Shirtless man being hit with cloud of chocolate protein powder

The fitness world is loaded with products that claim to offer you significant increases in muscle mass while also aiding in burning fat. Some of these products have their uses while many don’t hold water. Working out is, as the name would imply, hard work! It’s common for people to want to find shortcuts whenever possible but really there’s no better way to improve your health and physique than by working out consistently and maintaining a healthy diet.

With all that said, there are some products that offer us benefits in the gym and in our daily lives.

They’re not shortcuts and unfortunately, they don’t offer us superpowers, but they’ve been proven to work. In order for you to get the most out the work you’re putting in the gym, and out of the supplements you choose to take, we’ve broken down the 5 most popular workout supplements and how they are best used to get results.

Protein Powder

Protein powder is ubiquitous these days. With all the talk of increased protein intake offering health benefits galore, increased satiety, and increased fat burning and muscle building potential, protein powder has made its way into many of our diets regardless of whether or not we work out regularly. With hundreds of different brands and flavors to choose from and many wild marketing claims, it’s hard to know what to go with and who to believe.

Protein powder is simply a protein supplement. Its purpose is to supplement your protein sourced from real foods in order to meet your targeted protein intake for the day. If you are able to get enough protein from whole, real foods throughout your day then protein powder may not be necessary. Protein powder does offer us a very convenient and affordable form of quick digesting and readily available protein that makes it hard to pass up!


Pre Workout supplements are usually a combination of a few different ingredients, usually with the addition of caffeine, that claim to offer better performance in the gym. As the name would suggest, these supplements are best taken in the half hour or so before you begin your workout in order to get the best effect.

Common ingredients found in pre-workout supplements include caffeine, creatine, BCAAs, beta-alanine, and l-arginine. This combination of ingredients is purported to offer you increased performance in the gym by way of stimulating you with caffeine, increasing your lifting potential with creatine, and offering more energy and endurance as a result of the BCAAs, beta-alanine, and l-arginine.

This is far from a comprehensive list of ingredients. There are hundreds of different brands, with many offering several different choices in pre-workout supplements, and they all have different combinations of ingredients to elicit different effects.


BCAAs, or branched chain amino acids, are a workout supplement that offers great benefits both while you are working out, and afterward. BCAAs are a combination of three amino acids required for your muscles to fully recover and repair between workouts. These amino acids include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Aside from aiding in muscle repair post-workout, BCAAs offer increased energy while you’re working out and may also slow the production of hormones that fight against your body’s efforts at building up your muscles!

If you are wondering when to take BCAAs in order to get the best results the answer is all the time! Not really, but BCAAs offer benefits no matter when you take them: You can take BCAA before working out to offer increased energy, during your workout to replenish energy stores, or post-workout in order to aid in the muscle building and recovery process!


Creatine is the most studied workout supplement on the market and it is common knowledge that it works, though it is not a magic pill. Creatine occurs naturally in our body and is a nitrogenous organic acid. In the form of a creatine supplement, it offers performance enhancement by way of boosting our production of ATP—adenosine triphosphate. ATP aids in muscle repair and with muscle growth while under stress, such as when you are lifting heavy weights.

In a nutshell, creatine offers your muscles a little extra energy in order to eke out a couple extra reps and aids in your muscles better recovering between workouts. It offers many other benefits both of the body and the mind and with it being very affordable and offering little in the way of negative side effects, there’s no reason it couldn’t be a part of everyone’s daily supplementation, whether they’re in the gym every day or not!


Glutamine is also produced naturally in our bodies and its supplementation is purported to aid in maintaining muscle mass between workouts. With resistance exercise, your muscles are damaged and levels of glutamine that occur naturally within them are depleted. In order to realize the greatest gains in muscle mass, glutamine would ideally be replenished. Glutamine supplementation is one way of achieving this task.

Glutamine is found naturally in foods such as red meat and nuts but these are relatively high-calorie foods. In order to adequately replenish glutamine stores without going over your calorie goals for the day a glutamine supplement makes this much easier to achieve.

Wrapping Up

With so many supplement companies in the fitness world offering us products purported to work wonders, it’s hard to know what products to choose and who to believe. There is a lot of conflicting information out there, even coming from legitimate research studies.

While supplementation is not a requirement in order for you to realize progress in the gym, whether it be increasing muscle mass or quicker fat loss, it can help. Making an informed decision on how you choose to spend your money and what you put in your body is sometimes difficult to do in the fitness world. Hopefully, now you’ll be better able to make the right decision on which supplements you choose to go with in order to realize your fitness goals!

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About The Author

Mikkie Mills's picture

Mikkie Mills is a freelance writer who's passionate about health, fitness, organic cooking and eating, and yoga. When not writing she loves traveling, hiking, and cooking. Find more from Mikkie on Google+.

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