5 Supplements That Could Transform Your Workouts
Author Denis Faye - Beachbody Blog
Nima Alamdari glanced over his shoulder like a character from a bad detective movie before he pushed the collection of blank white tubs across the table. “You really need to try these supplements, mate,” he said in that proper London accent that makes one sound like an expert in everything. “They’re bloody fantastic.”
If you’re into fitness, you’ve probably been in a similar situation at some point. Your workout buddy has some new powder or pill that he claims will revolutionize the way you exercise and he really wants to turn you on to it. Usually, you demur politely or accept the goods but never use them—unless he tries to hand you a suspiciously unmarked container…in which case you run in the other direction.
But Dr. Alamdari isn’t some random gym rat—and I’m far too cynical to be swayed by a fancy British accent. He’s Beachbody’s Director of Scientific Affairs, former Harvard professor, and one of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with. What’s more, those white tubs were completely legit. They contained an early version of the product he’d spent the last two years working on: The Beachbody Performance Line.
I gladly slid the five tubs that would come to be known as Energize, Hydrate, Recover, Recharge, and Creatine into my backpack. As Beachbody’s Director of Nutrition Content, I’d been lucky enough to be involved with the project from its inception, so I’d been waiting for this moment. “We are known for exercise,” Dr. Alamdari pointed out. “Complementing that with world-class performance nutrition is just a marriage that is meant to be.”
The goal when creating the Beachbody Performance Line was simple: produce a collection of supplements adaptable for any serious exerciser that utilizes cutting-edge science as well as plant-based extracts, phytonutrients, and other natural ingredients—all without artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives.
The execution, however, had been quite a journey, so I was honored to be one of the first to take these babies for a test spin.
Dr. Alamdari didn’t whip up these supplements alone in his garage. He worked with Beachbody’s R&D department and enlisted the expertise of our recently-established Scientific Advisory Board to consult on the products and ensure their effectiveness.
This board includes Marcus Elliott M.D., founder of the Peak Performance Project (P3) for applied sports science; performance nutrition specialist Francis Stephens Ph.D.; Michael Balick Ph.D., an ethnobotanist and authority on the use of plants in food and medicine; microbiologist and food health expert Mansour Samadpour Ph.D.; and Dr. Alamdari, who was a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty before leaving academia for Beachbody.
“We are leveraging research done by the best in the world and we’re leveraging research that has been shown to work,” Dr. Alamdari explained about the collaboration.
Here’s a look at the lineup.
The goal of this lemon-flavored pre-workout mix is to improve performance, increase focus, and delay muscle fatigue. It does this with three key ingredients.
Low dose caffeine from green tea. Research indicates caffeine works via the central nervous system, delivering signals to your brain that energize you both mentally and physically. The current thinking is that low dose caffeine is every bit as effective as high dose—without the jitters.
Beta-alanine. This amino acid is a precursor to carnosine, a substance in your muscles that reduces fatigue by shielding against acid build up. One side effect of beta-alanine can be a slight tingling in the face or extremities—a feeling I’ve come to love because it tells me the stuff is working.
This anti-inflammatory phytonutrient is believed to increase the production of mitochondria, the “batteries” that make cells work. It’s also what gives Energize its disco-yellow color.
This citrus-flavored supplement is intended to be used during workouts to keep you well, hydrated. It also replenishes electrolytes. It does this by capitalizing on a fancy concept called osmosis.
Long story short, liquids containing fewer particles (ex. sugar, for example) will pass through a permeable membrane (ex. your stomach lining, for example) into a liquid with more particles in an effort to create a particle equilibrium between the two areas.
Many sports drinks contain a lot of sugar in an effort to both hydrate and fuel the body. The problem with this is that they’re hypertonic—meaning they contain more particles than blood—so they don’t absorb well. The result is they slosh around in the stomach, and any athlete who’s ever experienced “gastrointestinal discomfort” after chugging a bottled sports drink knows what I’m talking about.
Hydrate contains fewer particles—meaning they’re hypotonic—so it is absorbed by the bloodstream faster. The results is you hydrate more effectively and maintain a better electrolyte balance. This is especially important to athletes, considering that even slight dehydration can have a huge impact on performance.
While carbs can play an important role in exercise recovery, the current thinking pinpoints protein—about 20 grams of high-quality protein—should really be the focus. Right after you work out, your muscles go into serious rebuilding mode. By consuming protein within 30 minutes of working out, you give your body the building blocks it needs to do this effectively.
Recover is chocolaty post-workout drink does this with a propriety blend of fast-absorbing whey protein, medium-absorbing pea protein, and slow-absorbing casein protein to assure you have protein on hand for the entire process. Within the blend you’ll also find an optimal combination of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), amino acids that are especially useful for building muscle.
It also contains pomegranate extract, which contains ellagitannins, powerful anti-inflammatory polyphenols shown to be highly effective for recovery from exercise.
Sleep is when all of your body’s natural recovery processes ramps up. To take full advantage, this pre-bedtime, vanilla supplement contains micellar casein protein. (Micellar means it’s especially pure.) Casein is especially useful during sleep because its slow absorbing nature means it will keep muscle synthesis going strong during most of the process. One recent study showed casein before bed increased amino acid activity for seven and a half hours.
Recharge also contains BCAAs as well as tart cherry extract, a natural anti-inflammatory substance packed with phytonutrients known as anthocyanins that have also been shown to mitigate exercise-induced muscle damage. Tart cherry also contains melatonin, a hormone that can improve sleep quality.
The reason for the various anti-inflammatories in the line is to attack inflammation as many ways as possible. “As an athlete, where inflammation is exercise-induced, what can the effect of nutrition do?” Dr. Alamdari pondered. “We are really trying to tackle whole body exercise-induced inflammation, taking multiple pathways.”
Rounding out the Beachbody Performance Line is a proven, safe creatine supplement. When you push your workout so hard that your muscles run out of oxygen, your body relies on phosphocreatine to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the substance your body uses for energy. Supplementing creatine means you get a little more ATP, which means you can hammer out another rep or two.
There are several forms of creatine and every so often “the next big thing” comes out, but it never lives up to the hype. Beachbody Performance is creatine monohydrate, the most proven form around. It’s also sourced from Germany, a country known for the purity of its creatine.
If you’re supplement savvy, you know why it’s important to use “safe” as an adjective when discussing creatine, a substance steeped in misinformation. To counter stigma like this—and to give a clear, direct message that the entire Beachbody Performance Line is safe and legal, we’ve taken the extra step to have them NSF Certified for Sport, a program recognized by organizations ranging from the NFL to the PGA. ” There has been news recently on banned substances found in some sports supplements,” explained Michael Wilson, Beachbody’s Executive Vice President of R&D (and fellow cyclist), “We certified our Beachbody Product Line to give our customers the added assurance, whether they’re weekend warriors or professional athletes, that the advantage we’re giving them is safe and complies with the highest level of requirements in professional and amateur sports.”
When I lined up the tubs on my kitchen counter, I felt how you might be feeling now. All that science was really exciting, but was this stuff really going to impact my performance and recovery? In other words, what was in it for me?
As a competitive cyclist, I lay down 200+ miles weekly and burn through 1000+ calories with every workout, so it’s hard for me to get all the food I need. Add to this the fact that I’m a middle-aged man, and it’s pretty easy to understand why I’m sore most of the time.
So, I was pleasantly surprised when, within a week of supplementation, my usual soreness subsided. Drastically.
Then I started riding faster. Much faster, shaving minutes off a number of my personal records. And with my increased ability to hammer, my belt size dropped a notch, my thighs increased in size, and my weight didn’t shift—meaning I was losing fat and gaining muscle.
As I poured the last of my one-month’s supply out of my tubs, I told Dr. Alamdari I was ready for more. “Sorry, mate,” he shrugged unapologetically. “We’ve run out. Might have some more before the launch.”
I was shaken when the good doctor cut off my supply, but I’m no stranger to the mean streets, so I’ve been able to procure the occasional tub over the interim months—even though it’s been tough. Regardless, I’m as excited as anyone to see the Beachbody Performance Line launch, not just because it bumps this company up into the Big Leagues of Serious Sports Nutrition, but also because it’s helping me take my training to the next level.
What’s it going to do for you?
Hi I'm Kelly Richards Mulloy a stay at home mom of 6. I am on a journey to change my life inside and out. Health and fitness, staying young, join me.