Describing nutritional supplements is a complex topic, so this article will be more general, and in the future we can address each such supplement separately.
In the beginning, it’s better off without
First of all, I would like to point out that, as the name suggests, supplements are not intended to be understood as a replacement for food, but only to SUPPLEMENT it. Oftentimes, people are curious about what kind of protein supplement is best to take for gaining weight, or what kind of fat-burner in case they want to lose weight, and so on. It is important to realize that there is no need for any supplement for a beginner, I would really focus only on diet and training.
What I personally recommend, however, is taking the vitamins and minerals. This is especially important because in the very beginning (if you have not workout before) the body will be weakened for some time. It has to get used to higher energy expenditure and may become sick. Therefore, it is advisable at the beginning to strengthen the body with vitamins and minerals to improve immunity.
As for other supplements such as proteins, BCAAs, glutamine, various fatburners, creatine, pre-training supplements etc., I’d certainly wait for a few months for the body to adapt and tap into the dietary potential. You can gradually add protein (just after workout) and I recommend rather BCAA in women. Men later can add amino acids, of course, it is good to consult with an expert who has experience and knows what he is doing.
One fundamental thing to be aware of – it is good to calculate the protein intake personally. I do not want you to count it in full details, but we do not have to uselessly consume proteins, which the body is even unable to digest. I recommend 1.5 to 2 g per kg body weight and 1-1.2 for women. The body will not absorb any more, however.
So if we know that we’ve had already enough or even too much protein today, it is useless to add another protein beverage. Regarding the post-workout drink, in this case there’s no matter how much protein did you take today. Also, if you know that you haven’t managed to eat sufficient amount of protein meals during the day, it’s OK to drink your shake in the afternoon. I certainly prefer a classic diet, protein supplement only in emergency or special cases.
The protein drink is also good for taking the strain off regarding digestion. You do not have to eat so much meat which is burden for digestion. On the contrary, the protein will strain it off, as most of these products are already pre-digested or easily absorbable. As it was said before, this is not to be taken as a major protein supply indeed.
More advanced fitness adepts can slowly add creatine, tribulus and the like, of course, best after consulting a professional. We can write about it next time.