For many of us, fat loss will have been on top of our resolution list in 2020 and whilst your activity levels, workouts and diet are major parts of the weight loss puzzle, there is another piece that can help fill in the final gap…Supplements.
You’ve committed yourself to weekly gym sessions and your meals are healthier than ever before, but when it comes to supplements it’s easy to forget to take your daily dose. Just like every other aspect of your fitness regime, supplement intake needs to be regular and consistent in order to have the intended effect.
With that in mind, which supplements will bring you closer to your goal? And what are the benefits of each?
Let’s have a look.
Vitamins & minerals are natural compounds that we obtain through our diet. They’re an essential part of keeping our body functioning properly and allowing all processes within the body to be carried out, from improving muscle performance to keeping bones strong (1).
With an increase in physical activity and exercise comes an increased demand for vitamin and mineral intake and this is where a multi vitamin supplement can be incredibly helpful.
The biggest benefit of a multivitamin, when looking to lose weight, is that you get all the micronutrients you need without any of the extra calories that you’d get by obtaining them through additional food.
Ensuring you have an adequate intake will keep you feeling healthier and more energetic throughout the day, leading to better workout and increased activity levels, which will lead to a greater overall energy expenditure. Then, when it comes to recovery they will help with repairing your muscle tissue, keeping bones healthy and all whilst keeping your immune system in check (Vitamins A,C,B,D).
Even with a varied and nutritious diet, taking a multivitamin is still beneficial, just as an insurance policy. After all, anything your body doesn’t need will just be passed through your system. So, it’s better to have too much and not need it, than have too little and have your body left wanting.
Branch Chain Amino Acids are the seconds most popular supplement on the market after protein powder (which we’ll get on to next) but there is often confusing around what benefits they actually possess.
If you’ve ever seen someone drinking brightly coloured water either before, during or after a workout then chances are its BCAA’s. The drink is made up of three amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine.
BCAAS are primarily known for helping with the repair of muscle, but they also play an important role in lowering levels of fatigue during exercise (2) and have been shown to reduce DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) the day after working out (3). This is great news when looking to burn calories as it means you can exercise for longer and the reduced soreness will allow you to continue being active the following day, rather than being immobile on the sofa thanks to the muscle tenderness and stiffness that comes with DOMS.
Once regarded as a supplement only for hardcore bodybuilders, protein powder has now become a staple supplement in many peoples lifestyles, regardless of what sport they do or what their goals are.
Protein is an essential macronutrient that we need to obtain from our diets, and its recommended we consume 1.2-1.6 grams per KG of bodyweight (4). Getting this amount of protein through food alone however can be challenging at times, so a protein shake is a simple and easy way to boost your intake.
The benefits that come with a sufficient protein in our diet are numerous. Not only does it help preserve muscle mass in a calorie deficit and help with feelings of satiety but it has also been found that a high protein diet can increase thermogenesis as well as leading to an overall reduced intake of calories throughout the day (5). All of which of course, is good news when your goal is shed a few unwanted pounds.
It’s no surprise this supplement is the most popular out there and that’s without considering that it’s also convenient, cost effective, and has options suitable for anyone, regardless of dietary requirements or choices.
Consistency is Key
Supplements aren’t magic pills or shakes that promise results after taken them once, the same way that you won’t achieve your ideal body after one visit to the gym.
As the name suggests, they are there to supplement your diet and exercise regime. Find which ones work best for you and your goal and then remember to be consistent with them over a prolonged period to reap the benefits. After all, consistently good, is better than occasionally perfect.
- Ceglia L. Vitamin D and its role in skeletal muscle. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2009;12(6):628–633. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e328331c707
- Kim DH, Kim SH, Jeong WS, Lee HY. Effect of BCAA intake during endurance exercises on fatigue substances, muscle damage substances, and energy metabolism substances. 2013;17(4):169–180.
- Shimomura 1 Y, Inaguma A, Watanabe S, Yamamoto Y, Muramatsu Y, Bajotto G, Sato J, Shimomura N, Kobayashi H, Mawatari K.. (2010). Branched-chain amino acid supplementation before squat exercise and delayed-onset muscle soreness.. International journal of sports nutrition and exercise metabolism . 3 (10), p236-234.
- Phillips SM, Chevalier S, Leidy HJ. Protein “requirements” beyond the rda: implications for optimizing health. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016;41(5):565–72
- Halton TL, Hu FB: The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004, 23: 373-385. 10.1080/07315724.2004.10719381.