When it comes to training, one of the overlooked parts is often nutrition. Specifically, taking the right supplements.
With all the brands and new “science” when it comes to supplements, there is just too much information available that it causes confusion.
That’s why we decided to provide you a list of the best supplements to take when you’re just starting out.
One of the most popular supplements to take when you’re training is protein. Depending on your goals, protein powders can fill nutritional gaps, act as part of a daily health menu, or boost performance and muscle growth.
Proteins are made up of 20 amino acids, 11 of which can be produced by the human body. The other 9 that require external sources are called “essential” amino acids. When it comes to muscle growth, the right amount of amino acids are critical.
There are many types of protein powders available, but these are some of popular ones:
Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC)
This is the cheapest and most mass produced form of protein powder. It’s made up of up to 80% protein per gram and also contains fat and carbs.
“Overall, the results of this study demonstrate that consuming quality sources of protein from meat or whey protein concentrate lead to significant benefits in body composition compared with control.” 
Because they’re not filtered for purity, whey protein concentrate slowly releases amino acids, making them ideal for sustained muscle recovery. However, not being filtered means it can also cause bloating as well as not bode well for those who are lactose intolerant.
Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)
Whey protein isolate is the upgraded version of whey protein concentrate. For whey protein to be declared an isolate, it must have upwards of 90% to 95% protein content per gram. Unlike whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate is all but removed of its fat and carb content. It’s also better for those with lactose intolerance. This makes it a superior form of whey protein over concentrate when it comes to muscle performance.
“The major finding of this investigation was that whey protein isolate supplementation attenuated the impairment in isometric and isokinetic muscle forces during recovery from exercise-induced muscle injury.” 
Because of its purity, whey protein isolate is rapidly absorbed, making it the best protein to take for immediate muscle recovery or just before you start training for better performance. However, the added filtration also makes it much more expensive than its concentrate counterpart.
Pea protein is popular for vegetarians or those who have trouble taking protein from dairy sources such as whey protein. While whey is derived from milk, pea protein is quite literally made from legumes and split-peas. While pea protein does have benefits when it comes to dairy food sensitivity, it lacks methionine, one of the nine essential amino acids.
“To summarise, our data suggest that whey and pea proteins promote similar strength, performance, body composition, and muscular adaptations.” 
Creatine is perhaps just as popular as protein powder when it comes to supplementation. Because of it’s ability to contribute to muscle protein synthesis and enhance recovery, many take it as a post-workout supplement. However, studies have shown that it can also improve lifting performance when taken daily and as a pre workout. 
When we exercise, muscles use up glycogen as fuel. When we deplete our glycogen stores, our muscles don’t perform as well as they should. Since glycogen is produced from carbs, it’s only natural to ingest carbs as part of a training diet. However, not all carbs are created equal and others do more harm than good like sugars.
A good example of a carb supplement is maltodextrin which is rapidly absorbed in the gut. This allows for a rapid source of muscle fuel which is ideal for muscle growth and performance.
Branched Chain Amino Acids or BCAAs are a chain of three amino acids: leucine, valine, and isoleucine. These three amino acids are critical when it comes to ATP production, a process involved in energy metabolism which supports physical performance.
While most if not all protein powders contain leucine, valine, and isoleucine, not all of them have them chained as BCAAs. The chain is important as this form allows the body to directly use it for energy production with maximum efficiency.
BCAAs also make up to 18% of our muscles, so supplementing both protein and BCAAs separately makes sense. 
Experts say at least 70% of the world’s population is deficient in magnesium. This is worrying considering magnesium plays a huge role in cardiovascular function, immunity, sleep, and brain power. In training, magnesium is critical for ATP production and muscle growth.
Nitric oxide is produced by the body mainly to keep the blood flowing and circulating inside the body. If you’re deficient in nitric oxide, your heart will have a hard time pumping blood. If the heart has difficulty pumping blood, it can get overworked and it can lead to a heart attack.
In the context of training, nitric oxide is also used to efficiently deliver nutrients – nutrients found in blood – to where they need to be, especially our muscles. Supplements that enhance nitric oxide production and movement are called vasodilators – because they dilate the blood vessels which then allow more blood to flow.
The best vasodilators include Citrulline Malate, Agmatine Sulfate, Taurine, and Betaine.
“Increasing numbers of studies now suggest that pharmaceutical/nutraceutical grade l-citrulline and watermelon extract supplementation can increase the bioavailability of l-arginine and subsequently lead to elevations in NO synthesis.” 
Beta alanine is considered a staple ingredient in pre workouts because its primary benefit is to delay fatigue. It does this by mass producing carnosine, a compound that acts as a buffer against blood lactate. Blood lactate is an acid that the body secretes as a means of limiting muscle exertion and movement. If you take beta alanine, it will greatly suppress your need to take a long breather or frequent rests, allowing for more reps and sets.
“Beta alanine supplementation is a relatively recent and growing area of research. It carries potential beneficial effects with high-intensity exercise including anaerobic sprints and resistance training. There is also potential for additive effects of Beta alanine and creatine, along with other supplements, to further enhance the possible ergogenic effects.”
However, it does have one peculiar side effect and it’s called paresthesia. Paresthesia is a condition where beta alanine molecules are “grazing” nerve endings due to their large size, causing you to feel itchy.
Of course, this itchy sensation is temporary and even thought to be a sign that the supplement is working.
You don’t want to get distracted by anything when training. More importantly, you want to stay focused on simply lifting or doing what it is you do and nothing else. This is where focus enhancing supplements come in.
Just like their name suggests, focus enhancers boost focus when training. This allows users to be more productive inside the gym. Popular focus enhancers include N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, CDP choline, Hordenine, Theacrine and Dynamine.
Adaptogens are herbs that can suppress stress. Training is stressful and it can mentally drain you. Being mentally defeated is worse than being tired because your will to train has been decimated. Taking anti-stress herbs like Ashwagandha, Theanine, and Rhodiola can therefore act as stress-fighting supplements.
B vitamins are among the most depleted vitamins during and after training. This is because our muscles use them for performance as well as function during exercise. Being deficient in B vitamins can have a bad effect on overall performance as well as energy metabolism.
The best B vitamins are B12 (cobalamin), B6 (niacin), and B9 (folic acid) as these three B vitamins are part of biochemical processes involved in muscle function and growth. 
Being the new guy in the gym can feel awkward and often embarrassing. You’re not a familiar face, you feel everyone stares at you in a weird yet somehow ostracising way, and you’re afraid to start doing something in fear of being told that you’re doing it wrong or that you’re using someone’s “lifting time.”
However, just because you’re new to this whole “gym” thing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be as educated and informed as someone who’s been training for decades. The best part? The best supplements to take as a newbie and a veteran in the gym will always revolve around the basics.
Protein, creatine, caffeine, citrulline malate, B vitamins, and minerals are all considered supplement staples. Not only do they help with performance, but also with general health and wellness, muscle growth, recovery, and even mood.
Whether it’s your first time inside the gym or the 1000th, any one or all of these supplements should be in your grocery list.