Back to Supplement Basics
An exclusive 5-part series with a concise overview of four staple supplements for every body – protein, creatine, caffeine, and multivitamins.
Remember to consult your doctor before starting any diet and exercise plan.
Part #1 – 4 Staple Supplements for Every Body
As elite, hard-training athletes who want to build muscle and strength to help enhance performance, we understand that it's convenient and effective to get a portion of our essential micro- and macronutrients through the best supplements possible. But today there is a smorgasbord (literally, thousands) of supplements to choose from, so how do you identify A) the basic supplements you need, and B) the best supplements for helping you build muscle? In this introductory feature of the five-part “Back to Supplement Basics” series, we're getting back to the fundamentals. Read on for a concise overview of four staple supplements every bodybuilder or athlete should be using – protein, creatine, caffeine, and multivitamins.
First of all, let's discuss what protein is and then we'll address why it's in your best interest to achieve a high protein diet. Protein is a macronutrient that is made up of individual amino acids – in fact, strands of amino acids are called amino acid sequences, and these sequences form proteins. Amino acids are essential to the body to repair and build muscle during times of stress, especially during and after training.
But in order to build muscle, you must try to achieve a positive nitrogen balance (which means taking in the right amount of protein). This is critical for allowing your body to not only repair your muscle tissue but also to build muscle. The result of not getting enough protein, however, (this is called a negative nitrogen balance) is muscle breaking itself down to use as fuel – aka, catabolism. DON'T let this happen to you!
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in the body that's responsible for the production of a high-energy compound called phosphocreatine. This compound helps to restore a high-energy molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is one of the body's primary sources of muscle energy used during intense bouts of exercise. Every time you hit the weights, jump, sprint, skip, or whatever activity you choose to do, your body relies on energy stores to power your working muscles. As a result, creatine can help improve performance in specific activities.
It goes without saying that caffeine is probably the most widely consumed substance in North America – this is obvious thanks to the growing monopoly of coffee-focused franchises across Canada and the States. In fact, in most urban areas you can hardly walk a block without running into a popular coffee house. So what's so good about caffeine that keeps us coming back for more? And what are its benefits, particularly for bodybuilders and athletes?
A central nervous system stimulus, caffeine can help restore alertness during periods of drowsiness. This is beneficial in itself before training as caffeine can seriously enhance energy levels during training.
Multivitamins are made up of various beneficial vitamins as well as beneficial minerals. Vitamins are essential organic compounds which serve to regulate metabolic processes, energy synthesis and prevent destruction of cells. Minerals are essential inorganic elements necessary for a host of metabolic processes; they serve as structure for tissue, important components of enzymes and hormones, and regulators of metabolic control.1
The benefits of taking a multivitamin are many, and because certain vitamins in multivitamins are fat soluble, it's a good idea to take your multi with food. Many athletes take a multivitamin in the morning with breakfast – and in Part 5, The Multiple Effects of Multivitamins, we'll reveal more about why!
A Glance at Things to Come:Part #2 – Protein: Why Whey?
- With countless whole food and protein supplement choices, find out which type of protein supplement should you take, and when.
- Creatine is one of the most researched, most time-proven supplements for building muscle size (mass) and strength.
- Caffeine is a must-have supplement staple in anyone's training, diet and supplementation program.
- There are many benefits of multivitamins. Find out what to look for in a good multivitamin.