Whether you’re on a tight student budget, or just looking to save yourself some money, there are plenty of supplements out there which will take you one step closer to achieving your fitness goals, without breaking the bank.
They king of all supplements. Whey protein is the most commonly available supplement on the market and it’s the absolute best seller. Protein is essential when it comes to building muscle, and it can be tough to come by through diet alone, especially for those on a budget. Chicken, beef, eggs etc. don’t come cheap, so it can be hard for students to reach their protein intake through diet alone.
Whey protein has several qualities which make it the perfect supplement. First of all, it is very low in fat and carbohydrates. This means it is almost all protein, so is great if you are looking to cut down, or bulk up (with minimal fat accumulation). Whey is also very fast absorbing, which mean it is fantastic to take post-workout, as it will be utilised by your muscles quickly, helping them to recover even faster. Since whey is a bi-product of the manufacture of cheese, it is also very cheap compared to other sources of protein, making it perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to splash the cash to reach their goals.
The convenience of whey protein is one of the things which makes it so popular. You can easily mix it with milk or water to make a tasty shake which will help you to reach your protein goal; whether you’re at home or on the go.
Branched chain amino acids are an excellent supplement, but are a little less well known than whey protein. They constitute of 1/3 of the specific amino acids which make up our skeletal muscle tissue, meaning they can be more effective than just ‘regular’ protein.
BCAAs have been suggested to have many benefits. One of which is reducing tirelessness and fatigue, meaning you will have more energy throughout the day as well as for the duration of your workout, allowing you to push harder for longer. This is done since they inhibit the production of serotonin, which rises when you exercise. Serotonin increases how much you feel tired; your perception of fatigue. By inhibiting its production, BCAAs allow you to feel more alert, awake and give you more energy.
Additionally, they are brilliant for reducing muscle soreness. This means that you are able to give it 100% in the gym, even if you had an intense session the previous day. It has also been reported that they can help to reduce muscle breakdown. This can occur when following a metabolic (fat loss) meal plan.
BCAAs are available in several different forms, from tablets to powders. They are also available in different ratios. Generally, BCAAs in the ratio 2:1:1 in powered form are the cheapest.
Creatine is a very popular supplement. It is found naturally within our skeletal muscle tissue and has many benefits when it comes to strength and hypertrophy.
We usually consume creatine in small doses through foods such as beef; however, supplementation is required in order to experience its full potential. Essentially, creatine works by providing energy in the ATP/CP system. Creatine phosphate (CP) provides your body with a phosphate molecule, which is used to turn adenosine diphosphate (ADP) into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This releases energy. As a result, during short, intense exercises (e.g. weightlifting) we experience increased levels of energy. This means that through your set you will be able to push for longer and may be able to lift even more weight than you would have previously been able to.
Creatine also ‘pumps’ more water into your muscles, giving you an overall more full look and a phenomenal pump in the gym.
Red meats such as beef are generally too expensive, and high in fat, to consume on a regular basis. Creatine supplements on the other hand can be bought at a relatively low price, depending on the type you buy. There are several different ‘variations’ of creatine, but creatine monohydrate is the cheapest and most readily available.
Whilst they might not boast significant muscle building properties like the other supplements I have covered, multi vitamins are possibly the best budget supplement on the market. We are so absorbed in calculating our daily macronutrient intake that we often neglect micronutrients, which can prove to be very important indeed.
Multi vitamins are the best way to increase your overall micronutrient intake, since they contain most, if not all of the essential vitamins and minerals that your body requires to function each day. T
Vitamin B (such as B2, B6 and B12) has been linked with reducing stress levels, as well as increasing energy levels throughout the day. Vitamin C is essential for the health of our cells and organs. Whilst we can consume it through fruits and vegetables, most people do not get enough, so supplementation is recommended. It has also been reported to boost your immune system and alleviate the symptoms of the common cold. Multi vitamins also contain other essential vitamins, such as vitamin D, which is obtained mostly through sunlight. In the winter, it is recommended to supplement with vitamin D, since we get less sunlight than in the hotter months.
Multi vitamins are very, very cheap, meaning they can fit into anyone’s budget. They help you to get in all of the essential micronutrients each day, which helps contribute towards your overall health and wellbeing.