Everyone is searching for the magic pill when it comes to improving their body composition. You want a quick fix to a long term problem and you will do ANYTHING it takes to get in shape.

Am I right?

If you said “YES! Just tell me what I need to do!?” then unfortunately you are already in a place where you can be fooled or corrupted by the marketing of certain supplement companies. These companies will tell you that you need to take this supplement at breakfast, use this pre-workout, have this meal replacement shake, take this fat burner, use this supplement to help you sleep otherwise you won’t get your results that you are so desperately seeking. The only thing you can guarantee from taking all of these is that your bank balance will get significantly affected and not necessarily anything else.

Supplements do have a place in your plan BUT they are at the bottom of the list when it comes to getting in shape.

You must focus your energy on the following first and foremost:

Your training = get a training plan that can help you reach your goals but will also keep you motivated and consistent. If you hate running then guess what…..DON’T RUN. You need to format a training plan that you enjoy, that gets you results and that keeps you coming back for more.

Your diet = focus on eating to nourish your body. Ensure you are eating enough protein daily (1g per pound of bodyweight) and then eat a diet structured around nutritious filling food (lots of vegetables and single ingredient foods).

Your sleep = this is probably one of the most underated aspects of helping you to reach your body image goals. Getting 6-8 hours of quality sleep EVERY NIGHT will help your body to recover and adapt. The better your recovery each day the harder you can train and the faster you will see results.

Once you have nailed the above you will find that, slowly but surely, you start to improve. You will begin to lost body fat, increase muscle mass, increase strength, increase stamina and generally feel amazing.

You notice how I have still to mention anything about where supplementation fits in?

For the regualar exerciser the reason they reach for the ‘magic potion, pill or powder’ is because they haven’t taken the time to work on the foundations of thier training, nutrition and recovery. They don’t train in the correct manner, they under or over eat and they regularly lack getting adaquate recovery.

But Adam I work out A LOT and I only eat 800 calories. Why am I not looking like a fitness model?

Could it be that you are doing too much of the wrong kind of workouts and not eating enough to recover and allow adaptation to occur?

Let’s take your typical individual wanting to lose body fat and get that dream body they have been chasing for years. Over my 10 years of personal training this individual usually fits in to 2 categories:

INDIVIDUAL 1) Does a sedentary job, doesn’t have time to exercise, eats a ‘healthy diet’ (in thier opinion and is not actually as low in calories as they think it is) that is low in protein, doesn’t sleep enough and thier stress levels are through the roof.

INDIVIDUAL 2) Lives an active lifestyle, works out a lot but focuses on cardiovascular training because ‘it burns more calories’, eats like a rabbit with a diet low in protein, has problems sleeping and moderate levels of stress.

Individual 1 is an easy fix. Get them to move more and implement resistance training 3-4 times a week (MAKE TIME FOR THIS) and tidy up thier diet (this will take WILL POWER). You will find that just altering these 2 things will help this individual to sleep more as well, and so all of this will lead to positive effects on your body due to better training, nutrition and recovery.

Individual 2 is a little harder to manage BUT it can be done. Stop focussing on pure cardiovascular work. Sending a signal to your body to keep muscle mass high through resistance training is the key to keeping muscle whilst still burning body fat. Muscle is a more expensive tissue to maintain, so if you are in a calorie deficit (which you should be to lose body fat) you need to tell your body that you NEED that muscle (as you are lifting heavy shit) and if your body needs fuel to take it from your body fat stores. This will maintain your muscle mass but burn body fat (in theory). This individual normally needs to eat more too. Especially protein for the very same reason as I have listed previously – to maintain muscle mass!!! You need to look at eating to fuel your body and help it to recover from your workouts. This may take some trial and error as to what you can eat without it becoming negative to your body image goals. Work out your protein needs (1g per pound of body weight) and then adjust your carbohydrates and fats according to your training load, daily activities and how you look in the mirror. My previous blog (https://www.awpthub.com/how-do-i-calculate-my-macros/) can help you with this.

So how do we conclude all of the above. The simple steps to help you stay consistent to your training and nutrition are this:

– MAKE TIME TO TRAIN (focus on resistance training).

As you read this you might think that I am against using supplements and that is not true. There are some supplements that I advise my clients to take to help to reach there goals. This is what I recommend you should use when it comes to supplements:

– A good quality PROTEIN POWDER is first on the list as individuals I train often struggle to get enough of this through there diet. Look for a high quality product with minimally added ingredients to ensure its purity. I recommend BIO-WHEY from GENETIC SUPPLEMENTS http://www.geneticsupplements.co.uk/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=59.

Creatine. Nothing else in the supplement field has more research of its positive effects than creatine. It helps to increase your training output in the gym, aids in the recovery of your muscles and can even provide more mental energy. Vegetarians can especially benefit from supplementing with creatine as they will struggle to get this through there diet as it is found mainly in meat and fish. Look for a creatine that is pure without anything added to it. Creatine monohydrate is often cheapest in price and of great benefit to your nutritional plan.

Omega 3 fish oils. These are fantastic for enhancing the recovery of your body. Look for a fish oil that contains as close to 1000mg of DHA and EPA per serving. A omega 3 fish oil high in DHA and EPA (the essential fatty acids of the oil) can reduce joint and muscle soreness and improve recovery of your body between bouts of intense exercise.

Vitamin D3. If you get a large amount of natural sunlight then this supplement is not necessary. However, if you live in the UK like myself then the sun is about as regular as Father Christmas and so taking vitamin D3 could be advantageous. Vitamin D3 is the powerhouse in helping the immune system to keeping us healthy year round.

So there we have it. A small list of supplements that you should only purchase if you can’t get any of the above from your diet.

The point of this article is to illustrate that you do not need to spend a fortune on supplements to help you reach your goals. You do need to nail down the fundamentals of your lifestyle and be consistent with them before making any rash decisions or changes. Change takes time. It will never come quickly BUT if you are willing to invest in developing healthy habits then you will reap the benefits for sure.

If you have any questions about anything I have put into this article then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Written by: Adam Wakefield

I have been working as a personal trainer for over 9 years. I began my career in the fitness industry after completing a degree in Sport Science where I graduated with Upper Class Honours. I have always had a thirst for all things related to health, fitness and nutrition and it wasn’t before long that I owned my own gym.

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