Fifth-teen years of working in the supplement industry, can teach you a thing or two about supplements and your essential needs as a woman. There are many supplements on the market today, each with a unique function some for burning fat, and some for building muscle. But determining why you need them, or what you really need can seem like a daunting task, however the answers are actually simpler than you think. Stick to the tried and tested – research proven supplements and you can’t go wrong.
Calcium is probably the most important supplement for women. Calcium is essential for bone development and may even help alleviate the symptoms of PMS. On top of that dairy foods high in calcium have been shown to play a role in energy metabolism. In fact low fat dairy foods may even help you to lose weight. Women age 19 – 50 should get 1000 mg of calcium per day.
There aren’t too many women who are serious about lifting who haven’t tried this one. In fact, of all the supplements on the market today, creatine is by far the most researched and effective. Although it is found naturally in our bodies, creatine is not at high enough amounts to elicit its muscle building and energizing effects. Supplementing with creatine increases the body’s creatine stores. As a result, more phosphocreatine is available for use by our muscles, which means more phosphate is available to ADP to help regenerate ATP – our muscles energy source. The effect of supplementing with creatine is not only longer sets and more reps but also gains in lean muscle and strength. Women tend to store more creatine naturally and therefore don’t need as much. For maximum results use 3 g daily for a minimum of 8-weeks.
3. Whey Protein
Protein is essential for maintaining and building muscles. In fact, higher protein diets are more effective for not just helping you build muscle but can also help reduce hunger between meals, and help you burn off more calories while at rest! Protein has a thermogenic effect which means the body burns calories just digesting it. Protein powders help reach your daily intake of protein, especially if you’re a woman on-the-go who can’t always cook and prep every meal.
Choose one that contains high quality protein sources such as Whey Protein, which provides the richest content of amino acids. Look for Grass Fed, Hormone Free Whey Protein. Not a fan of dairy? Try a plant based protein that uses a combination of pea, hemp and brown rice to meet all your essential amino needs. Usual serving sizes of protein range anywhere from 20 to as high as 40 g. Protein powder can be added to almost any baked good recipe to help supplement your protein needs, but of course is just fine mixed in a smoothie or even on its own.
4. Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids can be found in sources of fat from Fish, Flax and Chia seed, providing a source of Omega-3, Omega-6 along with DHA and EPA. Omega-3 fatty acid is an important nutrient for maintaining a healthy heart, brain and nervous system, as well as regulating our hormones, helping to reduce inflammation in joints and maintaining flexibility – something all fit diva’s need. Use a minimum of 3g daily.
5. Greens Powder
Work to decrease the harmful effects of free radicals produced by the body through a process of oxidation – during a workout or just from daily life stressors. By binding to active receptor sites on free radicals, antioxidants act like scavengers, neutralizing free radicals damaging effects in our body. Common antioxidants can be found in vegetables and fruits we eat, however supplements such as grape seed extract, green tea extract and lycopene isolated from tomatoes offer potent and concentrated forms of antioxidants without the added calories. Supplementing with an all natural greens supplement can help raise our body’s antioxidant status. Look for greens powders that don’t contain fillers and use organic ingredients.
An amino acid found naturally in beets, betaine can help increase levels of nitric oxide in the body and help with the removal of toxic waste products, improving our endurance and reducing fatigue. Supplementing with betaine can help increase vasodilatation of blood vessels resulting in better transfer of important nutrients to the muscle, and ultimately aiding in growth and repair. Not to mention betaine supplementation gives a wicked pump if taken within 30 minutes prior to a workout. Betaine can be found on it’s own but can also be found in many popular pre-workout and pump products.
Is a non-essential amino acid that has been found to be an effective supplement for increasing the levels of carnosine in the muscle. The primary function of intramuscular carnosine is to buffer hydrogen ions (H+), which get produced during high intensity exercise. Carnosine neutralizes or buffers acidic build-up in the muscles by locking up these hydrogen ions and thereby increasing time to fatigue allowing you to push longer and train harder. Add 1.6g of beta-alanine up to 4 times daily to increase muscle carnosine levels.
Is one of the most important branched chain amino acids for any woman who wants to build lean muscle, because of its anabolic properties. In fact, leucine has been shown to have a direct effect on regulating protein synthesis or muscle building by activating a major complex in the anabolic pathway called the mammalian target of rapamycin or mTOR. This pathway is sensitive to leucine concentrations. Low leucine concentrations signal to mTOR that there is not enough protein present in the body to synthesize new skeletal muscle protein and it is deactivated, while increasing leucine concentrations cause activation of mTOR, resulting in synthesis of new skeletal muscle protein. Protein synthesis can be restored at 2.5 – 5 g of leucine.
Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid, found in abundance in the human body. Glutamine has been shown to aid in recovery, reduce protein catabolism and increase protein metabolism. Its presence is found in the blood, gut and the skeletal muscles and is used as a main source of fuel for the immune system. Glutamine is considered by some as being conditionally essential, particularly in states of injury or compromised immune function. After training, injury to the muscle cells occurs, causing our immune systems to induce the recovery process to help repair tissue damage to muscles.
Supplementing with glutamine essentially reduces the amount of glutamine that is robbed from the muscles cells to fuel immune function. As a result, supplementation may help to reduce the amount of muscle deterioration that occurs during training, because the glutamine available in the muscle cells will be utilized for protein metabolism and reduction of protein catabolism. Research has shown that after intense work outs, glutamine levels in the body are reduced. If that was not reason enough to take glutamine, recent studies have also shown that supplementation with 2 g of glutamine can stimulate increases in growth hormone levels.
10. Green Tea
Green tea extracts has been found to significantly increase energy expenditure and have an effect of fat oxidation. In one study, a specific extract was found to increase overall energy expenditure by 35%! There are many supplements that contain green tea extract, but not many that contain the correct amount. Choose a product that contains a standardized amount of 90% polyphenols and 45% epigallocatechin gallate, also known as EGCG.
Those are my top ten supplements every fierce fitness woman needs for building a lean body and keeping your metabolism firing! Please come back and let us know if any of those supplements worked for you! Now if you’ve got your own daily supplement cocktail you would like to share for keeping your body in optimal condition, building muscle, or want to let me know what supplement you use most often from this blog, I want to hear, tell me about it in the comments below! And if you like this article do me a favor and hit the ‘like’ button below and share this article with your friends!
Until next time…
Be Fierce and Rule the World,