Supplements Work: You Just Have To Do Your Part Too

By: Tim Rigby (Courtesy of Inside Fitness)

An important consideration when committing to the concept of taking supplements is that they can only do their job if you lay the proper groundwork yourself. Working out and consuming supplements is very much a partnership designed to help ensure you ultimately accomplish your fitness goals.  Exercise in its various forms is vital to accomplishing consistent and reliable results from your supps.  Additional protein isn’t going to somehow build your muscles if you don’t actually lift weights, nor will creatine suddenly make you stronger if you don’t push and pull the poundages regularly.  Pre-workouts are designed to give you mental acuity and lessen your perception of fatigue so you keep your workouts going longer and more intense – but they won’t do much if you simply consume them and not actually work out to the best of your ability. 

The aforementioned consideration is just one thing to bear in mind when you’re taking supplements.  We’d hate for you to mistakenly believe that specific supplements may have failed you simply because you didn’t do your part as well. Here are three additional considerations you should keep in mind to make sure you get the most out of your supplements: 

>> Maintain healthy nutrition when dieting.  Let’s begin with the fat loss support supplements.  Research shows that the ingredients in these blends can help augment your metabolism, increase your body temperature briefly, and help support the release of lipids from your fat cells to be burned for energy.  This does not give you carte blanche to consume any and all forms of fatty food, just because you’re taking a fat loss support supplement.  All too often, people will feel immune from the necessity of a healthy diet, based on this.  As a result, they don’t actually lose the fat (nor weight), and then they draw the erroneous conclusion that the supplement didn’t "work."  Think of it this way: if you subtract the fat but then add it back, obviously the result is no change – but it’s not the fault of the fat loss support supplement.

Exercise is also important when striving to make the most out of calorie expenditure.  Sure, you can lay around the house, swallow a few pills and maybe in a few weeks you’ll have dropped a pound or so.  But think of how much more effective your supps would be if you worked out, especially with intensity like a HIIT workout.  The combination of the exercise plus the supps will yield far greater results and help you lose fat much more substantially.  Why not take proper advantage of all the tools at your disposal?

>> Be patient and consistent.  While certain supps like pre-workouts have a more immediate effect, building muscle is a gradual process for everyone, no matter who you are.  Just keep doing your part by working out frequently and regularly.  You’ll probably notice that gains in muscle hypertrophy and strength are not directly linear – that is, you won’t make the same precise gains week after week after week.  Sometimes, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how quickly you added 50 pounds to your deadlift, while other times you may make only nominal gains over the same time frame.  Ultimately, however, you should arrive at your fitness goal, thanks much in part to supplements like protein and creatine.

 An interesting but very illustrative example of slow-and-steady supps is HMB.  This acronym stands for beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate, a metabolite of the amino acid leucine.  It’s an effective muscle and strength builder, provided you stick with it and follow the directions meticulously for a course of about two months.  After one month, you may not see any huge gains manifest, but by the eight-week mark, studies have repeatedly shown it’s a winner by helping produce gains.  So, stick with it.

>> Look at the big picture.  If you really want to maximize the results available to you from sports supplements, there are two other crucial factors to employ.  Drink additional water based on the extent of your supplement usage, and get additional sleep to optimize their uptake (make them as effective as possible).  Protein, for instance, can be assimilated better if you consume copious amounts of water throughout the day to assist in the shuttling of amino acids to your muscle cells. Heavy protein consumption produces a by-product called creatinine (not creatine) in your kidneys, which you eventually expel, but you can ease this process with water.  The strength booster creatine is also optimized quite significantly by drinking more water as it swells your muscle cells with liquid, making them stronger and bigger.

What more can you say about sleep, other than it’s truly the be all and end all.  Your entire hormonal system including your organs (a.k.a. your endocrine system) resets itself every day to the degree of the quality and length of your sleep.  Simply put, the better rest you get, the more you recover and heal, the more you build muscle and burn fat, and the  supplements can do their job more efficiently.  In conjunction with exercise and sleep, your supplements can make a big difference in the acquisition of the gains you're looking for.

Keep fit and keep using nutritional sports supplements to help improve your workouts en route to achieving your fitness goals.

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