The IFBB Pro’s Guide To Sports Nutrition Supplements

sports nutrition supplements

We are about to go deep into the world of sports nutrition supplements. We will not cover every single sports nutrition supplement but focus on the ones that actually work. This article will help you understand the most appropriate dosages and the best timing of each.

We will cover the use of sports nutrition supplements for aesthetic and athletic performance. How to get bigger, faster, and stronger using a power packed dietary supplement regime.

What is a Sports Nutrition Supplement?

A sports nutrition supplement is a dietary supplement that is used to improve athletic performance, body composition, and/or general health. We can divide sports nutrition supplements into categories, such as ergogenic aids, weight loss supplements, and muscle builders.

Supplements For Sports Nutrition

Sports nutrition and supplements go together like peanut butter and jelly. After all, the point of both is for enhancing one’s physique and performance. Whether for muscle growth, fat loss, athletics, or general fitness, you need a nutrition plan with the right macronutrients and amino acids. These can come from both food and supplements.

Much of what you will learn here is based on the research performed on the most essential sports nutrition supplements. Scientific studies that support supplement use for these key ingredients is what we lean on for trustworthiness. But it isn’t without considering the experts in the field who have tested these supplements in real world application.

The Best Sports Nutrition Supplements

You can take an online sports nutrition certification course and learn the ins and the outs of sports supplements, but this requires a time investment. Therefore, we have compiled the information into a digestible article and segmented the content into those looking to build muscle, burn fat, or for using supplements for athletic performance.

To start, let’s look at the different “types” of sports nutrition supplements.

Caloric Sports Nutrition Supplements

Technically speaking, we can consider some nutritional supplements to be food. In fact, some are more “food” than many of the products that sit on grocery store shelves. Supplements such as protein powder (whey protein isolate, casein protein, rice protein, pea protein) are examples of calorie filled supplements. Protein supplements are an important part of an aesthetic or athletic sport nutrition program.

Have you ever wondered why we accept a protein bar to be food but a protein powder is not? There are a lot of silly misconceptions about sports nutrition supplements.

Other calorie filled nutritional supplements include carbohydrate powders and energy producing fatty acids which serve many purposes. Products such as MCT oil and dextrose are food extracts. Like protein, these fall into the food category more than being an ergogenic aid like herbal and amino acid supplements.

On that note, supplements like essential amino acids have calories. While they list zero on the label, their calorie content is just shy of the FDA label requirements. So if we get into the nitty gritty, these are caloric foods as well.

Pre Workout Sports Nutrition Supplements

Let’s get something straight. A pre workout supplement does not have the same meaning as a pre workout sports nutrition supplement. There is some crossover in terms of ingredients but the intent changes when we include “sports nutrition“.

Pre Workout Supplement: Used to give you more energy and a higher level of intensity when performing strength training workouts.

Pre Workout Sports Nutrition Supplements: Contains both caloric and non-caloric ingredients that help increase power output, muscular endurance, cognitive function, and energetic demands.

Using pre workout sports nutrition supplements leads to better performance but also better recovery.

Post Workout Sports Nutrition Supplements

Post workout recovery supplements are used to speed up the recovery process and help promote muscle growth. Depending on the type of exercise we build the product for, post workout sports nutrition supplements include a specific ratio of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

Post workout supplements may also include ingredients such as glucose disposal agents and creatine to help make the most of the anabolic window.

Performance Sports Nutrition Supplements

Performance enhancing supplements differ from performance sports nutrition supplements. Unfortunately, society considers performance enhancing supplements to be illegal or bad for your health supplements. Performance sports nutrition supplements are typically extracts, such as HMB, from ingredients such as leucine that can have a natural ergogenic effect.

Performance sports nutrition supplements can be as simple as creatine monohydrate and branched chain amino acids or as complicated as cordyceps for increasing athletic performance in endurance sport athletes. Since many people consider gym sessions to be a sport, using performance supplements (sports nutrition or herbs/botanicals) helps you train harder for longer across many exercise types.

Fat Loss And Sports Nutrition Supplements

Do we classify fat burning supplements to be sports nutrition ingredients? Yes, if the intention is to change body weight for an athletic or physique transforming aesthetic purpose, such as stepping on the bodybuilding stage. Unfortunately, this is the category where it is hard to find ingredients that have enough scientific research to validate their use.

The most important thing to consider is exercise induced energy expenditure, body composition, caloric intake, and macronutrient distribution of the individual. With these in check, the simplest of fat burning supplements will have a profound effect. Conversely, a fat burner that works “too good” may have an adverse effect on balancing the diet/hunger balance.

Instead, what we consider sports nutrition supplements for fat loss to be those that minimize the catabolic effect. Whether it is for a professional baseball player or a bikini competitor, maintaining muscle is important to the overall goal.

Muscle Building Sports Nutrition Supplements

Muscle mass is harder to come by than most would assume. Sure, slapping on a few pounds of muscle is easy when first working out, but once moving past the “young athletes” or “new trainees” stage, building muscle requires hard work.

There are thousands of so-called muscle building supplements but only a few that work. In fact, we have already discussed most of them. Complete Protein, quality carbohydrates, essential fats, creatine, essential amino acids, and the right type of physical activity is how we continue to grow muscle. Like fat burners, the use of simple muscle building sports nutrition supplements can help us take our hard work further-faster.

Sports Nutrition Supplements That Work

Now it’s time to get into the meat of this article. Supplements that work and how to take them for the greatest benefit. In this article, we are going to look at the 7 most important types of sports nutrition supplements.

1. Protein Powders

2. Carbohydrate Powders

3. Creatine Powders

4. Amino Acid Powders

5. Nitric Oxide Boosters

6. Carnitine Supplements

7. Fish Oil Capsules

Each of these sports nutrition products can have a profound effect on your physique and performance, but only when consuming the optimal dosage and timing it correctly.

Protein Powders

There is scientific evidence that protein powder can help build muscle and burn fat. Protein powder is a source of high quality bonded amino acids. These amino acids are essential for building muscle. It specifically contains essential amino acids, which are necessary for muscle growth. Protein powder can help burn fat by increasing the metabolic rate and reducing appetite.

The amount of protein powder you use is going to depend on your total protein intake and how much you are getting from traditional food sources.

While a protein powder supplement might tell you to mix one scoop with 8-12 ounces of water, milk, or juice, this is rarely good enough advice.

If you are using whey protein to help burn fat, then this might suffice. However, if your goal is to build muscle and you are 50 grams shy of protein, then bump up the amount to 2-3 scoops.

If using a single serving, protein powder is best consumed after a workout, but we can use it at any point during the day.

Carbohydrate Powders

Carbohydrate powders help increase athletic performance by providing energy for exercise. Unless following a ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for athletes.

Carbohydrate powders are a convenient way to supplement a diet with carbohydrates and limit the amount of digestion we require before using this fuel source. Carbohydrate powders also help reduce fatigue and improve endurance.

Again, carbohydrate powder supplements might suggest that you mix one scoop with 8-12 ounces of water, milk, or juice. However, the amount you need is based upon your training duration, intensity, and your goal (such as fat loss.)

It’s best that you invest into a meal prep program so that you know exactly how much to consume.

Drink immediately before or during exercise if the goal is to sustain performance.

Drink after your workout if the goal is workout recovery and prevent the interruption of fat loss.

Creatine Powders

Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that occurs naturally in the body. It helps supply energy to cells, particularly muscle cells. Researchers have shown creatine supplementation to increase muscle mass and strength, and improve exercise performance in healthy males.

The amount of creating you use may depend on weight and type. If using the most common form (creatine monohydrate) mix one scoop with 8-12 ounces of water or juice before and after exercise. As a nootropic, you may also want to take a serving first thing in the morning.

Amino Acid Powders

As mentioned, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They are essential for muscle growth and recovery. Amino acid powders provide a convenient way to supplement a diet with amino acids. Amino acids also help reduce fatigue and improve recovery from exercise.

To use a BCAA or essential amino acid powder, mix one scoop with 8-12 ounces of water 30-minutes before exercise. If using it to help with contest prep or a calorie deficit, consider using additional doses throughout the day.

Nitric Oxide Boosters

Nitric oxide boosters are a type of sports nutrition supplement that can help you increase strength and improve workout recovery. They work by increasing nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide is a molecule that helps to dilate blood vessels, which allows more blood and oxygen to reach muscles. This increases strength and endurance, and helps reduce fatigue. Nitric oxide boosters can also help improve recovery from exercise by reducing inflammation and promoting muscle growth.

We recommend either citrulline, arginine, or a combination of the two. You can also consider some of the newer ingredients, such as nitrosigine.

For Citrulline, take approximately 6-grams per day either before a workout or divided into several dosages.

For Arginine, take approximately 6-grams per day and divide it into 3 doses.

Carnitine Supplements

A carnitine supplement is a type of sports nutrition supplement that can help you lose fat. It works by increasing metabolism, reducing appetite, and promoting thermogenesis. Carnitine supplements can also help improve exercise performance.

Athletes and gym rats should immediately take a carnitine supplement before exercise at approximately 2 grams before exercise. You might also take an additional 1-2 grams in the morning as a nootropic and more energy production.

Fish Oil Capsules

Fish oil is a type of sports nutrition supplement that can help you lose fat and improve performance. It works by increasing metabolism, reducing appetite, and promoting thermogenesis. Fish oil can also help improve exercise performance.

Since most people do not eat enough fatty fish. Take approximately 4 grams per day of high quality EPA rich fish oil.

Bonus: Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Supplement

We consider a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement a sports nutrition supplement because it provides essential vitamins and minerals that are necessary for athletic performance.

Vitamins and minerals play a variety of roles in the body, including providing energy, maintaining muscle mass, and reducing fatigue. A multi-vitamin and mineral supplement is a convenient way to ensure that you are not being deprived of any nutrients.

We cannot make a specific dosage recommendation here, but choose a brand that uses quality minerals with a high absorption rate. Take your multivitamin and mineral combo with food to make them easier to digest.

The Ultimate Sports Nutrition Supplement Stack

While we wish we could say that there is a single-best sports nutrition supplement, synergy is key for improving overall fitness and athleticism. Taking the essential sports nutrition supplements together will yield the greatest results.

Therefore, we did not include any “maybe they work” supplements in this article. Instead, we focused on the fundamental supplements to support your sports and fitness goals.

Use each of the recommended sports nutrition supplements at their optimal dosages and you will be well on your way to better performance and a physique transformation.

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