Many Americans take supplements to improve their overall health and fill nutritional gaps in their diets. Supplement use, paired with your exercise routine, can help you achieve your fitness goals, but which supplements are right for you? Discover how to choose the right supplements to help you get the most out of your workouts.
Goal: Improve Cardio
Use Astaxanthin to Increase Energy for Tackling a Cardio Workout
Cardio workouts, such as aerobics classes and runs around the neighborhood, call on all your energy reserves. If you struggle to make your way through these workouts, astaxanthin could be what you're looking for. This carotenoid is naturally found in a range of seafood. Scientists believe this carotenoid is what gives salmon the energy to swim upstream against the current.
While krill supplements contain small amounts of astaxanthin, not nearly enough of the substance exists to support your exercise in these products. Instead, look to an astaxanthin supplement containing this powerful antioxidant in a concentrated form. Studies show taking 12 milligrams of astaxanthin every morning will give you the energy and endurance you need to push through your favorite cardio workout.
As an added benefit, astaxanthin also helps relieve pain and inflammation, so astaxanthin will serve you well if you pull a muscle or take a tumble. Studies show that this antioxidant works like some prescription painkillers, blocking COX-2 enzymes and suppressing serum levels of elements secreted during trauma. Best of all, astaxanthin does these jobs without the risk of addiction, heartburn, or GI bleeding that medications can carry.
Goal: Increase Weight Loss
CLA to Enhance Exercise for Weight Loss
Exercise has a host of benefits, including enhancing mental well-being and improving overall health. But for many Americans, exercise is chiefly a way to lose weight. Taking a CLA supplement can help boost your weight loss efforts.
CLA is a naturally fatty acid that's essential for fat loss. It's present in some foods, such as meats, cheese, and dairy products, but only in low levels. Unfortunately, the foods containing CLA are typically high in saturated fats, so consuming them can derail your weight loss plans. Nutritionists say 3 to 4.5 grams of CLA will achieve body fat loss, which you can get with a CLA supplement.
Numerous studies have found that taking a daily CLA supplement helps reduce fat mass even without exercise. When you combine the CLA with your regular workout regimen, the CLA will also help you get that toned, sculpted look you're after by increasing lean body mass.
Reach for Magnesium Chelate after a Workout to Improve Fat Loss
Taking a magnesium supplement after you work out can ensure you burn the greatest amount of fat. These supplements help decrease cortisol levels in the body, which creates a more anabolic environment that's perfect for shedding body fat and building lean muscle.
A number of magnesium supplements are on the market, but choosing magnesium chelates is better than choosing magnesium salts. The magnesium chelates are more easily absorbed into the body and retained in tissues, so you'll see a much more marked effect.
Combat Stress for Weight Loss with Ashwagandha
We've heard that feeling stressed can make you gain weight because you instinctively reach for all the wrong comfort foods. However, the body's response to stress is also to blame.
Our body's adrenal glands secrete the hormone cortisol to support healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels, stimulate the metabolism of fat and carbohydrates, and drive the release of insulin. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone, because it's secreted at high levels and at unusual times when we're feeling stressed. This disruption in normal cortisol release tends to make us gain weight, especially around the abdomen. Even if you're exercising to lose weight, high stress levels could be sabotaging your efforts.
When life gets on top of you, reach for a natural stress-relieving supplement like ashwagandha to support your exercise efforts. Indians have used the herb ashwagandha for centuries to improve health and well-being, and now the Western world is starting to take note of its benefits and stress-relieving properties.
A study published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine showed people who took ashwagandha had 28 percent lower cortisol levels than people who took a placebo. Ashwagandha can help you make sure you get the benefits from your weight-loss exercise.
Ashwagandha doesn't only improve the body's physical response to stress; it also improves mental well-being. This benefit is important for keeping your exercise plans on track, as stress can impact your motivation. Studies have found people who take ashwagandha are much less likely to feel stressed, depressed, or anxious.
Goal: Enhance Strength Training
Improve Strength Training with Omega-3 Fats
Research from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests a supplement of omega-3 fats may enhance the effects of strength training, especially in elderly women. Researchers from Brazil's Parana Federal University monitored 45 women in their mid-60s on a 90-day strength-training program. One group of women received 2 grams of fish oil per day during this 90-day period, while another group of women took the supplement 60 days prior to strength training and then daily during the 90 days of training. The third group of women took no fish oil supplement at all.
While the strength training boosted muscle torque and the rate of torque development for all the women, these effects were most pronounced in the women who took the omega-3 supplements. No evidence suggested that taking fish oil for a longer period produced a better result.
The researchers suggested that fish oil might improve muscle function by making the cell membranes more fluid. Fish oil might also promote fast communication between the nerves and muscles, helping the muscles contract more quickly. Additional studies also suggest omega-3 may reduce the breakdown of muscle proteins and aid joint recovery, which is important for older people exercising. Research even suggests omega-3 supplements could aid fat loss.
Whatever the omega-3 supplements do, they seemed to greatly help elderly women undertaking strength training. While little research exists on the supplement's impact on other groups, younger women and men who undertake strength training may also see benefits in taking a daily omega-3 supplement.
Goal: Recover after Exercise
Recover from all Exercise with Joint Health Supplements
All types of exercise take a toll on the body's joints and connective tissues. Supplements for maintaining joint health can improve your recovery and help you stick to your workout goals. Your omega-3 supplements will also help, so they're ideal for people engaging in any type of exercise.
Studies show supplements containing omega-3, such as krill oil and fish oil, help strengthen cartilage, lubricate the body's joints, stimulate joint cells, and ensure connective tissue stays healthy.
Think joint health is something only older people have to worry about? Think again. Be proactive and take a daily supplement now instead of waiting to face joint issues that can take you out of the gym.
Take Sleep Support to Aid Recovery after Workouts
No matter what type of exercise you're interested in, don't underestimate sleep and its importance to your workout efforts. The National Sleep Foundation says that the quality and amount of sleep professional athletes receive can make a difference between who wins and who loses in a competition. Even if you're a long way from turning pro, deep sleep provides vital energy needed for powering your body and brain the next day. Your workout depletes this energy, so sleep is vital for restoring it.
Studies show that people who are sleep deprived don't produce as much glycogen and carbohydrates, both of which your body stores for energy use during physical exertion. If you don't get a good night's sleep, you'll be sluggish and fatigued the next time you exercise, so you won't work out hard enough or long enough to see the results you want.
Whether you battle insomnia or you stir easily, a natural sleep support supplement can make all the difference. Supplements containing calming ingredients, such as chamomile, magnesium, and 5-HTP, can help you sleep more deeply and promote a balanced sleep cycle. You'll get the benefits from the sleep you need and wake up feeling alert and ready to sweat it out again.
If you're taking supplements without considering your exercise regimen, you aren't getting the greatest benefit from these scientifically formulated pills. Start matching your supplements to your workouts and you'll soon see the results.*
*Make sure to consult with your physician before starting a new supplement regimen.