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 confident your meal plan is optimal, you can then perfect your training.
You need muscle to burn fat; it's the second part of the equation. Also make sure you're doing cardio (how much you do depends on your metabolism, body type, activity level, etc.). Once you're committed to your training, you're ready for the last piece of the puzzle: Supplements.
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 a wide variety of health-related areas.*
Not to mention, when you're dieting, you're sometimes not taking in some of the essential nutrients you typically 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 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 (BCAAs) 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, support 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 preventing catabolism (loss of muscle size) and promoting retention of muscle mass, even in a calorie deficit.
3. Whey Protein
Whey protein provides the body with the necessary building blocks to produce amino acids that are used for building muscle tissue.
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.*
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.*
Since bodybuilders use a lot of their glutamine when working out, the immune system relies heavily on this amino acid. Catabolism, or muscle breakdown, 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 ways thermogenics help shed the fat:
- They're good at "convincing" that stubborn adipose (fat) tissue 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.
- 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.
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 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.*
*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.