Once you start eating well and exercising, you may be wondering: should I take supplements? The first thing to remember is that you should be depending on whole, unprocessed foods for most of your nutritional needs. However, some supplements can be helpful, especially when combined with a regular workout routine!
Experts agree that two supplements have shown to be effective over multiple studies and across many years: beta-alanine and creatine.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that’s been shown to enhance performance in high-intensity exercise. A non-essential beta-amino acid, beta-alanine raises carnosine in the muscles which increases the amount of high-intensity work you can perform. Typically combined with l-glutamine and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), beta-alanine can be mixed with liquid and consumed as a pre-workout or a post-workout supplement. Beta-alanine can cause a tingling sensation in the skin, a temporary and harmless side effect, and it’s not recommended for children and teens.
Creatine is another supplement that’s shown to be effective over multiple studies. Not everyone responds to creatine, but people who fall into the responder category find creatine helps with recovery, which in turn allows you to perform more reps and build more muscle. It’s important to note that creatine on its own does nothing — you have to exercise to see benefits.
Beta-alanine and creatine are backed by some convincing studies, although no supplement can beat hard work and consistency.
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Next, we take on the supplement Goliath: protein powder.