Whey is the king of muscle-building proteins. It’s a fast-digesting milk protein that can help you build muscle and increase strength. Whey protein enhances recovery, boosts performance, and supports fat loss by helping you feel fuller, longer. Look for a whey protein that is also loaded with essential branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), including leucine, as it is considered one of the most critical muscle-making amino acid.
Casein is a slow-digesting milk protein that supports muscle growth and provides a steady stream of amino acids to your muscles. Because it releases slowly, casein is a great protein to take before bed. It can help reduce muscle breakdown while you sleep and feed your hungry muscles overnight. When mixed with whey around your workouts, casein will enhance and prolong your body’s anabolic response.
For stimulants, your best and safest bet is caffeine. It’s one of the most studied sports nutrition supplements on the market and frequently shown to improve athletic performance. Not only does clinical research show that caffeine is very safe, but that it even may enhance overall health. For performance benefits, you need a minimum of 200 mg of caffeine before workouts to be effective. A pre-workout product that also provides other ingredients such as taurine, tyrosine, alpha-glyceryl phosphoryl choline, and huperzine A adds to the benefits.
Fish oil supplements are a great source of essential omega-3 fats, especially EPA and DHA. These supplements support muscle growth and fat loss; help block fat storage; promote overall health and wellness; support normal, healthy immune function; and support heart, brain, vision, and joint health. If you’re not already taking a fish oil supplement, reel one in today.
Acetyl L-carnitine (ALCAR) is L-carnitine with an acetyl group attached. This attachment increases carnitine’s uptake by the body, making it more effective. ALCAR is able to enter the brain, where it may aid in brain function, boost alertness, and support positive mood. In other areas of the body, such as muscle cells, carnitine aids fat loss transporting fatty acids into the power centers of cells, called mitochondria. These power centers work to generate energy by burning up nutrients such as fat for fuel.
Creatine provides muscular energy for high-intensity exercise, helps you build muscle, and boosts strength gains. Research suggests that creatine can boost muscle gains by as much as 10 pounds and strength by 10 percent in just a few weeks. For best delivery, put creatine in your pre- and post-workout protein shakes. That’s when you get a bigger insulin response, and insulin helps drive creatine into your muscles.
Research suggests that when lifters add beta-alanine and creatine to their supplement regimen, they gain more muscle and lose more body fat than those taking creatine alone. Beta-alanine can also increase muscle strength and endurance during workouts.
Green Tea Extract
Green tea enhances fat loss and offers a host of additional health and physique benefits, including joint support and muscle recovery. Green tea aids fat loss by boosting daily calorie burn.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a naturally occurring group of omega-6 fats that aids fat loss and supports lean mass. CLA burns body fat by boosting your metabolic rate and inhibiting the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL). LPL allows fat cells to pull fat from the bloodstream and store it as body fat. By inhibiting LPL, CLA encourages the body to burn fat instead of store it. By helping the body use fat for fuel, CLA also spares your muscle mass. When your body is fueling itself with fats, it doesn’t need to break down muscle tissue for additional fuel.
A good pre-workout supplement will cover your bases with quality nitric oxide (NO) boosters, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), creatine, beta-alanine, and betaine, not to mention stimulants like caffeine to amp up your focus and training intensity, boost muscle strength and endurance, enhance muscle pumps, and promote muscle growth. Look for products that provide science-backed NO boosters, such as citrulline malate and nitrates from beet extract, at least 5 grams of BCAAs, 1.5 grams of creatine hydrochloride or 5 grams of other forms of creatine (i.e., creatine monohydrate), at least 1.5 grams of beta-alanine, and about 1.5 grams of betaine.
Source: Jim Stoppani