So out of the thousands of supplements that vendors are trying to sell you on, which ones are bogus and which are legit? Hayden-William Courtland, PhD, of ScienceForFitness.com fame, takes a look at which supplements are actually backed by research.
Scientific studies have proved the effectiveness of the following five supplements that you can obtain in a relatively pure form:
1) Fish Oil
Fish oil is a commonly found supplement these days. It contains a concentrated dose of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Studies in humans have indicated a variety of benefits to consuming fish oil including reducing inflammation, improved wound healing, reductions in body fat percentage and improved cholesterol levels, and improved lung function during intense exercise.
2) Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and protein is an essential nutrient for life. Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) include leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAAs are commonly used by athletes and those who are strength training. Research in humans has shown that supplementing with BCAA during these activities can assist in raising testosterone levels in men (testosterone promotes muscle growth) as well as prevent amino acid loss in muscle during exercise. Studies have also shown that BCAA supplementation can improve endurance performance for upper body sports such as rowing. If you are concerned with preventing amino acid loss from muscle after exercise, then taking the BCAAs after exercise appears to be best.
Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in human blood and muscle. It is important for acid-base balance in the kidney and protein synthesis in muscle. Studies in humans have shown that supplementation with glutamine can boost your immune system after exercise, enhance growth hormone production (growth hormone promotes muscle growth), and prevent muscle loss.
Caffeine is found in a variety of beverages such as soda and coffee, so it is no stranger to the public. While ingesting caffeine on a daily basis to “get through the morning” might not be the healthiest of options, studies have shown that targeted ingestion of caffeine before exercise can boost muscular strength and time-trial performance in activities such as cycling.
However beware that most caffeine supplements on the market have very high levels of caffeine (more than used in these studies), so you must weigh the risks of such products before buying.
Creatine is arguably the most well studied supplement that exists. Creatine is a natural acid that is found in large quantities in your muscles. It acts by replenishing ATP (energy) stores once they are depleted. By supplementing with creatine you can maximize the amount of creatine in your muscles so that you are better able to recover from short, intense bouts of activity. More specifically, studies have shown that creatine supplementation can reduce fatigue during resistance exercises, increase fat-free mass and muscular strength, and increase time to exhaustion during endurance training.
Want to boost your strength and build muscles? Check these best strength boosting supplements.
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