So pretty much from the get go, I was using some form of dietary supplementation as I am, and always have been, a big believer in supplementing your diet with quality products to enhance your potential. Whether that’s an extra push in the gym, or something to help you reach your protein goals for the day.
Now, I’m not just saying this because I have my own supplement company, I’m known for my authenticity in the fitness/bodybuilding industry! Just go back and have a read of the many articles and interviews I did back in the day, I was using supplements to help reach my goals.
To pick a top five is difficult, as there are many supplements available out there that each serve their own purpose. I’ve narrowed it down to these five that I have used during my career and believe will provide value to gym goers.
So without further ado, let’s begin:
- A Quality Protein Supplement
I always used a protein supplement since day one and leading right up to a competition. During my early years, it was mainly for the convenience factor of shaking a bottle of whey protein powder with water and gulping it down and getting myself my needs of quality protein. The convenience factor of protein supplements is so crucial, I myself had a manual labour job and also worked the doors so it was rather difficult to get in 5-6 meals every day from just predominantly chicken breast and eggs.
Over the past 30 odd years, we’ve seen an increase in the quality of protein and you can now get everything from: concentrate, isolate, vegan protein and more. This is far more advanced than the standard, basic milk and egg based protein supplements back in the day! Simply put, using a quality protein supplement is a great way to get in the needed, daily protein requirements.
Roughly speaking, the adequate level of protein per day is between 1 – 1.5g of protein per lb of bodyweight.
So a 200lb person would require between 200 – 300g protein per day.
It gets better, you can even make a full meal by adding certain ingredients to your shake! Add in some oats, nuts, seeds, oils and fruit… you can basically make a liquid meal in under 5 minutes which is full of nutrients and again, is quick and convenient.
Your protein supplement of choice should be from a trusted brand that does not compromise on quality and should contain anything over 20g protein per scoop. That’s why I have developed a range of protein supplements from whey to vegan at DY Nutrition using the highest quality ingredients in todays market.
Arguably the most researched supplement ever! I first delved into creatine in the mid 1990s when it was first coming into the market. Since its vigorous testing, it has stood the test of time… because it works!
Creatine was also previously used in horse racing before athletes used it. It was also popularised in elite Premier League football when Arsene Wenger of Arsenal introduced creatine to his players. So creatine is not just limited to bodybuilding!
So, here are some of the benefits of supplementing with creatine:
- Helps to store more water in muscles, in turn, making them feel fuller and larger
- Increases strength by helping the body produce more ATP (adenosine triphosphate)
- Helps you do that little bit more which can have the compound effect overtime
- Helps with recovery as well as a cardio and energy boost
- It can also help with brain health and function
Dosage? Generally speaking, 5 grams per day is ideal, whenever you see fit.
3. Pre workout
Probably the most exciting supplement due its immediate effects!
Roughly dating back to the 1980s when pre workouts first came onto the scene, I myself, however did not really experiment much with pre workout supplements during my bodybuilding career. Back in the day I used to take caffeine straight, which can in fact burn you out overtime and you’ll end up crashing.
In a nutshell, pre workouts are designed to help you to get more out of your training session. More energy, increased focus and a great pump, these are just a few of the benefits of pre workout supplements. But, it depends on just what is in your pre workout supplement that can determine the effects you get.
So what should you look for in a pre workout? Well there is no real black and white answer because it typically depends on personal preference and what your goals are. But here three popular ingredients and their benefits:
- Caffeine, typically helps with focus, alertness and energy. The dosage with caffeine really depends on one’s caffeine sensitivity and tolerance, generally speaking, between 200 – 400mg caffeine is common.
- Citrulline Malate, this increases blood flow by dilating the blood vessels… giving you that wonderful pump! The average dosage is at least 3g per serving.
- Beta Alanine, this helps athletic performance by increasing exercise capacity whilst decreasing fatigue. Typical dosage is between 2 – 5g and this is the infamous ingredient for making your face itch!
In addition to these three ingredients, there are many more that can be included and these can work in combination with one another to give you the maximum value and help push towards your goals.
I would also advise you to save the stimulant based pre workouts for your big, heavy lifting days due to the fact that you can build a tolerance to stimulants like caffeine. On the other hand, stimulant-free pre workouts are fine to use every session if you wish. That’s why we developed our brand new ‘stim free pre workout’ in our Renew range of premium quality supplements!
This is an amino acid that has great benefits for the immune system by supporting intestinal health. It also helps to improve muscle recovery and reduce soreness after workouts. Our glutamine is designed to replenish the body’s most abundant amino acid to enhance recovery.
The more frequently you can target a muscle group with maximum power and effort, the faster you can restart the process of forcing muscles to adapt to new stimuli. You cannot train with full intensity without reloading the body’s most abundant amino acid.
Glutamine is naturally found in certain foods as well as being produced by the body. However, the amount we are talking here is fairly small and would be rapidly used after minimal physical exercise. Also used as a fuel source for immune cells like the white blood cells, which in turn, enhances the immune system.
The typical dosage here is between 4 – 10g per day for optimal results.
So my final choice of supplement is Branched Chain Amino Acids in which I used very early on in my career. Actually I was one of the first people to use the powdered form of amino acids!
The three amino acids here are:
- Leucine, an amino acid that is typically found in foods like eggs, fish and chicken. Leucine plays a critical role in protein synthesis and enhancing recovery. Whilst also increasing growth hormone production and physical endurance levels.
- Isoleucine, another amino acid that roles as a catalyst for protein synthesis. Isoleucine can also boost the anabolic processes throughout the body whilst aiding in the development of hormones such as growth hormone and testosterone.
- Valine, the final amino acid here that acts as a fuel reserve for cells. A lack of valine can lead to deficits of muscle tissue growth.
These three amino acids are critical for muscle growth and recovery and can be taken intra or post workout. Research leans towards having a higher level of leucine as opposed to isoleucine and valine. The usual ratio on the market is either 2:1:1 or 4:1:1. At DY Nutrition, we understand the importance of leucine and our BCAA supplements are in fact a whopping 10:1:1 ratio!
BCAAs are very useful if you are not getting enough protein through your diet and in addition to muscle recovery and growth, BCAAs can also help to support the immune system and overall health support too.
So there you have my top 5 recommended supplements, I hope this helps you in your fitness journey! Remember though, they are just indeed supplements and are not designed to replace a diet… just to supplement on top!