Beginner FAQ #2: What supplements should I take?
Supplements are a massive industry, but how many of them do you really need? If you walk into a GNC or Nutrition Warehouse and ask for help, you wouldn’t be hard pressed to spend hundreds of dollars in a single visit.
If you are eating a balanced diet, you probably don’t need anything. Let’s get that out of the way first of all.
Protein powder: a very cheap and easy way to get more protein. If you struggle to eat enough actual meat (steak, chicken etc) OR struggle to afford enough actual meat, protein powder can be a good option. If you have the choice between more real food and protein powder, you’re better off with the real food.
Creatine: one of the most well researched training supplements on the planet. Creatine monohydrate is cheap and the benefits are backed up by actual research. You don’t need some fancy blend or anything, if you pay over $20 for like a kilo of this stuff you got a bit robbed. Do you need creatine? No. Will it help your lifting? Yes (it will also put on a little water weight, so keep that in mind).
BCAAs: Branched Chain Amino Acids. Nope.
Pre-workout: The main thing in pre workout that actually does anything is caffeine. There’s nothing wrong with that, but caffeine / caffeine pills / coffee is cheaper and will do the same thing. That tingly feeling that you think is so awesome from your pre-workout is actually just you having an allergic reaction to beta-alanine.
Fat burners: As above, usually the ‘main ingredient’ is simply caffeine.
Caffeine: Also a very well researched supplement with performance benefits. You can get caffeine tablets that are cheap as chips. You can drink your favourite coffee. You can take your fav pre workout (if you have the money to spend).
Overall – the supplements I would recommend come down to protein powder, creatine and caffeine. Do you need any of these? Not at all.
Should you optimise sleep, real food nutrition and ensure you’re technique and training program are well sorted before worrying about supplements? Hell fucking yeah.