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The Best Supplements for Every Health Goal

 

Maybe you're new to the supplement game and wondering where the heck to start. Or maybe you're a seasoned supplement pro, but you're feeling stuck and not getting the results you want.  Either way, we've got you covered. Here are some of our favorite supplements for every health goal.

If this is the year you want to get stacked, try these supplements for muscle growth.

Whey Protein

When it comes to getting those gains, nothing does the job quite like whey protein. That's because its rich in amino acids, the building blocks of protein and muscle.

So what kind of whey protein should you take? It depends on what your body tolerates best. Here are some whey basics:

  • **Whey protein isolate 90% is the richest source of protein and amino acids. It contains 90% protein and is virtually lactose, carbohydrate, fat, and cholesterol free.

 

  • **Whey protein concentrate 80% contains 80% protein and small amounts of lactose, carbs, and fat. Like our 90% powder, whey concentrate also contains a complete amino acid profile.

 

  • **Hydrolyzed whey protein has undergone hydrolysis, a process that helps the body absorb it more easily and aids in digestion. If you have stomach issues, this might be the best whey option for you.

 

  • **Organic whey protein is--you guessed it--certified organic. If you prefer green options, this may be your perfect protein source.

 

  • **Grass-fed whey is sourced from grass-fed cows--another green protein option.

 

BCAAs

Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs for short) help build the proteins that in turn build muscle, making them essential tools in your workout routine.

They're also hard at work after you leave the gym. Studies show that they reduce levels of enzymes that cause muscle damage and fatigue, meaning BCAAs could improve your workout recovery. (x)

(Read this in your best infomercial voice) But wait, there's more!

BCAAs have also been found to improve energy--so they not only build muscle and help you recover, but they'll also help you kick up your endurance. (x)

Studies show that BCAAs help grow and maintain muscles both during and after exercise, so you'll make gains even after you leave the gym.

BCAA supplement labels usually include ratios that reflect the amount of each amino acid present in the powder or capsules. BCAA supplements with a higher leucine content are more effective in stimulating protein synthesis--which is why the best BCAA powders have either a 2:1:1 or a 3:2:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine respectively. (x)

We know the struggle: you're determined to kick up your game this year at the gym, but you are always. So. Tired. How are you supposed to bang out more reps when you feel like you're about to hibernate for a week straight?

Your fatigue could stem from multiple factors: inadequate sleep, an underlying medical condition, or a poor diet--one that may not include supplements you need for long-lasting energy at the gym. If you're sick of feeling sluggish in the weight room, these supplements can help.

Creatine

Found in muscle cells, creatine is similar to amino acids (although it's not actually an amino acid). Its claim to fame is energy; bodybuilders rely on it for endurance and improved athletic performance, particularly during high-intensity exercise.

Here's how it works: Creatine boosts levels of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a substance that gives your muscles the energy they need for explosive movements like jumping and sprinting. While these moves are musts for any workout routine (because they torch fat and benefit heart health) they also significantly deplete your ATP after only 10 seconds, leaving you with a serious case of muscle burnout. (x)

This is where creatine comes in. Research indicates that it increases ATP concentration in your muscles by  15-32%. (x) This is great news for your overall workout performance--without fatigue setting in, you'll be able to work out harder and longer. At the end of one 12-week study, participants who supplemented with creatine before exercising increased their bench press weight by 24% and their squat weight by 32% (x)

If you opt to add creatine to your preworkout, save the caffeine for later; mixing creatine and caffeine can be dangerous, especially for your heart.

You can mix it with beta-alanine, however--in fact, creatine and beta-alanine are a supplement dream team. 

Glutamine

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and a go-to preworkout ingredient for a good reason: it can majorly improve your endurance.

In an American College of Sports Medicine study, participants underwent a series of rigorous endurance tests and then supplemented with either glutamine or a placebo. Those who took glutamine steadily maintained their energy levels throughout the trial, while those who took a placebo recorded a significant decrease in their energy over the course of the study.

Glutamine may also build up your tolerance to lactic acid, which causes that muscle burn when you're on your last few reps, signaling that you've repped to your max. (x) A greater lactic acid tolerance means you can gradually add more reps for bigger gains and improved strength.

Fighting to shed those last few pounds? Try adding these to the mix:

Green Tea Extract

Green tea is a natural source of caffeine, which is thermogenic--meaning it heats up the body to burn fat and calories. Studies suggest caffeine may increase fat burning by 10-29%. (x)

Green tea also contains a compound called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which may improve your metabolism. (x) (x)

Who knew tea could pack such a punch?

CLA

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA for short) is a fatty acid that burns fat.

Seriously.

While scientists aren't yet sure how CLA contributes to weight loss, they believe it may be due in part to its ability to affect energy metabolism. (x)

It has also been shown to improve lean body mass as part of a healthy exercise routine, especially when paired with creatine. (x)

Garcinia Cambogia

Garcinia cambogia is a pumpkin-shaped fruit native to Southeast Asia. Garcinia contains a compound called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which research suggests could help you shed fat by blocking an enzyme that forms fat cells. Studies suggest it's particularly effective when it comes to torching fat around your abdomen (known as visceral fat). (x)

And if you can't shake those cravings, garcinia could help: its HCA content may also increase the production of serotonin, your brain's feel-good chemical that  helps regulate your appetite.

Need a chill pill? These supplements will help you catch some zzzs and take it easy. (A quick note: avoid taking these supplements before you drive or operate machinery, as they could make you drowsy.)

Kava Kava 

Native to the South Pacific islands, kava kava is a leafy plant in the nightshade family. In the Pacific Islands, its roots are ground up and mixed into a drink that serves as a natural remedy for anxiety.

So how does kava work? Research has found that compounds in the kava plant called kavalactones may interact with neurotransmitters to promote feelings of calmness and well-being. (x)

In studies, kava has been suggested as an effective treatment for generalized anxiety disorder. (x)

Melatonin

Why do you start feeling sleepy when it gets dark? Melatonin! This natural hormone is responsible for regulating your circadian rhythm, the internal clock that tells your body when it's time to wake up or fall asleep. If you're wide awake at 3 a.m., something's off with your circadian rhythm--probably due in part to low melatonin.

Insufficient levels of melatonin lead to insomnia, mood swings, poor concentration, and feelings of anxiety and restlessness. If this sounds like your nightly routine, try supplementing with melatonin before you hit the sack to improve the quality and duration of your sleep. (Be careful, though--melatonin can be habit-forming if not used correctly. Talk to your doctor before you add it to your supplement routine.)

Passion Flower

A rich purple plant native to the tropics, passion flower has been shown to promote healthy sleep, reduce anxiety, boost mood, and benefit overall mental wellness. (And it looks like something from another planet. That's not really relevant to your nutrition, but we think it's cool.)

In studies, passionflower was found to be effective in reducing anxiety and nervousness, especially in those diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. (x) (x) It could also help reduce insomnia, even in teens and children. (x)

5-HTP (Griffonia Seed)

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a naturally occurring amino acid byproduct of tryptophan (the stuff in turkey that makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner). Our 5-HTP is sourced from the seeds of the African griffonia plant.

5-HTP may help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression by affecting serotonin levels in the brain. (x) If you're struggling to fall asleep, try taking it before bed: studies suggest it could also help improve the quality of your sleep.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an bulb-like adaptogenic herb in the nightshade family valued for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. Studies show it significantly reduces the effect of stress on the body, from lowering cortisol levels to easing feelings of anxiety. (x) It could also ease symptoms of depression associated with mood disorders. (x)

If brain fog is slowing you down, these supplements could boost your alertness and mental clarity.

ALCAR

Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is a compound that promotes feelings of calmness and well being. Because it affects the mitochondria (the energy center of cells), it could help you feel more alert and focused. Research suggests it also protects general cognitive function and may benefit memory. (x) 

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo has been shown to improve blood flow to the brain, which results in a number of benefits: it could improve your memory, promote focus, and boost your mood. (x) (x) (x)

Not bad for a plant species that's well over a million years old!

Rhodiola Rosea

A bright yellow flower native to the Arctic, rhodiola rosea has been found to reduce fatigue, improve memory, and aid in focus and concentration. (x) (x) (x) In animal studies, rhodiola repaired damaged neurons in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for regulating emotions, memory, and the nervous system. (x)

It may also benefit your workout--some studies suggest it improves athletic performance and your focus in the gym.

Check out more of our pure supplements for every health goal here!

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