooms. All those ingredients help to relax your mind, making it easier to fall asleep. The sleep aids that include Zinc and Magnesium have the extra plus of helping with recovery though. Zinc and Magnesium have been proven to help with muscle repair through sleep and they help to boost levels of testosterone as well.
It is important to note that diet is the best way to get your nutrition in. Supplements are meant to fill in the gaps from your diet to maximize recovery and results. Hopefully you now have a better idea on what you need but mostly on why you need it. It is also important to note that everyone is different and will require different supplements to meet their individual needs. Know what you are putting into your body and make sure you have The Fundamentals in place to put your body in a prime position to give you the results that you want.