Protein, BCAAs, carbohydrate powder... everyone's looking for an easy route to weight loss and getting ripped, and the list of sports nutrition supplements available today is long and difficult to plough through. However according to one top dietician, the one you should be focussing on is Creatine monohydrate.
The fact of the matter is, a lot of supplements are designed to play on our insecurities and often promise to help us shape a Thor-like body, but in reality, it's more about hard work and a good diet. Yes, you can use a protein powder shake to help boost recovery after a workout but there's plenty of evidence that protein alone is not going to promote muscle gain. However, there are a number of supplements that have been researched more by scientists and sports nutritionists, with overall positive results that could be just the thing you need to boost performance in the gym or out on the field. They won't help you lose weight on their own but they can help you get into more of a healthy lifestyle, which includes weight loss.
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"Creatine monohydrate is one of the most well-researched sports performance aids and is inexpensive and works for a large number of athletes," explains clinical and sports dietitian Rick Miller from The Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health.
"Creatine phosphate is known as an 'intracellular high energy compound’, which basically means it is broken down during the first few seconds of muscle contraction to provide the energy currency of the body, adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
"When you sneak more creatine into the diet, it builds inside the muscle tissue and this allows the muscle to contract harder for slightly longer, leading to more strength and power.
"That's why you'll see a lot of body builders and athletes take it just before, during or just after exercise," he adds.
Better still, creatine is one of the cheapest supplements around and can be added to a bottle of squash or any other inexpensive drink very easily. Remember, always follow the recommended daily allowance of anything and do a bit of research into the stuff before you fully commit to a programme.