We would like to start by making it clear that supplements are just that, supplements, and in no case should replace our diet, although they do serve to complement it and help us get all the nutrients needed to improve our performance, achieve our goals and maintain our health, which sometimes we forget this point that is the most important.
Supplements that we consider useful at any given time
Among the whole range of supplements that we have at our disposal, I will limit myself to commenting only those that I find useful and that I believe can be effective at some point in the season, indicating each of them why they are useful and on what occasion they are necessary:
Whey Protein: I’m not going to stop too much in this supplement, because I told you my opinion on the subject in an article devoted exclusively to it. The summary is that it can be useful, but that it is not essential.
Multivitamins: if our diet is varied and we find vegetables, lean meats, white and fatty fish, nuts, legumes, cereals and in short, foods that contain many micronutrients as well as providing us with energy, we are generally not going to need multivitamins. Now, if we are in a stage of caloric restriction very large, in which we have reduced much fruit consumption among other foods, it might be necessary to take some multivitamin to make up for these deficiencies.
Omega 3: if our diet does not lack fatty fish such as salmon, sardines or tuna at least once or twice a week, we should not worry about omega 3 fatty acids. Now, if we do not consume food sources in which we can find these fatty acids, it would be highly recommended to buy some capsules of omega 3 (if possible, free of PCBs, Dioxins and heavy metals) to supplement with them because, not only serve for aesthetic purposes, but also for the health of our brain.
BCAAs: BCAAs or branched chain amino acids are those amino acids that help us activate mTOR, helping to prevent muscle catabolism and better protein synthesis when we seek to increase our muscle mass. We could say that it is a very useful supplement when we want to lose fat or gain muscle. Now, if we usually consume a whey protein shake during the day, we will actually be ingesting the amount of BCAAs needed throughout the day. This supplement can be useful when we are in a phase of very high calorie restriction in which we do not usually take protein shakes, because the amount of calories they provide is negligible and is studied that also help give us more energy during training, improve muscle recovery and also improve fat loss.
Caffeine: caffeine is another very interesting ergogenic aid, not so much because of its lipolytic effect when it comes to losing fat, but rather because of its effect on our organism when faced with strength or resistance training. It will give us the necessary help to perform better in our sport. However, we must learn to cycle it, because it is a substance that our body is able to adapt to quickly and doses would have to be increased excessively to take effect.
Creatine: I have not particularly noticed that this substance has such a considerable effect on our workouts, perhaps because in my diet I already consume enough, even so, is one of the most valued supplements as far as performance improvement is concerned and its use is recommended especially in those athletes who seek an improvement in performance. Like caffeine, there must be a rest period every so often so that the body does not adapt to it and can continue to be effective and useful.
There are many supplements on the market, but in general terms and in totally healthy people, the rest of the supplements are not usually effective or necessary, whatever our objective. Whether we’re looking for aesthetics or performance improvement, we don’t need more supplements.
It is true that for example exogenous l-carnitine can be useful in people who are not able to secrete it naturally or who generate it but in amounts too low in their body, but in healthy people, would not produce any extra benefit to consume l-carnitine exogenously, because our own body would excrete it.
In relation to carbohydrate shakes, the “voluminizers” or “weight winners” are easily substitutable by carbohydrate sources such as cereals, tubers or any other source of carbohydrates interesting and healthy for our body. It is true that in people with an excessively high calorie expenditure, it can help to reach the total calories without the difficulty of having to ingest it and digest it through solid foods.