Best Workout Supplements for Beginners

A beginner's guide to the most popular workout supplements so you can decide which ones are the best for you!

Best Workout Supplements for Beginners
11 min. read 2/1/2022, 6:15 PM

There is an infinite amount of different workout supplements in the fitness space right now. For someone new to training, or even advanced gym-goers and lifters, it can get pretty confusing trying to figure out which ones you should take with there being so many different kinds and types of supplements!

Here's our first piece of advice, you don't need every single type of supplement in your pantry. Nor should you rely on them and expect them to instantly maximize muscle gain, strength, or fat loss. Supplementation is a decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. Choosing the right workout supplements should be based on your needs, meaning finding the ones that fit your fitness goals, lifestyle, and dietary needs.

Before deciding on taking any supplements, look at the facts! Learn about the different workout supplements and how they work to figure out if they're the right fit for you. We'll help you get started finding the perfect supplements for you by breaking down the most popular and best supplements for any fitness goal! It's the ultimate beginner's guide to supplements will have everything you need to know about these popular workout supplements and whether they're worth investing in!

Protein powder

If you have any muscle-building or even fat loss goals, protein powder is a must! Whey protein powder is by far the most popular supplement for increasing one's protein intake in an effort to maximize muscle growth. The source of raw materials for this protein is cow milk, purified from water, fat, and various impurities - that's why it is called whey protein isolate. Other types of protein powder include whey concentrate, casein protein, soy, pea, brown rice, and more. So, there are various options for people that are lactose intolerant, vegetarian, or vegan.

Protein serves as an ideal supplement because it can be used for various reasons. You can simply use it to increase your protein intake to reach your goals to build muscle. Remember for muscle growth to occur, it is necessary to increase protein intake (up to two grams per kilogram of body weight per day and sometimes even more). Protein powders, specifically ones derived from dairy like whey protein isolate, are considered complete proteins. This means they contain all the essential amino acids for better muscle recovery and therefore better muscle gain.

Do you need it?

Technically you don't need it because you can get all the same nutrients (and more) from high-quality protein sources, like red meat, poultry, and seafood. However, we do highly recommend getting a protein supplement because it will help you reach your protein intake and effectively build muscle. And let's be honest, it can be hard relying solely on whole foods to eat 100-200 grams of protein! But let's see what the research shows...

One particular study compared two groups, one that added extra carbohydrates into their diet, and another that took a protein powder supplement. The group that took the protein powder experienced slightly more muscle gain.[1] There are other similar studies with similar results, but there are some that show those who are already eating a high-protein diet see a less significant change in their results. So, it really depends on how much protein you're already eating.

If your fitness goals are to build muscle and lose fat then consider supplementing with protein powder when it's needed! Those who follow a vegan or dairy-free diet should also consider a vegan protein powder in their diet since it's harder to increase protein intake.

Not sure how much protein you need to eat to hit your goals?

Calculate your macros! Calculating your macros based on your activity level, goals, and other important factors is the best way to get an estimate of how much protein you should be consuming. Then actually track your macros to see when you might need to get a little help from your handy protein powder!

When to take it

The most important time for drinking protein powder is a period of 30-60 minutes before weight training - this will provide additional nutrition for the muscles. A portion of protein mixed with water is recommended. You can also drink it post-workout, in this case, use it to create a protein shake to add some carbs for better recovery! In addition, you can take the protein as in the morning immediately after waking up, and between meals of the main food - this minimizes catabolic processes in the muscles and reduces the feeling of hunger.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

BCAA (branched-chain amino acids) is a conditional combination of three of the nine essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAA supplements are becoming increasingly popular among gym-goers because they are essential for the health and growth of the muscles.

Leucine is the crucial amino acid for muscle growth because it turns on muscle-protein synthesis in muscle cells. It also decreases muscle catabolism, the breaking down of muscle. Another reason lifters love BCAAs is because they make for a great fuel source when your carbohydrate stores are low. Taking it before or during high-intensity training can help preserve glycogen stores, reduce muscle fatigue, and provide a reliable steady source of energy!

Do you need it?

Like protein powder, you can easily get BCAA's from natural food sources, but timing BCAA consumption around your workouts will help give you the muscle recovery and growth benefits it claims to have... But before you decide, let's see if those claims are true...

The research on the benefits of BCAA powder is mixed, and there aren't many, so keep that in mind. Some research shows that BCAA supplementation paired with resistance training and a calorie-restricted diet helped improve muscle gain, reduce muscle mass, and overall maintain lean body mass.[2] On the other hand, some research has shown the opposite, that BCAAs did not produce significant muscle gain when taken after training.[3]

Don't rule out BCAAs effectiveness completely! If caffeinated pre-workout supplements aren't your thing, and you prefer a natural boost of energy, try BCAAs. The use of amino acids BCAA stimulates muscle growth, aids with muscle soreness, and normalizes fat metabolism processes to accelerate fat burn and improve metabolism. It's also good to have for those who are in a calorie deficit and want to minimize muscle loss!

When to take it

You can take them whenever, it really depends on what you're using them for! BCAAs are ideal to take after waking up to stop muscle breakdown and put your body in an anabolic state, or if you take protein powder in the morning, then there's no need. The absolute best time to take BCAAs to reap their benefits is to take them pre-workout for those who need an energy boost and want to reduce muscle fatigue. Those who want to improve muscle recovery, and aren't taking a protein powder, can take a scoop of BCAA's post-workout!


Pre-workout supplements contain ingredients that are intended to enhance performance levels by increasing energy and focus. It has ingredients such as caffeine (there are caffeine-free options), beta-alanine, creatine, amino acids, and L-citrulline to name a few. Each pre-workout formula blend is unique to the supplement company, but they're all designed to boost energy levels, improve focus, and enhance athletic performance.

Do you need it?

Pre-workout supplements are not necessarily needed. You can get a good supply of energy from coffee or a post-workout snack, but pre-workout does have a few extra ingredients that will help make your training more effective. They also can increase your performance which helps you get results. We recommend it when you feel like you can use a boost of energy, but be wary about the pre-workout supplement you get...

Several pre-workout brands use what's called a proprietary blend. If you come across a pre-workout that has a proprietary blend, just turn around and never look back. These blends mean that the company hasn't disclosed the amount of each ingredient. And in order for a pre-workout blend to be effective, there have to be optimal doses of each ingredient!

So, if you're looking for a good pre-workout, look for one that isn't a proprietary blend and has optimal doses of effective ingredients like beta-alanine, citrulline, and more!

When to take it

To make sure the active ingredients reach peak levels in your bloodstream, take your pre-workout supplement 30-60 minutes beforehand.

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is a natural element of nutrition, synthesized by the body under normal conditions, even from ordinary food. It is found in muscle cells and helps produce energy faster. Since creatine is stored in the muscles, it needs animal meat to replenish it. It cannot be found in plants or other sources. The main function of this supplement is that during a period of stress or physical exertion it provides the body with the needed energy to lift heavier and train harder.

The side effect of creatine is the increase in water weight inside the muscles. This actually results in long-term muscle growth because the fluid places a stretch on the membrane of muscle cells to signal an increase in muscle protein synthesis.

Do you need it?

Creatine is one of the most heavily researched supplements. Some studies show that it helps increase muscle mass, others found that it had no effect on certain subjects. But overall, the consensus is that creatine is a great supplement for anyone with muscle-building and strength-building goals.

Just remember, that the effects will depend on your body, and also your diet. But if your main goal is to build strength and muscle then try creatine for a few weeks. If there are no noticeable effects on your energy or muscles then maybe this isn't the supplement for you.

Your body already produces 1-2 grams of creatine a day, if you want to increase this to 5 grams using natural sources then increase your meat and/or fish intake.

When to take it

Take creatine supplements before the gym to increase energy, but only take around 2-5 grams per day.

Fish oil

Fish oils are a dietary supplement, but they definitely benefit anyone who is extremely active! Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Aside from heart-healthy benefits, these fatty acids have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Heavy weight lifting essentially damages the muscle tissue and fibers leading to inflammation. Research shows that taking a fish oil supplement can help reduce muscle soreness thus speeding up muscle recovery.[4]

Do you need it?

Honestly, this is definitely a supplement you need. Omega-3 fatty acids have an array of health benefits outside of helping enhance recovery. And the research backs its anti-inflammatory benefits, so this one is definitely worth giving a shot!

In fact, one particular study found that when combined with BCAA's and carbs, omega-3 can increase protein synthesis which leads to better muscle growth![5]

When to take it

If you're using it for post-workout recovery, take it after your workout along with other supplements like BCAAs! However, you can take a fish oil supplement at any time of day.

Fat Burners

Fat burners are a popular supplement because it is advertised as a 'magic pill' that promises quick weight loss and fat loss effects. People tend to believe these advertisements because everyone wants to get rid of fat fast.

However, those who have basic knowledge of sports nutrition understand that practically all additives called thermogenic are not able to burn fat, since their main ingredient is just ordinary caffeine. Among other things, whatever advertising claims, the fat burner itself is not able to "burn fat" - its use separately from training is absolutely inefficient.

Do you need it?

NO! In our opinion, there is no need for fat burners. If you want to lose body fat, simply track your macros, stay in a calorie deficit, and do a mix of cardio and weightlifting.

When to take it

They are usually taken in the morning and/or before a workout to provide you with energy and boost your metabolic rate.

These are just a few of the best supplements for increasing muscle strength, size, and weight loss. But there are other supplements that gym-goers find beneficial too like glutamine, electrolytes, EAA's, and more. But remember, they're called a "supplement" for a reason. Supplements should not be taken as a food replacement and you will get the maximum benefit of your supplements only by following a good diet. So make sure your eating habits are on point.

The bottom line, find the right workout supplements for you, and if you have any concerns consult with your doctor or nutritionist to see if the supplement is safe for you to take. Don't rely on what everyone at your local gym is taking. Do your own research, test the supplements that fit your goals most, and figure out which ones work best!

Hopefully, you found our beginner's guide to supplements helpful! And if you want/need a supplement recommendation... Check out 373 Lab Supplements - founded by Iulia herself, and her husband! 373 Lab Supplements are designed to enhance your training, performance, and recovery. Each formula blend consists of only the ingredients you need. So, fewer fillers and more high-quality ingredients.

Check out their collection of Pre-Workout, BCAAs, and Whey Protein Powder.

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