So many products, so much confusion. At least, that’s what it can feel like when shopping for supplements for the first time – or any time, for that matter. On behalf of you and other fitness-seeking men out there, we’d like to simplify the process. Here are eight must-have supplements to help you build a leaner, more muscular physique.
By Nicole Kepic
1. PROTEIN POWDER
To ensure adequate protein intake after workouts and throughout your day.
Clear up some counter space or make room in your cupboards. A jug of high-quality protein powder should be the first item on your supplement shopping list. Protein supports your body’s everyday functions, and is an important building block of muscles, bones, skin, cartilage, and blood. While everyone needs protein for survival, those who train hard and/or regularly have a higher demand for it. Protein helps nourish, build, and repair tired muscles, leaving you with a stronger, more muscular physique that burns more fat at rest than a body without muscle. What makes protein powders so great is that you get the high-quality protein you need – usually with added vitamins and minerals to support overall health – in the form of a quick, delicious shake mix. It’s perfect after workouts or throughout your day to help keep you satisfied in between meals.
2. PROTEIN BARS & RTDs
To enjoy a quick protein snack when you’re busy or on the go.
You’ve got your protein jug, and life is good. When you need a delicious protein boost, you just mix some protein powder with milk, shake/blend away, and enjoy. But what about those times when you’re on the go? What do you do for protein when you’re at work, out with your buddies, or running errands? In cases like these, protein bars and Ready-to-Drink (RTD) shakes are a busy guy’s best friend. They take everything you love about protein powders and crank up the convenience in a ready-to-go format. Just pack a bar or RTD in your gym bag or backpack to always have high-protein nutrition at your fingertips. If weight loss is your goal, make sure to look for bar/RTD options that are higher in protein (around 20 grams per serving) and lower in carbs and sugar (ideally, less than 5 grams per serving).
3. PRE-WORKOUT (PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING)
To help maximize your time in the gym for better results.
It’s leg day at the gym, and you know what that means. You’re gonna have to go in with all the energy you can muster, because those barbells aren’t going to squat themselves. Here’s where a high-quality pre-workout supplement comes in. It will boost your energy, strength, focus, and endurance – all the things you need to get through (and maximize) your intense workout. The performance-enhancing benefits will help you train harder and longer, which will lead to better results. When shopping for a pre-workout supplement, look for ingredients like creatine (for strength and muscle building), beta alanine (for endurance), caffeine (for energy), and citrulline nitrate (for eye-catching muscle pumps). BCAAs are also important for muscle recovery, but we’ll hit on those a bit more in #4.
4. POST-WORKOUT (RECOVERY)
To repair and rebuild muscles after exercise.
You’ve just finished a killer workout. Now pat yourself on the back and make sure to repair those fatigued muscles. Your protein shake and some fast-absorbing carbs will do the trick, but you can go a step further by consuming a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement as well. BCAAS consist of three amino acids – leucine, valine, and isoleucine. These amino acids cannot be manufactured by the body so must be consumed through diet. They are a must-have because not only do they aid in muscle repair, they also help stimulate muscle building and minimize muscle breakdown. The harder you work out, the more you need to replenish your body’s amino acid supply. While a straight-up BCAA product works well, it doesn’t hurt to look for one that contains a healthy dose of glutamine (which helps to jumpstart recovery) or natural ingredients to replenish electrolytes lost during training.
5. FAT LOSS AID
To speed up your fat-loss results to reveal a leaner, more muscular body.
While the idea of losing fat is easy – “simply” burn more calories than you consume – knowing and doing can be two different things. Many of us struggle to not only shed extra pounds, but to keep them off for good. One month you’re eating right and on track to getting a six-pack, the next, life throws you a curve ball and you’re back to battling the love handles. Fat-loss supplements are like your extra edge in this battle. They don’t replace diet and exercise, but they can help you see better and faster results than what you would on your own. In general, most fat-loss aids work by doing one or all of the following: boosting metabolism, suppressing appetite, increasing energy, and of course … burning more calories. Choose a product that contains natural ingredients and has been proven effective for a wide range of people.
6. NATURAL TESTOSTERONE BOOSTER
To ensure healthy testosterone levels for a strong, muscular body.
You might be thinking, “I’m a healthy, red-blooded, American male. Why would I need to supplement with testosterone?” The fact is, testosterone levels decrease with age. And even if you’re still a young buck, your body’s normal testosterone levels may not be adequate to help you achieve your goal of a more fit, muscular physique. Along with providing a host of other benefits (like healthy sex drive), testosterone is critical to building muscle and increasing strength. On the flip side, low testosterone in men can lead to weight gain and a slower metabolism. The right product can help naturally boost your body’s own production of testosterone and human growth hormone (GH), so you can stay in a healthy muscle-building and fat-burning zone. It will also help speed recovery after workouts, so you can hit the gym again that much sooner to see your best results.
To provide daily, balanced nutritional support.
Guys who don’t eat enough fruits and veggies, this one’s for you! Come meal time, many of us head straight for all thing’s meat related but skimp on the more colorful foods. A daily multi-vitamin can help pick up the slack and fill these nutritional gaps. Getting the right nutrients every day is especially important if you’re active with sports, hitting the gym, or other activities. Your body needs the targeted nutrition to support your muscles, bones, heart, and more. Adding a multi-vitamin to your routine might seem like a small and sometimes tedious task, but it can make a world of difference in how your body performs.
8. ESSENTIAL FATY ACID (EFA)
To help your body run like a lean, well-oiled machine.
These “healthy fats” have been in the spotlight for a while, and for good reason. We need EFAs for optimum health and longevity, but since our body can’t produce them on its own, EFAs must be consumed through food or supplements. Along with helping you to get leaner and more muscular, EFAs provide a host of other health-supporting benefits – like increasing energy, supporting joint function, improving heart health, and more. If you’re in the market for healthier-looking skin and a thicker head of hair, EFAs have you covered here too. They help build healthy cell membranes to tighten skin and promote faster hair growth, which is always a plus if you’re wanting to maintain your boyish good looks.
In summary, shopping for supplements can be as tricky as navigating an unfamiliar route without a GPS. Let this list of eight must-have products be your guide for great results ahead!