An athlete at a high level is always looking for something to bring them to the next level. Once you have your workout plan and nutrition down pat, proper supplementation may be that thing to bring you to the next level. Supplements are not necessary to build muscle but they can certainly help in a variety of ways. If you have an absolute perfect diet, you likely do not need supplements, but most people find it hard to have enough protein or consume enough creatine for it to be effective which is where supplements can be handy.
There are countless numbers of supplements and supplement companies out there, but there are a certain few supplements that are the base.
The most common supplement and certainly the most researched is whey protein powder. Milk is undergoes cheese processing and whey is drained off and after ultrafiltration it becomes a whey protein concentrate, isolate or the highest quality; hydrolysate. Whey protein stimulates muscle protein synthesis and helps your muscles recover and adapt. Essentially, protein helps you get gains after a workout. Many athletes do not get enough protein each day which is another way that supplementation can help.
Another common supplement is creatine. It is a naturally occurring amino acid in meat and fish and it is made in humans by the liver, kidneys and pancreas. The media has somewhat portrayed this supplement to be bad in ways and there are people who think it is like a steroid. This is not true. Creatine works by increasing the amount of creatine and phosphocreatine in the muscle which is used to convert ADP into ATP (energy). Creatine has been shown in numerous studies that it may increase energy during high-intensity sets and increasing recovery between sets. There are many studies that have also shown that creatine may be involved in endurance athletes as well, such as increasing the lactate threshold.
The last supplement that I want to mention are Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s). This includes the amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAA’s have been shown to stimulate protein synsthesis and increase the synthesis of the cellular components responsible for actually starting protein synthesis. BCAA’s may also reduce the rate muscles are broken down, reduce DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and reduce the amount of tryptophan in the brain.
These three supplements have been studied a lot and are perfectly safe to use year round. They are all naturally occurring and have been used by athletes for years and years.