The terrain of workout supplements can be hard for newcomers and veterans to navigate. The wide range of ingredients, compounds, formulations, and brand names can make it hard to figure out what supplements to use that are safe to use, effective, and within your personal budget.
We asked a few trainers one simple question: what do you look for in a workout supplement? Let’s take a look at what they had to say.
Always Read the Label
Patrick Henigan is the owner and lead trainer at Jacksonville Fitness Academy, which is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. He is also a certified strength trainer and movement coach through the American Council on Exercise and the Functional Movement Screen.
Patrick’s main advice is to read the label so that you know exactly what goes into your body. “The best supplements have simple ingredients which are easily identifiable, like chains of amino acids, creatine blends, vitamins and recognizable minerals and herbs,” he says. And that makes sense. If you’re paying attention to food labels for your diet, you should be taking the same amount of care with supplements.
Patrick also warns against supplements that include proprietary blends. “I always tell people to avoid ‘proprietary blends’ because that simply means it’s a blend of ingredients that the manufacturer does not need to disclose,” he says, “In the past these have included everything from table sugar to essentially saw dust.” We at MYOKEM™ completely agree with Patrick. We list out all of the ingredients in our formulas so that you know you are getting a fully effective dose of high quality, natural compounds that drive results.
He also emphasizes that workout supplements are designed to work in conjunction with your workouts and your diet. Putting unknown ingredients into your body causes bloating, keeps you from reaching your full potential, and may lead to serious harm. You are undoing your own hard work and risking your fitness.
Physical and Mental Endurance and Protection
David Bennett is something of a Renaissance man. He runs The Popular Man and The Popular Teen with his twin brother and business partner. He is the co-author of seven self-help and nutrition books, including Lose Weight and Be Healthy Now: Forty Science-Based Weight Loss Tips To Transform Your Life, and he has contributed writing to Good Housekeeping, Fox News, Girls’ Life and Reader’s Digest, among many others.
At the age of 38, David is also a true specimen of physical performance. He runs 100 miles every month, regularly lifts weights, trains and runs Tough Mudders, Warrior Dashes, half-marathons and other running and physical endurance events. Through all of that, David has no joint problems to speak of.
His advice for finding great workout supplements ties into that. David looks primarily for supplements that increase his physical and mental endurance. “I look for the amino acid beta-alanine, as well as some caffeine,” he says, “I also take another amino acid, acetyl L-Carnitine, which gives me a mental edge.”
David also looks for ingredients that can help to prevent damage to the joints and the body as a whole. For that, he recommends protein digesting enzymes, including papain and bromelain, which have been shown to prevent joint damage and issues with inflammation.
All of the supplements and individual ingredients that David uses have been studied for their effectiveness.
Trust and Ease of Use
For Erin Oprea, the USANA Fitness Ambassador, the first thing she looks at when she’s shopping for supplements is the label. She says, “There are a lot of options for vitamins but knowing that what you’re buying actually has what the label is telling you is in the product is very important to me.”
When it comes to individual ingredients, Erin recommends sticking with ingredients that are natural and easy to use. She also suggests avoiding lower level fillers. This is essentially when brands put in additives or filler ingredients to round out capsules or tablets. This often means throwing in everything but the kitchen sink with low, ineffective doses. While this may make for a more impressive ingredient profile, it may mean unsatisfactory results for you. As Erin puts it, “Make sure that you’re getting what you’re paying for.”
Erin’s main advice comes down to finding a company you can trust. The process of creating a product that is effective and can fit into your life, all in a single pill, requires science. Instead of resorting to trail and error, do your own research to find a trustworthy company that uses quality, proven ingredients. “There’s a lot of information out there,” Erin says, “Use it to your advantage and stay healthy!”
Remember that the supplement you choose will not matter if you don’t practice other good health habits. There are no miracle pills. True workout success all starts with a balanced, nutritious diet, plenty of exercise and a healthy sleep schedule.