Let’s face it, working out isn’t easy. So, it’s understandable that you're looking for helpful ways to make your workout go further. There are so many workout performance supplements on the market today that it can be difficult to know what to look for and how to choose the best one. There are some key things to look for that are helpful in choosing the best supplement for you.
Before you start looking at supplements you should first assess yourself, lifestyle, and fitness goals. If you are a vegetarian your needs may be different than an omnivore. Or if you are only looking to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue instead of building the most muscle mass possible, your supplement will look different.
Here are some of the most important things to look out for when it comes to performance supplements.
In order to start (let alone complete) any workout, you must first have the energy to do so. Energy for our cells is the basis of completing any exercise but can be difficult to find throughout your busy schedule.
Now, we're not talking about the type of ‘quick hit’ energy you get from drinking an energy drink or caffeine, this type of energy is referring to the cellular energy that your body uses for fuel.
So, when looking for an energy boosting supplement, you will want one that supports cellular energy production or at least provides the necessary nutrients to do so. Some great examples of supplements that fill these criteria are CoQ10 and creatine.
Amino acids are what come together to form proteins. Proteins are macromolecules that can form tissues such as muscles. Protein is very important for exercise because with each exercise you are creating microtears in the muscles that are then repaired using additional proteins. The bioavailability of proteins is necessary to the workout process and recovery.
If you are looking to increase your muscle mass and strength, a protein or amino acid supplement may be right for you. Protein can come in many different forms including both animal and plant-based proteins. This is great because it is versatile no matter what nutritional diet you follow. Protein and amino acid supplements are an excellent choice for better performance.
When the muscle does not have enough oxygen necessary to produce the energy needed in the muscle through cellular respiration, it moves on to a process called lactic acid fermentation. In this anaerobic process a smaller amount of energy is produced than in the aerobic process, but there is a by-product of lactic acid. When the lactic acid builds up in the muscles it causes an acidic environment leading to muscle soreness and fatigue.
Buffers act to counteract the acidic environment to make it more neutral. By eliminating the lactic acid, you are also eliminating the associated symptoms. For this reason it is helpful to look for performance supplements that say they are a buffer. Buffers are very helpful if you are doing a lot of anaerobic activities such as weight training or if you are trying to enhance your recovery routine.
Recovery is a make-or-break thing when it comes to fitness. Recovery can be hours or days depending on how often you work that muscle and the intensity of your workout.
Look for supplements that can enhance your recovery by reducing soreness, fatigue, building muscle, and even reducing pain or stress. There are several substances that can help with enhancing recovery. These supplements aimed at enhancing recovery often can address the improvement of your workout as well.
Pro sports coach and manager, sports nutritionist and endurance athlete, Paul Cadman, recommends taking MitoQ to aid recovery.
“While I strongly recommend an approach of real food first, supplementation can play a role in maintaining optimal balance. Athletes generally place a lot more stress on their bodies so supplementing to ensure optimal health and recovery from training is a good idea. As a powerful antioxidant, MitoQ will play a role in helping reduce the oxidative stress that results from strenuous exercise and help you recover more quickly, making your training more effective.”
If you are just starting your fitness journey or have an unbearable recovery after every workout that holds you back, this type of supplement may be perfect.
Reduce Muscle Fatigue
Muscle fatigue is not only exhausting and frustrating but can also get in the way of your ability to work out frequently. With muscles that are not ready to go full force again you could miss valuable workout time and even lose some of your progress. Reducing muscle fatigue is essential for performance, which is why you want to be on the lookout for supplements that reduce fatigue.
This can be achieved in many ways including increasing energy production, reducing inflammation, and by buffering the affected muscles. Always look for reduction in fatigue, test it out yourself, and of course do thorough research to determine if the claims are true.
Many supplements have physical health benefits, so you should also take into consideration if it fits in with your lifestyle and needs.
For example, if you dislike shakes or flavored drinks you would not want to choose a powdered formula. Or on the contrary, if you are unable to take supplement pills, a powder formula may be indicated. Powdered formulas can also take more time to prepare and often require the use of a kitchen. If you are always on the go and would not be able to prepare a powdered drink, you would want to consider that.
The bottom line is you should holistically determine if a supplement fits into your life and how you would like to live it. Just remember, a supplement only works if you take it and put in the effort, so if it is not convenient for you it may not provide all of the benefits necessary to make it worth it.
Examples of Supplements
While you are able to use the key identifiers to choose a supplement, there are still many supplements that fit into those categories. Do realize that even if a supplement is a buffer, protein, amino acid, or energy enhancer does not mean that it is of good quality and will perform. These are simply guidelines of what to look out for. However, there are some staple supplements that any fitness enthusiast has heard about.
Below are some of the most popular and effective performance supplements that could help you reach your fitness goals.
CoQ10 was mentioned previously, but there really is more to it than being an energy booster. CoQ10 is a naturally occurring substance in the mitochondria of your cells. It is directly used in the process of creating ATP which can have many positive benefits including increased energy and improved recovery time.
During your workouts your body will be able to get all of the energy it needs to complete the activity. In addition, CoQ10’s antioxidant powers break down free radicals that could have led to oxidative stress in the body which is associated with many negative effects.
While there are many different CoQ10 supplements to choose from, the most innovative and effective comes from MitoQ. The makers of MitoQ saw that other CoQ10 supplements were struggling to pass the tough membrane of the mitochondria, and therefore were unproductive even at relatively high doses. Learning from this, MitoQ developed an enhanced version of CoQ10, whose smaller, positively charged body makes it hundreds of times more effective at being absorbed by the mitochondria than other supplements of its kind.
Energy supplements like MitoQ can help to improve performance by increasing your CoQ10 levels, MitoQ helps maintain balance between CoQ10 and free radicals in the mitochondria, and therefore facilitates greater energy production.
MitoQ can also support brain health and provide mental clarity, which is always a bonus for a training-centered mind.
Overall, CoQ10 is one of the most comprehensive performance supplements available that also offers holistic health benefits to your entire body’s energy production and antioxidant defenses.
BCAAs or branched chain amino acids are a supplement that provides you pure amino acids to increase the amount of protein building that can occur. The BCAAs typically have 3 amino acids which are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These three are chosen specifically for their abundant role in the body. BCAAs typically come in a powdered form for you to mix into your workout or post workout drink. In addition to helping your body make more muscle, it can also decrease the amount of soreness you feel after a workout. These supplements can be incorporated into your fitness routine for many great benefits.
Going into a supplement store online or in person can be overwhelming, especially if you are just beginning to find and appreciate the world of fitness. Let this be a guide for you to look for the perfect supplement for enhancing your performance.
As always, speak with your healthcare provider before starting or stopping any supplement. Even though they are easily accessible and not sold in a pharmacy does not mean they can’t cause harm.
Supplements can provide great benefits, just make sure that you are taking them safely and that you choose the perfect one for you that can provide the benefits you are looking for. Also, do not forget to not get lost in the supplements and instead look inside for what you need so that you can use them to their greatest potential.