If hard training and proper nutrition form the foundation of a solid fitness regimen, smart supplementation is the performance-boosting cherry on top. For Beast athlete Brandan Fokken, this definitely holds true. "Supplementing my diet is a must," he says. "When you break yourself down over and over again, you need that extra boost to help you heal, grow, get strong, accelerate your workouts, and stay focused."
Put simply, Fokken says supplementation is an essential part of keeping his body on track. "You have to treat your body like a business," he says. "To be successful in business, everything has to work well together—the same goes for your body. You need a mix of everything so that, if one thing fails, the rest can absorb the impact to keep you going strong."
Supplements aren't meant to be your main dietary staple; they're meant to fill holes in an otherwise solid nutrition plan. They help fill in gaps, provide you with that extra edge, and help you reach your current goals while striving for new ones.
If you've ever wanted to supplement like a pro athlete, this sneak peek into Fokken's supplement regimen is your chance! In addition to protein to support his dietary intake, here's what he takes on a typical day:
Dosage: 1 scoop
Time taken: Roughly 30 minutes before training
Benefits: Just because you tingle or sweat profusely doesn't mean you're getting in a better workout. "Pre-workouts give me the energy I need without leaving me nauseated, dizzy, or out of breathe," Fokken says.
Caffeine, a naturally derived stimulant found in most pre-workouts, has been shown to improve performance by decreasing the rate of fatigue and lowering perception of effort. Additionally, caffeine can help increase mental alertness and concentration.
"With a good pre-workout, I don't experience a post-workout crash, and have even felt an increase in my stamina, clarity, and overall mental strength," adds Fokken.
Dosage: 10 g
Time taken: Post-workout
Benefits: Because muscle breakdown is constantly occurring, new proteins are needed to help your body continue to synthesize muscle tissue. Glutamine not only reduces protein breakdown, but can speed up recovery from a hard training session, and may mitigate post-workout soreness. As an added benefit, glutamine provides support for the immune system.
"This supp helps to not only restore my glycogen but also improve recovery time and help build new proteins," Brandan says. "If I don't take this product, I can tell the difference in my day-to-day recovery."
Supplement Fish Oil
Dosage: 1,000 milligrams of DHA and EPA
Time Taken: With first and last meal
Benefits: Derived from the fat of deep sea, cold-water fish, fish oil supplements provide a natural source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are important nutrients that support a host of bodily functions and systems, including cardiovascular health, dental health, and joint flexibility, as well as brain, nerve, and visual function. Omegas-3s may also reduce acute, exercise-induced inflammation following heavy exercise, helping to reduce soreness and speed up recovery.
Supplement Amino acids
Dosage: 10 g of total amino acids, including 5 g of BCAAs
Time taken: During workout and throughout the day
Benefits: For Fokken, aminos serve a dual purpose: "First, I tend to not drink enough water, so adding BCAAs to a gallon jug each day helps me keep my hydration on point. BCAAs also reduce the rate of protein breakdown and help stimulate your cells' capacity for protein synthesis. They're especially helpful for preserving lean muscle tissue when on a calorie deficit."
Time Taken: With breakfast
Dosage: 1 serving
Benefits: A complete, well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, complex carbohydrates, good fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is a solid foundation for optimal health and performance. However, even healthy diets contain nutrient gaps, and this holds especially true for people who train to the limit. Thankfully, you can count on a daily multivitamin to help fill in those gaps and provide your body with some valuable nutritional insurance.
If you're new to the world of supplementation, the supplements Fokken uses throughout his day are a great place to start. Fish oil, amino acids, and a multivitamin are especially beneficial for hard-working trainees. If you have any questions about the particulars, drop them in the comments below!