SUPPLEMENT STACK: TOP 3 THAT MIGHT ACTUALLY BE WORTH THE ££ …

What supplements might actually help you get your fitness and / or body composition where you want it to be?

Creatine Monohydrate

WHAT FOR: Strength, muscle mass and explosive energy.

HOW DOES IT WORK: explosive energy source, indirect activator of the muscle growth pathways, suppressor of potentially destructive stress signalling and much more besides!! 

DOSAGE: 0.1g/kg bodyweight per day, e.g. a 100kg human would take 10g/day. We need to take it daily over time to allow it to accumulate in the muscle and have an effect, and then to keep taking it to continue to gain the benefits. You can do an initial loading phase of about 20g/day for 5 to 7 days if you want to get your muscles fully loaded with creatine faster. 

SIDE EFFECTS: In healthy adults, there are no reported adverse health implications. 

WHAT DIFFERENCE MIGHT YOU SEE: potentially around 5-15% greater performance impact in strength and muscular endurance and 1-5% greater increase in muscle mass, than without creatine.

CAVEAT: If you do not undertake an appropriate training programme and / or you do not eat the protein, carbohydrates and overall calories to support increased muscle mass, strength or explosive energy then creatine will do bugger all!!! It gives a boost when the appropriate stimulus (training) and resources (food) are in place … it cannot work miracles alone!

FUN FACT: Creatine draws water into the muscle, so when initially taking it (especially with a loading phase) you may see a spike in bodyweight of anywhere between 0.5-2.0kg. The more muscle mass you have and the more effectively creatine is loading into the muscle, the greater the weight spike you will see. It is a good thing, it shows it is actually getting into your muscle!!

Beta Alanine

If your focus is being able to push to the higher intensities and stay there without the acid burn in your muscles stopping you short quite as quickly, then beta alanine may be able to help. 

HOW DOES IT WORK: it is the molecule needed to produce the molecule carnosine in our muscles. Carnosine is primarily a ‘buffer’, meaning it can mop up the acid that causes the burning sensation during high intensity exercise. And if we get less of a burn we can potentially push harder for longer!

DOSAGE: ~4-6g per day. Like creatine we need to accumulate carnosine in our muscle over time, so we need to take beta alanine daily for at least 2-4 weeks before we feel an effect, and then to keep taking it to continue to see the benefits. 

SIDE EFFECTS: In healthy adults, there are no reported adverse health implications. 

WHAT DIFFERENCE MIGHT YOU SEE: potentially around 1-5% improvement in high intensity 2-10 minute duration exercise.

CAVEAT: If your ability to withstand the burn is not the limiting factor in your performance, you won’t see a benefit! 

FUN FACT: Beta alanine is the ingredient in pre workout that causes the nerve tingles!! And there is no need for beta alanine to be in pre-workout because it doesn’t have an immediate effect … it only works after you have been taking it for long enough for carnosine to accumulate in the muscle!!

Nitrates

If your focus is having a bigger ‘engine’ i.e. getting better at the aerobic work, then nitrates may be able to help. 

HOW DOES IT WORK: nitrates are used to produce nitric oxide in the body, which has multiple effects to improve oxygen delivery and use by the muscles

DOSAGE: 300-600mg daily, or 2-3 hours pre exercise. It can be as nitrate salts, concentrated nitrate shots derived from high nitrate foods, or simply in the diet from dark leafy greens and beetroot (has around 250mg per 100g fresh weight!).

SIDE EFFECTS: Some people experience some gastro distress when taking nitrate salts or high amounts of high fibre vegetables before exercise. Otherwise, in healthy adults, there are no reported adverse health implications. 

WHAT DIFFERENCE MIGHT YOU SEE: potentially around 1-3% improvement in endurance and intermittent exercise

CAVEAT: the fitter you are, the more likely you are to already maximise all the things nitric oxide can do for your oxygen use and so the less likely you are to see a benefit from supplementation! 

FUN FACT: Don’t use antibacterial mouthwash … it kills the bacteria in your mouth that you need to do the first stage of the conversion of nitrates to nitric oxide!!

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