Supplements

  1. The best supplements to stack with a whey protein shake

    If you’re looking to get more out of your whey protein supplements then past a certain point increasing the amount you take isn’t going to get you the results you’re after - in fact, it’s more likely that the excess will just turn into fat as you’re consuming more protein than your body can use effectively! Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain mass, or just stay healthy, there is one sure fire way you can really boost the effectiveness of the supplements you’re taking - stacking.

    Stacking supplements for beginners

    When people call something a supplement stack what they’re talking about is a group of supplements that are synergistic with each other. It doesn't mean that you need to take them all at the same time though, just that incorporating each of them into your training routine will help you to see even more benefits than you would if you were taking a single supplement.

    Whey protein is one of the most popular supplements around right now because it offers a myriad of different benefits so if you’re trying to amplify one of those then taking it in combination with supplements that have a similar effect will help you to meet your goals a lot faster.

    Improving strength and endurance

    If you’re the kind of person who gets a lot of satisfaction from hearing the clattering sound as you add another 25kg plate onto the barbell then stacking your whey protein with other powerful supplements can help make you the envy of the other lifters at the gym. Creatine is one of the best supplements to help you gain both size and strength because as it’s broken down during exercise it releases large amounts of energy in your muscle cells that can be used for the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is essentially muscle fuel. It’s especially useful at giving you the quick burst of energy you need for intense, explosive exercises like weightlifting.

    Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid that can also work very effectively with a whey protein supplement to help you gain strength. It’s one of the most abundant amino acids in the body so it is often overlooked when it comes to supplementation, but when you’re exercising in ways that put your body under a lot of stress it can be one of the most helpful supplements around! Endurance athletes and powerlifters in particular can often find themselves deficient in glutamine and redressing this can lead to measurable gains in strength, endurance, and muscle mass. Glutamine also plays an important role in powering your immune response and athletes who supplement with it generally have lower levels of infection and recover from any muscular damage faster than those who don’t.

    Strength and endurance stack: Whey Protein, Creatine, Amino Acids

    Fast muscle mass gains

    Whey protein is fantastic for helping you with your muscle gains, but if you’re looking to put on a lot of new muscle then calorie consumption is also really important. If you’re only taking in as many calories as you burn to get through your daily activities you won’t have enough available to build muscle effectively. For this reason creating a calorie surplus with a weight gainer can really help you to get more out of your whey protein supplements as you’ll be getting a much better balance of protein, carbs, and fats.

    Pre-workout boosters are also great at helping you put on muscle mass as they’ll give you the energy to exercise longer and more effectively. AMSport’s pre-workout booster contains high levels of beta alanine and creatine which keep you sharp and boost your endurance, allowing you to extract every last ounce of performance out of your whey protein shake.

    Muscle and mass gains stack: Whey Protein, Weight Gainer, Pre-workout Booster

    Fat loss

    When you’re looking to shed some excess fat fast the obvious answer is to make sure you’re burning more calories than you take in. If you don’t plan this carefully though there’s a good chance you could throw away a lot of the progress you’ve made by losing a lot of muscle mass at the same time. Cutting the amount of whey protein you take slightly can help, as can taking it in conjunction with a BCAA supplement. Whey protein itself contains a nice amount of BCAAs but boosting your intake to around 5-10g per serving can really help you see fat loss results faster. This is because taking whey protein in conjunction with BCAAs keeps your body in a state that is more conducive to fat burning and muscle building. A lot of amino acids are lipotropic, which means that they catalyse the breakdown of fat and make it more readily available to your body as energy. With more fat to burn your body doesn’t need to start catalysing lean tissues, helping you to lose the fat while building muscle.

    L-Carnitine is another popular fat burning supplement that has great synergy with whey protein supplements. Like some of the amino acids in the BCAA supplement it helps your body turn your fat stores into energy more effectively, but it does this by helping transport long-chain fatty acids across cell membranes and straight into the mitochondria where they’re used as fuel for the creation of ATP. Because your body is burning fat instead of lean tissue for energy it also keeps your muscles working aerobically rather than anaerobically, preventing the buildup of lactic acid and letting you exercise for longer before you start to feel sore.

    Fat burning stack: Whey Protein, BCAAs, L-Carnitine

    Conclusion

    Everybody’s perfect stack is slightly different, so you might find after a while that changing some of these combos up will work better for you. But for those of you looking to get the most out of your whey protein who don’t have the time or experience to formulate your ideal stack right now, our recommendations will help you hit your goals faster and hopefully lead to immediate improvements in your efforts at the gym. Whatever it is you’re looking for, stacking your supplements in an efficient way will help you get there!

    Read more »
  2. Can vitamin D make you a better athlete?

    Can vitamin D make you a better athlete?

    We’ve known for a while that athletes tend to perform better in the summer months than they do during the winter. Some people have hypothesised that one of the reasons for this is that the higher levels of UV light in the summer increase the body’s production of vitamin D. A 2013 study found that while further research is needed before we can definitively say that vitamin D suplemments directly improve performance, maintaining optimum vitamin D levels should be an important goal for athletes due to its many health benefits.

    Sources of vitamin D

    One of our main sources of vitamin D is our skin’s reaction to sunlight, and in the UK from early April until the end of September it’s possible to get all the vitamin D we need from being out in the sun. If you spend most of your day indoors or wear clothes that cover up most of your skin though you won’t be getting as much as you need. During the winter months we don’t get any vitamin D from sunlight.

    Vitamin D isn’t really abundant in foods but there are some good dietary sources of it such as oily fish, liver, and fortified foods such as fat spreads and breakfast cereals.

    Potential effects of vitamin D deficiency

    Vitamin D plays a crucial role in many vital physiological functions and sub-optimal levels can cause a variety of problems that can hurt your ability to train and perform at the level you want to. As well as being a key reason for the loss of muscle mass and strength as we age, low levels of vitamin D can also leave you with poor bone density, a weaker immune system, and chronic feelings of tiredness and weakness. In a more general sense, vitamin D deficiency also increases the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases and can be a cause of high blood pressure.

    How vitamin D benefits athletes

    If you’re not getting enough in your day to day life, taking vitamin D supplements can indirectly improve athletic performance by lowering the risk of injury, decreasing chronic exercise related pain, and improving general muscle performance.

    The discovery of vitamin D receptors within muscle also suggests a significant role for vitamin D in muscle tissue function, particularly in cellular growth and inflammatory response. A common symptom of vitamin D deficiency is muscle weakness, so supplementation can also help keep them functioning properly and keep you strong.

    Conclusion

    Our bodies rely on replenishing stores of vitamin D daily to meet its requirements as we often don’t get enough in our diet generally, let alone enough for there to be any significant stores of it in the body. By making sure you’re getting a healthy amount by taking vitamin D supplements, particularly during the winter months, you can reduce your risk of injury and improve your general health. Athletes often find that they’re at peak physical fitness during the time of the year UVB levels and natural vitamin D production are at their highest, so vitamin D supplementation can be a great way of making sure you’re performing at your peak at all times.

    Read more »
  3. Creatine Myths Busted

    Creatine Myths Busted

    So much has been said about creatine that it’s not surprising that there is some misinformation out there, both in the gym and online. In fact, a lot of the most common Google searches to do with creatine supplements seem to be confused as to what it actually is! With that in mind, it’s understandable if you’re not sure what creatine is made of, how to take it, or whether you can get in trouble for using it. To help you out we’ve answered some of the most common questions people asked in order to clear up some of the confusion.

    Is creatine vegan friendly?

    Yes! This misunderstanding probably came about because the main dietary sources of creatine are meat, fish, and other animal products. The vast majority of creatine products (and definitely all AMSport products) are made from synthetic creatine, so animal products are not used as a source. It’s a little more complicated than this, but creatine is essentially a methylated compound of the amino acids glycine and arginine, so producing it in a vegan friendly manner is actually easier than extracting it from animal tissue. Additionally, since vegetables do not contain creatine, vegetarians and vegans generally have lower amounts of creatine stores in their muscles and actually tend to benefit more from taking creatine supplements than those that eat meat. So for all the vegetarians and vegans out there looking to improve their performance, creatine might actually be the best supplement to use!

    Is creatine a steroid?

    Nope! As we’ve just seen, creatine is essentially an amino acid compound so here’s no way you can get into any trouble for taking it. When people talk about steroids and athletes they’re usually referring to anabolic steroids, manufactured drugs that have a similar effect on the body to testosterone. The myth that creatine is a steroid might have started because they both help to increase your endurance and build muscle mass, but creatine is legal, and more importantly, much safer.

    Do you need to load creatine for it to have an effect?

    There is no evidence that loading creatine has any benefits in the long run. In the past some people advised people taking creatine supplements to separate their intake into ‘loading’ and ‘maintenance’ phases where they would take massive amounts of creatine initially before returning to a normal amount in the maintenance phase. Lots of studies have been done on creatine using a loading protocol and they’ve all come to the same conclusion: loading creatine isn’t necessary, and the benefits you see from it might not be real. Creatine works best once you’ve reached a saturation point of phosphocreatine in your muscles, so loading will mean you take less time to get there. However, it also causes you to retain even more water, so even though you’ll see yourself get bigger faster, a lot of that will just be water weight. Taking a smaller dose for a longer period of time means it’ll take longer for you to reach that saturation point, but after a little while the differences between people who loaded and those that didn’t are minimal.

    Do you need to cycle creatine?

    The idea of cycling supplements is a bit of a throwback and might have come around because of the confusion about whether or not creatine is a steroid and whether or not you need to load it. People who do take steroids need to cycle them because they have a lot of dangerous side effects, but there is no similar danger to prolonged creatine usage. Even if you did choose to cycle off of it your body would still be making it, and because creatine works best once your muscles are saturated in it, cycling off of creatine might only make it less effective initially when you choose to cycle back on. Cycling creatine can be a good idea if you’re going to be taking a break from any explosive exercises because you won’t really be using it as an energy source, but it’s definitely not something you need to do.

    If you’re interested in reading up on the basics of creatine you can check out our introductory article here, or if you’re more interested in learning specifically about how creatine can help bodybuilding go here. And as always, keep coming back to learn more about your supplements!

    Read more »
© 2017 AMSport UK. All Rights Reserved.