Pre-Workout, Protein shakes, Creatine, BCAA’s.
I see a number of people taking supplements associated with working-out/training.
Is it to improve training? Make you stronger? Increase your muscle mass? Or is it a ‘must’ because you attend the gym?
One question we will always ask is, if you’re not sure what it is, why are you consuming it? We’ve all been to school, we’ve all had the daunting peer pressure, so why are we still so naive to think that we’ve got to do something ‘because everybody else is'. Nonsense.
I’m pretty sure the ‘lies’ outweigh the ‘truths’ these days, by this I mean in the media - posts, front covers, adverts, celebrity sellouts. It is a shame but we live in a world where money is the top of the agenda for some people and they’ll do anything for a quick quid. Supplements being one of the most highly sold products in the 1st world, they are advertised everywhere these days including ‘fat loss’ pills to even tanning tablets, oh dear, but that’s for another day!
The so called ‘gym supplements’ listed above apart from the BCAA’s was part of my routine not so much the ‘Pre-workout’ (more on this later) but the other two was for most gym days, as a ritual for, it could of been 4 years. I stuck to the plain flavours as a precaution, to spend all that money, and I couldn’t bare the taste. Creatine was simple, it always come as tasteless option, add it in the protein and “bobs your uncle”
“What one do I choose?”
Vegan/plant based ones wasn’t even a option at the time, not that I’d even opt for this, it certainly wasn’t in the choice, and I didn’t have a clue. I asked sources from all different areas of the trade, and to be honest they all had something else to sell or say. In the end I set up an account with a popular supplement company emailed them and they provided my “best option”
…Vanilla Whey, Unflavoured Creatine, Fruity Pre-workout and samples of BCAA’s. £145. Fantastic deal… so I thought.
The reasons for the supplement choice for me at the time was as follows:
Pre workout - gets you pumped up for your training, allowing more reps, more work.
Protein shake - to feed them ‘new’ muscles, and the more protein you have the less soreness you’ll have.
Creatine - makes you bigger & stronger, in a short amount of time.
BCAA’s - basically, makes the protein work faster. (never used)
Everyone’s had the unmotivated, tired body, any excuse not-to-train feeling. Pre-workout to me, for my case, was simple:
“Right you’ve had it now, there’s your easy ‘sit on your ass’ motivation/pump”
Looking back at it now, the first couple of times I consumed it was purely placebo. I drank it, I was going to work harder in my head, so I did.
This was the one I was least unsure about, how much dosage at one time I should take? as there was no guidance. I took it maybe 3/4 times and I didn’t no what all the fuss was about. When found out I was only taking a quarter of what the recommended dose was, I then doubled my dose just to see if there was a difference. Hands down, it was one of the biggest shock to the system I’ve ever had.
Your heart pumps, you feel like you don’t need that rest in-between sets, you are in a zone of non stop, “get out my way” attitude.
This was great!… for 5 minutes, then BANG!…
Pins and needles in my arms, neck and my face! My heart was racing almost as if it wanted to come out of my body and have a kick about…
Why would anyone ever take this?
It was one of the worst things I've ever taken. It was so bad, I had to stop my session immediately and sit in the shower.
The most daunting thing about it was the fact I couldn't control my heartbeat.
There is a ingredient in so many of the ‘pre-workout’ supplements, that is past by the regulations that mimics the illegal drug ‘speed’ which is atrocious, but someone has to get paid, right?
I would never recommend anyone to take this. If it’s not from a reliable source, by this I mean a Doctor, do not go anywhere near it, your heart is in massive danger!
If you ever see anyone as foolish as I once was, who obviously hasn’t read this prior and they get the same symptoms, you need to flush the system with VITAMIN C ASAP, a high enough dosage that will flush out the system.
If you do need that extra bit of a push prior to you’re training, naturally, caffeine and fruit is a great way to get the heart pumping an extra beat (in a safe, natural way) Green Tea is obviously better than coffee (health wise) but either one will give you that extra little kick, and both fine to consume.
In a previous ‘No Meat, No Protein?’ you will realise that we do need protein regardless of how active you are, but do we need the extra bit more in our system to reach your goals?
There is a vast amount of different protein supplements out there nowadays, and powders being the top dog for variety, high carb, low carb, whey, casein, high(er) protein, vegan, slow release, the list could go on and on.
Again, I was once the guy who asked around about what’s what? Which is which? and the biggest question was cost!
The cost of some of the protein supplements can get very pricey indeed, especially for the quantity you get. In the end a plain flavoured powder, either chocolate/vanilla WHEY was my choice, which was the most recommended. I would usually ask the older generation, the more experienced as you tend to do so, but this is not always the best case now I've figured out.
The idea behind the ‘whey’ was the thought of getting a little bigger and putting on a bit of size, ohhh and the biggest one to me was the more you have the less ‘soreness’ I will have!
Protein is important regardless, as I’ve stated earlier, but it’s even more vital after a session. Whatever sort of training you do, you’re most likely going to eat after your session. Food has protein in, in fact, it has as much as you want it to have - the more you eat. If you’re the person, (which is rare) that has a usual job where time feels cut short and meals don’t come as often as they should, then this is a good time to think of introducing some sort of supplements to meet your minimal requirements for nutrients. This should still not be a excuse to exchange a meal for a quick shake, this is merely just a handy tip to supply what your body needs until your next meal.
I will always recommend whole, solid foods over any sort of juice/shake etc regardless, but I do understand sometimes people are crazy busy and won't get that meal in for another 3 hours. If you opt down the path of protein supplements, there are many out there that are junk, filled full of refined sugars, artificial sweeteners which are packed full of unnecessary calories with zero nutritional value. There will be good ones out there if you have time to compare but be very mindful of what you’re buying, do your research.
Being prepared is the best way to get sufficient protein in your system. By already reading my other blog ‘top 10 Q&As’ you’ll already know I do not eat meat or fish and I still get all the protein I need and more with my ‘Jack Smith diet’.
Being lazy and not preparing does not mean you can exchange your meals for a Protein shake, and the thought of the more protein you consume the less pain you’ll feel, is a total myth. It certainly helps the muscle repair but you’ll always have soreness (the good kind), but if it’s too much you’ve either trained incorrectly, or have NOT stretched out, which leads to more build up of lactic acid, hence more soreness. As for the good soreness, embrace it, I have it every single day, somedays worse than others. You’ll find it especially when trying a new exercise or routine.
Does it make your muscles bigger, quicker?
We make our own creatine in our body, known as ATP; did I mention for free?It’s a natural thing that happens in our body. The idea that it would help make me stronger in shorter amount of time, and to gain muscle mass, the answer is yes and no. A lot of people out there want “the easy option” the “one pill fixes all”, the one shake that guarantees results.
You can almost guarantee with every ‘new’ fad, there is a 2-4 week honeymoon period where the customer is over the moon with results, shouting and screaming about it, and then BANG! They’re not seeing the same results as fast as their placebo-affect starter week.
Whcih then leads to slowly getting out of their new fad, and before you know it, there will be another one they'll happily try. Don’t be that person. Always do your research, ask reliable sources.
The ATP in our bodies are used in short bursts i.e. the first 10 seconds of intense training, before other form of energy cells kick in. To take extra creatine as a supplement would give you more energy therefore provide you more output in your training. Creatine does not gain you more muscle mass but will contribute to the extra push to enhance your training and therefore with more output in your training the harder you work, hence the ‘stronger’ quote. With the supplement in your body you will eventually look a lot more swollen (‘the bigger muscles’) because the muscles will be retaining a lot of water. If you’re opting for this supplement, one of the side affects will be serious dehydration, thus you’ll NEED to increase your water intake indefinitely!
Branched Chained Amino Acids. These combine together to make your proteins, they are ESSENTIAL, some more important than others. People often supplement them as a powder with the protein shakes, have it alone or you can often find it in tablet form.
These essential amino acids are in every source of protein we eat, especially if you consume meat and fish as they contain all the essentials. Plant based requires a little bit more variety but still, easy done, you’ll be fine. (more on this in my ‘Q&A blog’)
Overall, as a supplement, no matter what the company or salesman is selling you, you don’t need this, you’ll get enough from your food intake even if your goal is to gain muscle mass. Save your money, spend it on more vegtables or extra training/classes, this will benefit you more :)
In a way using these ‘gym supplements’ is in the ritual of being a stereotypical gym goer. You train all the time, you’re being consistent, and there are supplements around everywhere you look in commercial gyms, therefore it's probably the norm.
I haven’t took any of these supplements for nearly 3 years now, and currently the happiest with the way I look and more importantly how I feel. I’m leaner than I’ve ever been, and most of my diet is plants. Most of the above supplements can be made into better choices such as the pain free DOMs (muscle soreness) the more you move the better you feel, everyday.
The stronger you want to become, the more work you have to put in, to gain more mass you need to focus on volume in your training and if you need a boost prior your session, avoid the crap, opt for the natural way!
I do not try an sell people a product that I know, we do not need, I provide information which leads to better choices therefore Ethan and I both offer a whole better, HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE.
STAY HAPPY, LIVE HEALTHY, BE ACTIVE
*Side Note - From Ethan*
When I first started as a PT over 4 years ago, I was part of a community were powders where the way forward, the thing to do.
Every problem or situation was solved with some sort of supplement.
Over the past couple of years I have been associated with 2 supplement companies, one of which boasted itself to being 'BEYOND ORGANIC', more of an holisitc approach. This was fantastic and I was sold from day 1 as I was enjoying eating the 'right stuff'. The products where great and always did seem to work so I was in my element, even selling them.
But after a year or so, and constantly having a bill at the end of every month, I missed a few 'neccessary' supplements, and didn't feel a thing change. So I researched more into what I actually needed.
The big things for supplements then was getting the right vitamins and nutrients that we SHOULD get from our fruits & vegetables but they were lacking due to the overgrown, overfarmed supermarket industry. Which I do fully appreciate, food simply isn't the same as it used to be
However, since completely cutting out ALL supplements, upping my fruits and vegetables in a huge variety and literally enjoying the fruits of life, I have never felt better.
Does that all go down to having a better lifestyle, a thriving business, eating more goodness, experiencing more, training differently etc?
A combinaton of them all is correct. However, I know I do not need all of these supplements, I can get PLENTY from my food every single day!
It doesn't have to be difficult, exspensive or even following a trend.
Simply eat what grows from the ground.
Eat the stuff that is ALIVE to give us LIFE...
(How simple is that?)
Notice the way we don't plug any products, or supplements or try just to make money from any sale? We want what's best for YOU.
Our job / passion / goal is to HELP as many people as we can to lead a HEALTHIER, HAPPIER, SEXIER life!
Be Part Of IT
The ES Lifestyle