Supplements aren’t anything new. Fitness seekers, athletes and competitors in nearly every sport have used supplements at some point to get bigger, stronger and better.
In fact, the world of health and fitness supplements has never been bigger and there is seemingly a supplement for everything.
One report cited some impressive statistics to prove that point saying…
While a great number of those “supplements” fall into some type of multi-vitamin category, you get the point.
Supplements are a big deal. This begs the question, should jiu jitsu athletes or competitors in other sports be using supplements? Will they give you an edge over your competition?
To take this one step farther, if they will benefit my health and game, what types of supplements should I use? Amino acids? Protein supplements? HGH? Energy supplements?
The list is nearly endless and this can be an overwhelming process – without any guidance, counsel or direction of course.
Unfortunately we don’t have time here to go over every type of supplement, what it does and what supplements may or may not benefit you.
To get personalized and tailored dietary plans, a qualified trainer or nutritionist can be employed and always check with your physician before beginning a supplement regimen.
The good news is that it isn’t as complicated as it may seem and the guide below should help you get a handle on a market inundated with supplements for everything from getting bigger to getting smaller and everything in between…
A Simple Supplement Guideline
It is more appropriate to label certain supplements (i.e. steroids) legal or illegal as opposed to good or bad.
That being said, we can begin by defining supplements into two primary categories, prescription and everything else like those you can pick up at the local GNC or drug store.
Using steroids or HGH can be very dangerous and have serious side effects, there is a reason these are prescription only. Well, at least in the United States.
Generally speaking, those types of supplements are for very particular reasons, such as a medical condition or to promote the healing of a serious injury.
For our discussion, we will be looking at those supplements that don’t require a prescription (anywhere) and that can be effective in helping you reach your goals.
The Muscle Supplements
Protein bars, shakes and drinks, amino capsules, mixes and powders, creatine or maybe HMB?
Choosing the right one will depend on your personal needs but these are all focused on one goal – muscle growth.
Now don’t go thinking you can just start some trial and error process with these, that could be a very bad idea.
If you were working on finishing of that six-pack and picked up some protein shake with a weight gainer added for example, that could set you back weeks!
Those aforementioned fitness trainers and nutritionists are there for reasons just like these.
The Energy Supplements
Nothing is going to replace a schedule that allows for quality rest as the best way to boost and restore your energy.
Problem is, most of us live in the real world and than can mean having chaotic, non-stop schedules.
Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in a day, literally.
Energy supplements can usually be deemed as the, energy whenever you need a pick-me-up type and the ones designed to help you kill that workout.
Caffeine or sugars may often be found in those energy boosters, while supplements designed for workouts will more commonly have ingredients like B vitamin chains and energy extract compounds like guaranine.
You may also find crossover supplements like creatine. This supplement delivers energy and strength to your muscles because of its structure and natural role in facilitating energy to the body.
It is also good to know that many pre and post workout energy supplements come in the form of bars, drinks and etc., while the anytime boosters are generally found in the form of energy drinks or capsules.
Fat / Weight Loss Supplements
Every competitor wants to be leaner, faster and have that edge on their competitor.
Maybe you need to cut a pound or two fast for the upcoming jiu jitsu tournament?
Whatever the reason, there are plenty of supplements promising to get the job done.
Be leery of those! No pill, no supplement, powder or drink will ever do the work for you. What the right supplements will do is help promote fat burning and aid in weight-loss.
If you are that jiu jitsu athlete needing to make weight, you have my blessing to “watch the scale,” for everyone else (as I don my personal trainer hat), you are not allowed to watch the scale!
If you want to get healthier, leaner and stronger – you might actually become heavier.
If you replace that 1 percent of body fat with muscle, that will equal weight gain and also a leaner and stronger you.
The key word here is “metabolism” and the word to be cautious of is “suppression.”
Most weight loss supplements will offer ingredients that will work to suppress your appetite, which is precisely what you don’t want to do.
Search for ingredients that promote “fat burning” and will offer ingredients that act to boost and help your metabolism.
Most of these supplements will quite clearly state, “Weight Gainer” on the package.
The concern here is that they can often be confused with muscle gain and protein mixes or those muscle boosting supplements can have additional weight gainers added to them.
Watch the caloric and protein counts on these supplements. Few of us are never going to perform a workout that requires 4,000 calories a day and there is a thing as too many proteins.
Your Goals Will Determine Your Needs
What are you looking to get out of your program? Are you solely focused on a fitness program that will improve your BJJ or do you simply want to gain muscle?
Maybe you know your body fat is just too high? Your goals will determine if you need supplements and which ones to use.
If that insane schedule doesn’t allow you to get enough protein intake and you are putting in the time at the gym, a protein supplement would make perfect sense.
It could be that you are working hard to polish of that near-complete six-pack but you’ve hit a wall.
Perhaps a metabolic booster like chromium polynicotinate would be just the nudge your body needs.
The formula is simple – know your goals, determine your needs and if supplements can help you get there, then they are right for you.