Overall calories, food composition, nutrient timing, and macronutrient amounts are the most important factors to keep in line while improving body composition. However, supplements can be helpful aides in reaching a body composition goal.
There are two basic criteria to render a supplement “effective:”
- Research volume (number of research publications)
- Research consensus (similar conclusions)
The research volume should be as high as possible, but definitely higher than ten studies. The consensus of the studies should reach the same conclusions. It is possible to research a supplement extensively but reach contradictory results. Glutamine falls under this category.
That being said, only five classes of supplements make the cut:
- Whey Protein
Whey protein is one of the fastest digesting and absorbing protein sources, which makes it ideal for pre-, intra- and post-workout. It also is of excellent quality and tops almost all formal lists of protein quality, even egg whites (which are considered the 100% standard.)
2) Glycemic Carbohydrate Supplements
This class of carbohydrates is absorbed into the blood rapidly and also causes a large insulin response, which is almost ideal for the intra- and post-workout environment. Examples include Gatorade, Powerade and Tang powders. A large insulin spike results in the absorption of nutrients into the damaged muscles quickly for faster recovery and muscle repair.
This supplement has accumulated over 20 years of research. It has been shown to reliably enhance ability to perform repetitions in any one set, enhanced recovery ability between sets, stimulate hypertrophy (muscle mass gain), and increase intramuscular water retention, which makes the muscles look bigger as long as creatine is being consumed.
An appropriate dose is 5-10g per day for individuals of all sizes. Timing is not a factor.
The most researched stimulant is, of course, caffeine. It has been proven to increase motivation for training, enhance the ability to maintain performance during high-volume training sessions, enhance pain tolerance during training, slightly enhance fat-burning and reduce appetite.
5) Casein Protein
This protein source has a much slower rate of digestion than its counterpart, whey protein. This makes it ideal for bedtime to avoid falling into a catabolic (tissue breakdown) state. Some studies demonstrate up to seven hours of continual, slow amino acid release into the blood from a single dose of casein protein.
Other supplements may or may not effect body composition but do not fall under the two basic criteria, even though some may sound promising. The above five supplements have been proven, repeatedly, to have a measurable effect on body composition and are worth considering when working toward a goal in fitness.
For more information on dieting to change your body composition, please reference “The Renaissance Diet,” by Dr. Mike Israetel with Dr. Jen Case and Dr. James Hoffman. You can also contact me, Whitney Cappellucci, with questions on nutrition by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.