Supplements are an amazing tool to help reach your goals. If that goal is to be bigger, stronger, faster, or in better shape, supplements can help with increasing your ability to reach that goal.
"Six Pack Season", or Summer as the rest of the world calls it, is just around the corner. Summer is a time to get ripped and show off your hard work. A soft midsection won't cut it; we're looking to get a ripped six pack. In my article I will discuss 6 proven supplements, and how they can help you reach your goals of a six pack by summer.
1. Protein Powder
Protein powder is the one supplement that should be in your supplement stack year round. There have been many studies proving protein powders positive effects on athletic performance, muscle strength, muscle growth, muscle maintenance and even fat loss.
When performance increases you have the ability to workout harder. Harder workouts will build more muscle and more fat will be burned.
Progressive strength increases lead to using heavier weights. Heavy lifting has positive effects on both muscle size and resting heart rate (Basal Metabolic Rate). The higher your metabolic rate the more calories you burn. The more calories you are able to burn the more fat you will lose.
Muscle Growth And Muscle Maintenance
Muscle requires calories to function. The more muscle you have the more calories you will burn at rest. Protein helps increase muscle mass and also helps maintain muscle on restrictive diets. Your overall calories burned at rest will be maximized if you have adequate protein in your system.
When individuals consume protein powder along with a healthy diet and sound workout routine they lose more fat than simple diet and exercise alone.
I always have a quality protein powder in my cabinet for several reasons:
- Fast digesting protein powder (Whey Isolate) is critical for protein synthesis when taken post-workout.
- Protein powders are great to have between meals or supplement as meals when you are on the go.
- Having a slow digesting protein powder (Casein) before bed will deliver the necessary amino acids while you sleep.
2. Fat Burner
There are so many types of fat burners out there these days, it is tough to figure out which is the right one for you. I am going to break down the fat burners in 6 categories and give you a little info about each so you can better determine what will work best for you.
This type of fat burner increases your internal body temperature which increases your resting heart rate. You might experience a warming of the body when taking a thermogenic fat burner. The main ingredients in thermogenic fat burners are caffeine, yohimbe, and synephrine HCL.
The hardest aspect of dieting for many people is fighting cravings. Cheating on a diet can ruin your chances of getting a six pack for summer. The ingredient hoodia helps suppress your appetite and is effective for many people in helping them with their diet cravings.
Your thyroid helps with the regulation of your metabolism and energy levels. When your thyroid is not working properly you can experience slowing of metabolism and fatigue, this is common with older adults. If you are experiencing these symptoms a thyroid regulator could be the perfect fat burner for you. The main ingredients in many thyroid regulators are guggulsterone and forskolin.
Cortisol is what I like to call the "anti-bodybuilder hormone"; basically your body releases this hormone to keep you average or at equilibrium.
Workout too hard, diet too hard, perform intense cardio, anything that puts a stress on your body even if the end result is a positive change; your body will release cortisol to combat any progress you can make.
It is a good thing cortisol blockers have been created, these supplement help keep your cortisol levels at bay and give you the ability to make those changes. The main ingredient in many cortisol blockers is phosphatidylserine.
3. Green Tea
Green tea's use can date back 1000's of years to Asian culture. Green tea was used as a medicine to help with excretion of urine and healing of wounds. Today our use of green tea has changed as research has showed it many benefits.
- Increase antioxidant level. Antioxidants fight off free radicals. Free radicals are natural occurring compounds/toxins in the body that damage cells. The body can produce free radicals, but environmental factors like UV sunlight and cigarette smoke are contributing factor to increased levels of free radicals. Consuming green tea will raise your antioxidant levels and fight off the harmful free radicals.
- Green tea protects the skin from the ultra violet (UV) light damage. The summer is a time in which clothing is at a minimum and the sun is closest to the earth. So not only are the UV light stronger, your skin is also more exposed.
- Green tea will help with your skin damage from the sun. (Consuming green tea will not prevent sun burn in any way; it just helps prevent skin cell damage. Please use the necessary precautions for sun exposure.)
- Green tea has high levels of caffeine in it. Caffeine is a proven stimulant to increase core temperature which will result in more calories burned leading to more body fat burned.
- As noted earlier green tea helps with the excretion of urine, aka a diuretic; basically it will flush excess water out of your system and give you a less bloated, more ripped look.
4. CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)
CLA is a fatty acid found in beef and dairy products. It has many health benefits including body fat loss. Recent research shows, our present farming techniques have lowered the amount of CLA in beef and dairy product, which means supplementation of CLA will be critical to receive all the health benefits that CLA offers.
CLA assists in the body burning existing fat for energy. CLA interferes with the fat storing processes and also has been shown to increase lean muscle mass. More muscle as we have discussed earlier results in more body fat burned.
Below are several other health benefits of CLA:
- Increase metabolic rate - this will result in more calories burned.
- Helps with the immune system - strong immune system will lead to quicker recovery time from workouts.
- Lower cholesterol.
- Lower risk of breast cancer.
- 1-3 grams at each breakfast, lunch and dinner meals.
There are two forms of carnitine: L-Carnitine and Acetyl-L-Carnitine. Carnitine is one my favorite supplements to use while dieting because of the benefits that I receive both physically and mentally from its use.
Both forms, L-Carnitine and Acetyl-L-Carnitine help you physically by shuttling fat into your muscles, the fat is then burned to fuel your workouts.
Also both forms have been shown to shuttle toxins out of your muscles while working out, which lead to less fatigue and better recovery from one workout to the next.
The necessary evil of dieting is reduction in your carbohydrate consumption. Regardless of how you cut it, you will have to reduce your carbohydrates to get the six-pack you are looking for. If you have ever dieted before you understand the mind doesn't function and focus as well when you consume fewer carbohydrates.
We can't sacrifice the six-pack for summer, so you can either deal with the foggy brain on low carbs or you can supplement some acetyl-l-carnitine. Acetyl-L-Carnitine has been shown to help with mental function and focus.
- 1000-2000mg pre and post-workout.
6. Beta Alanine
Beta alanine is a non essential amino acid that helps in the production of carnosine. Carnosine is found in fast twitch muscle cells. Its main function for us weight lifters is buffering hydrogen ions. Too many hydrogen ions in the muscles will lead to low pH levels or an acidic environment.
This acidic environment will lead to the burning sensation that you feel when working out, aka "lactic acid". The lactic acid in your muscles will cause fatigue and eventually muscle failure. Also when pH levels get too low, both ATP and calcium, both critical in muscle performance, are less effective.
Higher levels of carnosine leads to higher pH levels which leads to a less acidic environment in your muscles. In laymens terms you will be able to perform more reps, keep intensity high and fatigue less when your carnosine levels are higher.
Why not take carnosine straight up? Straight carnosine is not digested effectively by the body. Beta alanine is easily digested and converted to carnosine.
Beta alanine will give you the ability to workout harder longer, which will result in more calories burned during your workout. Also more intense training leads to more muscle growth which again results in more overall calories burned.
- 2-3 grams pre and post-workout.
There you go, 6 supplements you will have to add to your summer supplement stack. Just remember supplements are only effective when used with a proper diet and exercises program.
All the supplements here will not do a thing for you unless you get both your workout and nutrition programs squared away first. Don't worry, you can find 100's, if not 1000's, of great workout and nutrition articles to read up on. Do your research and you will reap the reward of great results.
- ISSA Specialist Performance Nutrition Handbook