Top Ten Supplements Every Female Fitness Girl Needs to Take!
By: Lauren Jacobsen
There are many supplements on the market today, which can be extremely discouraging for anyone, especially a time-stricken woman but the answers are actually simpler than you think. Stick to the tried and tested stables and you can't go wrong. For starters, purchase a multivitamin for active women to optimize your performance and metabolism. Now that you got that out of the way, go out and purchase the following ten great muscle firming supplements to take your physique to the next level of a fit diva!
Calcium is probably the most important supplement for women. Calcium is essential for bone development and may even help alleviate the symptoms of PMS. On top of that dairy foods high in calcium have been shown to play a role in energy metabolism. In fact low fat dairy foods may even help you to lose weight. Women age 19 - 50 should get 1000 mg of calcium per day.
Most women, who are serious about lifting, have tried this one. In fact, of all the supplements on the market today, creatine is by far the most researched and effective. Supplementing with creatine increases the body's creatine stores. As a result, more phosphocreatine is available for use by our muscles, which means more phosphate is available to ADP to help regenerate ATP - our muscles energy source. The effect of supplementing with creatine is not only longer sets and more reps but also gains in lean muscle and strength. However, some research has shown that women may not experience the same magnitude of results as men who load with creatine. This is because women tend to have much higher natural levels of muscle creatine versus men, and therefore do not respond the same to supplementation when a creatine loading phase is performed. Research has demonstrated that each person has a ‘creatine ceiling' or limit to how much they can store. The closer you get to your natural limit, the less you will benefit from supplementation. Therefore creatine supplementation may not result in the significant increases in training intensity you are hoping to produce gains in strength and muscle growth. On top of this, creatine can sometimes cause bloating and water retention - two things most women do not want to experience from a supplement! Water is needed for transport of creatine into the muscle cells, and can therefore cause increased water retention in the body. Despite these factors, it doesn't mean you will not benefit from the effects of creatine supplementation. Instead of loading with creatine, skip the loading phase and try using just a daily maintenance dose of 3 g per day over a 4 to 6 week period. Also, reserve creatine use for the off-season or muscle-building phase, to avoid unnecessary water retention come contest, or bikini season!
3. Whey Protein Isolate
This second must have supplement on your list, is isolated from dairy milk and is considered the highest quality protein available. WPI provides the richest content of amino acids all in a convenient powder format. Usual serving sizes of whey protein range anywhere from 20 to as high as 40 g. Whey protein can be used as a source of protein for a quick meal or can be added to almost any food to supplement your protein needs.
4. Essential Fatty Acids
Fish Oils are derived from the fat of cold water, deep-sea fish and is a source of Omega-3, which is an essential fatty acid that contains DHA and EPA. Omega-3 fatty acid is an important nutrient for maintaining a healthy heart, brain and nervous system, as well as helping to reduce inflammation in joints and maintaining flexibility - something all fitness athletes need. Use a minimum of 3g daily.
Work to decrease the harmful effects of free radicals produced by the body through a process of oxidation. By binding to active receptor sites on free radicals, antioxidants act like scavengers, neutralizing free radicals damaging effects in our body. Common antioxidants can be found in the foods we eat, however supplements such as grape seed extract, green tea extract and lycopene isolated from tomatoes offer potent and concentrated forms of antioxidants without the added calories.
An amino acid that the body cannot make naturally is involved in many processes including hormone secretion, the removal of toxic waste products, improving sexual function and immune defense. But perhaps the best use of arginine for a fit diva is its ability to produce nitric oxide, through the property of vasodilatation. Supplementing with arginine can help increase vasodilatation of blood vessels resulting in better transfer of important nutrients to the muscle, and ultimately aiding in growth and repair. Not to mention arginine supplementation gives a wicked pump if taken within 30 minutes prior to a workout. Arginine can be found on it's own but can also be found in many popular pre-workout and pump products.
Is a non-essential amino acid that has been found to be an effective supplement for increasing the levels of carnosine in the muscle. The primary function of intramuscular carnosine is to buffer hydrogen ions (H+), which get produced during high intensity exercise. Carnosine neutralizes or buffers acidic build-up in the muscles by locking up these hydrogen ions and thereby increasing time to fatigue allowing you to push longer and train harder. Add 1.6g of beta-alanine up to 4 times daily to increase muscle carnosine levels.
Is one of the most important branched chain amino acids for a bodybuilder because of its anabolic properties. In fact, leucine has been shown to have a direct effect on regulating protein synthesis by activating a major complex in the anabolic pathway called the mammalian target of rapamycin or mTOR. This pathway is sensitive to leucine concentrations. Low leucine concentrations signal to mTOR that there is not enough protein present in the body to synthesize new skeletal muscle protein and it is deactivated, while increasing leucine concentrations cause activation of mTOR, resulting in synthesis of new skeletal muscle protein. Protein synthesis can be restored at 2.5 - 5 g of leucine.
Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid, found in abundance in the human body. Glutamine has been shown to aid in recovery, reduce protein catabolism and increase protein metabolism. Its presence is found in the blood, gut and the skeletal muscles and is used as a main source of fuel for the immune system. Glutamine is considered by some as being conditionally essential, particularly in states of injury or compromised immune function. After training, injury to the muscle cells occurs, causing our immune systems to induce the recovery process to help repair tissue damage to muscles.
Supplementing with glutamine essentially reduces the amount of glutamine that is robbed from the muscles cells to fuel immune function. As a result, supplementation may help to reduce the amount of muscle deterioration that occurs during training, because the glutamine available in the muscle cells will be utilized for protein metabolism and reduction of protein catabolism. Research has shown that after intense work outs, glutamine levels in the body are reduced. If that was not reason enough to take glutamine, recent studies have also shown that supplementation with 2 g of glutamine can stimulate increases in growth hormone levels.
10. Green Tea
An extract of green tea has been found to significantly increase energy expenditure and have an effect of fat oxidation. This exact extract was found to increase overall energy expenditure by 35%! There are many supplements that contain green tea extract, but not many that contain the correct amount. Choose a product that contains a standardized amount of 90% polyphenols and 45% epigallocatechin gallate, also known as EGCG.