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Supplements for beginners. What you need to know.

Supplements for beginners. What you need to know.

There seems to be an infinite amount of different workout supplements in the fitness world. It can get pretty confusing trying to figure out which ones you should take with there being so many different kinds and types of supplements! Here's the thing, you don't need every single type of supplement in your pantry. The type of supplements you should take is based on your fitness goals, lifestyle, and diet. 

With that being said, we still want to help you get the necessary information you need on 5 of the most popular supplements, like whether they're good for weight loss or building muscle, the optimal time to take them, and whether you need them or not. This beginner's guide to supplements will have everything you need to know about these popular workout supplements and whether they're worth investing!

Protein powder

Whey protein is the most popular supplement for muscle growth and replenishment of the body's protein requirements. The source of raw materials for this protein is cow milk, purified from water, fat, and various impurities - that's why it is called whey protein isolate. Other types of protein powder include: whey concentrate, casein protein, soy, pea, brown rice, and more. So there are various options for people that are lactose intolerant, vegetarian, or vegan.
Protein serves as an ideal supplement  - given that for muscle growth it is necessary to increase protein intake (up to two grams per kilogram of body weight per day and sometimes even more). Getting a high amount of protein from food is possible, but difficult in terms of digestion. 

When to take it

The most important time for taking protein shakes is a period of 30-40 minutes before weight training - this will provide additional nutrition for the muscles. A portion of protein mixed with water is recommended. For post-workout, take another 20-30g of protein and carbs, it is needed to close the metabolic window. In addition, you can take the protein as in the morning immediately after waking up, and between meals of the main food - this minimizes catabolic processes in the muscles and reduces the feeling of hunger.

Do you need it?

Technically you don't need it because you can get protein from natural food sources. But we do highly recommend getting a protein supplement because it will help you reach your protein intake and effectively build muscle.

This study conducted by The Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia called "Effects of Supplement-Timing and Resistance Exercise on Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy" found that when subjects consumed whey protein, creatine, and glucose pre and post-workout after a 10 week training period, they experienced an 80% greater increase in muscle mass and about 30% increase in strength. [1] This was compared to subjects taking the same supplements, but in the morning and at night. They also experienced fat loss, while the other group lost none.

If your fitness goals are to build muscle and lose fat then consider supplementing with protein powder when it's needed! Tracking your macros will help you see when you might need to get a little help from protein powder 😉 

BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acids)

BCAA (branched-chain amino acids) is a conditional combination of three of the nine essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. This supplement is becoming increasingly popular among gym-goers because they are essential for the health and growth of the muscles. Leucine is the crucial amino acid for muscle growth because it turns on muscle-protein synthesis in muscle cells. It also decreases muscle catabolism, the breaking down of muscle. But all three of the amino acids are important because your muscles use them as energy so you can train harder.

Any animal or vegetable protein is a combination of amino acids. In total, there are more than 200 different amino acids, 22 of which are important for a healthy metabolism. Despite the fact that most of these twenty amino acids are synthesized by the body, there are 9 amino acids that the body cannot synthesize, and which must be supplied with food in its finished form.

When to take it

BCAAs are ideal to take after waking up to stop muscle breakdown and put your body in an anabolic state. I also suggest taking them pre and post-workout for energy and recovery. 

Do you need it?

If your ultimate goal is to gain muscle and you need a little energy to help you through your workouts then consider adding BCAA's to your routine. The use of amino acids BCAA stimulates muscle growth, aids with muscle soreness, and normalizes fat metabolism processes to accelerate fat burn and improve metabolism. It's also good to have for those who are in a calorie deficit and want to minimize muscle loss!


Creatine is a natural element of nutrition, synthesized by the body under normal conditions, even from ordinary food. It is found in muscle cells and helps produce energy faster. Since creatine is stored in the muscles, it needs animal meat to replenish it. It cannot be found in plants or other sources. The main function of this supplement is that during a period of stress or physical exertion it provides the body with the needed energy to lift heavier and train harder. 

The side effect of creatine is the increase in water weight inside the muscles. This actually results in long-term muscle growth because the fluid places a stretch on the membrane of muscle cells to signal an increase in muscle protein synthesis.

When to take it

Take creatine before the gym to increase energy, but only take around 2-5 grams per day. 

Do you need it?

Creatine is one of the most researched supplements. Some studies show that it helps increase muscle mass, others found that it had no effect on certain subjects. So it just really depends on your body. If your main goal is to build strength and muscle then try creatine for a few weeks. If there are no noticeable effects on your energy or muscles then maybe this isn't the supplement for you. Your body already produces 1-2 grams of creatine a day, if you want to increase this to 5 grams using natural sources then increase your meat and/or fish intake.

Fat Burners

Fat burners are a popular supplement because it is advertised as a 'magic pill' that promises quick weight loss and fat loss effects. People tend to believe these advertisements because everyone wants to get rid of fat fast. 

However, those who have basic knowledge of sports nutrition understand that practically all additives called thermogenic are not able to burn fat, since their main ingredient is just ordinary caffeine. Among other things, whatever advertising claims, the fat burner itself is not able to "burn fat" - its use separately from training is absolutely inefficient.

When to take it

They are usually taken in the morning and/or before a workout to provide you with energy and to boost your metabolic rate. 

Do you need it?

NO! In our opinion, there is no need for fat burners. If your main goal is to lose fat, simply track your macros, stay in a calorie deficit, and do a mix of cardio and weightlifting.


Pre-workout supplements contain ingredients that are intended to enhance performance levels by increasing energy and focus. It has ingredients such as beta-alanine, creatine, amino acids, and L-citrulline, that aid in muscle recovery after a strenuous workout. The boost of energy is mainly supplied by caffeine.

When to take it

Usually, pre-workout is taken 20-30 minutes before your workout.

Do you need it?

Pre-workout supplements are not necessarily needed. You can get a good supply of energy from coffee or a post-workout snack, but pre-workout does have a few extra ingredients that will help make your training more effective. They also can increase your performance which helps you get results. So this is one we recommend, but it's not necessarily needed.

Remember, it's called a "supplement" for a reason. Supplements should not be taken as a food replacement and you will get the maximum benefit of your supplements only by following a good diet. So make sure your eating habits are on point. And before taking any supplement, consult with your doctor or nutritionist to see if the supplement is safe for you to take.


[1] http://vuir.vu.edu.au/1436/