Fitness enthusiasts often look for new ways to optimize their workouts, both before and after the gym. The most successful workout begins outside of the gym with clear goals, a strict diet, and regular supplementation. Studies show that a high intake of caffeine before the gym, and protein after, can maximize your energy, metabolism speed, and overall recovery. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, build muscle, or just maintain a healthy, active lifestyle, there are dozens of different types of pre- and post-workout supplements on the market, but most are a medley of similar vitamins and ingredients that you should seek out independently to find what’s best for your body. Supplements make it easier to get vital nutrients to build muscle and enhance your training when combined with a good diet.
These supplements are proven to give your workout and recovery the edge they need to stay in top performance, pushing yourself to new limits.
Best Pre-Workout Supplements
Caffeine converts fat cells to energy instead of the usual glycogen, as well as giving you an extra kick on the dreaded Stairmaster. Eight ounces of black coffee, in particular, will increase your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories at the gym and throughout the day.
Beta-alanine is comprised of carnosine, a molecule that helps build muscle, increasing physical performance, aiding in lean-mass gain, and enhancing muscular endurance. Carnosine is also a popular antioxidant and anti-aging agent, commonly found in an assortment of commercial pre-workout powders.
Branched-Chain Amino Acid, or BCAAs, are considered especially helpful for maintaining muscle mass on a lower-calorie diet. BCAAs stimulate the rate of your body’s protein synthesis and reduce the rate of protein breakdown, allowing you to maintain muscle mass while losing weight. They’re also known to reduce serotonin-related fatigue during workouts, allowing you to power through longer.
Best Post-Workout Supplements
Whey Protein is known for its weight-loss properties, but studies suggest the dairy-based supplement can also fight cancer, lower cholesterol, and maintain a healthy blood pressure. As a workout supplement, it replenishes and recovers fatigued muscles.
Vitamin D & Calcium
Calcium and Vitamin D work together to repair and build bones. Calcium is best known for its role in maintaining healthy bones, but it also contributes to muscular functioning and circulation in the body. Vitamin D supports the absorption of calcium in the digestive system, and regulates the levels of calcium in the body. Deficiency in calcium or vitamin D are a leading cause of stress fractures in athletes. Even a glass of milk with a Vitamin D supplement can reduce the risk of injury at the gym and during high-endurance sports.
Creatine is widely used by performance-based athletes throughout the world, although evidence of its effectiveness is mixed in the scientific community. The mineral is thought to improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and help muscles recover quickly during exercise, allowing athletes to increase speed and energy during high-intensity activities. It’s known to improve performance during short periods of athletic activity, although there’s little evidence it assists with endurance sports. For those who do see benefit, though, the difference is striking.