If you are a frequent visitor to the local supplement shop, I’m sure you don’t need to be told what an expensive trip it can be! I’ve been there and done it for many years. I thought if I added some ‘magic formula’ to release growth hormone at night, or if I drank some next generation muscle sparing amino acid complex, it would add a major boost to my physical progress and performance in the gym. The fact is that the impact on your wallet is far greater than the impact it’s having on your physique if the basics of training and eating aren’t put into place first.
The first step to putting on size or burning off body fat is calories in vs. calories out (what you eat and what you burn off through training and daily activity). I’m not talking about counting macros (proteins, carbs or fats) just yet, I’m talking about total calories per day only. This is the starting point we need to grasp before we move onto anything else.
I don’t care what you have been told. Until you have your calories down pat and sorted, you need to ease up on thinking supplements hold the golden key to your progress and development in the gym. You will not, I repeat will not lose body fat unless you are in a deficit (catabolic state) and you will not put on any muscle tissue without being in a surplus (an anabolic state). Please be aware the point of this article is not to take potshots at the supplement industry and I am definitely not claiming all supplements to be rubbish. Many supplements are rubbish, but some can be beneficial depending on the person taking them. Supplements do have a place somewhere in the mix of it all, but the message to take home here is not to depend on them solely to give you the body of your dreams.
The bottom line is that to hit your caloric requirements per day for a gross net amount of calories at the end of the week, the amount you need will be individually goal dependant and should be based on your current caloric intake. If you are not getting a surplus of calories (more than the body requires) including an adequate protein intake to regenerate broken down muscle tissue, you will not grow, full stop. On the other hand, if you are trying to drop weight or lean down but find nothing is changing, you are consuming too many calories in ratio to the output (exercise) you are doing for your current state and current situation.
I have found protein powder to be beneficial and convenient as a backup to help fill the void when you are trying to hit the right amount of calories. Perhaps you cannot get enough of, or stomach a lot of solid food, or perhaps you are a bit disorganised that day for whatever reason. At these times, protein powder can definitely help. As far as having a shake straight away after training? Well again, it is going to have very little impact on you if we are not consuming enough calories overall.
So please hold off on draining your key card any further and put your focus on knowing your appropriate calorie intake per day and trying to hit this target by eating solid foods. Once you have that basic baseline structured, and you start to see some results, then you can look into more advanced methods of dieting and supplementation if they are even needed! Solid food trumps supplements any day of the week.