Many of us have tried to lose weight for some reason or another. Sometimes, we do it in healthy ways, other times, not so much.
I'm here to tell you that you DON'T have to eat The Grapefruit Diet, The Cabbage Soup Diet or The Twigs and Berries diet, just to see results for that special occasion. There are things out here to help you on your journey to LEAN-ville.
They're called supplements, and they're great. However, I have to call 'caveat emptor' on this one ('Buyer beware'). Supplements ARE NOT the magic bullet of fat loss; they don't solve all of life's problems, and they won't do the work for you.
First and foremost, your diet needs to be on point. You have to make sure that you're eating clean, healthy, nutrition dense food. When you're confined your meal plan is optimal, you can then perfect your training. Making sure you're getting to the gym as often as you can and you're pushing it to re-max day in and day out.
You need muscle to burn fat people; it's the second part of the equation. Also make sure you're doing cardio (how much you do depends on your metabolism, bodytype, activity level, etc.). Once you're committed to your training, you're ready for the last piece of the puzzle: Supplements.
Right now, I am preparing for a bodybuilding competition that will take place November 8th; so I know all about the perils of trying to lose weight. When I knew that I had gone as far as I could go, relying exclusively on training and diet, I knew it was time to step it up with supplements.
Remember to check out with your doctor first if these supplements are appropriate for you. Here is what I recommend as six great supplements for fat loss:
Some of the food we eat is normally malnutritious due to mass harvesting, pesticides sprayed on food, and hormones given to animals. Consistent use of multivitamins and other key supplements can promote good health and help prevent disease.
A report from the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) found that ongoing use of multivitamins (preferably with minerals) and other single-nutrient supplements (like calcium or folic acid) demonstrated quantifiable positive impact in areas ranging from strengthening the immune system of highly-vulnerable elderly patients, to drastically reducing the risk of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.
Not to mention, when you're dieting, you're depleting some of your own vitamins/minerals AND/OR not taking in some of the essential nutrients you get from foods you've cut out of your diet.
You probably know that amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When you eat a protein food, it gets digested in the stomach and intestine into individual amino acids and short chains of amino acids that are small enough to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
These amino acids have far reaching effects in the body from building and repairing tissues, to producing chemicals that enable our brains to function optimally that will give you the energy you need to maximize your training while enhancing recovery at the same time.
Branched chain amino acids have been scientifically proven to help speed recovery and enhance ATP production and promote cell volumization, avoid fatigue by blocking entry of fatigue-inducing tryptophan into the brain, increase protein synthesis, immune function and digestive health, promote vasodilation which can lead to better assimilation and absorption of protein, and elevate growth hormone levels.
This supplement is great while cutting because it ensures you're prevent catabolism (loss of muscle size) and retention of muscle mass, even in a calorie deficit.
3. Whey Protein
Whey protein (the highest quality and best form of protein) is incredible stuff. It provides the body with the necessary building blocks to produce amino acids that are used for building muscle tissue. Whoa! Nearly every bodybuilder knows the importance of protein supplementation.
Studies have been conducted that compare whey protein to other sources. They have found that whey protein contains the perfect combination of overall amino acid makeup and in just the right concentrations for optimal performance in the body. Both hormonal and cellular responses seem to be greatly enhanced with supplementation of whey protein, too!
Not to mention the benefits whey protein has on the body's immune system according to documented scientific research. Whey protein also plays a role as an antioxidant and helps support a health immune system. Most importantly, consistent whey protein intake coupled with exercise will result in consistent muscle building.
Research suggests that after intensely working out, glutamine levels in the body are reduced by as much as 50%. Since the body relies on glutamine as cellular fuel for the immune system, scientific studies suggest that glutamine supplementation can minimize the breakdown of muscle tissue and improve protein metabolism.
Glutamine's cell-volumizing effects have also been supported by several studies. A recent study suggests a meaningful increase in growth-hormone levels when as little as 2 grams of free-form L-glutamine supplement was consumed! Bodybuilders can particularly gain from the intake of glutamine.
Since bodybuilders use a lot of their glutamine when working out, the immune system relies heavily on this amino acid. Catabolism, or muscle break down, can occur if the body robs muscles of glutamine for use elsewhere such as nitrogen transport or maintaining the immune system. Glutamine supplementation is certainly important in keeping muscles building—not deteriorating.
5. Fat Burner/Thermogenic
Thermogenics are supplements that are literally fat burners ("thermo" comes from the word "fire"). There are a couple of different ways thermogenics help shed the fat:
- They're good at "convincing" that stubborn adipose (fat) tissue/cells to open up and let fat go into the blood stream so that it becomes a usable source of energy when we're working out. Typical ingredient that does this: Yohimbine.
- Thermogenics, as the name suggests, help raise your body temperature internally, so your body heats up and ends up burning more calories overall at the end of the day. Typical ingredient that does this: Caffeine.
6. Pre-Workout L-Arginine/Nitric Oxide Booster
Nitric Oxide controls the circulation of blood, and transmits messages between nerve cells. The fact that nitric oxide increases blood flow should make it of interest to bodybuilders, as increased blood flow will serve to deliver more nutrients to muscles, thus helping muscles become larger when subject to stress.
Recently, dietary supplements containing Arginine have become popular due to Arginine's nitric oxide producing ability, its ability to scavenge free radicals, as well as its ability to signal muscle cells, release growth hormone, support healthy cholesterol, and enhance fat metabolism.
Arginine helps regulate salt levels in the body. For this reason it should be of interest to competing bodybuilders, as retaining water under the skin can make one looks smooth, bloated and washed out. Arginine is also believed to be crucial for muscle growth due to its vasodilating abilities, as well as its ability to participate in protein synthesis.
A supplement with one of these ingredients is going to ensure you get vasodilation ("pumps"), thereby promoting oxygen and nutrients to go to your cells. Having a bit of caffeine in the supplement (if you're not sensitive to stimulants) can also help with energy.