Nutrients should always come from food first, but few people eat a large enough variety to get all the required nutrients. This is where supplements come into the equation and help fill those gaps. Using Bodybuilding.com’s Signature Series, let’s dive into what supplements you should always have, supplements to consider no matter the goal, and others to consider depending on your goal.
Supplements You Should Have:
These are supplements that help fill the most common gaps in our nutrition. If we want to achieve our health and fitness goals, we need to minimize these nutrition gaps as much as possible. If our budget is limited, these following supplements are what you should have:
Why: Protein is a key nutrient your body needs. Most people do not eat enough protein throughout the day in order for it to be effectively utilized. For building muscle, whey protein provides quick digesting protein that can be broken down to get the needed nutrients to recover and build up the muscle. Whey protein powders also help you get more calories overall throughout the day which is key to building muscle as well. For losing body fat, protein helps ensure you have the needed nutrients to maintain that hard earned muscle rather than losing it when you’re in a calorie deficit. This is why a whey protein powder is a must have no matter the goal.
Best Time to Take: For a whey protein, it is best to take it right after your workout since it is a fast-digesting protein. After a workout, your muscles need nutrients in order to recover. Whey protein will allow you to get these nutrients quickly. You can take this in the morning right when you wake up since it is important to get fast-digesting protein as well or any time throughout the day if you are not getting enough protein from whole foods.
Tip: If you are unsure how much protein you need to consume, check out our Macro Calculator.
Why: Creatine is one of the most studied supplements out there. The main purpose of creatine is to help your body create more cellular energy; meaning you can workout with more intensity and recover a little more effectively. These benefits are important no matter the goal, so this is definitely a must have.
Best time to Take: Although there are several studies with this supplement, there is no big difference when you take it as long as you take it consistently every day. This means you are welcome to take it before a workout, after a workout, or just “whenever”.
Signature Product: Signature Creatine Monohydrate
Why: BCAAs or Branch Chain Amino Acids are the three most important amino acids when it comes to recovery and growth. If you are consistently sore after workouts and struggling to recover, BCAAs are something to definitely consider.
Best Time to Take: Because it helps with the recovery process, it is best to take them before, during, or after your workouts. You can also include a scoop in your water throughout the day to add flavor without all those additional calories!
Signature Product: Signature BCAA
Why: a multivitamin is going to help make sure you are receiving the right amount of micronutrients or vitamins and minerals. Several people don’t have a ton of variety in their diets to get these nutrients, so having a multivitamin can help you fill those gaps! Additionally, in order for our body to operate efficiently for any health and fitness goal, these nutrients are needed.
Best Time to Take: This should be taken immediately following a meal. It can be right after breakfast, dinner, or any meal. By taking it with a meal, it ensures that all the vitamins and minerals are absorbed properly.
Signature Product: Signature Multivitamin
Why: People usually either love or hate eating fish and most people don’t consume the recommended amount. Because of this, a fish oil supplement is considered a must have. These fatty acids help support your cardiovascular system, brain, joints, and immune system.
Best Time to Take: Much like a multivitamin, a fish oil supplement is recommended to be taken with a meal. By doing this, it helps ensure the body is digesting and utilizing the fatty acids effectively.
Signature Product: Signature Fish Oil
Supplements to Consider for Any Goal:
Now that we’ve gone over the must have supplements, let’s talk about the supplements to consider for any goal. These are supplements to add on top of the above mentioned if you’re needing to fill additional nutrition or performance gaps:
Why: Although a pre-workout is a must have for some, it is not necessary for everyone. However, there are some great benefits when it comes to taking one consistently. Most people think pre-workouts are just for energy, but that’s only part of the equation. Pre-workouts also contain ingredients to help with endurance, focus, and driving nutrients to the muscles (pump). We all want more endurance when it comes to workouts, more focus to really hone in on getting the most out of our workouts, and getting the needed nutrients to the muscles.
Best Time to Take: With a pre-workout, it is best to be taken about 30 minutes before a workout. This amount of time ensures the ingredients are active in your body and starting to take effect.
Signature Product: Signature Pre-Workout
Glucosamine & Chondroitin
Why: When it comes to lifting, it can take a toll on your joints and cartilage. If you want something that may help protect this wear and tear, glucosamine and chondroitin may be right for you.
Best Time to Take: This can be taken any time throughout the day. To help ensure it is taken consistently, we recommend making it part of your morning or night routine.
Signature Product: Signature Glucosamine & Chondroitin
Why: L-Glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body and is depleted when you workout. This amino acid plays an important role when it comes to the recovery process, so if you’re struggling with soreness, this is something to certainly consider.
Best Time to Take: Because we deplete it during workouts, it is recommended we take it right after workout. It can also be taken right before bed since that is one of the most important times for recovery.
Signature Product: Signature Micronized Glutamine
Why: ZMA is a patented blend of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Research on ZMA has shown that it may help support sleep quality, strength, power, and testosterone levels. Because of its potential to help with sleep quality, it’s definitely something to consider since this is one of the most important factors when it comes to achieving those health and fitness goals.
Best Time to Take: It is best taken 30-60 minutes before bedtime. This one is recommended to be taken on an empty stomach as well.
Signature Product: Signature ZMA
Why: Still struggling with getting enough protein in? A casein protein could help you get there. This type of protein is a slow-digesting protein. This means it takes longer for your body to break it down and feeds those muscles at a slower rate which can be important when you’re trying to recover from long endurance workouts.
Best Time to Take: Because it is slow-digesting, it is not ideal to take right after workout since we want nutrients right away. Instead, this one can be taken right before bed to feed your body the needed nutrients to recover. You can also take it between meals if you know it will be a long time between them.
Signature Product: Signature Casein
Why: When we talked about pre-workouts, we talked about how they can help deliver nutrients to the muscles being worked and giving you a “pump”. This is the most common ingredient to help with that. Citrulline is an amino acid that helps increase nitric oxide which allows your blood vessels to open up. This means more blood can flow through to get those nutrients to the muscles more effectively.
Best Time to Take: Citrulline as a stand alone ingredient can be taken any time throughout the day. If you’re not taking a pre-workout, we would recommend taking about 30 minutes before your workout.
Signature Product: Signature Citrulline
Supplements To Consider For Fat Loss:
Now that we’ve established what supplements you should have and some to consider, let’s take a look at some to consider if your goal is specifically to lose fat:
Why: Studies have shown Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) may help reduce fat deposits in the body and help convert fat into energy. If you’re looking for something to help you lose fat more effectively, you should definitely consider this.
Best Time to Take: CLA can be taken any time throughout the day.
Signature Product: Signature CLA
Why: L-Carnitine helps your body metabolize fat. This means it can help transport fat into the cells of your body to be used for energy. It also can help play a role in helping maintain muscle which is just as important when it comes to fat loss. You want to maintain the muscle you have while losing the fat.
Best Time to Take: This can be taken any time during the day with or without a meal.
Signature Product: Signature L-Carnitine
Supplements To Consider When Building Muscle:
If your goal is to build muscle, here are some other supplements to consider based on your needs:
Why: As men age, their testosterone levels start to decrease. It is a natural occurrence, so how do we help with this? By taking a testosterone booster. A testosterone booster has ingredients in it to help your body naturally create testosterone with a healthy normal range. When levels are within that range, it helps with fat distribution, bone density, and muscle strength. If you’re looking to help yourself gain that muscle, you should consider a testosterone booster.
Note: This is recommended more for men over 30. We also recommend checking your testosterone levels with Let's Get Checked or your physician.
Best Time to Take: This can be taken any time during the day. We recommend taking it as part of your morning routine or right before bed to establish consistency.
Signature Product: Signature Testosterone Booster
Why: If you are looking to build muscle and struggling to feed your body through whole foods, then a mass gainer could be for you. Mass gainers help people make sure they are in a calorie surplus when building muscle. They contain protein to help give you the key muscle-building amino acids, carbohydrates to help fuel your body for those big lifts, and fats to help your body produce hormones at healthy levels.
Best Time to Take: Because you need to be in a calorie surplus for the whole day, you can take a mass gainer any time.
Signature Product: Signature Mass Gainer