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Learning About: Supplements

*I’d like to start this post off with a disclaimer that as an ACE certified personal trainer, I’m not recommending these supplements, nor stating that these supplements are necessary or that their claims are substantiated. I’m merely talking about my personal experience with supplements and why I take the supplements that I do. Use this post at your own discretion, and if you are interested in taking any of these supplements I recommend you do your own research before doing so.*

Hey. Hi. Hello. Happy Friday! At the time this post goes up, I’m currently in the middle of a job interview, so fingers crossed all goes well! It’ll be for another internship, which is fine because hopefully, it’ll last until my lease is up and I can get out of New York. Anyway, let’s talk supplements.

I’ve been taking supplements since junior year of high school. I first started with products from the GNC Total Lean collection because I was out here trying to lose weight. Even though I was playing competitive soccer and was a lot leaner than I am today, I still thought I needed to lose weight. So, I purchased everything GNC had to offer without doing research on what the claims were. Until my senior year of college, I continued taking CLA, Appetrex Control, Carb Controller, Waterex, Burn 60, and L-Carnitine, along with random “natural” supplements along the way.

Finally, during the second semester of my senior year of college, I started working with a personal trainer who was also a nutritionist. While he was an awful human, he did help me understand that supplements weren’t the be-all-end-all or a miracle cure for seeing results after my workouts. Instead, he helped me understand that I had to be feeding my body right. So, I walked into GNC looking for my first barrel of protein powder and was also handed a pack of multi-vitamins from the associate.

So, February 2017 rolls around and I throw out all the Total Lean supplements I had been taking except my Premium CLA 3-6-9 and added a daily protein shake, BCAA’s, Glutamine, Carnitine, and multi-vitamins. Now, let’s talk about what each one does.

Total Lean Advanced Premium CLA 3-6-9

What it Does: According to the GNC website, this supplement, which is taken twice daily with the bigger meals, claims to fuel lean muscle tone, promote cardio and joint health, improve body composition, and is a non-stim diet support.

Why I take it: Like I mentioned before, I started taking it in high school as a means for controlling my weight. Back then I was working out excessive amounts, not feeding my body right, and just not being healthy about anything. There was a period of four years after I started taking this supplement that my weight didn’t change. While I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with the pills, I’ve still continued taking them to this day because honestly, I think I’m afraid that if I stop taking it my body will balloon up with all the carbs I’m eating and all the heavy weights I’m lifting. One day I would love to stop taking them, but today is not that day.

BPI Sports Best BCAA Sour Candy Flavor

What it does: Peptide linked branched-chain amino acids for muscle recovery, muscle protein synthesis, lean muscle. Contains a CLA matrix and agmatine.

Why I take it: While I was doing my studying for my personal training exam, there was a section about supplements. One of the most common ones people take are BCAA’s, but they’re also one of the most common supplements were experts disagree on the benefits. I’ve never been great at stretching or recovering after workouts, so once I heard about BCAA’s I figured I would start using them to help my body recover in any way that it can. BCAA’s are mixed into water and can be drunk before, during, or after workouts. I prefer to drink mine while I workout because it makes sure I stay hydrated, and I like the taste. I’m not sure if any of its claims are accurate because 1. I’ve started stretching after workouts, 2. I’ve tried to work on my diet to help see better muscle definition, 3. I’m not working out intensely every day to give my body time to recover in between. But hey, I like the taste and will probably continue to take it.

GNC PRo-Performance L-Glutamine 1500mg

What it does: Plays an important role in muscle function pre and post-exercise. Glutamine is involved in protein synthesis and plays a pivotal role in the body’s nitrogen balance. It serves as a fuel for the immune system and maintenance of proper intestinal function.

Why I take it: I’ll be honest, the reason I started taking L-glutamine is that I saw a fitness blogger talk about how she uses it in her workouts. Glutamine is naturally occurring in the body, so it’s not exactly a necessary supplement to take. However, stores of glutamine can be depleted over time after intense activity, which can affect how the body is able to go through protein synthesis. I started seriously lifting about a year and a half to two years ago and have always been worried about how my body will handle it, especially coming from super intense cardio workouts. I do think it has helped me during my workouts, in that I can feel my muscles working more now, but I’ve also started placing an emphasis on the mind-muscle connection during each of my movements. Similar to BCAA’s, the verdict on glutamine supplementation is not 100% clear as to whether it’s necessary or not.

GNC Pro Performance L-Carnitine 500mg.

What it does: Facilitates muscle recovery. L-Carnitine is a popular amino acid among bodybuilders, weight trainers, and serious athletes because of its role in facilitating the metabolism of long chain fatty acids.

Why I take it: Originally I started taking L-Carnitine back in high school because it was part of the Total Lean series. I stopped taking it for a few years, and hopped back on the train again when I saw a fitness blogger talking about it. Again, carnitine can be found in the body already, so supplementation is meant to aid in depleted stores or to boost energy production. I won’t lie, when I take this supplement in conjunction with the L-Glutamine and my BCAA’s I feel like I have a better workout and that I have more sustained energy throughout the day in comparison to days when I’m not taking this supplement. As L-Carnitine helps with energy production, this makes sense.

I’m not going to talk about protein powders or my multi-vitamins because they’re a pretty standard issue topic. However, for multi-vitamins, I take the GNC Women’s Ultra Mega Green, and for protein powders, I have the GNC Complete Vegan Protein in chocolate, and Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein unflavored as I am allergic to both Whey and Casein.

Like I said at the beginning, this is not meant to act as a do or do not list, or any sort of persuasion to take these supplements. Rather, I wanted to share the supplements that I take, and my personal experience with them and my opinion on whether I think they work or not. In the future, I would love to write articles looking in depth on the science and studies behind popular supplements, especially as I start my path towards a nutrition degree, so let me know if that’s something you’d like to see from me in the future. Until next time, xoxo.

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