Fitness Plan - Pre-Workout
Fitness Plan - Pre-Workout
Fitness Plan - Pre-Workout
Fitness Plan - Beginner
Fitness Plan - Beginner
Fitness Plan - Beginner
Fitness Plan - Intermediate
Fitness Plan - Intermediate
Fitness Plan - Intermediate
Fitness Plan - Advanced
Fitness Plan - Advanced
Fitness Plan - Advanced
Fitness Plan - Post-Workout
Fitness Plan - Post-Workout
Fitness Plan - Post-Workout

Fitness Supplements

Once you’ve figured out the fitness routine and recovery protocols that work best for your needs, the next thing you should look into are fitness supplements to help promote muscle growth and repair after exercising.

How whey protein benefits weight loss

Whey protein has been promoted for its health benefits since as early as 460 B.C. Hippocrates prescribe cheese whey to his patients to help ease various ailments.1 Besides providing all of the essential amino acids your body needs, high-quality whey protein from organically raised, pastured cows also contains three ingredients of particular importance for health:

  • Leucine signals the mTOR mechanism to increase protein synthesis, thereby boosting muscle growth. Whey protein is an ideal source because it contains far more leucine than other foods, and you actually need very high amounts of leucine to reap its optimal effect.
  • Glutathione is your body's most powerful antioxidant. Besides eliminating free radicals produced during the process of metabolism, glutathione also plays a role in energy utilization, aids in detoxification and helps reduce the risk for age-related health conditions by promoting healthy mitochondrial function. It is also different from other antioxidants in that it is intracellular.
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a healthy type of omega-6 fatty acid found primarily in grass-fed beef and dairy products. Research shows CLA may help you shed weight by helping reduce food intake, increasing fat burning, stimulating the breakdown of fats and inhibiting production of body fats. Besides its weight loss benefits, CLA may also help reduce the risk for various illnesses, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and insulin resistance.

Choosing a high-quality whey protein

If you want to add whey protein to your fitness routine, be mindful of your selection. Many of the whey and protein powders on the market are pasteurized and loaded with added sugars and chemicals that do not belong in a healthy diet. To ensure you're getting a high-quality product, here are the features you should look for in a whey protein supplement:

  • Comes from organically raised, grass fed cow’s milk
  • Cold processed, as heat destroys whey's fragile molecular structure
  • Whey protein concentrate, not protein isolates
  • Sweetened naturally, not artificially, and low in carbohydrates
  • Highly digestible — look for medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs), not long-chain fatty acids

Another thing you have to keep in mind if you’re planning to use whey protein is your total protein intake. Although whey protein is an ideal workout supplement to help boost muscle growth and repair, it's important not to consume too much protein, as studies have shown that excessive amounts of it can promote cancer growth.2,3

For optimal health, I believe most adults need about 0.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. Seniors, pregnant women and those who are aggressively exercising generally need about 25% more protein. To learn more about the benefits of whey protein supplement, check out my article, “What benefits can you get from high-quality whey protein?

Probiotics: Optimize your gut health for better workouts

Your gut may play a larger role to your overall performance than you initially thought. Research has now demonstrated a link between the inflammation in your muscles after significant exertion and probiotics.

According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, probiotic supplementation helped decreased inflammatory markers in the blood of participants who performed a strength test known to induce muscle damage. The participants also experienced better peak torque production within the first 72 hours post exercise.4

Another way probiotics help improve athletic performance is by increasing your absorption of nutrients, which in turn provides your muscle cells a better nutrient foundation. These nutrients may help improve your recovery time and increase the consistency of your performance. Optimizing nutrient absorption may also reduce your risk of illness and disease.

Probiotics may also help improve your ability to train in the heat and modulate your immune function after exercise. With all these potential benefits, adding probiotics to your daily routine is a step I highly encourage, whether you’re a performance athlete or you simply want to achieve better health. I interviewed Greg Leyer, a probiotic-dedicated manufacturer who has been passionate about probiotics and health for more than two decades.

Peppermint may help improve performance

Peppermint has been used for centuries all over the world to make tea and flavor dishes of all kinds. But did you know that it may also help promote athletic performance? According to a study published in the journal Chemosensory Perception, the use of peppermint essential oil in exercise rooms helped enhance drive and athletic performance while decreasing feelings of fatigue and frustration in a group of jogger participants.5

Peppermint oil may also help relieve muscle spasms and pain. Try massaging diluted peppermint essential oil onto sore muscles after a workout or adding it to your bath water for muscle pain relief. You can even use peppermint leaves to make an herbal infusion, which may provide other health-promoting benefits, including protection from harmful pathogens and relief from headaches and abdominal pain.

Combine exercise with curcumin

Adding curcumin to your fitness routine is especially beneficial for your endothelial cells, which play a wide variety of critical roles to your vascular function. Endothelial dysfunction is the heart of many dangerous health conditions, including atherosclerosis, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension, regular endurance exercise combined with daily curcumin ingestion may help reduce age-related left ventricular afterload better than monotherapy.6

Afterload is the resistance the heart must overcome to eject blood through the aortic valve. By reducing the left ventricular afterload, the stress on the heart muscle declines — this helps decrease the potential risk for left ventricular hypertrophy and reduce blood pressure.

Obtain branched-chain amino acid from your diet

When your body breaks down or digests proteins, amino acids are left behind. There are nine essential amino acids, three of which — leucine, isoleucine and valine — are considered branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) because they have a branched molecular structure.

There are a number of reasons why BCAAs are important. In general, they act as building blocks for protein and muscle and may also help to regulate your blood sugar levels and even improve blood-sugar metabolism. They’re known for their potential to help reduce fatigue during exercise as well. BCAAs’ other claim to fame is their ability to reduce muscle soreness after a workout.

Supplemental BCAA is popular among athletes and body builders. However, I'd caution against taking BCAA in supplement form because it can activate the mTOR pathway. You want your mTOR pathway to be suppressed rather than activated, because when it’s suppressed, maintenance and repair are upregulated and that results in increased longevity.

This is why I believe it’s best to obtain BCAAs from your diet. These amino acids are found in a number of healthy protein-rich foods, including organic grass fed beef, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, pastured egg yolks and grass fed cheese. To learn more about the food sources and uses of BCAA, read my article, “7 amazing BCAA benefits.”

The caveat of casein supplement

Casein is a popular supplement among fitness enthusiasts, but I personally do not recommend it. Casein is the main protein in raw milk, making up about 80% of its protein content — the other 20% is whey. The primary difference between whey and casein is that whey is digested very quickly, making it an ideal recovery meal, whereas casein is a slow-digesting protein with anticatabolic properties, meaning it helps reduce muscle breakdown, even in the absence of food.

The two main forms of casein are micellar casein, which is the most popular form in sports nutrition, and casein hydrolysate, which is predigested and more rapidly absorbed than micellar casein. Casein can also be divided into three main types: native whole milk casein from raw milk, cheese casein and industrial casein.

Reduced muscle breakdown is one of casein’s main benefits, along with helping improve immune function, lower triglyceride levels, improve fat loss, fight bacteria and eliminate free radicals. However, I still prefer high-quality whey protein over casein because:

  • Many people have casein sensitivity, and in these cases, you will likely experience problems even if you use the best, highest-quality casein on the market.
  • You have milk-derived opioid receptors in your brain, and casein contains natural opioids called casomorphins. This can cause an addiction to dairy products and disrupt your immune function over time.
  • Casein may cause protein loading, which could increase your risk for long-term health conditions like cancer.
  • Many of the casein supplements in the market are of poor quality, either due to their source or due to the processing methods used to make them.

As you can see, there are pros and cons to take into account before adding casein supplement to your health regimen. If you really want to use it for muscle growth, be sure to do your homework to make sure you're getting a high-quality casein supplement. Your best options are native casein found in whole, raw milk, and cheese casein found in aged cheese and cottage cheese.