There are many websites that all claim to have the best energy supplements. Hundreds of products can be found among the different nutrition locations that contain slightly different mixes of ingredients and colorful packaging with the goal of enticing you to buy into their product. How do you know which one is the right one for you?
After much experience trying different products and playing recreational sports, the truth is that it all depends on the individual’s body type, diet, and how they intend to use the energy supplement. For instance, I would not take supplements that contain creatine or carnitine if I don’t intend to lift weights intensely. They can claim to have energy, but also contain calories and carbs that can turn into fat and slow you down if you are not working out a certain way.
In this article, I will introduce you to the importance of choosing the best energy supplement for your situation. The second topic will discuss the role of Branch-chained amino acids. Then I will explain the difference between Soy and Whey protein in regard to your energy intake. The final topic will be geared towards helping you identify the ingredients that you will want to help boost your immune system and energy intake.
The importance of choosing the best supplement
Not all supplements are made the same, so choosing the right supplement for your diet and fitness needs is important in order to make progress in your fitness goals. If you have taken some time away from sports and come back after a long while, then you will want to take lighter supplements to work with your diet than someone who is intensely training for a half-marathon. If your goal is to lose weight, then you will want to avoid certain ingredients and certain types of energy supplements that claim to be explosive and a “Pre-workout amplifier.”
Your body needs a high protein diet. Bodybuilders mainly need protein to increase muscle mass and resistance training while burning fat. Endurance athletes need protein to repair muscle tissue after breaking it down for long periods of time. Adding either protein to your fuel mix also provides essential Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which has a side chain for an amino acid that formulates the amino intake of 40% of the nine essential amino acids for a human.
When you work out for more than 2-3 hours, you need to provide an extra amount of protein to your fuel mix or your body will “borrow” amino acids from your muscle tissue. This leads to muscle fatigue and reduced performance as well as increased risk of injury. I had a friend that over trained for a marathon and fractured his foot a week prior to the race. Keeping track of your protein intake is essential.
Soy vs. Whey Proteins
To make the best decision, you must first know the difference between Soy and Whey proteins and what their effects on your body will be. Soy Proteins are plant-based and contain more protein and fats than whey. They are more suited for vegetarians, women’s health (reduced breast cancer risk) and lactose-intolerant people. It is not the best for weight loss, however. It supplies sodium to help regulate nerves and phosphorous to provide calcium and kidney health support. Soy protein is best used prior to and during the exercise since it does not contain ammonia, which has been found to fatigue muscle tissue.
Whey Protein, in contrast, is an animal-based protein derived from cow’s milk. It contains more calories, minerals and carbohydrates to quickly allow the body to absorb energy. It also means that this energy needs to be released quickly in the form of muscle building or resistance training. It is mostly used by body builders and athletes who want to lose weight but keep the muscle. Whey Protein should be used post-workout due to its unmatched ability to enhance the muscle recovery process.
There are two forms of Whey Protein: Concentrate and Isolate. Whey protein concentrate can contain anywhere from 70-80% actual protein, with the rest being lactose or other fats. Isolate, however, contains 97%+ actual protein and little to no lactose. This makes it the healthier option for muscle recovery, especially when it is non-GMO with no gluten, fat, cholesterol or gluten.
What are BCAAs?
To boost your energy, regardless of the type of protein used, Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are the essential starting point for building endurance. They play an important role in regulating glucose. The essential amino acids provided are those that the body cannot make on its own and need to be ingested through food or supplement. These amino acids provide the protein building blocks necessary for human bodies to function and exist.
Most types of meat, fish, eggs, and some plant sources like soy are considered complete proteins. Each of these contains all nine essential amino acids. So if you are intaking 2-3 daily doses of any combination of these foods, then you may not even need additional supplements (depending on your workout intensity). The three main essential amino acids provided in BCAAs are Leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Leucine boosts stamina and endurance while delaying the deterioration of muscle tissues. Isoleucine regulates blood sugar and boosts the body’s energy levels, plays a key role in the transport of oxygen to the lungs, is essential for muscle repair, and reduces blood clots. Fore these reasons, Isoleucine plays a major role in providing BCAA supplements their fat-burning benefits. Valine is an important source of nitrogen, an important component in glutamine synthesis in the muscles.
The “Supplement Facts” label on your best energy product should have “L-Leucine”, “L-Isoleucine”, and “L-Valine” listed as the basic amino acids. Recommended serving sizes are 3500 mg for Leucine, 1750 mg for Isoleucine, and 1750 mg for Valine. The best ratio of these 3 branched-chain amino acids is 2:1:1 in terms of Leucine to the other two amino acids.
What ingredients to look for
Other ingredients to look for in your energy supplements include L-Glutamine, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Sodium, and natural sources of caffeine (200 mg max). L-Glutamine is an amino acid that boosts your immune system and is the most abundant amino acid in the bloodstream. It improves your ability to fight infection and diseases.
When I’m preparing for a high endurance sport, I like to use energy supplements with zero calories, zero carbohydrates, and zero sugar in addition to my protein. These usually contain an electrolyte blend that contains potassium chloride, sodium chloride, and trisodium citrate dihydrate. Potassium is essential for the function of the heart, muscles, kidneys, nerves, and digestive system. Sodium chloride absorbs and transports nutrients. Trisodium citrate dihydrate is a tribasic salt of citric acid used as a food preservative.
Citrulline malate is the supplemental form of the non-essential amino acid citrulline. This amino acid produced by the body is enhanced through this supplement to increase blood flow for the body to convert it into L-arginine, and then into nitric oxide. This means that more oxygen and nutrients are being transported to the working muscles. I would recommend 1000 mg per serving or 1:1 ratio.
L-Theanin is another amino acid that helps prevent anxiety and high blood pressure. I use a supplement that has 200 mg dosage in each serving. It can also be found in green tea.
So which energy supplement is best for you?
By knowing where to start and building a foundation of knowledge, you have begun the search to find the best energy supplement for your needs. This process will produce a different result for every individual due to their various fitness needs. I wish I could single out just one product and tell you that this is absolutely the best one for you.
The truth is that the best energy supplement for you could change depending on your situation or what type of activity you are preparing for. You will have multiple Go-To supplements that will allow your body to gain endurance and decrease muscle fatigue.
The goal of this site is to allow you to increase your knowledge of the various energy supplements in order to make the best informed decision. I intend to continuously update and promote the best products for endurance, muscle building, lean muscle, and weight loss. This hub is focused a bit more on beginners and intermediate athletes that need more information and comparisons to help them understand what will work best for their goals.
I’m in the same process of finding the best supplement for myself. The more data we find and comparisons that we can make, the closer we will get to finding that perfect supplement for our evolving needs. The best is yet to come!