The global protein supplement market is estimated to be worth $32.6 billion by 2027. That doesn’t include all the other fitness supplements that can add that extra boost to your training.
If you’re looking to enhance fitness and build a better and stronger body, then you need to know where to start. There are thousands of different products available, but not all of them are made equally.
In this guide, we’ll take a close look at the top supplements for fitness. They can help you build muscle and help improve your fitness performance. So get your shaker bottle ready, and let’s get going.
How to Enhance Fitness and Bodybuilding
If you’re looking for that extra edge in your training, then supplements are a must. The human body can only do so much, and it can only recover quickly, so it’s important to give it all the extra help you can.
It’s important to note that supplements aren’t intended to be used as a standalone to better health. Fitness supplements are designed to be used in conjunction with effective training and a healthy lifestyle.
Your training should be consistent and progressive before you think about adding supplements. Make sure that you’re already following a good nutrition plan and never neglect the importance of rest and recovery.
The world of fitness supplements ranges from protein shakes to anabolic steroids. Deciding on the right ones for you will depend on your goals and the risks you’re willing to take.
Let’s take a look at everything from daily vitamin supplements to injectibles.
If you’re looking to build muscle or improve your fitness levels, then it’s paramount that you don’t overlook the importance of protein. How much protein you need will depend on your goals.
Someone looking to build muscle needs to consume more protein than someone trying to maintain the lean muscle they already have. One of the easiest ways to calculate how much protein you need to consume a day is with an online calculator.
These will take your age, weight, and level of fitness and calculate your optimum protein intake. Aim for the higher ranges if you’re looking to build muscle and the mid ranges if you’re looking to preserve existing muscle mass while training.
Protein supplements come in various shapes and sizes, so it’s important to know the difference between different products.
Whey Protein Blends
Whey protein blends are one of the most common protein supplements. They’re often the cheapest option available. Blends usually contain a mixture of different protein sources:
- Whey protein isolate
- Whey protein concentrate
- Whey protein peptides
- Micellar casein
- Milk protein
- Egg albumen
- Soy protein isolate
As you can see, it’s a long list. Having so many different protein sources make for a great round protein supplement. They usually contain more calories than other protein supplements to be used as meal replacement shakes.
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey protein isolate is the fastest-acting available protein source. This makes it a great choice just before hitting the gym. When mixed with water, the average isolate provides as little as 100 calories.
This makes it easy on the stomach and a great choice for anyone looking to preserve muscle mass while losing weight.
If you’re looking to gain weight, mass gainers provide huge amounts of protein and calories per serving. The average mass gainer offers around 1000 calories and 40g of protein. This makes them an excellent post-workout drink to replenish the body.
One word of caution when choosing mass gainers is to look through the list of ingredients. You’ll notice that a lot of them contain maltodextrin as their main ingredient.
The easiest way to add calories to something is to add sugar. Maltodextrin is an easily digestible carbohydrate not too dissimilar to sugar. It’s cheap and therefore used a lot as a filler in mass gainers.
If you’re looking for a good quality mass gainer, try and find brands that use more complex carbohydrates like ground oats and rice flour. A good quality mass gainer should have digestive enzymes and healthy sources of fats such as MCT oil.
Creatine is widely considered the most important supplement in bodybuilding after protein. Hundreds of studies have suggested that it’s the safest and most effective fitness supplement on the market.
Creatine is found naturally in your muscle cells. It helps to produce energy during exercise. Our creatine levels deplete after high-intensity exercise. It is sourced naturally from meat and other animal products.
This means that creatine is an absolute must for vegetarians and vegans. Creatine is well-tolerated and can be taken continuously in doses of up to 5g a day.
Beta-Alanine is the number one supplement when it comes to endurance. Beta-Alanine is used to produce Carnosine which gets stored in your skeletal muscles.
Carnosine is responsible for reducing the build-up of lactic acid in your muscles during exercise. This means you can push harder for longer. Carnosine has even been found to neutralize free radicals in the body as well as reducing oxidative stress.
If you’ve ever tried a pre-workout, then you’ll know Beta-Alanine as the tingling sensation you feel. This sensation goes away as your body gets used to it. You can use Beta-Alanine before your workout to optimize performance or afterward to help with recovery.
Citrulline Malate works by increasing vasodilation. This means that your arteries and veins widen. It might sound scary, but it’s not. With increased vasodilation comes better blood flow.
This means that oxygen and nutrients can get around your body to the places they’re needed quickly and effectively. Vasodilation is what creates that ‘pumped’ look when you work out.
Most athletes and bodybuilders will take between 6-8 grams of Citrulline Malate a day. Bodybuilders will often take the full amount about 30 minutes before each workout. Otherwise, it’s best to take 2 grams three times a day.
You were probably expecting BCAAs to be on this list, but we’re putting EAAs on it instead. BCAAs refers to three branch chain amino acids:
These three amino acids can help promote recovery after a workout or prevent muscle breakdown during fasted exercise. However, EAAs contain these three and an additional 6 amino acids:
BCAAs require the presence of the other 6 amino acids to be effective. If you’re training fasted or have a low protein diet, then this is unlikely. Thus, EAAs are widely considered the better amino acid supplement.
EAAs also has several health benefits outside of the gym too:
- Hormone balance
- Immune system function
- Mental health
- Skin health
- Weight management/fat metabolism
If you like to train after you’ve eaten and your diet is rich in protein, BCAAs will work fine. However, if you train fast or have a low protein intake, then EAAs are a must.
Omega-3 supplements contain EPA and DHA. You’ve no doubt seen them at your general health store. Perhaps you take them as part of your one-a-day vitamin and supplement regimen.
Omega-3s have several health benefits, but their primary benefits as a fitness supplement are:
- anti-inflammatory properties
- assistance in recovery
- improved endurance exercise capacity
Standard Omega-3 supplements contain around 180 milligrams of EPA and 120 milligrams of DHA. This is fine for your average Joe, but if you’re looking at boosting your fitness performance, you want to aim for around 2000mg of DHA and 800mg of EPA.
Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) sit somewhere between everyday supplements and anabolic steroids. They work in a similar way to steroids, but they only target androgen receptors in the body.
This means that they offer a similar effect to using steroids with much fewer unwanted side effects. When looking for SARMs for sale, it pays to do your research. This is because of the lack of governance on SARMs products.
SARMs are legal, but they can only be sold for research purposes and not for human consumption. The FDA does not regulate them so obtaining high quality SARMs can be diificult. One study on SARMs found that 48% of the products tested didn’t contain any selective androgen receptor modulators whatsoever.
With that being said, if you can find a reliable supplier, then SARMs can have a huge impact on your training. There are several different SARMs on the market, and each one has a slightly different purpose.
Ostarine is considered the original and most researched SARM. It’s one of few SARMs that have been subject to human clinical trials. It’s the SARM that most people try first because of its all-round benefits, which include:
- Increases lean muscle mass
- Improves tendon and ligament strength
- Helps burn fat
- Lowers cholesterol
- Improves insulin resistance
- Improves bone strength
Ostarine is considered well-tolerated in doses of up to 20mg a day. Larger doses (20mg-30mg) of Ostarine can suppress natural testosterone production. It’s advisable to run PCT after an Ostarine cycle.
Cardarine could well be one of the best supplements for fitness available. Technically it is not a SARM; it is not hormonal or anabolic. This means that it won’t affect your testosterone levels, and you can run Cardarine on its own without any on-cycle or post-cycle support.
Cardarine has several benefits, but it is mainly used to help burn fat and improve endurance. Cardarine can be used in doses of up to 20mg a day; women should use 10mg. It can be stacked with other SARMs without increasing their potential side effects.
Ligandrol is like a supercharged Ostarine and is mainly used for those looking to build muscle. Its main benefits include:
- Rapid muscle growth
- Increased strength
- Improved recovery
- Improved athleticism
Ligandrol is a potent SARM, and doses as small as 5mg a day are sufficient to see the effects. Ligandrol will suppress natural testosterone production, so it’s important to run PCT after a cycle.
Ibutamoren, like Cardarine, is technically not a SARM. It is a growth hormone secretagogue, meaning that it increases your growth hormone levels. There are several benefits this can have for any athlete:
- Better sleep
- Improved cognition
- Increase in appetite
- Better recovery
- Boosts connective tissue development
- Improved bone health
The ideal dose of Ibutamoren is 25mg taken at the same time every day. There are no real benefits of taking higher dosages. Ibutamoren can be used safely on its own for up to 6 months.
YK-11 is widely considered the strongest sarm available. It’s one for more experienced users. It is somewhere between a SARM and an anabolic steroid.
YK-11 will help you to gain lean muscle, burn fat and increase your bone strength. A single cycle of YK-11 can result in gaining up to 15lbs of lean muscle. You’ll see the results in as little time as 4 weeks while on a cycle of 5mg a day.
Ideally, YK-11 should be run for 8 weeks at a dose of 10mg a day. You can dose as high as 15mg a day, but this is only recommended for very experienced users. On-cycle support and PCT are an absolute necessity when using YK-11.
Last on the list for fitness, and bodybuilding supplements are anabolic steroids. Most people will advise against the use of steroids. Unless you’re a professional bodybuilder looking to compete in Mr. Olympia, then the risks outweigh the potential benefits.
Steroids can have a dramatic effect on your strength, muscle mass, and overall physique. Unfortunately, this comes with several risks:
- Liver toxicity
- Testosterone suppression
- Kidney failure
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased risk of heart attacks and strokes
- Hair loss
- Mood swings
- Sleep problems
In addition to the many risks associated with steroids, they’re also banned in competitive athletic sports. Steroids should only be considered by those looking to compete as a professional bodybuilder.
Your Journey to a Better, Healthier Body Starts Here
Now you know how to enhance fitness with supplements, it’s time to up your game. Remember that supplements are designed to be used as part of a complete training and nutrition plan. If you don’t your training and nutrition on point, then there’s little point in introducing supplements.
Supplements are designed to give athletes that extra edge. To help them recover and give it, they’re all in every training session.
For more fitness and lifestyle tips, be sure to check out our other articles.