What’s Up with Supps?

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!

 

Where I am

When I started wanting to share my new healthy lifestyle with the world, I initially wanted to only share anything fitness related. In fact, my instagram and this blog was meant to be a place where I can share my workouts and gym tips, not really anything food related. However, when I started creating these accounts, I was in a different mental place.

Up until recently, I was obsessed with working out. I worked out 5 times a week, worked out two-three different muscle groups a day and sometimes got to the point where I was completely fatiguing my muscles, but still forced myself to keep going. If I skipped a workout, it was ALL I could think about that day. It consumed me. I decided that I did not want to share anything fitness related until I was in a place where I was completely (or mostly) in control, and if I missed a workout, I wouldn’t stress.

Currently, I work out when I can due to my busy schedule. Typically it is 3-4 times a week. With finals and the holidays, most of my workouts have gone down to focusing on one muscle group due to time constraints. I am currently working back to my usual consistent 4 times a week, 4 day split workout, however, I am still trying to work around my crazy school and work schedule. I have been focusing mainly on still maintaining an 80/20 diet, so because of this, I still have not felt like I have been digressing.┬áBut I found this current gym/nutrition relationship is what works the best for ME. I am still reaching my goals, maybe not at the rate that I’d like to, but I am getting there.

As this is my first fitness post, I just would like to share a few tips that have helped me get to this mental place.

  • Nutrition is just as a important as working out. You can’t work out a bad diet. Making sure to get plenty of carbs, protein, and healthy fats is just as important as training your favorite muscle groups.
  • Plan your workouts before getting to the gym. I’ve been doing this recently and has made things so much more efficient, as I am not just aimlessly walking around the gym, trying to think of the workouts as I go.
  • Experiment with different machines and weights. I have my preferences, but I love to mix it up every once in a while, depending on which gym I’m at. Currently, for back, cables are my new favorite: there’s so many options! I also have been experimenting with kettle bells for leg days.
  • Find a buddy. In general, I prefer to workout alone. I’m not a huge talker, and I like to get in there, get sweaty, and leave. However, there are some days where I just DO NOT have the motivation to go. Having a workout buddy, or even just having someone to go with, do your own thing, then meet up to leave together makes going to the gym so much easier.
  • Listen to your body. There’s a difference between being lazy and being physically and mentally exhausted. Know the difference. There’s some days where my legs hurt from shifts after shifts at work or I had the hardest leg and back day and my entire body is still crying the next day and I just do not have the energy to go to the gym. I don’t go, it’s as simple as that.
  • Try working out at different times of the day. This I have down to a science. I love working out at the beginning of the day, depending on the day, ideally I will try to hit the gym sometime between 6-9 a.m before classes. Depending on work, homework, or anything else that comes my way, I try to go later between 12-3 p.m or 6-8 p.m. I hate going during “the rush” which is usually later in the day like 5 or 6, because the gym is crazy packed! For me, going in the morning means more open equipment, gives me energy for day, and I don’t have to worry about making time later.
  • Enjoy it. Working out for me is a way to relieve stress and take a mental break from work, school, and just life in general. I look forward to my workouts, because I know they benefit me in so many ways.

As of right now, I am strength training 4 times a week and eating (ok attempting to eat is a better phrase…its the holidays people, lets be realistic) plenty of protein, carbs, and healthy fats. As this semester comes to an end and the new year rolls in, I am excited to see where my fitness journey takes me next. Remember, it’s not a race. Enjoy the journey.