When you think about vitamins and supplements, you probably think one of two ways. You either think it’s all bogus, and nothing but your food and exercise will get you results, or you think supplements are the highly sought after magic pill to change your physique.
If you’ve used supplements for a while, or have done any research, you know the truth. Supplements and vitamins are great, as long as you can trust the brand. Vitamins and supplements are not magic, and they won’t get you results all on their own. However, in combination with your work ethic, vitamins and supplementscan help you get to your ideal body composition faster.
The key is using the right supplements for your individual goals. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to supplements, just like there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for exercise. People like different things, and different things work for different people. It’s all a process of figuring out what’s best for you and no one else. Start with what you’d like to achieve.
The Best Supplements for Losing Weight
If your goal is to lose weight, you are not alone. A 2017 study revealed that two out of every five people tried to lose weight over the year, and with the obesity epidemic rising, it’s no wonder. Most people who attempt to lose weight through a diet can do so, but only fifteen percent keep that weight off. Some even go on to gain more than they lost, and so begins the detrimental diet cycle.
The essential piece of losing weight is your diet or what you consume. Losing weight is a math problem. You must consume fewer calories than you burn on any given day. However, it’s trickier than it sounds, and it’s easy to consume high-calorie foods unwittingly.
The right supplements can help support you on your weight loss journey:
- Protein Shakes - A protein shake is a supplement with an earned spot in every supplement stack, regardless of your goal. Proteins are the building blocks of your muscles and every structure in your body. They are essential and become increasingly important as you cut calories to lose weight. You don’t want to lose muscle if you can help it. If you exercise regularly, experts recommend consuming 1.4-2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Many people rely on protein shake supplements to achieve those protein goals, as they deliver an easy 15-30 grams in one serving.
There are many different types of protein shakes on the market today, with a variety of macro splits. Depending on your goal, and what else you consume in a day, you will want a protein shake with little to no carbs, fats, or sugar. Check out these protein shakes:
AllMax IsoNatural Protein Shake - 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 1 gram of carb, 0 sugar, and 27 grams of protein.
Vega Sports Performance Protein Shake - 80 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbs, 0 sugar, and 15 grams of protein.
- CLA - In addition to a protein shake, a supplement that can help support your weight loss is CLA or conjugated linoleic acid. Grazing animals like cows and goats naturally produce CLA and store it in their muscles. Many studies show that in animals, CLA increases the level of proteins and enzymes involved in fat breakdown, leading to fat loss over time. A study on mice showed that after six weeks, they had reduced their body fat by 70%, and while the results in animals are more significant than the results in humans, this supplement shows promise for supporting a weight loss goal.
PVL Isolated CLA 1250 - The full-recommended dose of your CLA supplement in one soft gel pill.
- Carnitine - Like CLA and protein shakes, Carnitine is another supplement developed to help you achieve your weight loss goals. L-Carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid that functions to move fat into your cell’s mitochondria to produce energy. Your body naturally produces L-Carnitine using other amino acids, and you can also obtain small amounts through consuming meat. Consuming an L-Carnitine in supplement form may decrease recovery time, muscle soreness, and aid in fat loss.
AllMax L-Carnitine Tartrate - Pure L-Carnitine L-Tartrate to add to your daily supplement regimen.
- Green tea - This ancient substance has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine for wound healing and various other conditions. More recently, green tea is being used as a supplement to support weight loss. Essentially, the combinations of antioxidants and a specific type of caffeine in green tea increase metabolism. If you enjoy drinking green tea, by all means, continue. However, scientific studies involve a much higher dosage than is available in a cup of green tea. To get the recommended dosage, use a green tea supplement.
PVL Green Tea EGCG Gold+ - 450 mg of green tea extract combined with a patented absorption enhancer.
Combined with a caloric deficit and an exercise regimen, these supplements can support a weight loss journey and help you achieve results faster.
The Best Supplements for Adding Lean Muscle
It is difficult to build muscle without accumulating body fat, but you can minimize the amount by incorporating the proper mix of supplements into your daily routine. The following supplement stack will help you achieve this goal, but again, your diet and exercise play the most significant role in any fitness-related feat. Start by determining how much you currently eat regularly. Look at your carbs, fats, and proteins, along with your overall calorie consumption. If you’re only looking to gain muscle, you might have a slimmer frame, meaning you don’t need to change very much. Make sure that you are consuming the recommended 1.4-2 grams of protein per kilogram you weigh. Then, incorporate these supplements.
- Protein Shake - Anytime you want to maintain or increase your lean muscle mass, protein is essential. After all, muscles are made of protein. To meet your recommended protein intake, you likely need to supplement with a protein shake. As previously mentioned, protein shakes are available with all sorts of nutritional content, so you need to determine if you need any extra carbs or fats on top of your protein. To increase lean muscle without bulking up, you most likely want to stay low carb and low fat.
PEScience Select Protein Shake - 120 calories, 1 gram of fat, 4 grams of carbs, 3 grams of sugar, and 23 grams of protein.
- BCAA or EAA - Whether you chose essential amino acids or branched-chain amino acids, this supplement is a vital addition to your protein shake when you're interested in building muscle. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. While you consume some from your diet, using a supplement to guarantee you’re getting enough has been shown to prevent muscle breakdown, encourage muscle growth, and aid in recovery.
Mammoth EAA - 8.65 grams of combined EAAs and BCAAS
Perfect Sports BCAA Hyper Clear - 5 grams of BCAAs
- Pre-Workout - Adding a pre-workout to your supplement regimen is smart for your goal of increasing lean muscle mass because one of the things your body requires to build more muscle is stress on your existing muscles. When you lift weights, you’re causing tiny tears to your muscle fibers. This damage leads to muscle hypertrophy as your body fuses the muscle fibers, making them bigger and stronger. The addition of pre-workout helps you increase the intensity of your workout, leading to more muscle growth.
ANS Performance Rave - This pre-workout combines ten ingredients to deliver high energy without the crash, increased focus, higher cognitive processing, and better mind-muscle connection.
A supplement stack that includes a low carb protein shake, pre-workout, and EAAs will help you add muscle without increasing your body fat.
The Best Supplements for Bulking
Bulking is different from adding lean muscle mass. Bulking is loading up on macronutrients, including protein, to build as much muscle as possible. Usually, bulking is followed by cutting, to get rid of excess body fat that accumulates. The process of bulking includes increasing your overall calories so you are consuming more calories than you burn on any given day. By increasing your calorie consumption by about 500 calories a day, you can expect to gain about a pound or two a week. To make sure you’re gaining as much muscle as possible, you need to stay in the recommended 1.4-2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Include these supplements to reach your bulking goal.
- Protein Shake - The versatility of the protein shake is especially helpful when you are bulking. To help you both meet your protein requirements and your overall calorie goal, try a meal replacement. You also might need a regular protein shake for your post-workout protein shake, depending on your macros.
Mammoth Meal - 400 Calories, 40 grams of carbs, 2 grams of sugars, and 40 grams of protein per four scoops.
- BCAAs or EAAs - You most certainly need extra support for your muscles while bulking. All the nutrition you consume, whether protein or carb, will turn into excess body fat if it doesn’t turn into muscle. Some of this is inevitable, but to keep fat accumulation to a minimum, give your muscles the support they need and take BCAA or EAA supplement.
Dymatize All 9 Amino - 10 grams EAAs and 7.2 grams BCAAs plus vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and vitamin C.
- Pre-Workout - Simply consuming a lot of extra carbs and protein won’t make your body automatically synthesize new muscle. To kick your body into the muscle-creating mode, you need to lift - and lift heavy. Pre-workout helps you energize and focus for a great workout.
Beyond Yourself PreSet - Ignite your energy and focus with this intense pre-workout supplement.
- Creatine - This supplement, like protein shakes, is one of the kings. It’s been around a long time, and it’s one of the most researched and proven sports supplements on the market. Creatine is a substance that occurs naturally in your muscles, and it helps produce the energy needed to lift and exercise. Studies show that taking creatine as a supplement can increase muscle mass and strength and encourage better exercise performance. Like pre-workout, add creatine to your supplement stack to maximize your body’s muscle-building potential.
PVL 100% CreaPure Creatine - Banned substance tested and Informed-Choice certified, CreaPure includes nothing but powerful creatine.
Including a protein shake for nutrition, EAAs for muscle support, and a pre-workout plus creatine for your best workouts will set you on the right path to gain as much muscle as possible when you bulk.
Should I Be Taking Vitamins?
Over half of all Canadians take a vitamin supplement. Still, you might have heard from a well-meaning skeptic about your body’s inability to absorb some vitamins and minerals in excess.
What you need to keep in mind when considering vitamins or any dietary supplements is that they are just that: supplements. The definition of a supplement is “something that completes or enhances something else when added to it.” Vitamins and dietary supplements are only meant to complete your diet after consuming whole food items.
Many people take vitamin and mineral supplements as insurance on their diet. Countless vitamins and minerals are involved in a healthy diet, and they’re hard to track. Instead of determining the recommended values for each vitamin, and then tracking how many they consume, they take a daily vitamin. Taking a daily vitamin is unlikely to cause adverse side effects, as many (but not all) are water-soluble, meaning that if consumed in excess, they get flushed out of the body.
There are some conditions and diseases for which a vitamin supplement is extremely important or even essential. Pregnancy and Crohn's disease are examples of times when vitamins can be important.
If you’re in doubt about whether or not taking a daily vitamin is necessary, talk to your doctor.
Vitamins to Support Your Workouts
If you’re already sold on the benefits of a daily vitamin and take them as religiously as your protein shake, check out these vitamin supplements to support active individuals.
Allmax VitaForm - Designed for men, this vitamin supplement supplies you with all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to perform at maximum capacity.
Alani Nu Multivitamin - This multivitamin is for everyone and includes 28 essential vitamins and minerals to bridge the gap in your diet and ensure you have what you need to thrive.
Supplement Superstore is your trusted ally for all things sports nutrition. From protein shakes to daily multivitamins, we’ve got you covered with brands you can trust and advice you can count on.