Supplements help – they aren’t a silver bullet for health and fitness
Of course, supplements are just that – a supplement. You only need supplements if you’re not getting all of the nutrients you need from your diet, that said they can definitely help on days when you’re busy, travelling or you just can’t get all the nutrients you need from the food you’re eating.
And if you haven’t heard these sayings yet, you will soon: “You can’t out-train a bad diet” and “Abs are made in the kitchen”. The point is that it’s what you’re eating that has a big impact on how your body responds. Simply adding supplements to a poor diet won’t change the way your body looks.
Another key factor is ensuring you get enough proper rest too. Make time for sleep and ensure you’re adequately hydrated. Plain water is always the best for hydration.
Finally, no supplement can replace the benefits of working out, whether it’s in your backyard, at the park or in the gym. Resistance work, whether bodyweight work or using weights, and raising your heart rate with cardio, has so many benefits for the way your body feels and for your mood, too. No supplement can replicate those benefits alone and you should be wary of any company that makes those sorts of outrageous claims.
All of the supplements we’re going to talk about below should be consumed alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Supplements support your hard work
Instead, think of supplements as something that can support you, no matter whether you’re an experienced lifter who knows their Romanian deadlifts from their goblet squats to someone lacing up their sneakers for the first time in a while.
As with any change to your diet or exercise, you should talk to your doctor or health practitioner before making these changes.
So let’s take a look at some supps for support when you’re just starting out.
You can take every supplement on this list if you wish but you don’t need to. This blog will explain what each supplement does, the best time to take it and the benefits you can expect.
Protein powder packs a powerful punch
Getting adequate protein as part of your diet is really important, especially when you’re working out. Your body will have consumed proteins during your workout and needs to source more protein and amino acids (which aren’t produced by the body) to build new muscle, according to an article in Healthline. The general recommendation is to consume between 20g and 40 g within one hour to four hours of completing your workout, according to an article in the peer-reviewed 2018 article in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.
Remember that it’s the protein you consume as part of your total daily calorie intake that matters. Consuming protein within that hour of working out won’t fix a poor diet across the rest of your day.
However, given that protein powder is stable, doesn’t need refrigerating and easily mixes with water, into a smoothie or yoghurt, it’s great to have at home, in your bag or in your desk drawers when you’re craving something sweet. Rather than reaching for the empty calories of a chocolate bar or bag of lollies, a quick protein shake can sate your appetite and slay your sweet cravings, too.
There several protein sources to choose from, including:
Whey Protein is the best place to start
WPC is the most popular protein powder out there, and for good reason! If you don’t have any allergies or intolerances, and no dietary reasons (eg vegan) to prevent you from consuming dairy, Whey Protein Concentrate is the most economical choice for a protein supplement. Our Whey Protein Concentrate is gluten-free, tastes great and we have a range of flavours so you’ll never get bored.
Plus, as you can read in our deep-dive into Whey Protein Concentrate, it also has a range of health benefits as discovered from research by the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, sports nutrition expert Marie Spano and Healthline.
The health benefits of consuming whey protein include:
- Boost in energy and mood
- Reduction in stress levels
- Help satisfy hunger cravings – whey protein increases the body’s release of leptin, the hormone that sates your appetite.
- Promote wound healing, with whey protein being proven to benefit people with chronic wounds and those recovering from burns.
- Reduction in blood pressure
- May help treat Type 2 Diabetes by moderating blood sugar
- Reduction in inflammation in the body
- May be beneficial for inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis
- Supportive of the body’s antioxidant defences
- May be beneficial in promoting healthy blood fats.
If you find you’re sensitive to lactose, you may wish to try Whey Protein Isolate. This is an exceptionally-pure form of whey, with most of the lactose (milk sugar, which is a carbohydrate) and fat filtered out. Bulk Nutrients Whey Protein Isolate is 91 per cent protein, compared with the protein range of 70 per cent to 80 per cent for our Whey Protein Concentrate.
Bulk Nutrients offers plenty more choices when it comes to whey protein supplements, including Thermowhey, a protein powder with added ingredients to support weight loss and high-protein milk Casein to help you feel fuller for longer, or Protein Matrix with high-quality protein and added amino acid Glutamine for recovery. You can try these with a free sample or just start with Whey Protein Concentrate or Whey Protein Isolate.
Drinking a protein shake after exercise helps replenish proteins in your body
For vegans, or anyone looking to cut back on dairy and add more plant-based ingredients to their diet, there are several plant-based proteins to choose from. Plus, plant-based proteins can offer a range of extra health benefits, like added fibre, Omega 3 and 6 fats and low-allergen offerings.
Healthline recommends consuming a range of plant-based protein powders, rather than relying on one source, so you can maximise your nutritional intake. You may wish to buy a couple of different plant-based proteins to mix up your sources regularly.
Our deep-dive on vegan protein powders is here if you’d like to know more, but, at a glance:
Soy Protein became available as a food-grade protein isolate in 1959 and it’s one of the most popular vegan protein powders on the market. As reported in Healthline, it’s a complete protein with plenty of amino acids to help with recovery.
A 2003 study published in the Journal of Perinatal Education found soy protein is particularly good for women.
Soy protein can:
- Reduce cholesterol
- Help with weight loss, control or prevent diabetes and prevent obesity
- Prevent cancer – most of the research had been done on breast cancer prevention but emerging research was looking at soy protein’s effect on preventing prostate cancer.
- For menopausal women: prevent bone loss and increase heart health – especially for women who were not using Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
- Hemp Protein is one of the newer plant-based proteins on the market.
- High in fibre.
- One of the more easily-digested plant proteins, with between 91 per cent and 98 per cent of its protein digestible.
- Rich in omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids, vital for heart health. As a bonus, the hemp itself also contains the perfect ratio of 3:1 omega 6 to omega 3. An imbalance in this ratio may increase inflammation in the body. No other vegan protein powder offers these healthy fats.
- Pea Protein compares favourably with whey protein in studies comparing its effects on muscle size (and outperforms the placebo).
- Easily digested and low-allergen.
- Contains all nine amino acids your body needs – not far off whey protein.
- High in iron.
- Rice Protein gives similar results to whey protein in terms of muscle gain and recovery from post-workout soreness.
- Contains antioxidants, B vitamins and fibre – B vitamins are particularly good for vegans who would not be receiving them from animal products.
- May help the functioning of the heart, liver and kidneys as well as regulating cholesterol.
A blend of rice protein isolate and pea protein isolate, Earth Protein is unique to Bulk Nutrients and particularly good for amino acid absorption. Pea protein on its own is low in it’s low in the amino acid methionine, which you can source by eating poultry, pork, fish or beef, or, if vegetarian, eggs, or, if vegan, brown rice. Earth Protein combines brown rice protein isolate with pea protein for a pleasant texture and nutritional value.
Finally, if you don’t like the taste of creamy plant-based proteins, our Future Whey powder is pure protein and amino acids in a refreshing taste of Cola or Lemonade. Future Whey contains amino acids, is 89 per cent protein with zero carbohydrate and zero fats. It allows for muscle recovery after a workout and it’s 100 per cent vegan.
It’s not easy getting greens
We could all do with adding more leafy green vegetables to our diet. In fact, one or two generous handfuls of baby spinach in your protein smoothie won’t alter the taste and will give you a great dose of green veg! Just check your teeth afterwards...
However, in addition to making sure there’s extra salad or steamed greens on your plate, it’s great to add Green Fusion to your supplement arsenal.
Green Fusion is created with superhero ingredient spirulina, which this 2010 study found to have anti-inflammatory properties and even anticancer, antiviral and antiallergic effects. Spirulina is the name for several types of algae that grow in fresh and saltwater and which is known as a superfood for its “vitamins, especially B12 and provitamin A, and minerals, especially iron. It’s also easily digested”.
Green Fusion also contains B-vitamins and minerals and another super-algae, chlorella (for its key vitamins and trace elements). Healthline confirms Chlorella contains many nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and omega-3 fats.
Getting enough greens each day ensures you’re getting a wide array of vitamins and minerals
Sleep well and feel good with zinc, magnesium and Vitamin B6
The final tenet of a healthier lifestyle, once exercise and nutrition have been sorted is sleep. A good, restful sleep is when your body recovers and prepares for the next day. A good night’s sleep is also crucial for supporting good mental health. ZMA support your muscle recovery and better sleep, too.
Research from 1999 by Lorrie Brilla, Ph.D., a sports performance researcher at Western Washington University, has shown who took a ZMA supplement over 12 weeks doubled their functional power gains and had 2.5 times improvement in muscle power.
Zinc and magnesium have been proven to lift the mood and reduce depressive symptoms, going hand-in-hand with the natural mood lifter that endorphins from exercise can supply. Of course, as with all supplements, you should never swap out a supplement for a prescribed medication without talking to your doctor first and you should also check with your doctor or pharmacist that supplements won’t interfere with any medication you’re currently taking.
Finally, magnesium is proven to help you sleep, as it supports the body and brain to relax.
Add some probiotics, vitamins and minerals
Finally, you may wish to consider adding a multivitamin and probiotic to your diet to support digestive health and immune function. Bulk Nutrients has created Proviotic, which contains one quarter of your daily requirements of Zinc, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Folate, Calcium and Potassium. You’ll also find Vitamins A, C, D and E as well as a full array of B Vitamins.
Proviotic also contains a 5 billion cfu dose of Bacillus Subtilis, a strain of healthy bacteria patented by Bulk Nutrients to support your gut as well as recovery after exercise, body composition, performance, strength and muscle gains.
Supplements are here to support your healthier choices
Remember, no supplement can beat eating more whole, unprocessed foods, drinking plenty of water, exercise you enjoy and can stick with and getting enough sleep. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the choice out there, this guide can help you on the right path to feeling even better and supporting the healthy choices you’re making.
And, we can’t stress this enough: before starting any new diet or exercise plan, you should always consult your doctor and check with your doctor or pharmacist that any supplements you’d like to introduce will not interfere with any of your prescribed medications.
Arnarson, A. (2017). 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Whey Protein. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-whey-protein#section1 [Accessed 17 Feb. 2020].
Jennings, K. (2017). 9 Impressive Health Benefits of Chlorella. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-chlorella#section2 [Accessed 1 Mar. 2020].
Karkos, P. (2011). Spirulina in Clinical Practice: Evidence-Based Human Applications. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136577/ [Accessed 27 Feb. 2020].
Mayo Clinic. (2017). Whey protein. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-whey-protein/art-20363344 [Accessed 17 Feb. 2020].
Spano, M. (2011). Lose Weight with Whey - Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD. [online] Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD. Available at: http://www.mariespano.com/lose-weight-with-whey/ [Accessed 17 Feb. 2020].
Wang, J. et al. (2018), Zinc, Magnesium, Selenium and Depression: A Review of the Evidence, Potential Mechanisms and Implications, available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986464/