Tight Budget?

5 Must-Have Affordable Supplements

There is pretty much a supplement for every need when it comes to getting lean, increasing muscle or maximizing our energy levels. Supplements help you get to your goals faster, and more efficiently, particularly when on restricted diets. They can ensure you are getting all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that you might not be getting from the food you are eating. Let’s not forget that supplements also serve a purpose of convenience, especially for those of us who are always on the go! Unfortunately, supplements, although extremely effective, are not always cheap, and if you are on a budget, they are probably not high on the priority list. So in order to get the most out of your limited budget, the best thing to do is to take the supplements that are proven to be effective for maximizing the fitness goals you are after. Here are the top five supplements you should consider using if you are on a strict budget but still want to get the most out of your time in the gym.

#1 Protein Powder: Whey Protein Powder
By far, the number one supplement on your list should be protein powder, particularly whey protein powder, which contains the highest quality protein available. Whey protein isolate and concentrate provide a rich profile of amino acids that support lean muscle development, all in a convenient powder format. Whey protein can be used as a source of protein for a quick meal or can be added to almost any food to supplement your protein needs. However, depending on the whey protein you choose, it could get expensive, especially if you choose to supplement with solely an isolate or hydrolysate. Instead choose a blended whey protein that combines isolate with concentrate. You will get the same amount of protein per serving and all its lean-building benefits. And when possible, always buy in bulk; you will pay less per serving if you buy the 10 or 15 pound versus just the standard 2-pound tub.

#2 Daily Micronutrients: Multivitamin
Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients that are required by the body to catalyze and facilitate the biochemical reactions that convert all the food we eat into useable nutrients. Most of us are deficient in one or more vitamins or minerals, and it can only be exacerbated more when you are an athlete training at a high intensity. Add on a low-calorie diet that doesn’t contain much more than protein, and chances are you are not getting enough of your daily needs. Vitamins play a role in energy production and protein metabolism, while minerals maintain the balance of fluids in our cells and help enhance muscle contractions. Virtually every energy production process is dependent on the right proportion of vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals support muscle growth and recovery, help facilitate the conversion of macronutrients into energy, keep the metabolism functioning at an optimal rate and help enable muscular contraction. This is one supplement that is not always cheap, but well worth the money spent to keep your body functioning at an optimal level. Look for a high-quality daily multivitamin that is formulated specifically for a woman.

#3 Fat Source: Fish Oil
Fish oil derived from tuna, salmon, trout and fatty deep-sea fish provide the best source of omega-3. They are rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which can increase the body’s fat-burning ability, decrease body fat and help preserve muscle tissue. Fish oil can help lower blood cholesterol levels and has vasodilatory effects and protective immune benefits. Fish oil can also have anti-inflammatory effects and provide protective effects on joint cartilage. It’s hard to not include this supplement as part of your budget allowance. Use a minimum of 3 grams daily.

#4 Lean Muscle Builder: Creatine
Creatine is by far one of the most researched and effective supplements for increasing lean muscle, strength and energy. Supplementing with creatine raises the body’s creatine stores, resulting in more phosphocreatine for use by the muscles, which means more phosphate is available to adenosine diphospate or ADP to help regenerate adenosine triphospate or ATP, the muscle’s primary energy source. The good part about creatine, if you are on a budget, is that there is no longer a need to load up on your creatine, especially as a woman. Some research has shown that women tend to have higher natural levels of muscle creatine versus men, and therefore do not need to supplement to the same extent. Instead of using a loading phase, stick to just a maintenance dose of 3 grams per day. And since this supplement can cause water retention in some individuals, you can choose to use it only during the off-season!

#5 Metabolism Booster: Green Tea Extract and Caffeine
Green tea contains high concentrations of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is primarily responsible for the tea’s thermogenic effects. It induces thermogenesis through at least two mechanisms: by increasing the amount of fat used as energy during and after exercise and by inhibiting the re-uptake of norepinephrine, which is a key compound involved in metabolic regulation and appetite control. Green tea combined with caffeine, has shown even greater benefits when it comes to weight loss and fat burning. What’s more, these two simple ingredients are usually the core ingredients of any fat burner, and can both be purchased as single ingredients for a much lower cost. Combine 250 milligrams of green tea extract with at least 50 percent EGCG with 100 milligrams of caffeine for weight loss or for an energizing kick!

Brenner M, Rankin JW, Sebolt D. The effect of creatine supplementation during resistance training in women. 2000. J Stren Con Res. 14(2): 207-13.

Dulloo AG, et al. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. 1999. Am J Clin Nutr. 70(6): 1040-1045.

Hayes EM. Vitamin and mineral supplementation to athletes. Int J Sport Nutr. 1991. 1(2): 146-69.

Hill AM, Buckley JD, Murphy KJ, Howe PRC. Combining fish-oil supplements with regular aerobic exercise improves body composition and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007. 85(5): 1267-1274.

Kreider RB, Almada AL, Antonio J, et al. ISSN Exercise and Sport Nutrition Review: Research & Recommendations. 2004. 1(1): 1-44.

Lauren Jacobsen

Lauren is the creator of Sexy, Strong and Fit Online Coaching Services specializing in transforming women to fitness model condition. Lauren has over 15 years of experience as a trainer, supplement consultant and nutrition expert. She is also the TV show host of "Body Fuel," a competitive athlete and regular contributor to various fitness publications.

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