10 great workout supplements for men
Supplementing a gruelling exercise regime can be a nightmare.
Despite the wealth of options available, it can be hard to find one that’s right for you and figure out whether or not it has genuine health benefits.
So we’ve put together a quick guide to the workout supplements for men that really work and some tips on how to use them.
What should I ask about when taking workout supplements for men?
Depending on your preferred type of exercise, you will want to tailor your supplements to what you are hoping to achieve. Ask yourself what your overall goal is: Do I want to lose weight? Do I want to build muscle? Do I want to improve my stamina?
The modern marketplace has a staggering range of options available to you and it can be dizzying to sort through them all, but when it comes to choosing workout supplements for men, remember the two golden rules:
Stay focused: While many supplements may promise the earth, always remember to do your homework and look up evidence-based learning on a supplements benefits. Ask friends who may be using the same or similar types of supplement.
However, do not be tempted by something that doesn’t benefit your regimen.
For instance, if you are running 5k a day, something that helps flexibility and endurance should be prioritised over supplements that build muscle.
Remember the basics: No matter what your overall goal is, it is helpful to
think of your supplements as a bonus, not a solution.
Ideally, any supplements taken should help improve your overall performance and increase recovery time after exercise, helping torn muscles to heal faster and preventing injury.
Look for something that makes exercise easier and recovery less of an effort.
Here are our top ten workout supplements for men that should be at the back of your cupboard.
Glutamine is an amino acid that comes in two forms: L and D glutamine; the core building blocks of proteins.
This makes it an ideal supplement to take after a high-intensity workout session or to help smooth over any bumps if you decide to change your regimen.
Amino acids have been proven to help increase the body’s metabolism when it comes to breaking down food and burning energy and can actively work to help those that are cutting body fat for health or performance reasons – allowing you to build your muscle faster.
How should I use it? Depending on your needs, users should aim to consume between 10 and 15g of glutamine per day in two or three sittings.
9. Vitamin D
As well as complimenting your general health, vitamin supplements can have a positive effect on your exercise and recovery routine, with vitamin D leading the pack.
Obtained by the body from sunlight, vitamin D is essential when it comes to caring for your bones, musculature, teeth and skin. A lack of this vitamin can lead to reduced testosterone, bone density weakening and altered mood.
Vitamin D is naturally present in foods such as liver and oily fish, but you will have to take supplements during the winter months to replace the vitamins lost through lack of sunlight.
How should I use them? Vitamin D supplements can be bought at any over-the-counter pharmacist or supermarket and should be taken in tablet form once per day.
Arguably the best-known supplement on this list, creatine is commonly used by those engaging in high-volume anaerobic such as weights, deadlifting, or other repetitive exercises.
Consumption has been proven to help build muscle, leading to increased strength and overall improved performance – meaning that it's a staple supplement for many athletes looking to cultivate mass or simply recover faster.
While it occurs naturally in the body, synthetic creatine performs the same function as its biological counterpart. This involves recycling energy within your cells to help stimulate growth and recovery.
How should I use it? Creatine’s popularity is due to the fact that it can be taken before and after a workout but also on rest days.
While your dosage is dependent on your schedule and bodyweight, average consumption is between 3-5g before or after your workout.
7. Healthy eating
Not strictly a ‘supplement’, introducing more fresh greens into your diet is a natural, healthy way to complement your exercise routine and improve your overall health.
Adding more leafy greens, such as chard, kale or lettuce, can help add volume to meals if you're on a restricted diet and adds fibre and antioxidants to your meals as well as providing you with vitamins, irons and other essentials.
How should I use it? Ideally eaten steamed, the strength of leafy greens is their flexibility.
Keeping a bag of frozen spinach in the freezer allows you to add it to every meal and owning a blender means that you can easily add whatever greens you want to your protein shakes or smoothies.
For those who have been exercising for a while or are a little older, supplements like glucosamine are essential for maintaining your performance while also pushing yourself to be better.
An amino sugar, glucosamine is a core part of your body’s cartilage, which can erode and lose its flexibility as time goes on and you put more wear and tear on your joints.
Supplementing your regimen with glucosamine can help mitigate existing damage and actively act against significant injury.
How should I use it? Depending on your need for the supplement, an ideal serving is three 500mg doses spaced out evenly throughout the day.
5. Whey protein
Another bodybuilding classic, whey protein is a cheap and effective powdered supplement that has as many uses as it has brands and flavours.
Depending on your requirements, there are types that can help you stay lean and build muscle, high-protein variants for those trying to bulk-up quickly and lighter options for those who are looking to achieve steady, sustainable gains.
How should I use it? A ‘normal’ intake is between 23-30g per day, dependent upon your height, weight and gender – with the standard unit of measurement being one gram of whey for every pound of weight.
However, while it can be tempting to micro-manage your intake, your primary source of protein should be occurring naturally through the food you eat.
Normally the fitness fanatic’s nemesis, adding simple carbohydrates to your diet can work dividends when complementing exercise that is focused on developing strength and packing on muscle.
These are normally consumed after a workout when your blood glyco and glucose levels have been depleted – leading your body to produce cortisol that reduces the synthesis of muscle-building protein.
Consuming carbs and their sugars can prevent this process from starting and help maximise the rewards from every session.
How should I use it? An easy rule of thumb is to consume your measured carbs upon waking in the morning to fight off what has been lost overnight and then again immediately after exercise – helping to stave off any impediments to muscle growth.
3. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
An essential recovery aid, BCAAs contain protein's key building blocks, which can only be found outside the body.
These contain three key amino acids – valine, isoleucine and tryptophan. And, while they occur naturally in protein-rich foods like chicken or beef, buying them as supplements means you can be assured of enjoying them in a balanced way.
These useful acids not only alleviate the ache that follows an intense workout, but they can also help maintain muscle and actively work to slow any wastage that may occur in-between sessions.
How should I use it? While BCAAs can be taken after exercise, they are much more effective as part of your daily diet – with 2-3g consumed per sitting around three times per day.
2. Fish oil (Omega 3)
Omega-3 rich oils are invaluable multi-benefit supplements that should be a part of everybody’s daily schedule.
Fish oil’s fatty acids are proven to help with fat burning, improving the body’s metabolic efficiency and possessing helpful anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate soreness after a, particularly intense workout.
Along with being helpful for your circulation and skin, Omega-3 supplements can help ease joint pain, RSI and arthritis, making exercise a less daunting proposition for fitness enthusiasts of all backgrounds and ages.
How should I use it? Fish oil can be bought at any supermarket or pharmacist, with simple recommendations on each bottle for consumption – normally no more than one or two pills per day.
Collagen supplements are arguably one of the most flexible and valuable entries on this list.
Collagen is a core element of your skin’s connective tissue, with your fibroblast cells exuding collagen – producing vital amino acids like proline, glycine and hydroxyproline.
Any supplements should ideally come in the form of hydrolysed collagen, which is easier for the body to break down. The benefits can be significant.
A collagen-rich diet can help improve your skin elasticity and prevent moisture loss, mitigating the effects of strenuous exercise and even natural ageing.
For those who are injured or looking to prevent damage, collagen supplements can play a vital role in strengthening joints and raising resilience.
Hydrolysed marine collagen has even been proven to help reduce pain after exercise, making it ideal for those undertaking endurance sports or short-term, intensive exercise such as weightlifting or HIIT training.
This can help improve recovery, flexibility and resilience – helping you maximise the benefits from your training so you can safely push yourself to improve.
How should I use it? Absolute Collagen uses hydrolysed natural marine collagen, making it easier to absorb due to its low Dalton weight.
Take a sachet daily for the best results. You can mix it into your post-workout smoothie or take straight from the sachet.