Understanding the benefits of supplements – Part 2

Supplements should always have specific roles. Last week we guided you through the benefits of food supplements, called Phase 1, covering one’s basic needs and being beneficial to almost everyone – click here. This week’s article deals with Phase 2 – these are for a more specific audience: the gym-goers and active sports people. For those who wish to improve their general gym/sports performance.

Here are the highlights of the supplement guide of the UK based Awesome Supplements blog.

Phase 2 supplements are useful for those who are very active and who hope to improve general gym performance. The supplements you’ll see here are not designed to deliver something that can typically be consumed in the diet; rather they are substances which are typically consumed through food in very low doses, however when a dose is increased significantly there is evidence of an improvement in gym/sports performance. In brief, this group of supplements is extremely useful for those looking to build muscle, improve fitness and maximize gym performance, thus can be recommended alongside Phase 1 supplements.

The two most commonly mentioned supplements are creatine monohydrate and beta alanine, and for good reason! Creatine monohydrate is able to increase strength, hypertrophy and performance outcomes from high intensity interval training (click here to read an article about HIIT) meaning that anyone training with intensity will get more bang for their buck by throwing a dose of creatine into their water every day. Similarly, beta alanine can increase performance in hard training that lasts longer than 60 seconds, making it perfect for high intensity and functional training, sports, or hard conditioning. Of course not everyone is going to need beta alanine, because not everyone works for over 60 seconds at a time and so not everyone will benefit from it.

Alongside this, caffeine is a useful supplement for gym goers because it can increase alertness and performance in exhaustive exercise, while also boosting upper body strength and overall power production. Using caffeine tablets or drinking a coffee 15-30 minutes before you train can help you stay sharp and get more work done. BUT be careful with your caffeine intake as it should be a personalized dose based on your weight, sensitivity and time of the day. (Awesome Supplements has a stand-alone product that lets you control the dosage based on your needs.)

The final supplement that could be placed in this category is perhaps the simplest on the list – salts. When we think of hydration we think of water, but your body needs more than that to properly hydrate – it also needs the essential salts (primarily sodium and potassium) which help to properly store water where it needs to be and in the correct proportions. In extreme cases taking on too much water without salts can lead to a condition called hyponatraemia, which kills marathon runners every year. This is why Awesome Supplements’ team recommends electrolytes to anyone who sweats heavily while training or spending a long time in the heat indoors/outdoors, training at high intensity, group training or HIIT training.

Stay tuned, next week we guide you through Phase 3 of supplements!

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