While we all agree that building muscle requires exercise, rest and the proper nutrition, what we don’t always agree on is just what “proper nutrition” entails.
This is because while some of us consider supplements necessary for delivering proteins and amino acids to muscles, others insist that diet alone is all it takes to get the most from our workouts.
But who is right? Could it be that all those protein drinks and powders are mere means of lining the pockets of gym and supplement shop owners, or are they truly necessary in delivering the best, most rapidly-absorbed nutrition to tired muscles?
Let’s find out!
As a general rule, weightlifting athletes need about 1g of complete (meaning all 9 essential amino acids) protein per pound of body weight each day. This means 175 grams of protein per day for a 175-pound athlete who lifts 3 or more times per week. While this can go up for powerlifters, this is what most need to build muscle.
It is also of key importance to have proteins available in the bloodstream as soon as possible after a workout, which is why protein drinks are often considered essential. Not only are they convenient, but protein in liquid form is the only way to get protein into the bloodstream fast enough to do the most good.
Or is it?
Let’s think about this for a moment: yes, protein can be absorbed by your system a little faster in liquid or capsule form for the simple reason that your body has less digesting to do than with solid food.
However, is there any reason you need to wait until after a workout to administer protein?
No, there isn’t.
In fact, it is MORE effective to already have protein in your system before your workout, since doing so makes it available to the muscles even before you’re done exercising.
And, this also means enjoying something more complete than a protein shake and a handful of pills, since all the building blocks you need to gain muscle are available in REAL (as in, SATISFYING) food.
This doesn’t mean that supplements don’t have their place, as they can be a great way for you to shore up your nutritional needs quickly and conveniently. However—and even though convenience counts in our busy world—muscle gain supplements are not a necessity.
Better yet, enjoy a high-protein meal at least an hour before you work out. This way, your digestive system will have time to break down the proteins, carbohydrates and fats and have them available in your bloodstream not only to build muscle, but to fuel your workout.
Weight loss is another area we often consider supplements necessary, though usually in a different capacity than in gaining muscle. This is because losing weight entails burning calories, which means either one of two things: exercising, or speeding up the metabolism with stimulants such as caffeine or ephedra. However, while caffeine in particular is fine in moderation and even has some health benefits, it is easy to overuse it when it is concentrated in a supplement, and substances such as ephedra are even worse.
For now, let’s look at some of the negative effects of too much caffeine, which include:
As you can see, going this route can be dangerous, not to mention ineffective, since we too-often expect diet pills to work without us having to change our diet or resort to exercise (hint: it doesn’t work that way!).
For a safer and more effective way of shedding pounds, consider starting an exercise program along with changing your diet for the better. You can make changes slowly and ease into things, although once you get started, you’ll likely find it isn’t as hard as you think. Using a meal delivery service can also help you establish consistent dieting habits and make them easier to adopt.
Plus, once you feel the wonderfully energizing effects of daily exercise, you’ll probably forget about popping caffeine (or worse) pills ever again.
However, if you are dieting and cutting back on calories, a multivitamin supplement is a good idea since along with calories, you may also be shorting yourself on nutrition when dieting.
So yes, a good multivitamin may be one supplement which is necessary when you’re dieting.
Stimulants, not so much.
While a keto diet may pack in plenty of muscle-building protein and energy-providing fats, most protein sources have little or no fiber in them, and they may not always deliver the kinds of balanced omega 3-6-9 fatty acids we need either.
However, as with gaining muscle or dieting, you can change your eating habits rather than counting on supplements to meet your nutritional needs.
So, rather than reaching for the fish oil and psyllium husks, try enjoying more fiber-rich multi-colored fresh fruits and vegetables along with such foods as wild-caught fish, olives, coconut oil and avocados.
These foods will provide you with all the soluble and insoluble fiber you need for a healthy gut along with the balanced omega 3-6-9 fatty acids you need for energy, brain health, heart health and more.
No, supplements aren’t necessary in building muscle, but they are convenient.
However, why settle for another boring post-workout shake when what you really crave is good, healthy, REAL food?
Eat Rite Foods has your answer: muscle-building nutrition conveniently delivered to your door in the form of healthy, great tasting meals.
And, with low calorie and low-carb options along with high-protein meals which feature the ideal carb-to-protein ratio for all athletes, you will be happy to know that we have your nutritional needs covered.
So, what are you waiting for? Flavor and satisfaction don’t come in a supplement!