Have you ever been into a supplements store? Talk about feeling out of place. From the jacked-up man behind the counter to the rows of ‘OxyShred,’ it’s not surprising most people find it daunting. But when it comes to supplements, it’s important to know what you’re taking. So if you’re new to the gym or you’ve just never ventured into the world of supplementation, this may be a good place to start.
First off, supplements are just that: supplementation. While we aim to get all our nutritional needs from food, sometimes we might be lacking and this is where supplements can come in. Although we may not need supplements, they can certainly help us to perform at our best.
“Many women underestimate the benefits of supplementation on optimising overall health and wellness. From boosting energy and improving weight loss to preventing disease, supplements can help us target and allow our bodies to work efficiently and effectively,” says Holly Vogt, pharmacist, PT and expert for Body Science.
Before you start, it might be a good idea to get tested. Finding out what you’re deficient in will help you tailor your needs. That being said, the best gauge of your health is always yourself. Find it hard to bounce back after a tough workout? Try magnesium. Switched to a vegan diet? Protein powder could help.
As with anything, before you start it’s important to consult the experts so we turned to five personal trainers to find out what supplements they take to fuel their workouts and aid their recovery.
I am super pro-protein! My preference and what works best for my body is whey protein isolate. Performance wise, whey isolates have the highest percentage of pure protein and can be absorbed very quickly into the body so this is a great choice to support your training. Plus, for those that are lactose intolerant, whey isolate can be so pure that it can virtually be lactose-free.
Finding the perfect protein powder has been an ongoing search for me. I’m very conscious of what I put in my body and am always reading ingredients labels. You would be horrified by how often you are consuming added ingredients and proprietary blends – that have no purpose being in your protein – that manufacturers use to cut down on cost. Or worse, many companies don’t even have to fully disclose the true nutritional value and ingredients of their products including the actual amount of protein per serving. Thanks to websites such as LabDoor, we now have access to more information and can get a bit more transparency around the true quality of protein and many other supplements.
After years of trying countless protein brands, I’ve finally admitted defeat on my search for the perfect protein that is both nutritionally sound, honest, pure and reliable, but also tastes good and represents a lifestyle I want to be part of… so I’ve made my own. This is something I am incredibly passionate about and cannot wait to share with other like-minded people.
Dosage: half a scoop pre-workout mixed with 125mL water and 1 full scoop post-workout mixed with 250mL water
Another supplement that has been a game changer for me is magnesium. I used to suffer from really bad muscle cramps until I started taking very high-quality magnesium. Magnesium is an excellent supplement to help speed up your muscle recovery and to help you wind down at the end of the day. My personal favourite is UberMag Px by Poliquin Group.
Dosage: 4 capsules at night: 2 when I first get home at the end of the day and 2 before bed.
At the moment I’ve been spending more time learning about cognitive health and nootropics – this is an area that fascinates me. I take fish oil each day and most days have a capsule of L-Theanine in the morning when I’m drinking my coffee – it helps me to really zone in on what I’m doing.
I love the Blackmores Superfood range. Cacao, Coconut Water, and Matcha Green Tea + Nature Boost are my favourites. I have a scoop of each in the morning as they’re perfect for powering up my smoothies.
Dosage: 1 scoop of each with my morning smoothie
I have one Blackmores Exercise Multi when I get to work every day.
Dosage: 1 capsule every day
I use the Blackmores Muscle Magnesium. I take one scoop at night before bed to induce a restful sleep and ease my active body.
Dosage: 1 scoop before bed
I take a high-quality probiotic every day to help promote a healthy digestive and immune system. Gut bacteria affect our overall physical and mental health so it’s important to keep it balanced. I take Nutrikon GI Flora Plus. It’s a 60 billion blend of 50/50 Lactobacillus Acidophilus/Bifidobacterium Lactis.
Dosage: 1 capsule every day
Magnesium is an essential mineral for staying healthy. It assists in regulating everything including blood sugar, blood pressure, muscle and nerve function, fatigue, detoxification, and moods swings. I take Nutrikon Magnesium Glycinate. It is a chelated form of magnesium that is not as strong and is easily absorbed by the body.
Dosage: 400mgs of Magnesium Glycinate every day
As I follow a vegan diet, I need to supplement my protein intake. I add vegan plant protein to my daily smoothies. It can be used after workouts to enhance the recovery process and also contains a high percentage of amino acids. This also helps to boost the immune system and increase the production of glutathione, a natural antioxidant. Raw protein is absorbed quickly into the intestines promoting rapid recovery, healing and maintaining muscle mass. There are many vegan options including pea, hemp, and brown rice.
Dosage: 1 scoop Sun Warrior Organic Vanilla protein with my daily smoothie or after a workout
Rhodiola Rosea is a herb with amazing benefits. It’s fat burning, energy enhancing and brain boosting. It’s an adaptogen plant which helps your body adapt to physical, chemical and environmental stressors. I take of Gaia – Rhodiola Rosea at night to help de-stress and promote restful sleep.
Dosage: 120mgs at night
L-Theanine is another great amino acid supplement that I use to promote relaxation, reduce stress and improve sleep naturally. It also promotes concentration for mental tasks, which we like to call mental calmness.
Dosage: 1 capsule of Jarrow Theanine 100 every day
PhosphatidylSerine is a brain nutrient. It helps to energise the brain and improve short term memory, mood, focus, and coordination. It nourishes the brain cells and reduces stress. I take this at night or if I have an important project to focus on.
Dosage: 1 capsule of Jarrow PS 100 at night
Papaya digestive enzymes are great for anyone who has difficulty absorbing nutrients from food or suffers from intolerances like dairy. Papaya breaks down food in the stomach reducing heartburn, acid reflux, bloating and other GI issues. I take it at the beginning of a big meal.
Dosage: 1 capsule before a big meal
Even though we are in the sunshine every day, most people are deficient in Vitamin D. I take a high dose of Vitamin D and Vitamin K supplements once a week. They work together to maintain healthy bones, immune system and prevent against multiple inflammatory diseases in the body.
Dosage: once a week
Related article: Omega-3 is the new cholesterol: why you should be getting it checked.
High-quality Omega 3 Fish Oil is an essential supplement that supports overall health including cholesterol, eyes, cardiovascular and joint health to name a few.
Dosage: every day
Apple cider vinegar is rich in ash, which gives it its alkaline property. This aids your body in maintaining proper pH levels for a healthy alkaline state. This is particularly important if you drink a lot of coffee, which I do. It can help regulate blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol. I take ACV with glutamine. Studies have shown that L-Glutamine supplementation can minimise the breakdown of muscle and improve protein metabolism.
Dosage: 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and 1 tsp of glutamine upon waking.
A multi-vitamin helps ensure you are meeting your micronutrient needs.
Dosage: 1 capsule with breakfast
The calcium citrate is for my bone health. It also helps the fat burning process (calcium is a part of the fat burning equation).
Dosage: 1 capsule with breakfast
Vitamin C is for my immune system as well as helping my body create a more efficient metabolism (vitamin C helps the body create Carnitine, which, in turn, helps your body use fat for fuel).
Dosage: 1000mg of vitamin C (Prima C – low acidity) with breakfast
The fish oil is for your healthy fats. Healthy fats also help improve the metabolism and lubricate your joints as well as your mind. I like to include fish oil as although we may include fish in our diet, 98% of us are still deficient in Omega 3 fats. This may be due to several variables, namely farming of fish and preservatives that have inhibited our absorption of these essential fats.
Dosage: 1 triple strength fish oil with breakfast
Related article: 9 of the best all-natural protein powders
The protein helps me maintain and grow muscle mass and BSC is the best.
Dosage: 50gm of protein powder with BSC Hydroxyshred in water in between meals
Magnesium has a number of benefits including improved strength, better hormone balance, better insulin sensitivity, better sleep and therefore recovery
Dosage: 1 scoop of Magnesium Ultra Muscleze before dinner…after this I sleep like a baby
I try to get most of my nutrients from a healthy diet, a lot of really small meals. I’ve tried so many different nutrition methods [but I find] this helps me to maintain a good level of energy and mental function.
Dosage: 1 scoop 45 minutes before I work out as well as straight after.
I take BCAAs because they help me to push hard throughout the whole workout. They make me feel like I can do another class and the next day I feel like I can push harder.
I also mix in multivitamins, probiotics, and vitamin D3, and I try to eat good food that gives me the elements that my body needs.
Dosage: pre-workout every day