Am I making this post just for the title? Maybe. But mainly because this is something I do get asked a lot.
Let me start off with saying you 100% absolutely do NOT need supplements to maintain a healthy lifestyle/see progress in the gym. They are merely there to help you.
I take three kinds of supplements: protein powders, BCAA’s, and pre-workout.
As a college student, specifically living in a dorm, hitting my macros without supplements was EXTREMELY difficult. My protein intake was always significantly lower, so I started to use protein powders as part of my daily diet. With my busy schedule, sometimes the only time I can get to the gym was at 5 am….that’s when pre-workout came in. As for BCAA’s, I’ve seen a lot of controversy involving them, so I decided to try them out to see for myself, I’ll explain more later, but so far, I have seen a lot of benefits.
That being said, I do have fitness goals I want to reach, which is the main reason I use supplements. Supplements are a personal choice, and today I’m going to share my favorites, as well as what I currently use on a day-to-day basis, and where I plan on going from here.
A broke college student first experimenting with protein powders? You already know I was buying the cheapest, not-the-best tasting ones. However, from there, I then went to more expensive quality ones. I was trying out powders from all over the spectrum: vegan, paleo, whey, cheap, expensive etc. Some great, some not so great. Then, I found a happy medium: PeScience.
Currently, my favorite are PeScience protein powders, and let me tell you, they are the BEST tasting powders I have tried, for the best price. The are a little higher in price, but if you find a discount code from one of their athletes or wait for a sale, it is SO worth it. They have delicious flavors like, chocolate peanut butter cup (my favorite) and snickerdoodle, to classes like vanilla and chocolate. This is also the only brand of protein that I can drink mixed with only water, and still thoroughly enjoy it!
I also use Nuzest, and occasionally Vega. I love Nuzest because it has SUCH a clean ingredient list, easy for my body to digest, and is non-GMO. It’s also a vegan, paleo, and allergen-free protein. It is on the more expensive side, but they do lots of giveaways, and usually give out a free sample of another product with your order. I don’t particularly enjoy any vegan protein powders on their own/mixed with water (maybe it’s a taste/texture thing?) but I do enjoy them in smoothies, waffles, oatmeal, etc. I like to keep either chocolate or vanilla on hand, since these are flavors I often reach for. Vega is another brand I’ll use. I always see this on sale in stores, and it’s so easy to find. They offer different products, flavors, and tastes pretty good in different foods, not so much on its own. I definitely recommend Vega if you are looking for a good quality protein for a decent price. They also have sample packets, if you don’t want to make that kind of commitment yet.
I am a HUGE coffee drinker. Like I used to drink 3-4 Starbucks Trenta black coffee’s a day…I am currently working on decreasing my intake (lol) but just letting you guys know that I am pretty used to having a lot of caffeine in my system. Whereas a lot of people can get their pre-workout pump from having a cup of coffee, I just didn’t feel the same affects. I needed an extra (extra?) kick for those early mornings, or just days where I was feeling lazy. I use PeScience Prolific as pre-workout, which is caffeinated unlike their High Volume formula. I don’t use pre-workout often, but when I do, this product definitely gives me that extra boost.
Now BCAA’s! I’ve heard a lot of positives and I’ve heard a lot of negatives. Do they work? Is it worth my money? Why take it? When do you take it? Basically BCAA’s are essential amino acids that your body doesn’t make, meaning you either: get it from food, or you supplement them. They preserve muscle glycogen stores, so they fuel your muscles during workouts, while minimizing protein breakdown. They can also help reduce muscle soreness, especially beneficial if you do a lot of intense exercise.
Now the reason I take BCAA’s is because I intermittent fast, so I only take them when I am in a fasted state. I drink them intra-workout, and try to play my training right before I break my fast. Also, BCAA’s do break my fast, but since I am drinking them while training, the benefits of taking them while lifting outweigh the negatives of breaking my fast a lil early. Basically, supplementing BCAA’s during my workout encourages my muscles to grow and gives me energy to push through.
I’ve been using BCAA’s for over about two months, and have seen myself get A LOT leaner which is why I continue to use them. They have been extremely beneficial with IF and my morning workouts. In my opinion, if you are in a similar routine as me, I think you should try them out. However, you CAN get these essential amino acids from your food, so do extra research to see if its right for you. My current favorite is BPI Sports Best BCAA’s, and I take 1 scoop with water during my workout.
All of these products have been beneficial in my journey, however I am looking to try to get these benefits from whole foods rather than supplements because 1: these can get expensive quick and 2: it’s just better for your body. For now, I’ll keep using these because they work for me! I highly recommend doing research to see what works and won’t work for you.
I hope this was helpful to you in any way, feel free to ask me any other questions about my own experience with these products, or other, products!