The lowdown on training with nutritional supplements

Whatever you’re into, whether it’s weightlifting, bodybuilding, athletics of whatever sort or just plain keeping fit, there’s a huge, huge and often pretty bewildering range of sports supplements out there that will complement your training routine. But which ones do you really need? From instant whey proteins to amino acids, nitric oxide (Jack3d being a good example of a popular one) there’s loads of stuff out there. If you want to get a good overview about the essentials, then read on…

Find yourself a nutritionist
Because it can be a bit daunting, many people who want to get serious about their fitness regime – it’s not essential that you do, but can be a bit of a minefield for a newbie.

Protein Powders
Found in food like meat, fish, dairy, and soy, pulse and vegetable products, protein is essential for building muscle. The three principal types used in supplements are:

• Whey
• Casein
• Soy

Found in milk, whey protein is arguably the best and most popular of this trio of proteins, because it’s fast-absorbing has the highest value of providing branched-chain amino acids. In this way, instant whey helps build and maintain muscle mass. And not only this, but whey is also an antioxidant, helping to jack the body’s immune system, helping in the fight against regime-ruining illnesses.

There are three principle types of shake you can get:

• Low carb, low-calorie, low fat: perfect for weight loss while maintaining muscle mass
• High protein, high calorie, low fat: perfect for muscle gain
• Medium carbs, medium calories: perfect for a quick and easy meal replacement

Amino Acid Supplements
The essential building blocks of protein (the stuff your muscles are made of), amino acid supplements provide the combination of essential amino acids the body requires to grow and repair itself – and ones that the body simply doesn’t produce itself, and must therefore get from food sources – or supplements. Found in protein-rich sources such as meat, fish, dairy, soy, vegetable, pulse and grain products, athletes also commonly complement their intake with supplements.

Nitric Oxide
Necessary for intercellular communication, nitric oxide is made by the body and is required for all physiological processes that take place inside the human body, enhancing blood flow to the furthest corners of the body. This is therefore a really important supplement for those who want to build muscle.

N.B.
It’s entirely possible to overdose with NO2 and common side effects can include (but are by no means limited to) weakness, diarrhoea and nausea. You find out your optimum level by “tolerance mapping”, whereby you take a small dosage for one week, recording the associated benefits and side effects, and continue raising the dosage over a number of weeks until the optimum level is reached – which, if course, will have you seeing the most benefits with the least amount of side effects.

Fall is a good time to get fit

Many of us fall into the same patterns. With summer on the horizon, we start working out in May with the hope we will look good in our swimsuits. Late in the year, the holidays come around, you eat too much at all the parties, and then you wake up on January 2nd looking and feeling bad again.

It’s time to break that cycle. This year, try to be proactive by committing to working out and eating right during the fall and into the holidays. The gyms will be less crowded, and it’s a great time to develop good habits that will stay with you through the year.

Think about starting some new exercises. If you haven’t been doing weight training, then maybe this is a good time to start.

Also, if you’re going to try something like more weight training, then take a look at protein powder and creatine. These are important supplements if you’re serious about building muscle, but keep in mind that overall nutrition and eating habits are equally important. These items should supplement your diet. Do your research and consult your doctor or a nutritionist, but things like whey protein are very popular with people looking to get in shape and look fit.

It’s also a great time to focus on cardio. Many people lose sight of this as the weather gets bad. They stay inside and get less exercise. Now is the time to be consistent and get your cardio in the gym. Find out what works best for you – the bike, treadmill or other machines.

Good luck, and you’ll feel better after those holiday dinners!

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