Lost in an Avalanche of Pills: Which Supplement Should You Use?

Have you ever bumped into someone for the millionth time and still drawn a blank on their name? You jog your memory for a clue – ANY clue – but come up empty. Finally, you have no choice but to awkwardly exclaim, “Heeeeey, friend!” or “So great to see you … Buddy!”

Sure, you could ask.

You could say, “I know we met ages ago, but can you remind me of your name?”

But let’s be real. You’ve got your pride.

Maybe you feel the same way about supplements.

 You hear people talking about them all the time, but you’re stumped on what they’re all about. You don’t want to ask your hardcore fitness friends, because they’ll think you were born yesterday.

Good news! You can skip the social awkwardness and read this article. We’ve got the WHAT, WHY, WHEN, and HOW to help you not only make sense of supplements, but also use them to your advantage! Let’s get to it …

 WHAT are supplements?

The dictionary defines a supplement as “something that completes or makes an addition.” In the case of your fitness goals, supplements provide nutritional support to complement what you’re already doing – hopefully that’s eating well and exercising regularly. The word “complement” is key.

Too often, people treat supplements like a magic wand. They think they’ll instantly get shredded abs or bulging biceps. But unless they’re also doing the work, they’ll be waiting quite a while.

So, what kind of supplements are out there? Pick a goal, any goal, and there’s a supplement to match. Fat-loss supplements, muscle-building supplements, energy-boosting supplements – the list goes on. But let’s back up a bit first …

WHY should you use them?

We could go on and on about the benefits of supplements, but we’ll narrow it down to these four:

1. To maximize your workouts – You spend hours each week exercising. Why not ensure your body is properly fueled before, during, and after your workouts to put you in prime results mode?

2. For an added edge ­– Nobody said reaching your fitness goals was easy. That’s why every little bit of support counts. Remember; supplements won’t do all the work for you, but they’ll certainly help.

3. To make your life easier – Supplements are quick, convenient, and typically portable. Take protein powders for example––they can help you increase your daily protein intake without having to meal plan, cook, or stomach another dry chicken breast.

4. To look and feel your best – That’s why you’re here, right? Supplements can help you reach your fitness goals, and that’s great for your physique and your self-confidence.

WHEN should you take them?

Again, this will depend on your personal goals (i.e. muscle building, fat loss, performance, etc.), but you can follow these general timeframes:

• Pre-workout – These supplements are usually taken 20 to 30 minutes before exercise to boost energy and endurance. A creatine product like this one can help delay fatigue and sustain longer workouts.

 • Post-workout – Following your workout, you’ll want to replenish your body with high-quality protein and/or glutamine to support muscle repair, recovery, and growth. These supplements will also help prevent muscle breakdown.

• Throughout your day – Even on days when you’re not exercising, aim to consume some protein at every snack or meal to maintain a healthy metabolism and support lean muscle growth. Protein powders, ready-to-drink (RTD) shakes, and bars come in handy when you want high-quality nutrition at your fingertips.

HOW do you choose “the one” brand for you?

There are a bajillion (yes, that’s a word!) supplement brands out there. Sorting through them might seem overwhelming at first, but these criteria can help steer you in the right direction:

Results – Have you read glowing testimonials from real people (not just professional fitness models or athletes) who’ve used the products? Have you seen impressive – and achievable – results from people just like you?

 History – How long has the company been in business? Has it been proudly serving customers for 10, 20, or more years? Or is it brand-spankin’ new with products that have yet to be validated?

Science – Does the company conduct third-party testing on its products, or are you trusting the hyped-up claims made by Kyle in Marketing? Can you guarantee that what’s on the label is in the product?

 Quality – Does the company offer supplements with no artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners? Are the products wholesome, clean, and free of banned substances?   

 Values – Do you like what the company stands for? Does it look beyond profits by giving back to humanitarian causes, supporting the environment, etc.?

Taste – Do you love the taste of the supplements, or are you stomaching nasty, gritty flavor because you think you have to? (Psst … you don’t!)

So, are you feeling more supplement savvy?

If so, you’re ready. Time to join those supplement conversations and add them to your routine! Whether you’re looking to muscle up, slim down, or simply kick your life up a healthier notch, there’s a product with your name on it. Learn more at www.labrada.com.

About the Author: Nicole Kepic

Nicole Kepic is a fitness & nutrition expert who specializes in health, wellness, and lifestyle writing. She has also had articles published in a variety of fitness and bodybuilding magazines. When she’s not busy writing for her clients, Nicole is either keeping active with her family or dreaming of her next sunny vacation. www.nicolekepic.com

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.