What are the best supplements for weight loss and muscle gain? While supplement marketing companies might contend otherwise, I think there are only a few supplements that work. Even then, you should consider whether the cost/benefit is really worthwhile. Personally, I don’t think supplements are an integral part of any diet and exercise program. However, they may help you accelerate results. Just remember, the dirty little secret of supplements for weight loss and muscle gain is that you actually need to diet and exercise for them to be effective. That being said, in my opinion, what follows are some of the best supplements for weight loss and muscle gain.
Supplements that Work for Men and Women
If you’re looking for a magic diet pill, you’ve come to the wrong place…and you’re probably embarking on a wild goose chase. Check out this free report about what’s really lurking behind all that supplement company marketing: What They Never Want You To Know About Diet Pills. If diet pills aren’t the answer, then what are the best supplements for weight loss and muscle gain? The below supplements for men and women have been fairly well researched and their effects, both positive and negative, are well documented. Generally speaking, if you don’t know what you’re putting into your body, then don’t put it into your body.
Best Supplements for Weight Loss
Caffeine: I recently started taking caffeine before my morning workouts. I was a little nervous because I am not a coffee drinker and feel like too many people are dependent on caffeine. Research has shown that caffeine may help with fat loss by releasing fatty acids into your bloodstream. In this respect, pure caffeine is better than coffee. Caffeine may also stimulate your central nervous system allowing for stronger muscle contractions. For more information on caffeine, check out this article on How Caffeine Affects Fat Loss, Exercise Performance, and Health.
Capsaicin (Hot Pepper / Cayenne): I’ll be honest; I am not a huge fan of spicy foods. Adding hot peppers to my diet had no appeal so this was an area where I felt like pill supplementation was necessary. How does capsaicin help? In short, research has shown that it may speed up your metabolism, shrink fat cells, and lower food intake. If you’re interested, you can read more about How to Lose Weight Fast with Capsaicin.
Cinnamon: can something that tastes so good really be one of the best supplements for weight loss? Yes it can! There are numerous Health Benefits of Cinnamon including weight loss. Essentially, cinnamon may result in better insulin control and less fat storage. For me, it also controls food cravings since it leaves a nice taste in my mouth. I like adding ½ a teaspoon to a protein shake.
Green Tea: I’ve never really been a fan of tea, but the epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) compound has been shown to have weight loss benefits. EGCG may result in an increased metabolism and reduced fat development as discussed in this article about EGCG and Weight Loss.
PAGG Stack: Touted as a replacement for the highly risky ECA stack (ephedrine, caffeine, aspirin) by Tim Ferriss of the 4 Hour Body, PAGG includes Policosanol, Alpha Liptic Acid (ALA), garlic extract, and green tea extract (EGCG, decaffeinated). Policosanol is generally used to improve cholesterol but Tim found it effective for fat loss by taking it at bed time. ALA is included for better carbohydrate absorption by storing them as muscle rather than fat. Garlic supposedly improves cholesterol, blood pressure and fat storage. Green tea is included for the metabolism boosting effects noted above. Overall, I’d rank this low on the list of best supplements for weight loss. It’s very expensive for what I think is a minor benefit. That being said, you can strategically use this for a couple months at a time to potentially accelerate fat loss and improve your overall health.
Protein: this is a macronutrient, not a supplement, but some people don’t get an adequate amount in their diet and may benefit from protein shakes. Can protein help you lose weight though? As you can read in this article about the Top 4 Reasons You Need Protein, the weight loss benefit may be the result of satiety, increased metabolic rate, muscle preservation, and using sugars for energy rather than storing them as fat.
Best Supplements for Muscle Gain
Creatine: I’ve written about creatine before and you can read why I think it is the Best Muscle Building Supplement. It’s one of the better researched supplements with proven beneficial effects.
BCAAs: while I don’t go so far as to believe claims that branched chain amino acids build excess muscle mass, I find that they are ideal for someone who performs fasted training. Here is a good article on BCAAs and Dieting. Additionally, if you’re looking for a great approach to fasted training utilizing BCAAs to optimize fat loss while preserving muscle mass, check out Leangains.
Protein: yes, protein makes the list of best supplements for weight loss and best supplements for muscle gain. Again, this is a macronutrient that is pretty much required if you want to build muscle. It not only helps to reduce muscle breakdown during exercise, but promotes the growth of new muscle after exercise. You can read more about the use of protein in this article about Training Performance and Recovery.
Best Supplements for Health
Multi-Vitamin: even if you maintain a healthy diet, a multi-vitamin may provide some added benefits to ensure that you are receiving essential nutrients. I think this is a key component to any diet and exercise program. If you’re keeping calories low, there’s a chance you may be sacrificing vitamins and minerals. Those are exactly what your body needs to benefit from an intense exercise program.
Essential Fatty Acids: I don’t know about you, but I don’t get enough Omega 3 fats mainly due to the lack of fish in my diet. Omega 3 fatty acids may be helpful in reducing inflammation, joint pain reduction, and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol while decreasing LDL (bad) cholesterol. A lot of people turn to fish oil as an Omega 3 supplement. I prefer krill oil since it has more antioxidants and better absorption than regular fish oil. Most important to me, krill oil does not result in a fishy aftertaste or fish burps. Some studies have shown that krill oil may also aid weight loss, especially if taken before bed at night. However, the dosage needs to be fairly high and is more of a short-term effect.
Best Supplements for Weight Loss and Muscle Gain
In closing, I think the best supplements for weight loss include caffeine, capsaicin, cinnamon, and green tea. I take 3 capsules of Prograde Metabolism (which contains all these and more) about 30 minutes before my morning workouts (4 days per week). I have also been using PAGG for the last 2 months and will probably use it for another 2 months before stopping due to the price. The best supplements for muscle gain include creatine and BCAAs. I only use creatine strategically for 2-3 months at a time on and off throughout the year. For BCAAs, I drink Xtend before and after my workouts. Protein is one of the best supplements for both weight loss and muscle gain, and I’ll occasionally indulge in shakes. Finally, for health reasons, I’ve been taking a multi-vitamin and krill oil.
In my opinion, even though these are the supplements that work for men and women, there’s no reason you can’t achieve great results without them. Whether or not you take the best supplements for weight loss and muscle gain, make sure to undertake a healthy diet and intense exercise program.
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