My Top 3 Performance Supplements
If you haven't already checked out my top 3 health picks then go here first. This will be the place to start as you want to ensure health is taken care of before delving into the performance side of things.
The following supplements are great for those that have had some prior training in their field and know what they are doing. I would generally not recommend performance supplements for beginners as they really just need to be learning their trade and getting some experience first before setting out and getting geeky with the below. Learn the basics and then add the 5% edge afterward.
Also something I should have mentioned in the previous post is that some supplements transfer over and can be considered good for health AND performance/recovery. As you read on you will spot these and understand what I mean.
Right – let's get to the first supplement.
Now I know what you are thinking – 'but Rich recently wrote about how you should GIVE UP caffeine as it wrecks your energy!
If you go back and re-read the post you will see that I actually say it is worth REDUCING your intake if it affects your energy levels. Obviously any person that has sensitivities to caffeine should either avoid all together or find their intake sweet-spot.
Anyway, caffeine is a great ergogenic aid and has been shown to improve performance, increasing power output and improving focus. This is a great addition for someone to use pre-workout before a gym session or long duration cardio session.
You can consume caffeine through popular beverages such as coffee and tea, energy drinks or in pill form. You may also have heard of 'pre-workouts', however I do not advise clients to take them as they can become reliant on them as the advertising companies have got you fooled in to thinking there is a special formula inside – all it really is is caffeine and chemicals. They can also be quite expensive.
100mg is a good place to start, consume before you workout,wait 20 minutes and beast it. Avoid drinking caffeine late in to the afternoon to avoid any potential sleep disruption.
Creatine is one of the most researched supplements out there, and for good reason. Creatine is actually a naturally occurring substance that the body uses for energy. You may have heard of the creatine-phopshate system which powers the body in the first 4-10 seconds of exercise. However in order to get the benefits from the diet, you would have to eat about 1 kilo of meat a day which is not great for the bank balance.
Without going too in depth – creatine essentially powers the body once our ATP stores (the body's energy currency) have been depleted. With a higher presence of creatine, it gives us more energy to utilize. This is why a lot of power lifters or bodybuilders use creatine as it gives you an extra rep or two in the tank. If competing in an endurance sport, creatine can be used for that extra spurt of energy to overtake someone or push-on up a hill.
The good news is that creatine is very cheap and picking up a 250 gram bag will last you months. You do not need to cycle creatine which used to be the vogue, it can be taken everyday at around 5 grams per serving.
Side note - a potential side effect of creatine is that it may cause GI discomfort which needs to be monitored if you are looking to incorporate in to your diet.
Nitrates are found in food products that are predominantly critical for blood pressure management and cardiovascular health. Found in a number of tuber vegetables, the most well known being beetroot, nitrates have been shown to reduce the rate of muscle fatigue and is best used of exercises ranging from 1 – 10 minutes.
Therefore it is great for those working at an anaerobic capacity, such as rugby or football, or even Crossfit. Studies have also been carried out on aerobic capacity but it appears to not be as effective in this area.
Depending on how much you weigh will depend on the best amount. If weighing 150 pounds or 68kgs aim for around 400-800mg,. If you are 200 pounds / 110kgs or higher you can go up to 1400mg. If you are somewhere in the middle – you guessed it – aim for somewhere in the middle of park.
Rather than supplementing, you could simply aim to consume a 40 gram serving of beetroot which will give you about 700 mg of nitrates.
So there are my picks – stay tuned for my final chapter in the series where we look at RECOVERY supplements!