Athletes train to become bigger, stronger, and fitter. You know you need to workout regularly and have a healthy diet to achieve your goals. But, the right supplements can help you reach that goal faster and more efficiently. A short Internet search of which supplements can help you perform better at the gym can leave you very confused and misinformed. We have broken down the most common performance enhancement supplements on the market to help you make a more informed choice.

BCAA
Branched chained amino acids, BCAA’s, naturally make up 1/3 of our body’s muscle protein reserves. Our bodies cannot manufacture BCAA’s, so we need to ingest them through our food or through supplements.

BCAA’s improve workout performance by working on the brain to decrease fatigue and thus helping you perform better and for longer. Not only that, but research shows that BCAA’s can also decrease the loss of other amino acids from muscle during exercise and increase the body’s ability to absorb protein.

BCAA’s also have post workout functions. You still need a post workout meal if you are supplementing your diet with BCAA’s, but getting that edge of instant nutrient supply may be just what you need to reduce muscle breakdown and to boost the training effects.

When to take? 30-60 minutes pre and post workout.

And how much? 5-10 grams per serving.

Beta-Alanine
Intense exercise leads to a drop in your pH levels, which ultimately causes fatigue. Beta alanine is a unique amino acid that maintains your pH, ups your energy levels and helps you power through a workout.

Beta-Alanine → Increased Carnosine → Decreased Hydrogen Ions → pH Maintenance

Pins and needles is a common side effect among athletes that first start supplementing with beta-alanine, particularly in the neck and arms. Starting with an 800mg dose and slowly working your way up is the best way to avoid this.

When to take? 30-60 minutes pre workout.

And how much? 1-3 grams per serving.

Creatine
If you want to nail that last rep, creatine is your friend. Creatine, the muscle building king, is the most popular and effective performance enhancement supplement among all gym freaks out there. Creatine increases energy, improves high intensity work capacity, muscle mass, strength, and body composition. Not only that, but creatine also hydrates your muscle for a fuller and larger appearance.

Creatine → Creatine Phosphate → ATP → Energy

When to take? 30-60 minutes pre and post workout.

And how much? 3-5 grams per serving.

Glutamine
Glutamine is an amino acid that plays an important role in muscle recovery, especially in endurance athletes. Glutamine is present in most animal foods, so supplements are only really useful if you follow a plant based diet, because that is when you might not be getting enough.

Glutamine → Decreased Ammonia Build Up → Maintenance of Body’s pH Balance

When to take? 30-60 minutes pre workout and 30 minutes before bedtime.

And how much? 20-30 grams per day.

 L-Carnitine
Increasing muscle carnitine levels via L-carnitine supplements can allow for fatigue resistance and more efficient use of your energy, thus improving athletic performance. It is best to pair L-carnitine supplements with a high carbohydrate meal or with fish oils to improve its uptake by the body.

When to take? With your post workout meal.

And how much? 2-3 grams per serving.

 Where to Buy Supplements?
You can find the above supplements and more here, here, or here.