With the huge array of nutritional supplements and ergogenic aids on the market today it is no wonder experienced bodybuilders, athletes and especially those just entering into the fitness realm are baffled as to which to use for performance, maximizing gains from weight training and overall health.
Supplements are an essential part of gaining muscle, strength, size and even definition. I get asked so many times; "what should I take?" Well, there are so many supplements to choose from, and so many manufacturers.
And each one is different, some are good and some are not so good. The supplements I have used and recommended over the years are many. I train hard and heavy so I need nutrients, and food doesn't always cover all that is needed especially in restricted diets like competition diets.
These are just some of the reasons why you and I should take supplements. We also take certain supplements to help us train hard and recover quicker from our intense workouts. We also need quality protein supplements to maintain our physiques for muscle growth and even recovery. This review is based solely on my professional opinion and experience.
The first thing I would like to address is whether women should take supplements or not. Many women who are just entering into the fitness realm do not think that there are supplements out there that are made for them and often many have no idea of what to take. There are supplements that are made specifically for women, some I recommend and others I do not.
There are many products out there designed exclusively for women and there are many products out there that are marketed directly for men but are just as useful for women.
There are proteins, weight loss formulas, multi-vitamins, etc. and they are specifically formulated for women. Now let's cover some of the basics that both men and women of all levels should definitely be taking.
The only down fall is there are lots of pills to swallow. Another recommendation for both men and women would be Liqui Vites by Nutrition Bounty or Liquid Vitamin by PureForm.
I have worked with men and women at all levels and have found few who can actually consume the amount of protein necessary for their body.
I have found that an easy way to supplement in protein to get the quantity each individual needs is to add protein shakes into the daily diet. And, yes, both men and women of all levels typically need to add protein shakes into their diets.
Several years ago, a new system of filtration identified ion-exchange whey protein as a top quality protein source. Before then protein powders were based on cheap, poor quality soy protein or egg white protein (which mixes poorly).
There is only one time that I would even consider recommending soy protein and that would be to women who are post menopausal, other than that I do not feel anyone especially men should take soy protein. Allmax Nutrition has designed a protein blend specifically for women called ISOfemme, which is low calorie, low carb and low sugar.
Other protein powders that I highly recommend and take include 100% Whey Power by Higher Power. This one tastes great & I use it in the off-season. It does have some sugar and carbs in it but they are minimal.
Now when I am getting ready for competition I change it up to a much higher-grade protein that has no sugar or carbs. I use two different ones and highly recommend both to men and women. These proteins are Isolyze by Species Nutrition and Zero Carb Isopure by Nature's Best.
- Isolyze protein by Species is awesome and is something that both men and women should definitely consider taking especially when having to watch the amount of sugar and carbs being consumed, further, it tastes great. Isopure is another one with no sugar or carbs and is also great for both men and women.
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Meal replacements are another easy way to get those extra calories. Now remember these are meal replacements, which means they DO have carbs in them. So, if you are trying to keep your carbs down a protein shake is a better way to go than a meal replacement.
However, if you are trying to add body weight or you are not on a calorie restricted diet then meal replacements are a good way to get in those extra calories.
Some of the meal replacements that I would recommend would include Isopure by Nature's Best, which has 300 calories, 50 protein and 25 carbs. Another meal replacement that I would recommend would be Complete Pro Power by ISS Research.
Now do note that there are some meal replacements that are lower in carbs than others, however, when I am looking for or recommending a MRP I am usually looking for one that is relatively balanced in both protein and carbs.
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There are few people that I have met who are not looking for someway to assist themselves in losing fat. Yes, there are those few out there who do not need to lose any fat and are trying to put on the pounds.
But, generally speaking most are trying to lose the excess fat. With that said some of the fat burners I would recommend for both men and women include Lipolyze and Somalyze by Species Nutrition.
Many people cannot handle stimulants and Species fat burners are non-stimulant with the Lipolyze being the daytime formula and the Somalyze being the nighttime formula.
I personally have used both, and with all the different products I have taken over the years feel this is definitely one of the best I have used. Another one that I feel is a good fat burning system is the Tri-Lean System by ALR Industries.
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Pre-Workout drinks are great for getting that added energy to carry you through your workout and some are designed to help move nutrients and other supplements into the blood stream quickly to enhance performance.
Many of these drinks come in a vast array of different concoctions, some just sugar-based and some containing a range of stimulants like caffeine, guarana and ephedra. Many people feel they need them to train after a hard day at work.
There are two that I feel are really good and I recommend them for both men and women. The first one that I would recommend is Carbolyze by Species Nutrition there is only 0.5 g sugar, has no stimulants to make you crash, will cause no bloating and is better than products that use dextrose or maltodextrin.
Ultimate Orange by Next is another good pre-workout drink that I have used and is good for both men and women. However, it does have caffeine and other stimulants in it. If you do not do well with stimulants then I definitely recommend the Carbolyze.
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This is a supplement I have had many people ask me about and have seen there is much confusion over.
Creatine is good for both men and women. Many studies indicate it does help improve performance by providing more energy, increase in strength and muscle growth.
A creatine that was designed specifically for women is Kre-a-fem by All American EFX. Now it does have one ingredient I disagree with and that is Soy. Soy does raise estrogen levels and that makes you smooth, so why add something to a product that will make you smooth?
There are many more good creatine products out there and these are just a few that I would recommend. Again, creatine is a great product I would recommend to both men and women, just remember when taking creatine products be sure to drink lots of water.
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The supplements I have addressed are the most frequently asked about ones. Just remember the two most important supplements to start with are your vitamins and proteins. From there you can progress to meal replacements, fat burners and creatine.
Once you have a full understanding of these products then it is time to start learning about some of the other products on the market. But for now start with the basics and remember there are many supplements that are designed specifically for women.
So, for you women out there who think they should not be taking supplements because they are all geared for men—you are wrong, there are many products out there for you as well.