The Best Supplements to Enhance Performance Naturally

To perform your best in the gym, you need to put the right nutrients, and enough of them, in your body before each and every workout. In addition to eating whole foods throughout the day, you should take a performance-enhancing supplement. The best ingredients you should look out for when choosing this type of supplement are listed below. All of these ingredients are included in many supplement blends sold on the market, but they can also be found as standalone products. So, you can create your own customized blends at home if you cannot find the right performance-enhancing supplement for you.

Please note that these supplements are not listed in order of effectiveness. Consult with your healthcare professional prior to using these or any other supplements.

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Creatine

Proteins shake in the gym
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Creatine has been around in supplemental form for decades and research has shown time and time again that it is a highly effective performance-enhancer. There are many forms of creatine on the market, such as creatine monohydrate and creatine hydrochloride, but the monohydrate form is the one with the most studies backing it. However, the mechanism in which creatine enhances your performance is the same: ingested creatine is converted into phosphocreatine (PCr) in your muscles and then the phosphocreatine donates its phosphate group to adenosine-5'-diphosphate (ADP), thus forming adenosine-5'-triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy molecule in your body.

Your body uses creatine to generate ATP for up to 30 seconds of exercise. So, the more ATP you can make during that time, the better you will perform. Although your body synthesizes creatine on its own and stores most of it in your muscles, supplementing with creatine will saturate the storage levels so you can maximize your short-term performance.

The recommended dosage of creatine monohydrate is 0.3 grams per kilogram of bodyweight for the first three days, called the loading phase, and then 3 to 5 grams per day thereafter. It is best you consume creatine monohydrate 30-45 minutes following your workouts.

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Caffeine

Caffeine is the most consumed stimulant worldwide. It is extracted from coffee beans and is typically a staple in most pre-workout supplements. Caffeine acts as a stimulator of your central nervous system. It does this by binding to adenosine receptors in your brain, thus blocking adenosine from its receptors.

Adenosine acts as a relaxation molecule in your body, so not allowing it to bind to its receptors makes you more wakeful and alert. And, when you are more awake and alert, you will be able to perform better in the gym.

The recommended dosage of caffeine is 200-400mg ingested 30-45 minutes prior to your workouts.

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Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is an amino acid, the building blocks of proteins, that your body uses to synthesize carnosine. This is a compound that acts a buffer to remove acidic hydrogen ions (H+) that accumulate in your muscles. These H+ come off of lactic acid produced when you exercise. Since they are acidic, they cause your muscle's pH to drop and, as a result, you begin to fatigue.

The amount of carnosine that your body can produce is dependent on the amount of beta-alanine available. So, supplementing with beta-alanine allows your body to synthesize more carnosine and thus help delay muscular fatigue during your resistance training sets.

The recommended dosage of beta-alanine is 3-5 grams taken 30-45 minutes before your workouts. You may experience a tingling sensation known as paraesthesia when supplementing with beta-alanine. This is a harmless side effect, but if it bothers you, then split up the 3-5 grams into smaller even dosages taken throughout the day.

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Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate is a compound made up of the urea cycle amino acid citrulline and the citric acid cycle intermediate malic acid. The citrulline is converted into arginine, another urea cycle amino acid, in your kidneys. Your body uses this arginine to produce nitric oxide, a molecule that relaxes your blood vessels, thus improving blood flow. This is known as vasodilation. More blood flow to your muscles results in more nutrients being delivered and thus better performance.

Supplementing with arginine does not yield as much of a vasodilation effect due to its poor absorption in supplemental form.

As for malic acid, it is used during the citric acid cycle as an intermediate to help generate ATP along with two other molecules called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FADH). These two molecules are used to produce additional ATP in the electron transport chain.

The recommended dosage of citrulline malate is 6-8 grams consumed 30-45 minutes prior to your workouts.

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ATP

ATP is available in supplemental form as adenosine-5'-triphosphate sodium. Studies have shown this to be a very effective performance-enhancer. ATP is your body's chief energy molecule after all. Among the key benefits that this supplement provides are an increase in muscle excitability, allowing your muscles to better respond to neural input, and an increase in muscular contraction strength, providing your muscles with a greater capacity to contract and shorten.

The recommended dosage of supplemental ATP is 400mg taken 30-45 minutes before your workouts.