You just enrolled in a gym membership, bought some new workout gear, invested in a Personal Trainer or started a workout program, and you’re mentally committed to eating clean. What next? It’s time to look for some supplements to help you hit your goals faster. One small problem though, there are billions of brands and products, which ones should you buy? For this beginner’s guide, we’re only going to use the very basic supplements that you’ll want to consider and we’re going to do it on a budget.
1) Whey Protein
– Take 1 serving after your workout or consume it as a meal replacement.
Whey protein is a fundamental muscle building supplement that you should have in your plan. I only buy my whey protein from reputable sports nutrition brands like Optimum Nutrition, Muscle Pharm, BPI and Scivation. You can find these brands on amazon, bodybuilding.com and some are even in CostCo. Generally, the brands that I mentioned offer a variety of flavors anywhere from your basic chocolate and vanilla, to more exciting flavors like cinnamon roll, red velvet cake and s’mores! I typically stick to the basics, but you can use the more exciting flavors for baking high protein foods as well as making shakes. My goal is to spend less than $50 on about 60-70 servings. That means I’ll be able to make my $50 investment last me 2 months instead of buying the most expensive whey protein at GNC that honestly isn’t going to make much of difference for you results-wise. In short, stick with a good quality whey protein from a reputable brand and get it on sale.
– Take 1 serving 30 minutes prior to your workout
If you’re very caffeine sensitive you may want to avoid these products. If, however, you can handle a few cups of coffee without having a complete anxiety ridden meltdown, you’ll do just fine. I use the same rule when shopping my pre-workout mixes: reputable brand + good quality+ on sale = Happy Alex. I try to spend $15-20 max on my pre-workout supplements and I want them to also last me 6-8 weeks (30+ servings). I’ve been successful doing this with Cellucor’s C4, Neon Sport’s Volt, and Muscle Pharm’s Assault. These are generally mild as far as stimulants go, which some people may dislike, but if you’re just starting out or aren’t really looking to invest $50 into a month supply of pre-workouts than these are some really good options. Of course, you can always stick to coffee but pre-workout is kind of like a friend that pulls you off of your couch and forces you to go to the gym in beverage form. The pre-workouts I listed contain roughly 150 mg of caffeine, have a few vasodilating amino acids, and beta alanine, which is a fatigue defeating amino acid. It’s like if your coffee drank an even stronger cup of coffee.
– Take one serving during your workout (mix with water and sip throughout workout).
Branch-chain amino acids are an absolute game changer when it comes to decreasing fatigue, building muscle, improving hydration, and burning fat. You won’t feel the effects of BCAAs like the stimulating effects of a pre-workout but overtime you may notice that you’re able to workout longer, with more intensity, without feeling fatigued early on. Before I became sponsored by Scivation I used my same rule as my pre-workout rule. I would spend roughly $15-$20 and have it last me 6-8 weeks (30+ servings). Scivation makes 11 flavors of BCAAs including one option that you’ll love if you’re trying to avoid flavors/sweeteners/dyes/etc.; Scivation Raw BCAAs. Try filling up a shaker bottle with ice, then pour 8-12 oz. of coconut water, fill the rest with regular water and add your scoop of BCAAs for a tasty, potassium packed sports drink.
I’m stopping here because I think this is enough to really cover your basics and it’s very manageable to budget. You have a pre-workout ($15-20/month), an intra workout ($15-20/month) and a post workout ($25/month) that should only run you about $55-$65/month. You could potentially get those costs down further but I don’t like compromising the taste or quality of these products for the sake of a few dollars.
Hope this helps! If you need any advice feel free to comment.
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