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Best Supplements for Peak Fitness – our Top 4

Best Supplements for Peak Fitness – our Top 4

4 supplements that can help you maintain fitness levels.

Browse the aisles of any health food shop or look online for fitness supplements, and you’ll be faced with an alarming and somewhat overwhelming number of products. Fitness supplements have come a long way since huge tubs of protein powder became popular, and even though you can still buy protein powder by the kilo (and many do), there is now a huge choice of other sports capsules, powders, drinks and sachets.

This wide variety includes the classic protein powders, as well as specific amino acids, creatine, fat burners, caffeine supplements and even beetroot juice extracts and collagen. Specific vitamins such as the B vitamins and vitamin D are also marketed at those who are exercising regularly.

The problem is, if you’re serious about getting fit and healthy, feeling stronger, losing body fat or a combination of all three, and you’re a relative newcomer to the world of training, where do you start?

At Readers Digest, we get it. We all have to start somewhere, and with training supplements, often the best place, is the beginning.

With the help of the team at for the Ageless, an online organic supplement provider on a mission to nurture a nation of health conscious, ageless, healthy, active individuals, here’s the lowdown on the best gym supplements for helping you achieve results.

But first up, what’s the point of taking any supplements at all?

Why Should I Take Fitness Supplements?

If you’re exercising, be that lifting weights in the gym, performing regular yoga, running or you’re enjoying a combination of different types of exercise, the chances are, you’re also paying more attention to your diet.

What we eat, how much and when, plays an important role in our health, fitness and weight. There are many food “rules’ spoken about, but on the whole, a healthy eating plan looks something like this:

  • At least five portions of fruits and vegetables a day
  • Carbohydrates in the form of brown, wholemeal bread, pasta and rice
  • Protein in the form of lean chicken or turkey breast, fish, eggs, low fat dairy, pulses, beans, chickpeas, lentils, quinoa and other grains, nuts and seeds
  • Small amounts of good fats such as oily fish, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds
  • Keeping sugary drinks, snacks and desserts to a minimum
  • Drinking enough water to ensure you don’t feel thirsty and that your urine is a pale straw colour
  • Having three to four alcohol free days a week and staying within the recommended maximum weekly intake of 14 alcohol units (for both males and females)

If you’re ticking all or most of those boxes, all or most of the time – you’re doing great!

So, what’s the point of nutritional supplements? Whilst it’s true that the majority of our nutritional needs are best coming from our diet, there are times when a little extra help is beneficial.

For example, in the case of protein. We need protein for energy and for muscle building. If we’re training, then it makes sense to take a protein supplement to help give our body all it needs with the increased demand from exercise. This is the case if we’re training to gain muscle strength and size, or to burn fat and build lean muscle mass to change our physique into a slimmer one.

We can also benefit from supplements that are outside of the “norm”. These might include superfoods, or as we’ll cover here, supplements that contain ingredients that have been used in traditional or folk medicines by our forebears for millennia.

The 4 Best Supplements for Peak Fitness

So, let’s look at four supplements that could take your training regime to the next level.

Full Spectrum Amino Acids

Amino acids are the ‘building blocks’ of proteins and there are 20 different types. Each protein in the body is made up of long chains of different amino acids in differing numbers. So, the chain of amino acids that make up collagen, an important protein found in the skin and joints, will be different to the chains of amino acids that make up the proteins actin and myosin, that are found in the muscles allowing them to contract and relax.

Full spectrum amino acids are fitness supplements that contain all 20 amino acids including the nine essential amino acids, so-called because it’s essential that we consume them in our diet or from supplements, because the body cannot manufacture them.

Taking a full spectrum amino acid supplement means that you’re covering all bases when it comes to building protein. But why is protein so important?

When we exercise, through strength training such as weight lifting or yoga, or aerobic training such as running or HIIT, we create minute tears in our large muscles. During rest, the body goes to work repairing these tears by layering on more muscle fibres and in doing so, creates more lean muscle mass and bigger, stronger muscles (which is why rest is just as important as training).

The body requires protein in order to create these new muscle fibres, hence why protein is such a popular sports supplement. Taking an amino acid supplement gives the body the building blocks it needs to create muscle proteins.

What’s more, there’s evidence that three particular essential amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine, collectively known as branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs, “stimulate the processes in the body to stimulate muscle protein synthesis”. This in turn stimulates muscle growth – to many, the main point of exercise.

Recovery is important in exercise – the quicker we can recover from exercise induced fatigue, the sooner we can get back to working out. We all experience fatigue from exercise, and it’s determined by factors such as our fitness level, exercise intensity and exercise duration.

Studies have found that taking BCAAs can help to improve mental focus during training, leading to experiencing fatigue later, meaning longer and more meaningful training sessions.

Other studies have discovered that amino acid supplements containing BCAAs can help reduce the severity and duration of the pain we experience in our muscles after training, called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. It’s thought this is down to their ability to decrease muscle damage caused by protein breakdown during exercise.

Therefore, an amino acid supplement is arguably one of the best fitness supplements to take.

Full Spectrum Amino Acids by G&G Vitamins at for the Ageless contain all nine essential amino acids, including BCAAs in both powder and capsule form. They’re free form, meaning that they’re absorbed quickly, suitable for vegans and are free from fillers and binders, soya, sugar gluten and GMOs.

DMG-15 – Dimethylglycine

DMG-15, or dimethylglycine, is also known as vitamin B15, but don’t let this fool you. It’s actually a derivative of an amino acid called glycine and is found in the body in very low levels and often for very short periods of time.

Research into DMG-15 as a sports supplement is in its infancy, but some potentially promising results have been uncovered. Studies (both on animals and on humans) suggest that DMG-15 can help to reduce fatigue and improve endurance.

It’s thought that this is down to the ability of supplements containing DMG-15 to help the body manage the way it deals with lactic acid build up (that eventually results in muscle fatigue) and help improve the way the body utilises oxygen (which improves athletic performance).

Interestingly, it’s this benefit that has led researchers to posit that DMG-15 could be useful for anyone looking to fatigue less easily and increase their endurance. For example, students studying for exams and those working antisocial hours or shift patterns.

DMG-15 Capsules from G&G Vitamins at for the Ageless contain 50mg of dimethylglycine along with calcium gluconate and alfalfa for extra effectiveness. They’re suitable for vegans and contain no soya, lactose, gluten or GMOs.

Collagen Peptides

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, accounting for around 70% of the total protein count. Its most well-known role is in keeping the skin plump and youthful, but it does a lot more besides, that isn’t so outwardly noticeable. Collagen is found in the cartilage that cushions the joints, helping to prevent them from becoming stiff and painful.

Unfortunately, as we age, we begin to lose our natural reserves of collagen (surprisingly from as early as our mid 20s). This explains why, as we get older, our skin begins to develop fine lines and wrinkles, and we find that our joints begin to ache and become less mobile. Collagen supplements can top up our natural reserves. For this reason, collagen supplements are one of the most popular products at for the Ageless.

But what does all this have to do with exercise? Since collagen is essential for well lubricated, mobile joints, this makes collagen a useful fitness supplement – we can all do with a little help, regardless of age, and we like to think of collagen supplements as akin to an oil can used to lubricate engines and motors.

Taking collagen supplements can help to keep the soft tissues, including the cartilage as well as the tendons and ligaments that hold our joints together, healthy. This can mean better performance since we may move more easily, but can also mean a lowered risk of sustaining a sports related injury. Sports related injuries can be painful and can significantly affect our ability to train.

Collagen is a large molecule, made up of long chains of our old friends, amino acids - too large in fact to be absorbed easily by the body in supplement form, so collagen peptides are a better alternative. Collagen peptides are a form of hydrolysed collagen, that is, collagen that’s undergone a process of chemical ‘cutting’ to create smaller collagen molecules that are more readily absorbed.

Active Collagen from Planet Paleo at for the Ageless contains easy to digest collagen peptides alongside other nutrients that are beneficial for training. These include MSM that helps to reduce joint pain and aid muscle recovery and glucosamine that supports healthy bones and joints.

Cordyceps

Often cited as a mushroom, cordyceps is as misclassified as it is quite frankly, ugly. But what this parasitic fungi (for that’s actually what it is) lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in benefits to sportspeople.

This parasitic fungi grows on the larvae of a species of caterpillar native to the high mountainous regions of China and Tibet. Most cordyceps supplements are however made in the lab, using the same technique in a more controlled environment, minus the insects.

Dried cordyceps have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, for generations to help treat everything from nausea to a low libido. Now, modern science has caught up, and studies have revealed that cordyceps supplements can help to improve our athletic performance.

The body uses a chemical called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, to help transport energy to the muscles where it’s used to power our movement and our workouts. But ATP is not a finite source, and our reserves deplete quickly as it cannot be manufactured quickly enough by the body when we’re training, resulting in muscle fatigue and ultimately, the end of our workout.

Researchers have discovered that cordyceps can increase our capacity for making ATP, which in turn helps to improve our endurance and also the way we use oxygen. VO2 max is a measurement of the way we use oxygen, the higher our VO2 max, the fitter we are and the more we’re able to exercise.

Studies have shown that cordyceps can improve the VO2 max in regular, healthy people (as opposed to trained athletes already at the top of their game).

Organic Cordyceps Mushroom Capsules from Mushrooms 4 Life at for the Ageless are 100% vegan since they’re created under lab conditions that mimic the ideal growing conditions without the need for insect larvae.

Supplements for Peak Fitness – the Final Word

If you’re embarking on a health and fitness routine, or you’re aiming to step it up, then you may notice that taking a sports supplement helps you in your endeavours. As with any dietary supplement, consistency is key. Aim to take your fitness supplements every day for three months to see if you notice any significant benefit. If you do, carry on!

If you’re looking for a one stop shop, all round fitness supplement, try the Fitness Pack from G&G Vitamins, a 28 day pack of amino acids, B vitamins, vitamins A, D3 and E, minerals, Coenzyme Q10 and antioxidants.

All of the supplements we’ve mentioned here contain pure ingredients, many of them organic, with no artificial fillers or binders. Since they’re natural, there are no known side effects to taking them, but if you’re taking other medications or you’re in any doubt, have a chat with your pharmacist or doctor.

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