Work out harder and smarter
Even though there are no miracle pills and potions that will turn you from couch potato to Olympic athlete, there are supplements that can boost your workouts and help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
We talked with Dr. Victor Prisk, member of the GNC's medical advisory board, to find out the best supplements to take to amplify our workouts. Here's what the orthopaedic surgeon and competitive bodybuilder has to say.
Jumpstart your fitness
Spring is high time for ditching those old workouts you've languished in for months. If you've been on an exercise hiatus, the warmer season is the perfect opportunity to jump-start your fitness. A commitment to regular exercise is key, as is a healthy diet, but supplements can also help.
"Whether you’re an advanced athlete kicking off a new spring training routine or getting your body back after your first baby, everyone can benefit from a boost in their workout," says Dr. Prisk. "Even with a well-balanced diet it can be difficult to ensure you consume all essential nutrients – especially when embarking on a new fitness routine. But the good news is there are a variety of supplements with proven benefits that can help you achieve your desired health and fitness goals."
6 Best fitness supplements
Adopting a high-protein, low-carb diet is not going to deliver the fitness results you seek, but ensuring your have adequate protein (and complex carbohydrates) in your daily meal plan will give you the energy you need to power through workouts and enhance your muscle recovery. Dr. Prisk recommends increasing your protein intake to help grow and repair your muscles after exercise. "Portable protein supplements in the form of bars, powders or ready-to-drink options can be a convenient source of energy and nourishment when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and workout regimen," he adds.
Branch chain amino acids (BCAA)
Another key supplement that helps with muscle recovery is BCAA. "Supplements and workout formulas containing BCAA can help reduce the amount of muscle breakdown as a result of exercise," Dr. Prisk explains. "The more muscle you retain, the quicker your body can burn calories. BCAAs go beyond their function as building blocks for muscle and actually stimulate the repair process (muscle protein synthesis)."
Though everyone can benefit from taking a multi-vitamin, recreational and competitive athletes are especially in need of nutritional support to help them get through workouts. Dr. Prisk recommends the GNC Women's Ultra Mega Active Vitapak, which combines scientifically researched nutrients and focused ingredients to help enhance energy, boost metabolism, support bone and joint health, and even improve your mood.
Too much caffeine can lead to the jitters, lack of focus and eventually an energy crash, but in moderate amounts, this natural stimulant can amplify your workouts. According to Dr. Prisk, when taken as directed by a person in good health, supplements and workout formulas containing reasonable amounts of caffeine can boost your performance and limit your perceived exertion so you work out harder. Caffeine can also reduce your exercise recovery time.
Omega-3 fatty acids are well-known for their heart health and anti-inflammatory properties. These healthy fats can improve joint flexibility, reduce muscular inflammation, and speed up recovery from exercise or injury. Omega-3s are found in fatty fish, such as salmon, and nuts and seeds. If you're not a fish fan, consider a supplement. Dr. Prisk says, "It can be challenging to get enough from the food you eat -- such as fish or walnuts -- so taking fish oil supplements, such as GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil 1240 (which contains 40 percent smaller pills that are 300 percent more potent) can be an effective way to get more omega-3s."
Antioxidants are another diet buzzword that you shouldn't ignore. Found abundantly in fruits and vegetables, antioxidants can improve your fitness by improving the post-exercise healing process. Dr. Prisk recommends a healthy antioxidant-rich diet as well as a supplement. "Studies show that taking a supplement with free-radical-fighting antioxidants in advance of your workout may help you improve muscle recovery and reduce soreness," he adds.
Regardless of the health and fitness benefits that supplements have to offer, never rely on them alone in hopes of becoming a super-athlete. Base your fitness foundation on a healthy diet, regular workouts, scheduled recovery time and adequate sleep. Take supplements as part of your health and fitness program.
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