Firstly, I stand by that supplements should never be used to replace food they should be used alongside a good strong diet and you only need them to aid your diet and training. The supplement industry is a mind field of products all claiming they are the best on the market and that “they are the missing ingredient to your perfect body”. Let’s put the record straight if you’re not training to your max every session and your diet is only perfect 40% of the time no supplement is going to give you the answer to what you are looking for.
So there are thousands of products on the market how do we pick which will be best for you? Firstly I would recommend staying away from the product that you saw an influencer using…that banging body they got wasn’t just down to the product they use.It's many factors and let’s not forget they are getting paid to promote that product. I also recommend thinking twice before you buy a brand that a successful fitness competitor or fitness model has put their name to…it’s their own company don’t be fooled by their following or the success they’ve had…it’s the same as thinking that a footballer is only good due to the brand of boots they use. My advice; do your research, from experience I've found that the cheapest products are pointless and the most expensive are a waste of money the mid-range does the job for me. Do your research too, at the end of the day you’re putting it in your body so get a good idea of what you’re using. Looking at reviews and trying a few to see what works best for you will help you best decide.
For now, let’s discuss the two main supplements that people ask me about the most: protein and pre-workout.
When it comes to protein the brand just dictates the cost, like anything a good strong trusted brand can charge more, at the end of the day protein is protein and your body still uses and processes it the same way. What’s in your protein powder can be very different! You want to look for the purest, what does this mean?..... well you want only protein you don’t want it being “spiked” now this is where companies get cheeky due to some very loose laws and how they test for nitrogen. Put simply a company could put on the label 25g per serving, but this could end up only being 20g of protein then the other 5g being made up of very cheap amino acids and then claim to have a higher gram of protein per serving. So how do you look out for this? Firstly check the label small print if it’s got a lot of extra ingredients like glycine, creatine, or taurine then chances are its spiked and these are the ingredients that help make up that 25g of protein per serving. The next big clue is that they will openly advertise that it’s not only protein but it’s got all these added ingredients if you’re looking for a good protein powder you don’t need this so probably best to stay away. We stand by 'bulk powders' and 'my protein' for reliable sources.
Now pre-workout…what is it? In simple terms, it’s an energy drink no different to your “Red Bull or Lucozade” only much stronger. It is not dangerous as long as you stick to the instructions on the tub.
Do I recommend pre-workout…yes if used right. How do I mean “ if used right”, well speaking from first-hand experience I've used a lot at a young age and defiantly didn’t use them right. At a young age I was introduced to them and to start with it was insane. Why? because I wasn’t used to it and of course my body got the kick and I was buzzing in the gym. Did it mean I lifted more? No, I just had more energy so I could train for a little longer. Did that mean I had better results? No, I would have still got the same results because I was new to the gym. I just didn’t know that so I thought it was down to the pre-workout.
What happens as a result? Well like anything my body got used to it so the pre-workout had little to no effect on me so I had to keep changing the pre-workout because my body would get used to it and I would go even more extreme and would have to take twice the amount for it to even affect me. Now, this is extremely dangerous and can cause serious problems, especially with our heart.
So what have I learned? Depending on when you train you can get that energy you need from food and the timings of when you have eaten related to when you train. For me, I will have a good session if I train around two hours after eating and if I've had a good solid sleep, this is just me but for you, this could be different you just have to use the good old method of trial and error. Do I still use pre-workout? Yes, but correctly. I only use it when it is needed. How do I know when this is? It's a hard one to answer sometimes you just know it changes from time to time for me. Normally it's if I have an early start and I have to train at say 7 am and I had a poor night's sleep and can’t get up early enough to eat with enough time but like anything this changes. The point I’m getting at it is, yes use it, but don’t become dependent on it. In the long run, you will regret it.
How do you pick a pre-workout? The best advice I could give is to get a few samples and see which will work best for you and go from there.