Most athletes think of Bottle Blenders (a convenient container used to mix protein powder with your beverage of choice on the fly) and a satisfying workout as the key to getting a toned body. For some athletes, no workout is complete without some sort of health supplement. But many might ask, are supplements necessary?
Many supplements on the market promise, and often exaggerate, great results. Supplements are not well regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, allowing companies to make bold claims without any pressure to back them up.
But there is something to be said for protein powder. During the course of a good workout, muscle fibers are torn. Protein powder helps repair these fibers quickly. Although protein can be found in various meats and legumes, protein powder offers a convenient source for those who exercise several times a week.
The most important step, though, is selecting the right protein powder. GNC and Vitamin Shoppe shelves are stocked with hundreds of supplements claiming extraordinary benefits. Basically, though, there are only three types of protein to consider.
Whey protein is quick-digesting, and best before and after workouts. Casein protein is most often used when a person won’t have access to protein for a few hours, such as just before bed. Soy protein is a slightly less effective alternative to whey protein, but good for people with whey protein allergies.
Beyond this, protein is basically protein. Choose one that suits your price and taste.
Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein by Optimum Nutrition
The title Gold Standard is not just an advertising tool. This is the M-16 of protein powder in its versatility and cost-effectiveness. At the Vitamin Shoppe, a 5.15 pound container runs about $45.
With plenty of carbs and protein, N-large will also build muscle, but mass. For those looking to move up the weight scale, this brings noticeable results within a few weeks. A 10-pound case is approximately $60, but each serving is a hefty four scoops. Thankfully, the extra carbs give this a great taste.
Muscle Milk premade shakes
These rank among the better premade protein shakes in terms of taste. They are sweet and provide a good dose of protein and amino acids without having to blend powder and milk. Muscle Milk shakes range in price based on the size, but a 12-pack costs around $30.
If the results of protein powder leave you wanting more, consider looking into creatine powder. Creatine gives more energy and increases water retention, keeping muscles larger and more defined. Increased water retention, however, requires constant hydration, so be sure to have extra water bottles on hand.
Although creatine comes in the form of pills and chewables, powder is found to be the most effective. The benefits of creatine only last as long as it stays in the system, so if you stop using it, musculature will gradually become less apparent.
EAS Pro Science PUSH Creatine
This brand is reliable but lacks a palatable taste and is a little overpriced. PUSH should be taken an hour before working out, but can also be used at different times of the day. You can buy a pack of 14 online for about $40.
Optimum Nutrition Pre-load Creatine Complex
Pre-load works similarly to EAS PUSH, except that it is specialized for use before exercise. Though it lacks versatility, it tastes better than the former option. Like Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Protein, it comes at a reasonable price, at 4 pounds for $20.
MuscleTech naNO Vapor
This supplement is a more powerful one that offers an increase in nitric oxide and also contains creatine. It essentially raises workout potential for an hour or two after consumption. It might cause jitters, so use in moderation. Two pounds costs $49.99.
Before considering these supplements, decide if your style of exercise justifies their use. Supplements will not help very much if there isn’t a strong foundation of committed effort. The best results come from investing the energy in the first place. Supplements are ultimately there just to speed up the process.
For the average person who wants to simply stay fit, protein powder and creatine aren’t necessary. But for those who want more defined muscles or help maintaining their strength, supplements can be sampled to further improve strength or definition.