Despite this, there are particular supplements which have a worthy track record in exhibiting consistent positive results. The following are some recommended supplements (in no particular order), potential benefits, research findings, side effects, legal status, and recommended periods to ingest:
- Multivitamin-- provides 100% of recommended dietary intake; benefits shown; no side effects when taken as recommended on the label; legal to use; take with food
- Branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs)-- delays fatigue; decreases muscle catabolism by sparing muscle tissue for energy; increases energy; boosts growth hormone levels; enhances protein synthesis; preserves muscle mass; improves post-exercise recovery; benefits shown; no known side effects; legal to use; take before and immediately after workouts
- Glutamine-- enhances immunity; anti-catabolic; reduces cortisol levels; enhances protein synthesis; reduces muscle soreness; boosts growth hormone levels; benefits shown; no known side effects; legal to use; take before and immediately after workouts
- Creatine-- improves strength and power (anaerobic exercise); increases energy; increases muscle mass by increasing the water content in muscle cells; increases protein synthesis; increases lactic acid tolerance; increases glycogen storage; may reduce muscle soreness and fiber damage; reduces recovery time; benefits shown; side effects may include muscle cramping, GI distress; adverse kidney function under high doses; legal to use; take before and immediately after workouts
- Casein protein-- preserves muscle mass; provides satiety; benefits shown; no known side effects; legal to use; take as a snack; within one hour after workouts and before bedtime
- Whey protein-- increases muscle mass; increases endurance, strength and energy; benefits shown; may cause bloating, nausea, intestinal cramps; legal to use; take upon waking up as well as within one hour before and after workouts
- Fish oil-- maintains flexible joints; prevents inflammation; protects against heart disease; benefits shown; may cause heartburn, nausea; legal to use; take with food (should contain at least 1g of DHA and EPA)
- Caffeine-- increases muscle contractility; improves endurance and fat metabolism during aerobic exercise; increases fat and carb mobilization; reduces insulin resistance; delays fatigue; increases alertness and focus; decreases reaction time; may reduce pain; consistent benefits shown; mild stimulatory effects; may cause headaches, anxiety, insomnia, nervousness, GI distress, nausea, rapid heart rate; legal to use; take after breakfast and within one hour before workouts. Note: Caffeine is technically not a supplement but rather a drug and is therefore FDA-regulated when in products such as coffees, teas and colas. It is NOT regulated when in pill form (e.g., green tea extract) and sold as a supplement.
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."