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Ultimate Guide to Gym Supplements

You’ve conquered your way around the gym and have found a routine that works for you, kudos. A combination of cardio, strength training and a great diet will undoubtedly mean that you see results but what if you start to plateau? Many opt for increasing both reps and weights – which will of course be beneficial, but there are also ways to enhance the muscle growth within the body by utilising supplements. By including these products within your diet and fitness routine will see you getting stronger, bigger and leaner. There is a lot of hype in the world of supplements, so with help from Nutrition and Supplement Advisor Matt Plowman we’ve rounded up some of the most popular ones that will provide you with a great foundation to build the body that you want, while being the fittest and healthiest version of yourself.

Whey Protein 

Milk contains two types of protein, whey and casein; whey makes up 20% of the protein in milk and the remaining 80% is casein. Whey protein is the most popular protein powder and the best-selling supplement for several reasons; it builds lean muscle, and is the fastest digested protein - with its amino acids being delivered to the muscles within 90 minutes of consumption. This means that it instigates muscle growth via protein synthesis quickly, important for workouts, when the muscles are primed and ready. Whey protein is abundant in BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids) and the peptides that are responsible for making the blood vessels relax, allowing more blood to flow to the muscles, delivering the critical amino acids. Research into the time that is most effective to take whey protein found that participants who consumed it both before and after working out for 10 weeks saw an increase of 80% in muscle mass and a 30% increase in muscle strength than those who consumed it at morning or night. 

When to take: 1 scoop upon waking, 1 scoop 30 mins before your workout and another within 30 minutes of working out.


It is reported that Creatine can increase your muscle mass by 10 lbs and strength by 10%. It’s a well-known fact that it works by pulling water into the muscles; the extra fluid stretches the membrane of the cells in the muscle, initiating protein synthesis and resulting in muscle growth. So yes, in the short term – Creatine increases water weight, but the long-term result is an increase in the growth of lean muscle. Creatine also serves as a quick source of energy for the muscles, fuelling muscle contractions that take place during a workout; having the energy source means that you can increase your reps and weight – also increasing muscle strength and size. 

When to take: It ultimately comes down to the type of Creatine that you are using. The dosage usually looks like 1-5 grams taken with whey protein both before and after workouts.


BCAA or Branch Chain Amino Acids include the three amino acids that are imperative for muscle growth; leucine, isoleucine and valine – and out of the three, its leucine that is so important when it comes to muscle growth. Leucine is responsible for switching on protein synthesis, increasing the potential for muscle growth. Leucine also spikes insulin, the hormone that is responsible for ensuring the amino acids reach the muscles. Another benefit of Leucine is that it slows down muscle protein breakdown, so taken first thing in the morning it puts your body in an anabolic state, stopping muscle breakdown after the fast during the night. All of the amino acids within BCAA supplements are used as fuel for the muscles during workouts, enabling you to train harder whilst experiencing less fatigue.  

When to take: 5 grams upon waking, 30 minutes before and within 30 minutes after working out.

Omega 3 

One of the most overlooked and underrated products out there. Derived from fish oil, Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that the body is unable to synthesise and we need to consume through food sources or supplements. Omega 3 has been found to help the body to burn fat for those who are in a calorie deficit; it helps with the process of beta-oxidation, whereby the body breaks down fatty acids to be used as an energy source. By supplementing your diet with Omega 3, you increase the body’s ability to synthesise its fat stores for energy. Omega 3 can be found in foods such as free range eggs, salmon, trout and grass fed beef, but the volume found in these foods isn’t effective and to reap the benefits you are best of taking a good quality supplement. 

When to take: 5g of Omega 3 daily.


Carnitine or L-Carnitine is an amino acid-like compound that the body makes using rue amino acids Lysine and Methionine. Carnitine works by transporting fat into the mitochondria of the cells in the body, in the simplest terms - it is here that the fat is broken down to be used as fuel. Supplementing Carnitine increases the amount of fat that is burned during a workout – enhancing body fat loss and boosting muscle endurance and glycogen stores are spared. It is also reported that Carnitine improves the body’s circulation, by increasing the production of nitric oxide. This relaxes the blood vessels, which widen, allowing more blood to flow through, delivering nutrients and oxygen to the muscles and improving recovery. It can be found in dairy products, red meat, nuts and green vegetables, but similar to Omega – not in the volume required to see results.  

When to take: To be taken with a protein shake - 2-3g upon waking, 30 mins prior to working out and within 30 mins afterwards.


The body is abundant in Glutamine, in fact over 60% of skeletal muscle is Glutamine. However, the body’s Glutamine stores are often depleted during exercise, decreasing stamina, strength and inhibiting muscle recovery. After an intense training session, glutamine levels can take up to 6 days to replenish, and as it plays an important role in protein synthesis, it’s important that stores are supplemented to prevent muscle breakdown and encourage muscle growth. Glutamine enables your body to secrete HGH (Human Growth Hormone), which aids the body in metabolizing fat and supports new muscle growth. The body’s white blood cells also use Glutamine and it contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system, meaning that it has the ability to help maintain a healthy body so you are less susceptible to illnesses.  

When to take: 15 g daily; 5g upon waking, 5g within 30 mins of working out and 5g 30 mins before bedtime.


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