Fad diets, weight loss pills, diet drinks... all a load of crap.
I saw on Instagram today that Khloe Kardashian was promoting a 'flat tummy tea' and it angers me SO much that someone with so much reach (76.5M followers to be precise) has the ability to share those kinds of messages without any kind of repercussions. She should be using that reach to help people properly - not just to make $$$$.
Anyway, rant over.
The reason I mentioned that is because it triggered a thought in my mind about what supplements people actually COULD benefit from. A lot of gym-goers will take pre-workout, protein shakes, BCAA's and a whole range of other fitness supplements. But is it all just a money-maker for the large fitness companies? And what supplements could you be taking that could actually benefit your training and performance?
Well, there are two that I want to talk about today that have a lot of research behind them and can genuinely be said to enhance performance. Can anyone guess what they are?! (Hint: no, they are not diet pills in case you hadn't guessed).
Praise the lord - an excuse to drink more coffee! But seriously. Caffeine is arguably the most-researched supplement and is most commonly found in coffee, energy drinks, tea or caffeine pills.
Caffeine is a stimulant (and a powerful one at that). Studies have shown it can improve exercise performance in both physical strength and endurance. It can also be used for fat loss through thermogenesis, fat oxidation and suppressed leptin (the hormone that tells us we are hungry).
The amount of caffeine you need for these effects depends on the person and their tolerance to caffeine. Personally, I enjoy having a cup of coffee before I workout as I prefer to stay away from pre-workouts which are filled with artificial sweeteners and all other kinds of things.
This supplement is definitely not as well-known as caffeine but has a lot of scientific studies to back it up. The way it works is by combining with phosphorous in the muscle cells to generate creatine phosphate - an immediate high energy supply to the muscles.
In other words, it can improve exercise performance by rapidly producing energy during activity therefore reducing fatigue and can also increase protein synthesis and improve strength. In fact, many studies show that creatine is one of the most effective dietary supplements available for increasing body mass and muscle mass during training.
The most common way to take creatine is by following a 'loading' technique. This is where you take 20-25g of creatine daily for 7 days, after which you start a maintenance phase of consuming 5g per day. It's important to note that some studies show that caffeine may counteract the effects of creatine so you are better off not taking them at the same time (take creatine first).
Short term effects can be a small amount of weight gain but this is generally due to water retention from increase muscle cell volume. Any longer-term weight gain is probably due to increased lean muscle mass.
So... there we have it. No diet pills, no flat tummy teas. Just two supplements that have science to back them up and can actually improve our performance!
If you have any questions feel free to email me or comment below as always.