Most rely on the standard, run-of –the-mill starter pack supplements – protein powder, multi-vitamin, fat burner and maybe even a pre-workout for good measure. And we’re not arguing with that approach, since those are some of the most well-researched and effective products out there.
But, we tend to forget about the rest, focusing on just two goals – building muscle and burning fat – without thinking about the support system that helps build the foundation for those goals. Balanced hormones, a strong immune system, adequate sleep and a focused brain are all key components to improving muscle size and strength and decreasing body fat. Here are four supplements you should consider adding to your existing arsenal to help you reach those goals.
1. GREENS SUPPLEMENT
These days, most natural foods are stripped from their natural nutrients, vitamins and minerals due to processing, pollution and soil erosion. Taking a greens supplement can help replace those lost nutrients from your food. Most greens supplements are formulated with a wide variety of dehydrated fruits and vegetables, delivering the most potent phytonutrients from the food without added sugar or calories.
A single scoop of greens can deliver an energizing blend of phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber to help with the recovery process from a hard workout or just daily stressors! A greens supplement can help to detoxify your body, boost immune function and help correct alkalinity by reducing acidic build-up caused by high-protein diets and overtraining.
Look for a greens supplement that is free from added sugars, color and fillers like lecithin or maltodextrin. Use blended in a protein smoothie or on its own as part of your morning ritual.
2. TEST BOOSTER
Testosterone is the most anabolic hormone in the body and is the key hormone responsible for driving protein synthesis, helping build and repair muscle tissue after an intense workout. It also plays vital roles in fat metabolism and sex drive. By age 18, most men will experience a peak in their testosterone levels, and by age 30 testosterone levels will start to drop by about 2% per year! What’s worse is that research has shown that testosterone levels in men today are much lower when compared to men 20 years ago. Chemicals and estrogen-like toxins in the environment have contributed to consisting lowering levels, this can be compounded with the fact that most testosterone is bound in the body and unavailable for use.
Testosterone boosters can help counteract this effect. Supplementing with a clinically proven testosterone supplement such as standardized Fenugreek extract can help to unlock bound testosterone while also helping boost the release of luteinizing hormone (LH), a key signaling hormone involved in testosterone production. A patented Fenugreek extract has been shown to help support increases in free testosterone, strength and positive changes in body composition.
BONUS TIP: Look for supplements that provide vitamins and minerals that support testosterone production such as ZMA, which delivers Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B6. These keys nutrients have been shown to help increase testosterone and strength levels in trained athletes.
3. SLEEP SUPPLEMENT
Sleep is essential when it comes to building muscle, recovery and burning fat. Growth hormone is released when we sleep, which stimulates many physiological processes – including metabolism, muscle recovery and growth. Growth hormone signals the up-take of amino acids into the muscle cells kick-starting the pathways involved in protein synthesis. Growth hormone also plays a role in metabolism stimulating fat oxidation or the breakdown of fat for use as fuel.
In one study, it was shown that a group of people with the same daily caloric intake and activity routine that got just 5.5 hours of sleep lost less fat and more muscle than those who slept 8.5 hours. The sleep loss not only compromised body composition, it also resulted in an upset of hormones – including an increase in catabolic cortisol, and the main hormones involved in hunger and appetite, leptin and ghrelin. Increased cortisol levels can impact carbohydrate metabolism, reducing glycogen storage in muscle and increasing glucose storage in fat, while also reducing muscle-building pathways and impeding repair.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, use a sleep supplement that delivers a dose of melatonin. Melatonin is made naturally by the body, stimulated in the presence of darkness and suppressed by light, so supplementing with it can help regulate better sleep. Melatonin can also decrease the time it takes to fall asleep, the duration of sleep and can increase growth hormone release.
4. BRAIN BOOSTER
It’s a competitive world out there; if you want to get ahead at work or the gym you better make sure your focus is on point! If you have difficulty staying on task, over think your decisions and never seem to reach your goals, then maybe it’s time to consider using a brain-boosting supplement. Staying focused and in the zone can help you push past your limits, whether it’s in the gym or at the office.
When reaching for a brain booster, look for a focus-enhancing supplement that delivers a combination of neural stimulating compounds along with energizing ingredients. Ingredients like caffeine to help increase energy, tyrosine to help increase beta-endorphins and focus and with phosphatidyl-phospholipids (including serine and choline), which can support neural pathways in the brain and have also been shown effective endurance and performance enhancers in athletes.
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Poole C, et al. Effects of TESTOSURGE supplementation on strength, body compostition and hormonal profiles during an 8-week resistance training program. JISSN. 2009.
Phyllis C, Zee MD. Shedding Light on the Effectiveness of Melatonin for Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders. Sleep. 2010; 33(12): 1581-82.