In a bid to ensure optimal health, many health-conscious individuals choose to take supplements. In general, a daily multivitamin ticks the box for a supplement choice that will help contribute to a strong foundation for your health.
It carries multiple benefits, such as helping to protect your body when you’re sleeping less, experiencing a stressful period, or failing to exercise as much as you should. In fact, even with a great diet, issues such as these can inhibit your body’s ability to properly absorb the nutrients it needs.
Given there are so many vitamins and mineral combinations available, it’s difficult to know exactly which multivitamin to opt for. Fortunately, working out which vitamins and minerals you should look out for isn’t rocket science, it just requires a little knowledge.
Vitamin D is essential for helping our bodies to absorb calcium, the mineral associated with the health of teeth and bones.
A failure to obtain enough Vitamin D can cause the following issues:
- Increase your likelihood of illness
- Increase your chances of experiencing bone and back pain
- Cause bone and hair loss
You should technically be able to get your recommended daily dose of vitamin D from being exposed to sunlight for 15 minutes. However, in reality, over 40% of people in the US are deficient in Vitamin D.
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Magnesium is an essential nutrient for maintaining a healthy body. It is important for many processes, such as regulating blood sugar levels, muscle and nerve function, and blood pressure. It’s also used in making protein, bone, and DNA.
It also carried the following benefits:
- Ease sleep problems
- Calm our nervous system
- Reduce stress
Research suggests that more than 40% of the US population are ‘not meeting the dietary requirements for calcium’.
This means that these people are lacking in the mineral they require to maintain strong teeth and bones. For women, in particular, getting enough calcium throughout their lives is important, as they start to lose bone density earlier than their male counterparts.
Zinc is a trace mineral, which means that our body only needs it in small amounts. Yet, it is necessary for almost 100 enzymes to carry out important chemical reactions.
Zinc supports our immune system, aids the body in healing wounds, and it helps our bodies to use protein, fat, and carbs for energy.
The average American diet lacks foods that contain zinc. Given that the body can’t story zinc for future use, it’s recommended that you opt for a daily vitamin that includes zinc.
It’s important to remember that not everyone needs the same amount of iron, but it should be an ingredient in your multivitamin.
Iron is beneficial for the following reasons:
- Increases energy levels
- Improves brain function
- Helps maintain healthy red blood cells
People who consume red meat as a part of their diet tend to get enough iron. Iron is essential during periods of growth and development. Therefore, certain circumstances such as going through puberty, having your period, or being pregnant, can increase the amount of iron that you require.
Folate – also known as folic acid – is best known for preventing birth defects, and for helping the healthy development of the fetus. It is also useful if you are trying to grow your nails, combat depression, or fight inflammation.
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Vitamin B-12 is essential for the formation of red blood cells, cell metabolism, nerve function, and DNA production.
It also helps to prevent megaloblastic anemia, which is a blood condition that makes people feel tired and weak.
The purpose of pre-workout supplements is to provide energy for a workout and help maintain endurance. They are usually consumed 15 to 30 minutes before the start of a workout, but they can also be consumed during the workout.
Here are some of the things you can expect to find in a pre-workout supplement.
This is a non-essential amino acid that is produced in the liver but is also found in fish, poultry, and meat.
As a supplement, it has been shown to improve exercise performance, when taken as a dose of 4-6g per day, for a period of 2-4 weeks. It’s particularly effective for high-intensity exercise that lasts 1-4 minutes, such as short sprints of HIIT workouts.
It works with histidine to produce carnosine, which is stored in your skeletal muscles.
Carnosine is a protein-building block that reduces the accumulation of lactic acid in your muscles during exercise, which helps to improve athletic performance.
Caffeine is often found in pre-workout supplements, and it’s a stimulant that has been proven to improve athletic performance for endurance-based activities and short-term high-intensity exercise.
Supplements can also help relieve migraines and tension headaches.
Creatine is a compound that occurs naturally and is found in skeletal muscle. It is synthesized in the body from amino acids that are obtained in both seafood and red meat.
Creatine helps the body to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and this provides energy for muscles. It is a popular workout supplement, particularly for weight training, but also for those looking to generally improve their athletic performance.
Creatine supplementation can increase the muscle availability of creatine. This can enhance an individual’s exercise capacity and training adaptations. These adaptations allow for an increase in training volume, meaning an individual can perform more reps with the same weight. This can lead to an increase in muscle strength.
The supplementation of creatine is mostly recommended for athletes who engage in strength exercises, such as weight lifting, or for athletes who do sports that involve intermittent sprinting, such as soccer.
What about post-workout nutrition?
There are a variety of post-workout supplements on the market that are designed to increase muscle mass by encouraging muscle repair, growth, and recovery.
It is important for muscle recovery to replenish glycogen stores after a workout, by consuming sufficient amounts of carbohydrates.
Beginning a workout with enough muscle glycogen stores is also important for improving athletic performance.
That being said, the normal dietary intake of carbohydrates is enough to restore muscle glycogen stores after low-intensity or moderate-intensity exercises.
The recommendations for protein supplements depend on the type of exercise the individual is doing.
People who do high-intensity resistance training may benefit from protein supplementation, in order to optimize the synthesis of the muscle protein that is required for muscle recovery and growth.
The limit of the effects of protein supplementation depends on factors such as duration and intensity of training, age, energy sources obtained from the diet, and the quality of overall protein consumed.
The power of protein powder
Protein powder is a big hit among gym goers. It can be made from a variety of things, such as casein, whey, soybeans, peas, and hemp. Some protein powders are made of a variety of protein sources, such as peas, alfalfa, and seeds. This is often the case with vegan proteins, as a mixture of protein sources is required to get all of the essential amino acids.
Some sources of protein supplements:
Casein and whey protein
Both casein and whey proteins are found in cow’s milk, therefore both should be avoided by people who struggle to digest dairy.
They both contain all the essential amino acids, and the body absorbs them with ease. However, the speed of their absorption differs.
Casein takes longer to digest, as, unlike whey protein, it is not water-soluble. Whey is quickly metabolized into amino acids, whereas casein forms a clotted gel in the stomach and provides the bloodstream with a slow release of amino acids.
Soy protein is a plant-based protein that is derived from soybeans. However, unlike other plant-based proteins, it contains a good amount of essential amino acids. This makes it a common alternative to those who can’t digest dairy, or for those who choose to avoid it altogether, such as vegans.
Pea protein powder is made from yellow split peas and is an alternative to soy or dairy. It contains eight out of the nine essential amino acids. Although it is low in methionine, this can be obtained from other sources, such as rice.
Branched-chain amino acids
Branched-chain amino acids, BCAAs, are the three amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAAs can be obtained from foods rich in protein, like chicken, fish, red meat, and eggs.
BCAAs are vital components of muscle protein synthesis. Research has shown that leucine, in particular, drives protein synthesis and represses the breakdown of protein.
Lots of supplements contain electrolytes, which are minerals – such as sodium, calcium, and potassium – that conduct electricity when they are mixed with water.
Electrolytes are important for different reasons, such as hydration, and the regulation of nerve and muscle function. Calcium, sodium, and potassium all work together to aid muscle contraction.
When we sweat, our bodies lose electrolytes. Therefore, sports drinks and other electrolyte-containing supplements are particularly beneficial post-workout.
The bottom line
There is a myriad of benefits associated with taking dietary supplements, and their various advantages depend on your overall goals. For example, there’s little point in taking protein supplements if you’re not regularly exercising. Similarly, a B12 supplement may not be necessary, unless you’re deficient in this vitamin. Before purchasing any one supplement, ensure that the ingredients contained are suitable for what you’re aiming to achieve.
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