Training Like a Champion: Knowing Your Supplements (Part 2)
By Jake Chastain
Welcome to BJPenn.com’s second installment of “Training Like a Champion: Knowing Your Supplements.” In today’s sporting age there are a million different supplements on the market and it can get very confusing when trying to figure out where to start a healthy and beneficial diet and supplement routine. This column is going to highlight five key supplements that every athlete or health conscience individual should consider when trying to decide what to take to improve athleticism, increase performance, and ensure a healthier lifestyle all around.
Now, I want to be clear that these are only suggestions and these are not the only great supplements on the market, but they are a great place to start when trying to build muscle and improve stamina. Last week we focused on multivitamins, omega fish oils, a NO pre-workout supplement, a time-released protein blend, and then another type of NO pre-workout supplement. Keeping those in mind, there are several other supplements that may aid an athlete in recovery, stamina, and fluidity of the joints and muscles. Here are my next picks for top supplements to consider when training hard like a champion:
L-arginine is a chemical building block called “an amino acid.” It is obtained from our everyday diet and is necessary for the body to make proteins, which in turn helps build lean, strong muscles. L-arginine is found in red meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products but if you are working out hard on a daily basis it may be essential to add an L-Arginine supplement to your diet. It is also known to aid in the production of nitric oxide (NO), which plays a role in controlling blood pressure, boosting immune function, controlling muscular activity and regulating erections. The L-Arginine 500 mg supplement offered at the Vitamin Shoppe is a once daily capsule that should be taken in between meals. For any athlete or active individual this is a smart choice when looking for something to boost performance and well-being.
This is the most abundant amino acid in the body that is key in helping the body perform to its maximum potential in many important areas. L-Glutamine, like L-Arginine, is an amino acid that we probably don’t get enough of in our daily diet to support the rigorous training we put our bodies and minds through. It has many uses, many medically advantageous, but for an athlete or health conscience individual it is very helpful in sustaining proper mental functions, regulating protein synthesis, helping to detoxify nitrogen, and serving as a source of fuel for cells lining the intestine. Glutamine is produced in the muscles and is distributed by the blood to the organs that need it. Glutamine might help gut function, the immune system, and other essential processes in the body, especially in times of stress. It is also important for providing “fuel” (nitrogen and carbon) to many different cells in the body. As athletes or active individuals our body struggles on many levels to keep up with what we do on a daily basis. It’s very important to provide our bodies with the necessary amino acids to keep us healthy and functioning at our highest levels. L-Gutamine by the Vitamin Shoppe is also a once daily capsule that should be taken in between meals. I recommend this supplement for anyone and everyone that wants to keep their bodies running smoothly on many different levels.
Flaxseed is the seed from the plant Linum usitatissimum. Oil from the seed is used to make medicine and aid the body in several ways such as keeping inflammation down as well as increase the fluidity of the body’s joints, blood flow, etc. It is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and is a great choice when looking for something to support cardiovascular and joint health. We often times get the wrong types of fats through our diet and it only slows us down and holds us back. There are certain fats we need in our daily diet to keep our bodies running correctly and efficiently. There are several ways to get these fatty acids in our diets, but many people struggle to get the right amount on a daily basis, which is huge for consistency in physical performance, behavior and emotion. Many foods have these fatty acids but for those of us that cannot always guarantee we are getting the correct amount of fatty acids, adding a flax seed oil supplement to your diet may be extremely beneficial. The Organic Flax Seed Oil by the Vitamin Shoppe is a 1 to 3 times daily 1000 mg soft gel that should be taken with meals. I recommend this supplement to any individual that is looking to live a healthier lifestyle. It is extremely important for many athletes in helping the joints and fluidity of the body along with providing cardiovascular benefits. It will reduce inflammation after training and keep you feeling great in many different areas.
Every athlete or high level competition enthusiast is always in need of something quick, nutritious, and beneficial to their diet that they can count on to produce and provide everything they need before or following activity or workouts. EAS has created a great product with their Myoplex Original protein blend. These individual packets (usually come in 20 packets per box) are to be mixed with water or milk 30 minutes after a workout to provide the body with necessary nutrients to build lean muscle and recover from hard training. Myoplex Original is a blend that will provide the body with 25 different vitamins and nutrients along with 8.9 grams of BCAAs (branched-chained amino acids) and 42 grams of lean muscle building protein. This is a great post-workout protein blend that I usually like to take with a piece of fruit and a little bit of granola just to replenish my body of what I lost during the battles of training and to ensure that I can get back to the grind the following day without having to fight through unbearable soreness. The Vitamin Shoppe offers EAS’s Myoplex Original is in individual packet form, which makes it easy to take with me to my individual workouts and activities throughout the day. I am a firm believer that this product is extremely beneficial to any athlete that is looking to building lean, strong, quick muscle and needs something quick and easy for a post-workout supplement.
Finally, this brings us to one of the newest and most effective pre-workout supplements on the market today: Factor 2 by Force Factor. This is also a nitric oxide powered supplement that relaxes the blood vessels in the body to allow for more nutrients and blood flow to the muscles. Factor 2 uses a key ingredient, L-citrulline, to stimulate your body’s natural NO production. It also uses the dual power of Vitamin C and calcium to allow the creation of NO for a continuous release. What separates this product from many others on the market right now is the fact that it comes in capsule form rather than the messy pre-workout drinks, and it contains no caffeine, which will eliminate that jittery feeling that many pre-workout supplements give the user. This product gives you the intensified workouts and muscle-pumps that you desire from a pre-workout supplement without the over-jittery, amped up feeling. It produces sustained energy and explosive workouts in its purest form. Factor 2 is one of the only supplements on the market that can provide the athletes with that sustained NO production to improve your boy’s strength, power, endurance, and speed. Factor 2 is also promoted and used by 2 time pro-bowler and 49ers tight-end Vernon Davis, one of the games fastest, strongest and most physically diverse players in the NFL today. If you’re mentally motivated Factor 2 will give you then extra boost to work out harder and, in turn, give you the results you’re seeking, whether that be in gaining size and strength, getting lean and faster, or just becoming a better all around athlete in general. Factor 2 by Force Factor is an ideal product for anyone and everyone that is trying to get into better shape, increase their cardiovascular health, and get shredded in the process. This is one of the best pre-workout formulas on the market, not just because of the results but also because of the way it makes you feel during your workouts and throughout the day. I recommend Factor 2 to any athlete that is trying to find that extra something to help push their game to the next level. Factor 2 by Force Factor; the choice has never been more clear.
Those are my top 5 must-have workout supplements for any athlete that is trying to take their game to the next level. It’s not always about what you put out in practice; it’s also what you put in your body outside of training. Being a smart athlete starts with a good diet filled with the right nutrients to allow your body to perform to the best of its ability. These five products are not the end of the line in sports nutrition, as there are several products that range in purpose and specificity, but these five products listed above are a great start to any athlete’s success on the field and in life.
Don’t be left in the dust of sports science and nutrition. Train like a champion; know your supplements.