There’s no doubt that supplement companies have infiltrated the fitness world. There’s a supplement for everything these days, from the outrageous claims of diet pills and detox teas, to actual useful supplements like protein and vitamins.
If you take some time to figure out what supplements you actually need to be taking, you’ll save yourself a lot of money and actually get connected with your body. It’s super important to know that the companies you’re buying from are authentic and third-party tested.
My absolute must-haves for pre/post workout are Herbaland pre-workout, electrolytes, and protein gummies! Scroll down to see why.
Common pre/post workout supplements
Common supplements for pre/post workout include pre-workout (caffeine), electrolytes, protein, BCAAs, & creatine.
Are they all necessary to reach your goals? No! You can reach your goals without any supplements, but there are certainly additional benefits to specific supplements that will aid in the process.
- Protein: consuming adequate protein during the day will help you build lean muscle, help you stay fuller for longer and aid muscle growth/repair. Looking for that “toned” look? A protein supplement will help you hit your protein target to get there.
- Pre-Workout: the main component in pre-workout to support your training is caffeine to provide you with that extra kick of energy. Beta-alanine also aids in muscle endurance/high intensity activity.
- Electrolytes: these are essential minerals in the body that help with bodily functions such as balancing pH levels, nervous system functions, muscle contractions & hydration. They’re especially useful for hydration during endurance training and prolonged exercise/exertion.
- BCAA’s: branch chain amino acids are essential amino acids that your body gets from outside sources (food). They help decrease muscle damage and soreness. While it’s important to get these in, most people get plenty from their balanced diet and do not need extra supplementation. This is especially true when you eat lots of protein (why supplements provide BCAAs)!
- Creatine: creatine monohydrate has been shown to increase lean muscle mass while also increasing water retention. It’s found naturally in meat and fish, and is also produced in the liver and kidneys. Creatine is often recommended for those seeking maximal strength/muscle mass.
Choosing a supplement
It’s really hard to know which supplements you’ll actually want to be using! Here are some steps to help you figure out which ones you need:
- First decide what your goals are for your workouts.
If you’re looking to build muscle, you should make sure you have enough protein.
If you’re looking to get an energy boost, you’ll want a pre workout to get you going.
If you’re fatigued, overworked or an endurance athlete, you’ll want some electrolytes.
- Next, find a brand that aligns with your goals.
Your #1 criteria for a supplement company should be that they are third party tested. Supplements in the US are not regulated, and therefore are not guaranteed to have the ingredients in them that they claim.
For me, it’s important that a brand is aware of it’s environmental impacts, and has a (sound) commitment to sustainability.
My favorite brand is Herbaland because they are:
- Third party tested
- Transparent about ingredients
- Ethically made
- Aware of and reducing their impact on the environment
- Made in Canada
Finding this brand has given me the ability to get all of the supplements and vitamins I want & need without contributing to the harm of our environment.
- Assess your diet
The whole point of a supplement is to…supplement your diet to give you any extra nutrients you may have missed in your daily eating.
Vitamins and supplements complement the foods in your diet to make sure you get everything you need in a day. Take a look at your go-to foods to find out what you may be lacking in nutrients!
I don’t take all of my supplements every day. Instead, I base it all on my food intake first and then add on what I need through supplements afterwards.
My personal workout supplement routine
I absolutely love my supplement routine. I’m a huge advocate for only taking supplements that are necessary for you – you don’t need to spend tons of money and pump your body with endless supps! And you best believe I have the perfect brand for you.
My must-have supplements:
Honestly, this pre-workout is exactly what I need for the extra motivation to get my workout in. It’s just the right amount of caffeine at 100mg, doesn’t make me shaky/tingly (HATE that in a pre-workout!), and gives me that extra energy boost especially when I’m lacking motivation.
I find that since I started taking these gummies before my workouts, it’s really helped with maintaining a habitual routine. I drink my water, eat my pre-workout gummies, set my playlist, and get pumped up to complete my workout of the day.
Having a routine is key in reaching your goals, as you definitely won’t always be motivated/excited to workout. And the caffeine gives you just the right amount of boost to work hard. Keep your pre-workout gummies on hand, they are the perfect motivation!
100 mg caffeine – caffeine may increase performance effects in both aerobic and anaerobic prolonged activity. This is the main reason for pre-workout, the rest is just some extra bonuses!
500 mg Beta-Alanine – a nonessential amino acid (made in the body) that is the rate-limiting substrate for carnosine synthesis. Increased skeletal muscle carnosine levels have a positive correlation with anaerobic performance.
* Some pre-workouts have extreme doses of beta-alanine, and can therefore cause tingling sensations. This is the perfect dosage to work without giving you the creepy tingling!
500 mg L-Citrulline – may increase blood flow to the rest of the body, providing needed nutrients for many functions including protein synthesis.
35 mg Niacin – a coenzyme for carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism and proper nervous system functioning. High intakes can lower elevated cholesterol, but may also affect those with sensitive skin (irritating).
BCAA – more essential amino acids that may aid in muscle recovery.
These are a new addition to my routine and I’m so happy I’ve started including them. If you’re feeling lethargic, foggy, unmotivated and overall over-worked, you’ll want everything you can get to set yourself up for success.
Adding these electrolytes and chugging some water gives me the boost I need on days that I’m just run down. And helps me get through my workout! I save them for days that I’m extra sweaty – cardio, HIIT or extra-long days. I especially love these for replenishing all of the sodium & potassium that I sweat out on hard days, since I don’t get much of these from my diet!
If you’re usually on the go like I am, you’ll want to have these electrolytes on hand!
- Recover quicker through increased hydration
- Reduce cramping
- Increase precise muscle contractions
- Increase neuron function
PS this Pina Colada flavor is actually one of the best flavors I’ve ever tasted. Period. There’s also more on the benefits of electrolytes on Herbaland’s blog!
Protein is important to me as it helps me feel full, it fuels my muscle adaptations and ensures I have a balanced diet. I don’t get a ton of protein in my diet (ILY carbs), so I usually need some extra help.
I’ve switched to having these protein gummies as my snacks throughout the day! They are so tasty, they really taste like candy, and pack a punch with 10g of protein. They’re a great alternative for me, who regularly snacks on rice cakes, fruit, popcorn – all fine and healthy enough, just not helping me at all reach my protein (and gains) goals!
My favorite flavor is the Fantastic Fruit pouch because it has all four of the flavors. BOMB.
Any questions about ANY supplements, give me a shout! I’d be happy to talk through them with you.
James, L. J., Mears, S. A., & Shirreffs, S. M. (2015). Electrolyte supplementation during severe energy restriction increases exercise capacity in the heat. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 115(12), 2621–2629. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-015-3254-1
Swash, M., & de, C. M. (2019). Testing electrolyte supplementation for muscle cramp. Muscle & Nerve, 60(5), 499–500. https://doi.org/10.1002/mus.26686
wad, S., Allison, S. P., & Lobo, D. N. (2008). P030 fluid and electrolyte balance: the impact of goal directed teaching. Clinical Nutrition Supplements: Supplement 1, 3, 41–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1744-1161(08)70092-9
Macaluso, F., Johannsen, N. M., Carlson, M. C., Senchina, D. S., Miller, M., Sharp, T., & Sharp, R. L. (2006). Effect of electrolyte containing beverages on measures of hydration during rest: 2255. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 38(Supplement), 407. https://doi.org/10.1249/00005768-200605001-02589
Ellis, L. A., Yates, B. A., McKenzie, A. L., Muñoz CX, Casa, D. J., & Armstrong, L. E. (2016). Effects of three oral nutritional supplements on human hydration indices. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 26(4), 356–62. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2015-0244
Shirreffs, S. M., Taylor, A. J., Leiper, J. B., & Maughan, R. J. (1996). Post-exercise rehydration in man: effects of volume consumed and drink sodium content. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 28(10), 1260–71.
Maughan, R. J., & Leiper, J. B. (1995). Sodium intake and post-exercise rehydration in man. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, 71(4), 311–319. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00240410
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