fitness in a flash

Shape Up: Pills, Powders And Potions

Derek Jameson-  89While nothing beats the nutritional properties of whole foods, vitamins and supplements can help take your health and fitness goals to the next level. It bears repeating though that they are used to supplement a healthy diet, not take the place of one. 

Here’s a basic overview of supplement use for the general gym rat. I suggest you dive further in on your own to review specific benefits, but for someone seeking a quick overview, this will cover your bases.

Multivitamins are essential to smoothing out the fitness speed bumps.  They can help break up the food we put into our bodies as efficiently as possible and provide what we may lack in our diet. The biggest tip here is to know your goal. Vitamin packs make it easier than purchasing a bunch of separate supplements.  These are your basic and most important supplements.

We’ve all heard that protein is most essential for muscle maintenance and building. Not only that, but your cells need protein to survive. Here is a recommended breakdown for elevated fitness results. Your body can only digest around 25-30 grams of protein at a time, so pay attention to the nutrition label.

Whey protein is a quick-acting protein that is most widely used after a workout. It’s a great idea to consume your post-workout shake immediately after your workout to reap the most benefits.  This is also a great supplement to take first thing in the morning, as your body is screaming for protein upon waking up. Another form of whey protein is whey isolate and it is used for quickest absorption. 

Casein protein is great for time-released benefits. Ideal for snacks throughout the day and before bed to maintain steady muscle growth, Casein can take five to seven hours to completely breakdown. 

Hydrolysate protein is one of the most expensive proteins you can buy.  It is the highest quality of protein and is used for the quickest absorption.  Hydrolysate is also easier on the digestive system. 

Soy protein is perfect for those vegans out there.  It comes with glutamine for faster recovery, arginine to dilate the blood vessels, and BCAA’s to aid in muscle energy and recovery.

Milk protein isolate has a combination of whey and casein protein, but is not the most effective protein when you are seeking efficient results. 

Egg protein is the old school method of protein intake.  Before there were powders, it was egg whites.  They are also a great source of amino acids. 

The following supplements are recommended, but not necessary for you to achieve results. 

BCAA’s, as mentioned before, are branch chain amino acids.  They are the building blocks of protein.  These can be taken intra- and post-workout to give your muscles that extra energy they need. 

Glutamine is an amino acid used in recovery.  You should take glutamine with our your post-workout shake, but these also come in pill/capsule forms.

Creatine helps in the energy production in cells. It also aids in strength and endurance during a workout. 

A pre-workout can be used to boost energy levels, aid in fat burning, deliver nutrients quickly, and give you a solid pump. These may come with stimulants, but can also be purchased without.  Some pre-workouts may contain creatine.

Fat burners can help maintain healthy body weight.  Many are thermogenic (produce heat) and contain caffeine. There are also non-stimulant fat burners such as CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) and L-Carnitine to metabolize fat. 

I hope that helps out the next time you find yourself in front of a bunch of pills, powders, and potions at the gym counter or supplement store.  Choose what’s best for you and don’t be afraid to ask the store staff for help.  With consistency, you will begin to see your results more and more each day. Good luck!

For more information or to book a class, visit

The Phoenix Effecta metabolic bootcamp that gets you in shape fast, is offered exclusively at 7264 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA.

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