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Top Supplements For Beginners

When you first get started with your workout and diet program, you might feel slightly overwhelmed with all the new information presented to you. You need to learn how to coordinate your cardio training with your weight training, what types of foods you should be eating – or not eating around the workout period, and how to start counting calories to ensure that you are taking in enough to provide energy to get through your workouts but not so much that it becomes difficult to maintain your body weight.

Then, you throw supplements into the mix and most beginners start getting very confused. At the beginning, it’s much smarter for you to keep your supplement use limited, only taking in the bare essentials to help you achieve optimal health as well as make reaching your dietary goals easier. By avoiding some of the ‘fancier’ supplements out there (the ones with those very attractive claims regarding muscle building or fat loss), you force yourself to really focus in on the things that matter: a solid workout program and a sound diet.

When a beginner starts searching for that magical supplement that’s really going to get them results, often they neglect the basics and pay the price as time goes on. You always want to have that foundation of knowledge built up first before going too heavy with additional supplements. The last thing you want is to start reducing your efforts on the workout and diet side of things due to the fact that you believe the supplement is going to take care of the results for you. This just is not the case.

Here are the primary supplements that a beginner should consider. Each of these is going to be worth your money and the benefits they provide will get you off on the right foot.

A Good Quality Protein Powder

While you should always be focusing the majority of your diet around solid foods, a good quality protein powder will be very beneficial immediately before and after your workout to provide the working muscles with the essential amino acids they need to complete the exercise. When looking at the different protein options, focus on a concentrate or isolate whey protein powder to use during this time, as that’s the variation that will be quickest to digest.

Protein powder can also be handy to have around when you are in a time crunch and cannot get in a decent meal with some protein. By paring a shake with a source of carbohydrates or dietary fat such as fresh fruit, a whole grain English Muffin with peanut butter, or some nuts, you will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and meet your nutritional goals for the day.

Protein powder can also be added to fruit smoothies, cooked oatmeal, baked muffins, cottage cheese or yogurt, or low-fat pudding made with milk to help boost your total calorie intake when aiming to build muscle mass.

Fish Oil Capsules

The second supplement you should be adding to your daily diet is fish oil. Fish oil is a source of essentially fatty acids, which are required to support a healthy body including the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and cancer, as well as to help foster positive brain function, infant development, a healthy immune system, and a good response to carbohydrate ingestion (reducing the chances of glucose sensitivity).

Since most individuals are not eating higher volumes of fatty fish on a daily basis, taking fish oil capsules makes meeting your needs very convenient. You should take between three and six grams of fish oil each day, using the lower end of the scale if you are eating plenty of fish on a regular basis.

Other good sources for essential fatty acids include flaxseed, hemp oil, soya oil, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, leafy vegetables and walnuts. Making an effort to consume more of these foods on a regular basis will also help you satisfy your requirement for this important nutrient.

A Multi-Vitamin

Have a good multi-vitamin -- particularly if you are on a fat-loss diet or don’t take in many vegetables on a regular basis. When taking in fewer calories in an attempt to lose weight, you will be at a higher risk for experiencing nutrient deficiencies due to the simple fact you are eating less food. The multi-vitamin will provide excellent insurance and give you a piece of mind.

Women in particular should look into a vitamin that contains both iron and calcium since these are two nutrients that they are typically deficient in. Often dairy products are some of the first foods to go when you start a diet, so your sources of calcium otherwise might be very limited.

If you are an older adult, you may also want to consider some of the alternative formulas created specific to this group as they will contain additional amounts of nutrients that will ensure your body stays functioning optimally.

Creatine

If you do want to experiment with a supplement designed to increases your workouts, creatine is a good one to consider. Creatine is a cost-effective supplement that’s great for those who are on a budget and just want to try it out and see if they notice any effects.

The primary purpose of creatine is to saturate the stores of creatine phosphate in the muscle cells, which acts as a precursor to the development of ATP, the high-energy compound that fuels muscular contractions.

When you are low in creatine phosphate stores in the muscle, there is a much higher chance of experiencing fatigue during your workout, and this fatigue may become so great that you are not able to continue with your exercises.

You will get some creatine from your diet naturally (red meat being one of the best sources along with fish), but often this isn’t enough to support higher levels of training. So if you are feeling fatigued during your workout, it’s something to strongly consider.

When taking creatine, be sure to take it with a fast-acting carbohydrate source, as this will spike blood sugar levels, helping drive it into the muscle cells faster.

Maltodextrin

The last supplement a beginner should consider is maltodextrin. While theoretically it isn’t a supplement since its just carbohydrates, it’s grouped in with supplements because it is still meant mostly to be used by those participating in physical activity.

Maltodextrin is a good source of carbohydrates to consider adding to your post-workout shake as it will go right into the muscle tissue, helping to restore muscle glycogen levels so you can complete your workout effectively. It’s also very easy to just blend right into your protein shake, so it’s convenient to take with you to the gym for after your workout.

Many people will use fruit juice instead with their shakes, but the difference there is fruit juice will also be partly fructose, which doesn’t help replenish muscle glycogen as well as maltodextrin does. Maltodextrin is also digested slightly slower than dextrose is (a very simple form of carbohydrates), so those who are concerned with rapid blood sugar spikes will prefer using maltodextrin over dextrose.

If you are going to start using maltodextrin, just be sure you do measure out specifically how much you need to satisfy your calorie and carbohydrate requirements. It becomes extremely easy to add more than you need, greatly increasing your daily total calorie intake and potentially making it harder to lose fat if that’s your primary goal.

By keeping your supplement protocol limited to these main items, you ensure you’re getting what you really need, without getting distracted by the details. After you’ve been on your workout program for a good three-to-four months and have a solid understanding of the workout and nutrition concepts you need to know, then you can look into adding additional supplements that may help you take things to the next level.

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