Beginners often make the mistake of relying on sports supplements to do the work for them. Rather than focusing on nutrition, they spend hundreds of dollars on “magic pills,” purported to build mass and strength. By sticking to basic supplements that maximize nutrition, your body adapts to your intense training and grows bigger and stronger. When you have built a good foundation, you can move on to more advanced natural sports supplements like creatine, L-glutamine, nitric oxide precursors and fat burners.
Whey protein is an excellent supplement for beginners. What makes whey protein special is that it digests so quickly in the body. If you eat chicken, for example, after your workout, your body will not get the benefit of the protein and amino acids for several hours. Since your muscles are damaged and struggling to find amino acids, the raw materials for rebuilding, the faster they get protein, the faster they will recover. Take 30 to 50gm of whey protein immediately after your workout, says “Optimum Anabolics” author Jeff Anderson.
Casein is the other component, besides whey protein, that makes up milk and it digests very slowly. The benefit of this slow release is that it provides amino acids to muscles for hours. This is particularly beneficial while you are sleeping, when your body is in a fasted state. Taking casein protein before bed supplies your muscles with all the raw materials they need to recover while you sleep. In fact, according to “Natural Anabolics,” adding some casein to your post-workout shake can give you better results than taking whey protein alone. Try 50 percent whey and 50 percent casein protein after your workout, totaling 30 to 50gm of protein. Take 30 to 40gm of casein before bed.
Beginners often struggle to understand why the body needs carbohydrates after a workout. It is easy to make the connection between amino acids and protein and muscle growth because muscles are made of protein. However, muscles also store a carbohydrate known as glycogen and water. In fact, muscles are more than 75 percent water. Carbohydrates powders provide fast-digesting carbs for replacing lost glycogen and spiking the delivery hormone known as insulin to drive nutrients into muscle cells. According to “The Carbo Rater” by Jordana Brown, waxy maize is a high molecular weight starch that empties very quickly from the gut into the bloodstream, where it can support muscle growth. Take 40 to 100gm of waxy maize immediately after your workout.
Fats are another widely misunderstood macro-nutrient and many trainees avoid them like a plague. However, certain fats support muscle growth and fat burning, according to “Supplements 101.” MCT oil, or medium-chain triglycerides, come from coconuts and palm oil and primarily burn as energy in the body. According to “Optimum Anabolics,” taking in more of these healthy fats helps to naturally elevate muscle building testosterone. Take 1 or 2 tbsp. of MCT oil before and after workouts to receive the benefits of this supplement.
Branched-chain amino acids are the most important amino acids for muscle growth, according to “Natural Anabolics.” They are L-leucine, L-isoleucine and L-valine and they are special because of the way they metabolize in the body. As stated, digesting protein takes time and even fast-digesting whey protein can take up to two hours to fully digest. Damaged muscles needs amino acids now and branched-chain aminos can provide them because they metabolize directly in muscle tissue, bypassing the liver entirely. Take 5gm of BCAAs before, during and after training to speed recovery.
- "Natural Anabolics"; Jerry Brainum; 2006
- Muscle & Fitness: The Ultimate Supplement Handbook; "Supplements 101"; Jim Stoppani
- "Optimum Anabolics"; Jeff Anderson; 2004
- Muscle & Fitness: The Ultimate Supplement Handbook; "The Carbo Rater"; Jordana Brown
- BodyBuilding.com; "Coconut Oil: Another Reason th Love the Tropcs!"; Jayson Kroner