Best Supplements for CrossFit – 2018 Update Review

Crossfit requires proficiency across a wide-variety of modalities: strength, endurance, flexibility, mobility and certain Crossfit specific skills.  I have yet to see a sport polarize the fitness community as much as Crossfit.  While becoming one of the fastest growing sports in the world, Crossfit has garnered much hate due to its culture and principles (particularly high repetition power and Olympic weightlifting) and has sparked many debates amongst fitness enthusiasts and professionals.  Regardless of your stance on the sport it’s difficult to deny that the it has increased the popularity of weightlifting and has helped many get into shape.

Best Supplements For Crossfit

Supplements are exactly what the name suggests – they’re there to augment your overall nutrition.  These recommendations assume that you’re within a reasonable weight range for your height and you pay attention to what you eat and how much sleep you get. I can’t stress the importance of proper sleep, hydration and nutrition enough. Nailing each of these in your life should be first on your list as they contribute the most in your gains aside from your workout program. So before you incorporate any of these supplements work on getting a good night’s sleep and make sure your diet is reasonably healthy.

Creatine

Why

For squeezing out that extra rep in your WOD or maximizing your intensity in your training for building muscle, creatine is king. It provides energy under periods of stress and has been shown to help in increasing lean mass in controlled studies.  Next to Vitamin D, creatine may be the most beneficial supplement for general health, as it has both cardio and neuroprotective qualities in addition to helping with athletic performance and body composition.  I can’t speak highly enough about this molecule and if you’re still apprehensive about taking it your body already makes it and it’s found in protein-rich foods such as meat, fish and eggs.


How to take

Many people recommend starting with a ‘loading phase’ for creatine in order to saturate your skeletal muscle with this molecule.  This 10 to 14 day period is then typically followed with a daily dosage of 2.5 to 5 grams.  Some protocols strongly recommend that you cycle your intake, meaning you have periods off and on every 3 or so weeks, with some suggesting you cycle every three months.  Do what you want, but science has pretty much negated the arguments for requiring a loading phase or the need to cycle this supplement.  I’ve been on creatine since the late 90’s and my suggestion would be to take in 5 grams daily and don’t worry about the timing or cycling.  Also look for products that say “creatine monohydrate”.  It’s the simplest and cheapest form of creatine and it’s the same compound that has been in studied in a clinical setting.  The only concern with this supplement is cramping so make sure you drink a lot of water and eat a normal diet.

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Casein Protein

Why

casein-proteinReally you can put any quality protein supplement here but we’re trying to choose the best one and casein is it.  Assuming you’re not getting enough protein in your diet, a protein supplement is certainly a
convenient and cheap route to take.  Casein protein is the one by-product of the dairy process, the other being whey protein, and is digested and utilized much more slowly.  The reason why I recommend casein over its much more popular sister-product is that it’s been shown to be better correlated to muscle building.  This is likely due to rate of digestion, though the ratio of various peptides in casein are much different than those found in whey.

How to take

There’s really no upper limit for protein intake for healthy individuals though the minimum recommended for athletes is in excess of 0.5 grams per pound of body weight (e.g. 90 grams of protein for a 180 pound person).  If you’re trying to lose weight increasing protein intake is often recommended to preserve muscle mass but I wouldn’t go over 2 grams per pound of body weight.  There really aren’t any health issues to be concerned with your casein/protein intake unless you find yourself ONLY consuming protein, in which case let me know how that goes.

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Fish Oil

fish-oil-pillsWhy

You’re going to be sore and your joints are going to ache.  Most joint health supplements have little to no scientific evidence for effectiveness and that side of the supplement industry tends to operate on anecdotal evidence.  Fish oil is one of the few supplements that has correlated with reductions in inflammation, though the results  are mixed. On a personal note, I tend to not incorporate fish into my diet very often, so fish oil is a necessity for me regardless of whether I’m trying to reduce joint point or inflammation.  I’ve noticed that my knees hurt more when I don’t take this stuff so I’m sold on it.

How to take

For hearth health benefits the American Heart Association recommends 1 grams of daily intake of EPA and DHA combined.  For attempts to combat joint pain and soreness the upper limit of efficacy has is around 6 grams a day.  It tends to vary from individual to individual so you may have to play around with it.  I take in 3 grams in the morning time along with my vitamin D but the timing isn’t too important.  If you struggle with the fish burp taste try freezing the capsules or trying brands that have been specially coated.  Pay extra attention to the EPA and DHA content per capsule as this will determine how many capsules to take per day; ignore that each capsule contains 1 gram of ‘stuff’.  One thing to note: it will take a awhile for you to notice the effects so I suggest you stick with it for at least three months before you assess its effectiveness.

Fish oil is something you can purchase at most health stores however you want to make sure the fish oil supplements you are using are high quality. Here is our recommended Fish Oil.

Caffeine

thWhy

Coffee, tea, pills, energy drinks, I don’t care how you take your caffeine in but this drug is incredibly useful for Crossfit workouts and competition.  As the primary ingredient in most pre-workout supplements and thermogenics, caffeine enhances both cognitive focus and athletic performance.  You’ve undoubtedly tried this drug at some point so I won’t go into the why so much.

How to take

I’d recommend taking it immediately before your Crossfit class or 20 minutes before competition for maximum benefits.  How much is entirely dependent on your tolerance, which has been shown to increase over time so cycling is an absolutely necessity when you stop feeling the effects of it.  I’ll warn you ahead of time that cycling off caffeine is terrible and has been known to cause headaches amongst a large population of people, but it’ll be over in 7 to 10 days and you’ll be ready to cycle back on.  I take it in pill form and it usually comes in 200 mg dosages, which does the trick for me.  If you’re extra tolerant, it’s not unheard of to pop 2 or 3 pills but please be careful if you’re doing more than 6 mg per kg of body weight.

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