I love creating content that you, my readers, subscribers and my clients, ask for. While many of you know that I’m not big on pushing supplements or big on taking them, some people can benefit from sports supplements.
If you’re like me, you eat a lot of vegetables, minimise red meat consumption and try and get your weekly serves of good fats from fish and plants then vitamin supplements aren’t likely to help you out.
However, add in a few hours of intense training each week, and you’re going to benefit from some sports supplements.
My sports supplement stack
First, I want to point out that I am not taking any commissions on sales or have any affiliations with the businesses that make or sell these products.
So, without more fuss, these are my favourite sports supplements in order of importance:
- Whey protein
- Super greens
- Plant-based protein
- Pasteurised egg whites
- Powdered peanut butter
You may have noticed I haven’t included BCAA’s or L-carnitine, which I will explain further down.
And, you may have noticed that four of the six sports supplements are protein or high protein.
Primarily, protein consumption plays a critical role in both strength and muscle building and is linked to achieving and maintaining lower body fat.
While protein recommendations vary from country to country and sport to sport (from anywhere between 1g and 5g of protein per kg of body weight), they all agree that protein is essential. Also, they all agree that your protein intake should be evenly divided across your meals.
The easy way to do this is to add it to love protein meals (like breakfast cereals) or have it as a drink with your meal.
I’m relatively active, I love feeling strong, and I prefer to eat most of my calories. However, my body responds well to around 1.8 – 2g protein per kg of body weight per day.
If I were to eat that in chicken breast alone, I’d be consuming upwards of 600g per day. While it’s not that much, it will add up to a lot of feathered lives and will include consuming saturated animal fats.
This is where sports supplements come in.
Sports supplements made easy
1. Whey protein
Whey protein is one of my favourite sports supplements and is the most widely taken around the world. It dissolves well, there’s plenty of flavours on the market, and it’s pretty easy to consume.
I always go for a naturally flavoured and sweetened option as artificials give me headaches.
While I used to be a fan of choosing WPI over a WPC, the extra benefits are moot in my current situation and will be for most of you.
WPI is a little more processed, a little cleaner, almost no carbs and fats and a little faster digesting for about 25% more money. The main benefit is for lactose intolerants as it’s virtually lactose-free.
However, if you’re someone that needs A2 milk, I’d be steering clear of whey proteins as your sensitivity is with protein.
Also, as it doesn’t contain extra calories from fats and carbs, it’s an excellent option for someone that needed to be on low calories for fat-loss.
For me, the benefits of WPI are lost, so I stick with WPC.
My favourite flavours right now are:
- Bulk Nutrients WPC Natural Salted Caramel
- Bulk Nutrients WPC Natural Raw
- Bulk Nutrients WPC Natural Chocolate
Yeah, no weird fake fruit flavours here, as I’d rather eat the natural fruit. On the other hand, having real chocolate and caramel is a LOT of empty calories that I’d prefer not to consume daily, so WPC it is.
When it comes to Raw, that’s their way of saying “unflavoured”. This stuff is perfect if you want to add some extra protein to anything (even savoury foods), without changing the flavour. Though, in most instances, I’ll choose a vegan protein if it’s going into a mix that will be cooked- I’ll explain why later.
Creatine facilitates energy recycling on a cellular level in the muscles and brain. The result is longer strength and mental endurance, hence why it’s one of the most widely used sports supplements.
Taking it in your sports supplements stack makes sense. It’s flavourless, only takes a few grams per day, so it is easy to consume, it is cheap and the body stores it- unlike vitamin supplements.
It’s also even more beneficial for vegetarians and vegans to take, as the primary natural source comes from animal meat, yet supplement production is animal product free.
My best brand (mostly because I buy it in the same order as my other sports supplements):
Note: While correct creatine dosing is considered very safe for the average population, there are some considerations to make when combining it with some medications and health conditions and isn’t recommended for under 18s.
3. Super greens
While I’m big on eating your vegetables, not drinking them, a powdered supplement made from green superfoods can help out when you’re feeling a bit ‘eh’.
They’re packed full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, are easy to store and easy to drink in plain water or added to smoothies and food.
While this might seem like a strange addition to the sports supplements list, vitamins and minerals are catalysts in every function in the body, including those to do with energy systems and recovery.
I don’t take these sports supplements daily, but I do add them from time to time to boost vegetable intake, particularly after having calorie-dense meals out.
My faves are:
My only warning is, don’t go overboard with dosing as the flavour isn’t fantastic.
4. Plant-based protein
So, considering I’m not vegan, you might ask why I bother using plant-based protein powders?
You do realise that the animals that humans eat for protein eat plants to get their protein.
Also, vegan proteins are very versatile sports supplements.
I use plant proteins mostly in cooking as they don’t dissolve as well as whey protein, and they don’t taste as good. But, they do have a much better texture when cooked in pancakes or brownies.
My best choices are:
Chocolate seems to be the best flavour to mask the plant-protein taste, but unflavoured is excellent for using when you don’t want a chocolate flavour or sweetness.
5. Pasteurised egg whites
Super convenient, safe and cheaper than buying whole eggs.
Excellent amino acid profile, no fat and a slow-digesting protein that makes you feel full for longer.
Their super-power is making your smoothies extra silky and fluffy.
While they don’t really fit into the sports supplements category, they are a fit-food that can be added to almost any recipe, savoury or sweet to boost the protein content.
I love to replace the whole eggs in my okonomiyaki recipe with pasteurised egg whites.
They’re also available at the supermarket:
For another alternative, keep an eye out for the 1litre bags of egg whites in the freezer aisle, usually next to the frozen berries.
6. Powdered peanut butter
OMG. The best. Still, not quite sports supplements, but are an amazingly low-fat low-processed super tasty natural source of protein.
Basically, imagine regular peanut butter. Now, take all of the oil out and put that in a bottle for someone else to use for cooking. What do you have left? Pure high protein peanut powder.
Perfect for combining with a scoop of 50:50 blend of salted caramel and chocolate protein stirred into cooked oats. It’s almost as unbelievable as having snickers for breakfast!
I’ve had different imported brands before, but most recently I ordered these Australian ones:
BCAA’s & L-carnitine
When it comes to BCAA’s, they’re meant to assist in muscle recovery and protect muscle breakdown during intense exercise. However, researchers can’t seem to agree on whether or not they’re very beneficial.
For me, they don’t make it into my sports supplements stack for a few reasons:
- They don’t taste great and have to be flavoured.
- I’ve had versions that dissolved well, and others that were granular but have never found one that didn’t cause me nausea.
- They’re expensive.
The time I would take BCAA’s is during long-distance Spartan Race. Usually, I make a 1/2 strength mix of BCAA’s and Gatorade for my hydration pack. The weak dilution and the addition of sugars from the Gatorade tend to keep nausea at bay.
It’s possibly just the Gatorade or a placebo, but this mix feels like it fuels the body during the multiple hours of pushing the body to the max.
L-carnitine was in my stack a couple of years ago, recommended by another personal trainer. However, researchers have found that for supplemented L-carnitine to be utilised by the body, it needs to be consumed with a considerable portion of carbs.
For me, that kind of cancels the reason I might take it in the first place.
So, that wraps up my sports supplements stack! And who am I? I’m your Personal Trainer, a lifter, runner and a Spartan Race competitor.