Oh boy! This question, huh ? I cannot tell you how many times have I read or heard this question in gyms, swimming pools, and even goddamn pubs, yes pubs ! I don’t blame you for asking this question, I understand why you are so confused with all these, ironically speaking, websites, blogs, Facebook pages, and other sources of communication where people provide us with alternatives means of knowledge. ‘Whey protein’, ‘no, mate, creatine is the best’, ‘What !? Are you daft? Everybody knows that THE BEST supplement on the market is protein milk because it contains all of the necessary nutrients which promote muscle growth’. Keep in mind, I’ve genuinely heard the last one!
So what is it ? What is this so-called best supplement that will help you grow like a beast, that will help you lose tons of fat, that will help you become the embodiment of physical perfection, the one thing that all of mankind will speak of ? Are you ready *leans in to whisper into ear* – there is no such thing as the best supplement.
Shocked ? ‘What kind of an anticlimactic answer was that?’ – you’re probably saying to yourself. Hear me out, ok, and you will soon understand what exactly I mean.
Each and every single of the supplementation products out there in the market are constructed and built in a way to help us achieve our peak, our best performance, our best muscle hypotrophy and our best fat loss. They are engineered in a way to help us boost our testosterone levels, our metabolic rates, our growth hormones, our vitamin or mineral deficiency, etc. Now when you think about it, all of this helps us gain muscle and/or lose fat, it all does ! Whether you’re trying to boost your nighttime muscle building capabilities or whether you are trying to boost your during-workout-performance it doesn’t matter. Each product helps us out, it supports our growth.
By simply claiming that one supplement is better than the other one is the same as saying that ‘this movie is better than that movie, because of my personal point of view’ (if you can understand what I am trying to say. Everybody will tell you differently because that is what they’ve found to work best for them. That does not necessarily mean that it will work best for you or that you’re going to start seeing amazing results after a week worth of training.
For example, maybe the main reason why you’re gym buddy/friend tells you that vitamins are the best form of supplementation on the market is because they have a vitamin deficiency and by implementing that sort of supplementation into their diet they are capable of achieving better results.
However, I do believe there is supplementation that, in my personal opinion, is important to have. To have before any other product from the market (keep in mind, I am not referring to the best product, I am considering the most important or must-have product). They are two actually – Branched Chain Amino Acids and Fish oil.
Usually when I tell my friends from the gym and my, I guess you can call them trainees, the face I get is the one showed on the picture on the right. Most of YOU probably don’t believe me and think I’m daft or ‘full-of-it’. Hear me out.
While each supplement out on the market is helpful in its very own way, I believe that the two products that everybody out there must have, no matter if beginner or professional, are BCAAs and Fish oil.
To start off, what exactly is BCAA? BCAA is an amino acid with a branch, which means that there is a central carbon item bound to three or more carbon items. There are three BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine and valine. The three BCAAs are among the nine most important amino acids of the human body accounting for 35% of the essential amino acids in muscle proteins. BCAAs are also a part of most whey protein supplementation products out there, but there is a big difference in play here. The amino acids from pure BCAA are not connected with any other amino acids, unlike the ones found in whey protein. As fast as it is to digest, whey protein still can take up to 20-30 minutes to be digested, not fully of course, by the body. While pure BCAA is, well not instantly, but twice as fast when it comes to getting in the blood stream and to the muscles.
There are many benefits from using BCAA supplementation but the main two ones that I love the most is that it prevents catabolism and it boosts anabolism.
Catabolism is the act of your body breaking down its own muscle. This is usually the case when your body is at zero or very low levels of glycogen in the muscles. In other words the times when we are catabolic is early in the morning when we wake up, after a workout, and late at night during our sleep (especially if you aim to increase your growth hormone by not consuming any carbohydrates 2-3 hours before bed). When you consume one pill of BCAA you prevent that catabolic effect of ever happening to your muscles and bones.
A lot of people say ‘Yeah, well I eat my breakfast early in the morning so I don’t really believe there is any danger of being in a catabolic state’. The scary part is that even if you do consume breakfast it will still take hours for your body to start breaking down the carbohydrates into glycogen and especially if you’re like me and prefer to eat healthy and complex carbohydrates that are rich in fiber (which increases the digestive period). This means that you’re body will remain in a ‘self-destruct’ mode for a good time until your body breaks down your breakfast into glycogen.
After your workout you are left with no glycogen because of the hard workout session that you went trough. At a normal you burn approximately 300-500 calories with only 30-50 minutes worth of exercising. This leaves you with really low levels of glycogen if not even zero. Even if you do consume whey protein it will still take it a couple of minutes which means that you are extending the catabolic state instead of preventing it.
This is where BCAAs come into play and help you prevent any muscle loss. Not to mention that when you are trying to lose fat and you are trying to keep low levels of carbohydrates into your diet you can use BCAAs to prevent any unwanted muscle loss along the way.
When you take BCAAs before your workout you decrease your fatigue during your workout which gives you an open door to push yourself further – do more reps and more sets of heavier weight. This effect is very similar to the one you get from creatine mono-hydrate but the only difference is that it does not target your Adenosine Triphosphate levels like creatine but rather by competing with a rival amino acid known as tryptophan which causes fatigue because tryptophan is converted in the brain to release neurotransmitter serotonin.
Along with this, BCAA increase your protein synthesis. The higher your protein synthesis is in comparison to muscle breakdown the more muscle you will gain. When synthesis is equal to breakdown that means that you are not going to see any results and when breakdown is more than synthesis that means that you are going to experience muscle catabolism. Simple math! The amino acid leucine is responsible for this beautiful effect.
Ok then, why fish oil ? Not a lot of people are aware of this but fish oil is very similar to the positive effects that BCAAs convey to the fitness world. Fish oil decreases the chances of breaking down muscle by increasing our testosterone levels and growth hormone levels as well as increasing our anabolic state along the way. Along with it fish oil is very healthy and promotes a strong immune system, which in the fitness world is an important factor the less time you spend being ill means that you can spend more time in the gym and being active – not to mention that being ill lowers your metabolism rate and testosterone, along with it fish oil helps your joints, bones, and ligaments, which again, is very important for a person who is physically active and wishes to remain that way for a longer time.
Along with all of this fish oil helps you with your heart health and lowers the risk of developing any sort of cardiovascular diseases.
Keep in mind, everything that I’ve said in this article is purely and solely my own opinion that I’ve constructed thanks to experience and knowledge in the field of fitness. If you perceive that any other supplement is better for you and you in particular and you believe that your choice is far more trustworthy than mine, I encourage you to stick with your supplementation products!
Along with this I would like to give you links to, in my opinion, the best price to value products that you can find on the market.
MusclePharm BCAA 3:1:2 Capsules Pack of 240– Probably the best offer out there with 240 capsules and only for £17. I’m very happy with this product and I recommend it to all of my ‘trainees’
And for the fish oil:
Optimum Nutrition Fish Oil Softgels Omega-3 Fatty Acids Nutrition SupplementI recommend this product. Probably the best one available on the market.