Although virtually everyone can benefit from vitamin and nutrient supplementation, this is perhaps particularly true of the busy college student. As you will know, supplements are often needed help plug the holes in the average, characteristically-poor Western diet; many studies show that we simply do not obtain enough nutrients in our modern diets.
It is common knowledge that you need macronutrients such as protein, fats and carbohydrates; along with micronutrients such as minerals and vitamins to keep your body working at optimum efficiency every single day. But if you’re a college student, the last thing you may worry about is getting in these essential nutrients because your schedule is already filled with issues concerning your school tuition, maintaining your performance in your various classes, and having enough money for the expensive college text that you need for said classes.
With this in mind, your best bet is to stick with the comprehensive basics when it comes to your diet. After all, your body is a vehicle to carry your brain; how can you expect to perform your best in classes and the other aspects of college life if your body is malnourished? Additionally, life proceeds during college and continues afterwards; you cannot expect to suspend exercise and a proper diet until you’ve completed school. Supplements can be a great way to bridge the gap between your reduced training schedule and basic diet by helping you fulfill your macronutrient targets every day. They will also flood your muscles with the nutrients required to optimize your post workout recovery.
The following article will focus on the curated essentials that can lead to fat loss and better muscle gains and recovery even during one of the busier periods of your life. Make sure your dorm room is stocked with the following.
Essential Supplements for a Strong Foundation
Although all of your macronutrients are important (carbohydrates, fats, fiber etc.), the consumption of protein is especially crucial in helping you maintain any fitness regimen and reach the fitness goals you set for yourself. Why do we prioritize protein? It’s simple: protein is the macronutrient that is directly responsible for protein synthesis. When we say protein synthesis, this doesn’t mean that protein only helps you to build muscle – it also helps you to repair muscle during your post workout recovery. In fact, both building muscle and repairing muscle are precisely the same thing. When you’re working out, lifting heavy weights causes micro tears in your muscles; in the post workout. Protein synthesis helps to repair these muscles back stronger than they were previously.
It’s also a well-known fact that protein is important for healthy fat loss. The way this works is that the body uses considerably more energy to digest protein; this energy comes from burning fat and carbohydrates. Protein is also felt in a dietary sense; the more you eat to replace carbs, then the fewer calories you consume even while more calories are being burned to digest this protein.
For most people, their protein derives from whole foods such as cottage cheese, other dairy products, chicken, steak, freshwater fish and eggs. But as a college student, you’ll quickly realize that you don’t have time to cook very often. The studies actually show that consuming whole food protein is relatively uncommon with college students. As a result, adding a whey protein shake (at least one, but up to two can be very beneficial) to your diet can work wonders – especially for consistent gym-goers. Since most protein powders have similar amounts of protein, you can expect to get an extra 25 to 50 g of protein per day from a whey protein shake.
Main Takeaway: As a macronutrient, protein is undoubtedly a foundational supplement that helps both women and men reach and maintain their fitness goals.
Although whey protein is generally regarded as the standard when it comes to fast-acting, well-absorbed protein; casein protein is another option that should be used in conjunction with whey protein to really supercharge muscle building and recovery programs.
As a college student, you may find it difficult to hit your protein targets even with a whey protein shake – usually, you may not be getting in your 3-4 square meals per day due to school, work, and college activities. The beautiful thing about casein is that this protein digests much more slowly than whey protein; therefore, it can steadily continue your muscle-building and muscle repair activities even as you sleep. Just make sure to take a shake of 15-25 g of casein protein right before bed, or alternatively a casein pudding sold in nutrition stores. You can also simply make the latter using casein protein powder and milk with other ingredients for taste.
Lastly, casein protein is very helpful for people trying to lose the fat without suffering from late-night hunger pains. It’s a feeling type of protein, and will help you in your muscle building endeavors – particularly when taken right before bed.
Main Takeaway: Casein protein makes a great late-night shake or snack that promotes muscle building and muscle repair even while you sleep. It can work as a full-spectrum protein when taken in conjunction with whey protein.
Although protein can sometimes be prioritized, it’s important to remember that the other macronutrients and micronutrients are also very important for full body function. Indeed, you cannot expect to optimize your wellness and overall health if you’re not getting your daily recommended values of essential fatty acids and fish oil – both of which are available readily from supplements. Indeed, the fatty acids are delineated as essential fatty acids because they must be obtained from outside sources and the body can’t produce them. For college students in particular, one of the sources should be supplements that can be easily imbibed.
Fish oil is mentioned here because it contains the very important spectrum of omega-3 fatty acids. These have long been known to support the healthy functioning of your immune system – which is obviously particularly important during these pandemic years – and even to help you lose weight via the loss of fat. Studies have shown definitively that the essential omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil support vision health, brain function, heart function and they lubricate your joints and reduce trauma and inflammation.
Main Takeaway: Fish oils contain omega-3 fatty acids; the latter are known conclusively to benefit your body in a multitude of ways.
We’ve all seen the capsules of multivitamins from numerous companies on store shelves; there’s a reason for this – it’s a very competitive industry because nearly everyone uses multivitamins to supplement their daily diets. Not only are they good for the average person, multivitamins can elevate the levels of energy you need to perform at your best in the gym.
Just as good, many multivitamins are geared towards post workout muscle recovery. This shouldn’t be surprising, because people who train hard in the gym or play hard out in the field require a greater amount of nutrients from the diet. This fact is independent of whether or not you are a muscle-building bodybuilder, or a serious athlete looking to lose or maintain her weight. It’s important to note that you require more nutrients and vitamins when you’re gaining muscle than when you’re losing weight.
Although you can take a multivitamin anytime you want, it’s usually best to take one first thing in the morning with breakfast. That way your body can make full use of the vitamins to help you through the day. Some multivitamins can be taken with all three of your meals – just make sure to check the container for information on the recommended daily serving.
Main Takeaway: Multivitamins are very important supplements from which anyone can benefit. They can help with both daily activities and exercise performance by plugging in your micronutrient nutritional shortages.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
These can be safely advertised as performance boosters because they are essential amino acids which are produced by your body naturally (by definition). As a result, any amount that you imbibe from outside sources is a bonus that becomes especially useful for exercise enthusiasts and weightlifters. The three primary essential amino acids that comprise BCAAs are valine, leucine and isoleucine. The so-called perfect ratio championed by bodybuilders is 2:1:1 for the delivery of leucine to the muscles. This is what causes them to really grow.
If you’re getting your BCAAs from a pre-workout powder or supplement, then look for one that has the branched chain amino acids blended in with electrolytes and/or other ingredients that’s known for enhancing post workout recovery. Such combinations are favored by bodybuilders prior to a workout, during your workout and afterwards.
Main Takeaway: BCAAs are excellent for the promotion of muscle growth, post-workout recovery and overall athletic performance.
Pre Workout Powder Or Pre Workout Supplements
Whether you lift weights occasionally or consistently, pre-workouts can be of tremendous benefit to you. You can find compile relations of the best ones from reputable companies from online articles; as a start, make sure they’ve got ingredients such as the stimulant caffeine, nitric oxide, creatine and beta alanine. The above ingredients – and more of course – have been scientifically proven and backed by medical research to increase your energy and optimize your gym performance. If you workout late at night, you can even find some pre-workouts that do not contain stimulants that might keep you awake long into the night hours.
The consensus is clear: pre-workout powders in pre-workout supplements can provide you with that vaunted “pump” feeling that really get your muscles primed and ready to move some heavyweight. The nitric oxide, in particular, will dilate your blood vessels and help move nutrients to crucial sites for improved activity.
Main Takeaway: Pre-workouts, simply put, fuel your gym sessions to the max. You can expect to receive enhanced endurance and power output from them.
This is considered by some bodybuilders and weightlifters to be the chief ingredient. Although we consider all of them to be important for a complete macronutrient and micronutrient profile, we certainly understand why they would think so. Your body produces creatine naturally in the cells of your muscles, and there’s little doubt that no other single non-anabolic steroid can provide you with greater strength and power output improvements. You can very much expect to see dramatically increased strength and muscle size if you add creatine to a sufficient exercise and diet regimen.
The science shows us that 3-5 g per day of creatine steadily will have you reaping the rewards. Just keep in mind that it has to be a committed program of consumption: make sure you take creatine every day for weeks at the time if you really want to see what everyone’s raving about. After several months, there’s no doubt that you’ll be sold on its benefits.
Main Takeaway: Creatine is known to help build lean muscle mass, promotes post workout recovery, and helps with serious gains in strength. It is natural and organic, and has more medical research backing most other ingredients.
Supplement Guide for College Students
- Bulk Buying: Because some of the ingredients, such as creatine, take weeks and months to truly shine, you need a lot of them. More importantly, if you buy 5 pounds of casein protein or whey protein, then the price will be considerably less expensive than if you buy those 2 pound containers. Always buy bulk when you can.
- Purchase When on Sale: Don’t hesitate to buy many more supplements than you plan to use in the next few weeks or months; after all, the vast majority of supplements have a very long shelf life. By buying them on sale, you do not compromise your fitness goals; furthermore, you will avoid the later expense.
- Don’t Substitute Supplements for the Work: All this means is supplements by themselves won’t help you reach your fitness goals. You must maintain a consistent and healthy workout schedule. Most supplements are primarily good for post workout recovery anyway. Make sure your nutrition is up to par, and getting the gym or out in the field and do the work.
- Monitor Your Servings: The daily recommended dosage is always a good guideline; however, if you see yourself running short on supplements and there aren’t any sales on the horizon – feel free to split your servings to stretch your supply. You’re a college student, after all, and there probably isn’t another time in your life when you have is little money as you do now.