Best Supplements For Men 2018
Whether you want to lose weight or gain muscle, you should always find time to exercise and follow a strict diet. But there is another component that you need to add to your health and fitness regimen so you can hit your goals – supplements.
Supplements are the vitamins, minerals and substances that are manufactured with ingredients specifically engineered to address a deficiency or assist in the performance of a skill.
- 1 Post exercise
- 2 Concentrated form of nutrients
- 3 Convenient
- 4 Huge industry
- 5 Ideal supplement stack
- 6 When and how often to take supplements
When you exercise, muscles are broken down from applied resistance and you lose vital nutrients through sweat. Supplements play a vital role in helping you recover from your workouts by providing the substances that speed up the healing process.
Yes, you can get the same macronutrients, vitamins and minerals from food. However, today’s food goes through processing which removes most of the nutrients. Farming methods which use pesticides and hormones also puts to question the safety and health value of most foods found in the market.
Concentrated form of nutrients
Supplements give you the nutrients you need in concentrated form and in the right amounts. For example, if you want to ingest 20 grams of high quality protein to speed up the recovery of your muscles, you can get that amount from just one scoop of whey protein powder rather than separating the albumin from seven whole eggs.
Convenience is another advantage of taking supplements. You can have your daily requirement of vitamins and minerals in one pill rather than eating five servings of fruits and vegetables.
But supplements are not magic pills or powders. Neither do supplements conjure miracles. These are designed to do exactly what they are supposed to do; augment or supplement your exercise and diet program.
The supplement market is a billion dollar industry. As healthcare costs go up, more people will be buying supplements that will help them get healthy. Its profitability has blown the supplement market wide open. There are so many brands and types available in the market. Which ones should you take?
Ideal supplement stack
Your supplement stack should be customized to fit your health and fitness goals. However we have drawn up a list of the 7 best supplements men can take whether they want to lose weight, build muscle or to just maintain their current level of fitness:
1. Vitamin D
Osteoporosis is a debilitating condition that renders our bones weak and brittle. Although women are more susceptible to osteoporosis, men can also be affected especially as they get higher up in age.
Vitamin D helps improve bone strength by enhancing the body’s ability to absorb calcium. It has also been proven to strengthen your immune system so you can fight off viruses and dangerous bacteria.
There are studies that contend vitamin D can reduce your risk of acquiring prostate and colon cancer.
Adults need at least 600 IUs of vitamin D every day but it is impossible to hit this quota from food alone. Look for a vitamin D supplement that has 1,000 IUs.
Another option is to find vitamin D3 supplements which replicate the same type of vitamin D your body naturally makes after being exposed to the sun.
Caffeine is one of the most heavily studied substances in the supplement market. Over the years, science has discovered many health benefits derived from regular intake of caffeine:
• Increase energy levels
• Improve cognition
• Increase mental alertness
• Burn off body fat by enhancing metabolism
• Reduce risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson
• Boost strength
• Reduce the risk of prostate and other types of cancers
It is also a popular ingredient in many commercially available pre-workout supplements. Men who take caffeine before exercising report better performance due to increased alertness, improved strength and higher energy levels.
If you can’t drink three cups of coffee, you can take a supplement with 300mg of caffeine. Take it at least one hour before your workout.
Creatine monohydrate was first introduced to the world during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the supplement market was never the same again.
Users reported immediate strength gains after loading up with 5gms creatine for five days. It continues to be a popular supplement today and has spawned other variants that supposedly act faster than monohydrate.
Our body naturally produces creatine. Its purpose is to help the muscles contract harder and more forcefully through the production of phosphates. However the amount of creatine our body produces can only maintain massive force contractions for a few seconds. Supplementing with creatine prolongs muscle force contraction. This is why users of creatine claim they can do more reps or lift more weight.
Look for a supplement that delivers 5gms of creatine. The best time to take creatine is after exercise to enhance recovery.
If you are taking creatine monohydrate, experts suggest drinking it with a simple carbohydrate such as fruit juice or a sports drink. The simple carbohydrate will trigger an insulin spike which will speed up creatine uptake to your muscle cells.
You can find different types in the market: creatine HCL, creatine citrate and creatine ethyl esther among others. But creatine monohydrate remains the most studied and documented variety. It is also more affordable.
4. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Not all fats are bad. In fact there are some types of fat that are very good for your heart. Enter Omega 3 fatty acids.
This essential fatty acid can reduce post-oxidative stress and inflammation which are common conditions after a tough workout. These have also been studied to have benefits for your health:
• Lowers blood pressure
• Regulates blood sugar
• Strengthens/ improves heart health
• Fight depression
• Improve eyesight
• Reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome
You can find omega 3s in fatty fish such as salmon, nuts and chia seeds. Avocados, ground flaxseed and spinach are also good sources.
But if you’re not fond of eating fish, nuts or vegetables, you can get your daily requirement of omega 3s in supplement form.
Experts recommend taking a 1,000mg omega 3 supplement once a day preferably after workouts. If you are training harder than usual, you can increase your uptake to 2,000mg a day.
There are also types of bacteria that are good for you especially for your gut. Probiotics are good bacteria that functions to reduce inflammation and improve the absorption of protein.
But there are other health benefits associated with taking probiotics regularly:
• Removes bad bacteria that can lead to digestive issues
• Can be used to treat diarrhea
• Improves mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and memory loss
• Keeps your heart healthy and strong
• Boosts your immune system
The best time to take a probiotic is after your workout preferably with a protein shake so you can optimize the value of your protein supplement.
Most probiotic supplements in the market contain 1 billion cfu/g per capsule. This is the amount of good bacteria recommended by most doctors.
So far we’ve discussed the importance of exercise, food and of course, supplements in helping you achieve your health and fitness goals.
But there is a fourth component which quite possibly plays the most important role in a holistic program: sleep.
Contrary to popular opinion, your muscles do not grow when you are training. Growth can only be induced if muscle fibers are allowed to recover properly so they can rebuild and become strong enough to handle greater resistance. This is where sleep comes in.
But work, life and other stressors often get in the way of getting high quality sleep every night. Supplementing with magnesium has been proven to be effective in ensuring a good night’s sleep.
Studies have also shown that magnesium assists in the cellular functions of key areas in your body including bones, muscles and the brain. Take a supplement with 400mg magnesium at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
7. Whey Protein
Your bones, muscles, skin and internal organs are made up of protein. This is why protein deficiency can lead to a host of problems such as brittle bones, sagging skin and a compromised immune system.
Protein can be found in eggs, animal meat, fruits, nuts and vegetables. But the highest quality and fastest to digest is whey protein. Whey protein is derived by removing casein from milk. It can be digested by the body within 30 minutes.
Protein is composed of amino acids and each protein source has a different amino acid profile. Most protein powders in the market contain BCAAs or branched chain amino acids which are not produced by the human body.
If you exercise regularly, you need to supplement with whey protein so you can jumpstart the recovery process.
Look for a whey protein supplement that provides at least 20gms per serving and has little or no carbohydrates and fat.
Whey protein can be taken multiple times during the day. But it is most important to take in whey protein first thing in the morning and after exercise.
When and how often to take supplements
Should you take all of these supplements every day? If you have the budget for it then by all means, keep these supplements as part of your regular routine. But if your budget is tight, the first thing you should do is to assess your health and fitness goals.
If you want to gain muscle, prioritize these supplements:
• Whey protein
If you want to lose weight by adding endurance activity to your workouts, use this as your supplement stack:
• Whey protein
• Vitamin D
If you simply want to maintain health and a strong cardiovascular system, you will be fine with these supplements:
• Omega 3 fatty acids
• Vitamin D
Remember that supplements are not a cure-all. You still have to find time for regular workouts and have the discipline to follow a strict healthy diet.