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Beginner's Supplement Guide: 5 Supplements You Need Now

Supplement stacks can intimidate newcomers to nutrition and training. This is your beginner’s guide, starting with the main ingredients!

Supplements will never replace proper nutrition, but they can help you hit your fitness goals faster! Supplements complement your diet and help cover nutrient gaps, ensuring that your body has what it needs for peak performance. No matter what your training goals are, the right supplements can help improve your health, performance and physique.

Of course, you should always know what you fuel you put in your tank. In other words, don't use anything you don't understand. Assuming you already use a multivitamin, these five mini-guides will help you build a solid supplement foundation!

1/
Protein

Pop open the protein section of a 20-year-old diet book. It looks nothing like today's nutrition literature! It was thought that the human body needed 10-to-15 percent of its daily caloric intake from protein, a number still propagated by official government guidelines.

Now, after extensive study and testing, it's commonly thought that 20-to-30 percent is a more accurate intake, especially for hard-training athletes and weekend warriors.

Because they've been educated by strength trainers and coaches, athletes eat high amounts of protein. Their coaches discovered what works best through decades of trial and error. Just recently has this information been absorbed by the general public.

The first and most obvious step to getting enough daily protein is through food - preferably through animal sources, complete proteins. This can be time-consuming and expensive.

Eating every 2-to-3 hours isn't possible for some people, while others just don't want to eat that frequently. That's where protein supplementation factors in.

Protein supplements act fast and enable you to comfortably and affordably meet your daily protein goals, even when you're busy at work. At certain times, especially after a workout, protein supplements may even be more beneficial than food. Because whey protein is digested quickly and easily, it's the ideal post-workout protein source.

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Here's a quick list to guide you into protein supplementation.

2/
Fish Oil

Fish oil's numerous benefits come from its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA. Omega-3s are considered "essential fatty acids," which means they're necessary for human health, but aren't made by the body.

Omega-3 fats are found most abundantly in oily fish, eggs, grass-fed beef and wild animals (deer, elk, etc.). Omega-3 fatty acids are also present in various non-animal products, such as Brazil nuts, walnuts and flaxseeds.

In Palaeolithic times, omega-3 fats were found more abundantly in numerous animals. Due to industrial farming, modern preservation methods and reduced soil quality, today's animal products typically contain fewer total omega-3 fatty acids.

Because of their rich EPA and DHA content, fish oil supplements are an ideal omega-3 source. Fish oil is an essential supplement, whether you're trying to build muscle, burn fat, or boost overall health.

Optimum Fish Oil

Optimum Fish Oil

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Fish oil supports:

  • Cognitive function
  • Normal, healthy immune system function
  • Heart health
  • Healthy skin
  • Vision
  • Joint health
  • And more!
3/
Branched Chain Amino Acids

The branched chain amino acids are leucine, isoleucine and valine. When taken during training, BCAAs can improve prolonged performance and promote recovery. BCAAs may also reduce muscle breakdown (catabolism), potentially leading to more total muscle growth.

BCAAs may:

  • Increase energy
  • Enhance protein synthesis
  • Boost strength and power
  • Improve muscle-building potential

Naturally found in foods high in protein, BCAAs are already part of anyone's diet. As a supplement, however, BCAAs are particularly useful during a workout for increased energy, less total muscle breakdown, and improved recovery.

BSN AMINOx

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They're also useful on non-training days to help maintain lean body mass.

4/
Glutamine

Glutamine is an adaptogenic amino acid found in protein. It's the most abundant amino acid in skeletal muscle, and also plays a vital role in immune system health and the wellbeing of the entire body.

In supplement form, glutamine can yield additional benefits to help build muscle mass.

Glutamine supports:

  • Muscle growth
  • Reduced muscle catabolism
  • Normal, healthy immune system function
  • Gut health

Glutamine is particularly beneficial after workouts because it has the ability to re-synthesize muscle glycogen and glutamine levels lost during exercise without the release of insulin.

This is great news for people who workout several time per week, especially on a low-carb diet. Longer recovery time means a longer time to reach your goals. Start supplementing with glutamine!

Optimum Glutamine 1000 Caps

Optimum Glutamine 1000 Caps

Optimum Nutrition's Glutamine 1000 Caps are made from the highest quality glutamine available on the market. Each capsule provides 1,000 mg (1g) of pure L-Glutamine.

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5/
Creatine

Creatine is one of the most-well-studied supplements on the market. It has been shown to improve sprint times and boost the performance of athletes engaged in high-intensity activity, such as weightlifting and strength training.

Creatine can boost maximal strength and energy output during exercise, allowing you to lift heavier, longer. It also acts as a "cell volumizer," making muscles fuller.

Promera Con-Cret

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Creatine is a by-product of amino acid metabolites found in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Approximately 95 percent of creatine is stored in skeletal muscle, and the remaining five percent in the liver, kidneys, brain and testes.

While there are multiple forms of creatine available, creatine monohydrate has been around longest and is the best-tested.


* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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About The Author

Alex spent a great deal of time training for sports and has continued to follow his passion. Learn more about him here.

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Showing 1 - 25 of 46 Comments

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DerekStauffer

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DerekStauffer

I don't think BCAA's are a supplement you need at all, never felt like they helped at all.

Jun 29, 2012 12:02am | report
 
teslation

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teslation

Bcaas will do u very well while working out, try Xtend or intra-workout bcaa supplements. specially when ur working on ur treadmill with low carbs and high protein and ur focusing on fat burn u will need bcaa so u dont lose protein and muscle.

Jun 29, 2012 8:11am | report
Adam Snarl

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Adam Snarl

There's actually a good amount of research on them! Especially when cutting!

Jun 29, 2012 4:25pm | report
deloachrd

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deloachrd

it's impossible to build muscles without BCAA. That is like saying your body does not need protein.

Jun 30, 2012 10:40am | report
180miles77

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180miles77

@deloachrd @Adam Snarl @teslation
Check latest studies about BCAA

Jul 1, 2012 3:08pm | report
metashift

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metashift

@180miles77... So, what studies are you referring to? The only studies I have read about BCAA's have been promising.

On another note. Whole foods always win. Still, studies confirm that having a whey shake after a workout is in no way superior to regular food. I'm probably going to hear a whole lot of broscience about this now.

Jul 2, 2012 10:28am | report
plentz

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plentz

@metashift saying stuff and not referring any studies isn't exactly what broscience is about? :)

Jul 2, 2012 8:13pm | report
DerekStauffer

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DerekStauffer

Isn't BCAAS in most protein powder so why wouldn't just take a protein supplement and not waste your time with bcaas by themselves.

Aug 4, 2012 9:35pm | report
fascismforfun

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fascismforfun

BCAA's are REQUIRED for protein synthesis. They are amino acids, remember how proteins are chains of amino acids? You absolutely need BCAA's. They are in most protein powders, so it is up to personal choice if you think you need more of all or some, like leucine, which i personally supplement 3g xtra a day.

Aug 9, 2012 3:36pm | report
diificult2handl

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diificult2handl

Looks like i need to go shopping:) wouldn't know how to start properly if not reading this informative article. Slowly getting use to drinking my vanilla protein Lol one big gulp :)

Jun 29, 2012 11:50am | report
 
Adam Snarl

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Adam Snarl

It doesn't need to be torturous! There's plenty of great tasting powders around. Some companies you can write and ask for sample too. Also you may not even need to supplement with a powder. Its extremely easy to get in protein reqs my eating alone. It's a huge debate in the bb/ nutrition community, but I'm one to believe that bodybuilders may emphasize a little too much protein..

Jun 29, 2012 4:28pm | report
misfit28

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misfit28

Agreed with all except the Glutamine. Good article about the basics! :)

Jun 29, 2012 1:14pm | report
 
jdhardy

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jdhardy

If you eat enough protein, either by food or by powder, you get enough BCAA's, period. Glutamine is a myth, just look up the actual science studies on it. Fish Oil is essential! NOW super omega is one of the absolute best...take 4 caps per to get proper EPA/DHA levels. Creatine is a MUST!

Jun 29, 2012 2:45pm | report
 
jongraham90

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jongraham90

agreed, BCAA's are necessary, but getting them from supplements is NOT. Glutamine is not necessarily a myth but you get plenty from food and a quality protein powder like optimum nutrition will usually have a bunch in it. repped!

Jul 1, 2012 3:48pm | report
CalonLan

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CalonLan

Glutamine is great. And while it doesn't influence growth in the same sense that protein does, it still helps your immune system a lot. Or at least I like to believe so.

Jul 2, 2012 4:06am | report
Lachdanan

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Lachdanan

Hey man, are you talking about NOW Ultimate Omega 3? That's what I use and did a lot of comparisons.

Jul 2, 2012 9:43am | report
iTextBookNinja

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iTextBookNinja

I've been off of creatine for awhile now and I haven't noticed any decrease in strength or my ability to push out reps.

Jul 1, 2012 4:29pm | report
 
Zapell

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Zapell

I would have to agree with deloachrd on this one, BCAA's are essential to muscle growth! I used not to think this way until I started using them....amongst other key supplements.

Jul 9, 2012 6:30pm | report
 
lha

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lha

hello! Im new at all this world of supplements. I want to get toned and lean and would like to know what supplements i should buy!

Jul 10, 2012 3:31pm | report
 
sunnyvie

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sunnyvie

suggest you only protein supplement (whey, soy or egg any one) and fish oil.
not required anything else.

Jul 27, 2012 5:31am | report
0311cooper

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0311cooper

at Iha..... toned lean ripped shredded whatever your adj might be for it..... its called nutrition lol supps cant replace crappy diet

Sep 11, 2012 7:34pm | report
AntonioWright

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AntonioWright

0311cooper diet AND training methods. Supplements are just that SUPPLEMENTS.

Oct 11, 2012 1:13am | report
hunkhrishi

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hunkhrishi

i am thinking to change the intake of creatine. now i am taking 5grams after workout. can you suggest me how much i change it to and when?

Jul 17, 2012 2:13pm | report
 
almondbliss

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almondbliss

I take them all...except creatine, as I'm a lil nervous, cause people have told me I may gain weight or feel bloated all the time if I take it, is this true?

Jul 21, 2012 9:53am | report
 
Keiron73

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Keiron73

Google it and read some of the thousands of studies. Some say water retention is a side effect. The most confusing thing is how much and when to take it. Your body naturally makes the stuff but you cant tell how much so how do you know how much extra to take? I have never experienced "explosive power" and "massive gains" taking creatine either like some people say. Hope this helps?

Aug 7, 2012 1:53am | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 46 Comments

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