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The only two supplements you need for the gym – backed by science.

I'm beyond bored of having all kinds of supplements and powders being sold to us with false promises and shady marketing techniques. If you want to supplement, save yourself a LOT of money and buy just these two things:

1. Whey Protein

You've seen the bodybuilders walking around with their shakers about to split their shirts. Don't let that put you off. Protein can benefit almost every diet and every person, without look like Hulk. Everybody has a fucking opinion about them, but let's be clear - if it's calorie-dense, filled with sugar and other crap, it may as well be a dessert.

What is it?
Whey is a by-product of cheese making (remember Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet eating her curds + whey?!), dried and most often with added colours and flavours.

What is it for?
Supplementing your diet with whey will increase your body's ability to build muscle - giving you the best bang for your buck after a workout and assisting with recovery. It's particularly useful if you have a diet low in protein. The latest scientific research suggests that consumption of 1.2-1.6g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day is an appropriate protein target (1).

Why is it superior?
Comparative to many protein powders, whey contains all 9 amino acids which makes it a COMPLETE protein, needed for muscle growth. Whey protein is one of the most tried and true supplements because it contains a higher level of Leucine - a Branch Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) that is directly responsible for muscle protein synthesis (AKA growth).

If you're lactose intolerant, look for Whey Isolate instead - which is filtered to leave only trace amounts lactose and is much better tolerated. Unflavoured is preferable to minimise any chance of stomach upset.

Shakes are an awful lot easier than keeping a chicken leg in your handbag - but this meal-prep hack is great for when you are packing in wholefood forms of protein:

2. Creatine

For all the crap we're told about gimmicky supps being 'the magic pill' to getting shredded, creatine is as close as it gets without being total B.S. There's actually a LOT of science back up its efficacy in clinical studies.

What is it?
It's a naturally occurring compound found in muscle (and the brain) that has a role in energy production - boosting the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which can enhance exercise performance.

What is it for?
Increased ATP helps the muscles repair and grow under stress. Essentially, it gives you bursts of energy and helps with muscle repair during your workout, to help you punch out a few more reps or run a little longer.

Why is it superior?
You can get creatine from wholefoods (which I always prefer) BUT it's only in fairly small doses in things like meat, fish and eggs. Creatine supps are conveniently concentrated and come in many forms; powder, liquid, solids, etc. Again, look for unflavoured. I love 100% creatine monohydrate powder rather than flavoured ones mixed with other stuff.

Tip: Sports Dieticians Australia (SDA) recommend creatine is 'taken with a generous portion of carbohydrate to enhance uptake and storage' in the muscles.

No, you don't need the following:

PLEASE don't waste your money on this shit:

  • Fat burners (stick with coffee!)
  • Detox Teas
  • Juice cleanses
  • Weight gainers
  • Powdered carbohydrates (just eat them, dude.)
  • Testosterone
  • Raspberry Ketones
  • Green tea tablets - drink a matcha latte, if you must.

Give me a break. Forgive me for looking at scientific journals and research, but these sub-par products pray on peoples insecurities and make billions $$$ off doing so. Don't fall victim to clever marketing. Save that money for your gym membership or a new pair of tights.

(1) Noakes, M, (2018) Protein Balance: New Concepts for Protein in Weight Management; CSIRO, Australia.

UP NEXT: 5 Best Protein Bars + Which to Avoid!

Sally O'Neil - Editor in Chief

Sal is on a mission to prove that healthy and nutritious doesn’t have to be boring – and that even while staying in shape you can have your cake and eat it too. After losing 14kg from adopting a healthier lifestyle, she shares her journey with others on The Fit Foodie Blog. She also works as a commercial food photographer and stylist, is studying a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, and is the author of two cookbooks: Love Move Eat (Bauer Media, 2017) and Meal Prep Plan (Murdoch, 2019).

  1. You don’t even need the whey protein.
    Wholefoods will address all protein requirements.
    But Glutamine.
    An absolute gamechanger. That and creatine and you’re home and hosed.
    But rather than use one publication for your blog, reading widely also educates.

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