What supplements should I be taking?

Supplements | British Military Fitness

Typically there are two schools of thought when it comes to supplements. One camp will tell you that you need everything from protein and carb powders to testosterone boosters, fat burners, glucose disposal agents (which promise to ‘shuttle carbs to muscles’) and 350mg caffeine pre workouts. Conversely there is another camp which will adamantly espouse the idea that you don’t need any supplements at all.

As usual, the REAL answer lies somewhere in the middle. Whilst it’s technically true that you don’t NEED any supplements and the vast majority of goals can be met with dietary and lifestyle changes along with simply training smarter, that doesn’t always reflect what is actually practical.

There are no supplements available today which will dramatically improve your performance, your body composition or your overall health, but supplements can help, just please ensure you view them as an added extra, the cream on the top, after all diet, lifestyle and exercise optimisation comes first. But when you are ready to check out using supplements, check out: http://awesomesupplements.co.uk

what supplements are for you

Once your nutrition is in place, meaning you have gone through a process of trial and error to find what best suits your preferences, lifestyle, budget and energy levels, and you have been consistently sticking to a plan which meets the criteria you set out, there may STILL be holes which need to be plugged – so to speak.

Below I will list the supplements that are most beneficial to most people, and give instances which they may be useful to you in your quest for boot camp awesomeness and looking great naked.

1. Whey protein

Whey protein almost didn't make the list as I consider it to be a food source. It doesn't give any benefits over that which a chicken breast or rasher of bacon would (TECHNICALLY they absorb a little faster, which is given as a benefit by those who support it’s use, but this is "majoring in the minors" and I wouldn’t worry too much about it), but there is one huge benefit to whey that wholefoods don’t always have; convenience. Whey protein is, protein gram for protein gram, cheaper than any other protein source available, you don't have to cook it, and it never goes off.  

A boot camp goer should be consuming around 2g of protein per kilogram of body weight, and be eating protein with every meal. If you struggle to do this every single day, a good quality whey protein powder such as Awesome Whey Protein or Awesome Vegan Protein could be an excellent addition to your dietary intake to make sure you hit those protein requirements.

2. Fish Oil

EPA and DHA are two fatty acids without which your body cannot function. By consuming adequate amounts, you reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, increase cognitive function, speed up muscle protein synthesis and a HUGE list of other benefits to boot. The vast majority of people would do well to get around 2-3 grams of the two combined every single day. This would work out at around 250g of wild salmon daily, or 3-5 capsules of a quality fish oil. And while I love salmon as much as the next guy, budget and convenience will win for many people when it comes to fish.

To choose your fish oil, check the back of the tub for the nutrition information and look to get one which provides around 600-700mg of the two above acids per capsule. Cheaper products will have these in a far inferior ratio and you could find yourself eating 10-12 capsules just to get a daily dose. Fish oil is part of the Awesome Supplements range, but part of our all in one health product Daily Dose: http://awesomesupplements.co.uk/products/daily-dose/

3. Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is depleted during intense exercise, so athletes require far more than the average sedentary person (if you are reading this as a BMF boot camp attendee, you are an athlete. Athletes are people who regularly undergo training towards a specific goal – that’s you!). Magnesium has a ton of benefits including testosterone regulation, sleep improvement, depression prevention, recovery from training and even abdominal fat loss - it is found in a huge variety of foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, yoghurt and even chocolate.

Unfortunately though, like I mentioned above, athletes require more magnesium than most folks, and an oral or transdermal supplement is a cheap and convenient method of covering your bases. Awesome Supplements does oral magnesium, but again its all wrapped up in the Daily Dose product, which is becoming a winning supplement if its covering all this: http://awesomesupplements.co.uk/products/daily-dose/

I mention Transdermal magnesium because magnesium when supplemented orally has a less than perfect absorption availability (it depends on the type you use), meaning that you don’t actually get as big a dose as you think you do. Awesome Supplements Recovery Spray is a convenient method of directly delivering magnesium to the freshly depleted muscle you have just trained, and works as an effective top up. Try transdermal magnesium, I think you’ll be impressed with the results, which are typically reduced DOMS and improved rates of recovery and well-being. Try it: https://awesomesupplements.co.uk/products/recovery-spray/

4. Vitamin D

This is the big one. You know how you just feel better during the summer? More energy on holiday? And you even feel energised after using a tanning bed? That’s the magic of vitamin D3.

Vitamin D3 is a powerful secosteroid with almost innumerable benefits to athletes, including hormone production, increased mood and focus, improved strength gains and body composition. While it is technically possible to get it through dietary and lifestyle management, the main source is the sun and unless you live in a more tropical climate, it is almost guaranteed that you will be deficient for some part of the year. 

I recommend a dose of around 2,500iu per day at least during the darker months, or year round for those who don't get outside much. This moderate dose seems to give the maximum results without breaking the bank or having any deleterious side effects.

All of the above four nutrients can be bought individually, but if you want something well dosed and convenient – Awesome Daily Dose is the only product on the market that provides all you need, in the doses you need, at a reduced cost compared to buying all those supplements on their own at the doses that are optimal. 

5.  Creatine

Creatine is a protein, meaning it’s made of amino acids (long chains of molecules that from the basis of living things). It’s found in meats and fish in small amounts, but can be supplemented in far higher doses than one would realistically ever get through your diet, which can have huge benefits to the athlete, as well as to those just looking to be healthy.

Creatine is absorbed and stored in muscle cells as Creatine Phosphate which also carries molecules of water with it. This gives the benefit of muscular hydration and ‘fullness’ which makes you look better (don’t worry, the water doesn’t go under your skin and make you look bloated), helps prevent cramps and actually makes your muscles respond better to nutrients!

If you’d like to try creatine, a dose of 3-5g per day, every day is what you need to get the benefits. Awesome Performance Blend provides this, alongside the lactate buffer Beta Alanine (mentioned below) in a great-tasting drink, which is actually a perfect supplement for a bootcamper as the exercise you do is enhanced by taking both of these compounds, after all, improved strength and a reduction in the burn anyone? 

6. Caffeine

Caffeine is the world’s most used drug, and can be massively beneficial to both performance and fat loss. Research suggests that caffeine can improve power output, reduce perceived effort with a given workload and increase alertness, drive and focus. This means you are in the zone, able to train harder, and you’ll even feel like it’s easier.

Couple this with the fact that habitual coffee drinkers show an increased calorie burn throughout the day and I can imagine you are sold!

A dose of around 2-4 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight is shown to be highly effective at aiding sports performance, so this is a good place to start. Nut there is a drawback as caffeine isn’t all roses. Caffeine increases your stress hormone levels, can interfere with blood pressure and heart rate and can interrupt the sleep, which is vital for both health and brainpower as well as fat loss and muscular performance. It also has a long half life of over 6 hours (Meaning that if you took 200mg at 12pm, come 6pm there would still be 100mg in your system, then come 12am there would be 50mg, and so on) so it’s deleterious effects hang around for a long time.

My suggestions with caffeine are and always will be to use it, but use the minimal effective dose as infrequently as you can. A single coffee in the morning and a dose of Awesome Caffeine Tabs is all most people will benefit from, and should ideally be the limit of your intake, always dosing for need and performance, not just want and habit as our sensitivity can reduce over time, we don’t want this, we want to stay sensitive to caffeine as much as possible so it actually works when we take it. Performance spray is a caffeine based spray which absorbs through your skin and delivers a very low dose directly into your blood stream. This means that you get a big initial hit as it peaks in your blood (compared to regular oral caffeine which is drip fed into your system slowly via digestion), but with a fast clearance time which negates a lot of the negative effects.

7. Lactate Buffers

When you train, you create a build up of lactate and hydrogen ions which have a positive charge, these are what gives the acidic ‘burn’ you feel when you do a bunch of reps, and if it builds up too much can make you feel a bit nauseas.

Lactate buffers effectively hold off this process that allows you to maintain your training intensity for a much longer period, therefore getting more quality work done.

Lactate buffers cover a wide range of compounds, but the ones with the most research backing are Beta Alanine and Citrulline Malate. They will make a small difference to your results but may make your training sessions a little more bearable whilst doing the same amount of work. Only recommended for those who can easily afford them, but definitely worth a mention.

Final Thoughts

As I said in the beginning, you don’t NEED any supplements and by simply following the nutrition advice found on this resource hub, including Nutrition Part 1, Nutrition Part 2 and Nutrition Part 3, as well as attending boot camp regularly, you should be able to reach any goals you have. But with that said, know that supplements aren’t all there to rip you off, and some of them can in fact be a good idea!

For further information on any supplements available, or on the list above, I urge you to visit www.examine.com for comprehensive and independent write ups backed by research data.

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