The following information and advice catalogue can be used by anybody wishing to invest in products that can improve your physique development, sporting goals and healthy lifestyle. Whether you wish to improve your lean muscle mass, develop higher strength levels, maximise endurance, shed unhealthy body fat, increase speed and reactions, improve your overall health and longevity, enhance sex drive or a combination of some or all of these - there are products that are designed to help you achieve them. There are a wide variety of manufacturers and supplement types that can be confusing even for those with expert knowledge, let alone struggling beginners. By following this straight forward and easy to understand guide we hope you can gain a better understanding of what products will suit your goals and budget. Below you'll find a generalised guide to the supplement types you'll find in each category and which might help you in achieving your personal goals in terms of your budget.
We have divided these supplements up into 3 LEVELS that you will find mentioned in brackets. This helps you understand where they come in your supplement choice pyramid.
1) FOUNDATION NUTRITION - These are supplements that you should consider basic essentials, suitable for use all year round. (example - Proteins, MRP's, Gainers, Carbohydrates, Amino Acids, Bars and Snacks, Vitamins and Minerals)
2) ADVANCED SUPPLEMENT - Supplements that can be added in once foundation nutrition is established, often used for long periods. (example - Creatines, All In One Supplements, Fat Burners, Nitric Oxide, Joint Support)
3) SPECIALIST SUPPLEMENT - These are supplements that are often utilised for specific periods to reach a certain goal. (example - Prohormones, EFA's, Testosterone Boosters, Anti-Estrogens, PCT's)
Category - Protein Powders
Protein is one of the principal macronutrients along with carbohydrates and fats. Protein contains the fundamental building blocks of muscle and other tissues called amino acids. Protein is required in much larger amounts than normal for people who are trying to develop and maintain more muscle tissue or recover from regular exercise. Protein is also extremely difficult for the body to turn into bodyfat making it an ideal part of the diet for those trying to lose fat and stay lean. A high protein diet should be a foundational part of your nutrition strategy. Protein shakes have been one of the most popular supplements since the start of the industry. It can be hard to reach your protein intake with whole foods alone and many proteins are incomplete. Therefore, regular supplementation with liquid protein shakes is an excellent way to ensure you reach and maintain physique goals.
Types of common protein supplements :
MRP (Meal Replacement Powders) (FOUNDATION)
Category - Meal Replacement
MRP's represent a more complete meal formula than protein alone. Maintaining your proper nutrition, which for many of us can be anything between 5 and 9 meals a day, in the midst of a hectic lifestyle can be extremely challenging. While whole foods have a host of benefits and should not be ignored, MRPs allow you to mix up a complete meal, high in quality protein, with adequate energy carbohydrates and healthy essential fats. Most come laden with essential vitamins and minerals and sometimes other supplements as well, making them extremely convenient, while omitting the useless junk and excess calories of many ready meals.
Category - Weight Gainers
For individuals who require a lot of calories to grow Gainers represent a higher energy version of MRPs. Gainers still contains a high proportion of top quality proteins but come with increased amounts of energy carbohydrate calories and specialised fats used for growth. If you have a fast metabolism, are extremely skinny, find muscle gain difficult or have a very demanding physical job or hobbies that require a lot of fuel to maintain your energy, gainers can often be used as foundational meals, offering enough energy to power new growth for hardgainers.
Category - Recovery/Energy
Carbohydrates are the energy fuel for most human actions. Although the body can certainly survive on protein and fats alone, carbohydrates offer an easy, clean burning fuel source for both explosive training and endurance use. Our carbohydrate supplements offer various time release energy formulas, useful for those trying to gain weight, or involved in endurance training. There are also specific carbohydrate formulas laden with electrolytes which help balance body fluids when sweating due to high temperatures or punishing conditions.
Category - Creatine
Creatine Monohydrate is still the single most popular sports supplement made today. Even people who've never trained will have heard of it. Creatine already exists inside your body and is used as part of the ATP-PC cycle, the fuel source the body uses for short, explosive movements, such as lifting weights or sprinting for short durations. It also has a lot of activity in brain and nerves, protecting them from harm. Supplementing with creatine allows you to saturate muscles with more fuel, volumizing and hydrating your muscle cells, this means a sudden increase in explosive strength, more reps in the gym and faster recovery. Creatine is extremely safe. It is not a drug or banned by any organisation and has numerous health benefits beyond its physique enhancing effects. Creatine is ideal for use by men or women who want a thorough advantage in their training or sport. Creatine products now come in various forms and with some additions. The most common types are listed here -
ALL IN ONE (FOUNDATION)
Category - All in One
An All-in-one Supplement formula is designed to take the guesswork out of starting your supplement regime. There are literally tens of thousands of products to choose from and deciding what you might need most can be extremely difficult, not to mention expensive and time consuming. Many manufacturers offer an ALL-IN-ONE formula to keep it simple. With a combination of high quality protein, energy carbohydrates, and essential vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients - they then pick several of the popular sports supplements and make a formula that combines them. Most come with loading levels of creatine and quite often HMB. Although the formulas differ, most then have several other useful supplements. All-in-ones represent excellent value for money, extreme convenience and simplicity.
FAT BURNERS (SPECIALIZED)
Category - Fat Burners
Building an aesthetically pleasing and healthy body has two components. The first is building the lean muscle which defines us but equally important is shedding unhealthy and unsightly bodyfat. Whether it is fighting obesity or trying to etch the final definition on your body, the battle of the bulge is one of the hardest fought in modern times. A whole range of diet aids and fat burning supplements practically make up their own industry. It's important to remember that our chosen ranges are all scientifically proven formulas and not just cheap or dangerous weight loss compounds. Diet Aid/Fat Burners come in a wide variety of types with different characteristics. Some can be used together for synergistic effects. Different types suit different individuals. The Primary categories found at Ultimate Fitness are
Category - Pre-Workout Formulas
These two forms of supplements can come separately or, as is quite common now, as a combined package. If Post Workout shakes revolutionized the idea of how best to gain muscle rapidly, the next big advancement was in pre workout nutrition and boosters. Nitric Oxide is a catch all term for various products within the class that enhance the amount of blood diverted to a muscle group that is working. You may recognise the feeling of fullness or 'pump' that occurs when you train a particular set of muscles.
When using Nitric Oxide boosters this rush of blood occurs both more rapidly and to a greater degree than naturally. Although this has the visual benefit of making muscles look harder and more engorged, with excellent vascularity and definition, the benefits actually go far beyond this improvement in looks. Enhanced blood flow means more nutrients and essential amino acids are shuttled to the working muscle during the workout. This means prolonged intensity in the gym, faster repair of microtears - meaning more rapid recovery and the growth process kick started earlier. There is also a reduction in inflammation and faster removal of oxidized toxins, meaning less stiffness, soreness and more reps next time you work out. Nitric Oxide products can come alone or as part of a matrix of other compounds. Nitrix Oxide (N.O.) products can also come in tablet form or as part of a drink mix.
Pre Workout Stims (stimulants) are those products designed to jack up both your mental and physical intensity. Simply going through the motions in the gym means no real change in your body. To really develop you must constantly strive to work harder in one way or another and a good pre workout stimulant can help with that. Gone are the days when simply having a cup of black coffee counted as an intensity booster. Modern stimulants activate focus, concentration, nervous system deployment, speed reaction times, cut fatigue signals and allow you to work harder, longer and recruit more muscle fibres than ever before. The more fibres you recruit, the faster your muscle develops, the stronger you get and the more rapidly your body melts off fat. Pre Workout Stims can also come alone or mixed with a compound matrix. Pre workout Stims often come in tablet or capsule form and can be used before any workout, sport or physically demanding hobby when you require peak intensity. Both Nitric Oxide and Pre Workout stimulants can often be found combined together in a drink format and can be seen as the pre workout counterbalance to post workout shakes.
AMINO ACIDS (FOUNDATION)
Category - Amino Acids
Amino Acids are the basic building blocks of life and what proteins are built from. You can actually imagine your muscles as very large pools of amino acid reserves, the tiny 'bricks' of your muscular build. The vast majority of your amino acid needs will come from adequate protein intake from both whole foods and protein supplements. However there are certain specialised form amino acids that may be of benefit to you. Amino Acid supplements also provide few to zero calories so can be an especially useful addition to a low calorie diet.
L-Glutamine: Glutamine in the L Form (the shape used in the human system) is the primary amino acid in human contractile muscle tissue (contractile tissue is that which you can build and develop through training). Making up over a third of all your muscle amino pool, L-Glutamine is extremely important. In normal biology it is not considered an essential amino as the body can make it from other aminos through various processes, however during times of emotional or physical stress, from training, illness etc this amino becomes 'conditionally essential'. Especially during dieting or around workouts, Glutamine becomes even more important and can help spare muscle tissue and speed up recovery. Glutamine also has very positive benefits on the immune system function and protecting brain and nerves from damage.
BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids): There are three amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine which can occur in this more complex form (Branched Chains). After L-Glutamine they are the principal aminos of muscle tissue. These three, particularly Leucine, are also very important in activating the 'growth' signal in muscle tissue. This is the chemical message that kicks on the various processes that inform the body to begin repairing worked muscle and to begin adding new size. BCAA use has often been used by professional athletes during lower calorie training to hold onto muscle however more recently it has been discovered that ingesting BCAAs during any training phase can be a very simple and cost effective way to ramp up results. Although not a fancy addition, it can be a very easy way to make a difference. BCAAs are often found in Post Workout recovery formulas, however they can be used pre workout, during a workout or physical activity, during times of stress or illness and before bed to maintain growth during the night.
EFA AND OILS (FOUNDATION/SPECIALIZED)
Category - EFA/Oils
There was a time when people thought all fat was bad. We all quickly discovered though that a diet bereft of fat caused a lot of disease, illness and reduced function. The truth is there are bad fats and good fats. In fact there are fats that are absolutely essential to life itself. These are known as EFA (Essential Fatty Acids) - Essential because they must be eaten, the body cannot make them from other things. You may have heard of the benefits of Omega 3 and 6 oils, particularly those from fish, such as Cod Liver Oil. Apart from being a central part of our heart and brain health, they reduce inflammation, fight degenerative and chronic disease such as cancers, improve our skin, hair and nails, regulate our eye sight, determine our intelligence and concentration, help us sleep, reduce body fat and improve muscle building hormones. There are several variations on these themes which can often be found in the following formats -
TESTOSTERONE BOOSTERS (SPECIALIZED)
Category - Testosterone Boosters
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men. Men have a higher testosterone level than women and this is the primary reason that men develop larger muscles, stronger bones, are more dominant, aggressive, have facial hair and higher sex drives. However even between individual men, testosterone levels vary and this gives a wide variety of how men can respond to training amongst other things. The drive to increase testosterone has led to the development of a whole class of Testosterone boosters. Unlike prohormones or anabolic steroids however, Testosterone boosters are NOT introducing a synthetic hormone or precursor into the body. Testosterone boosters are a range of high potency medicinal herbal extracts, minerals and other co-factors designed to 'encourage' or 'trick' the body into making more of its own testosterone hormone. Although certainly less potent than prohormones, Testosterone boosters are completely natural, very safe and yet have proven effectiveness. For many men the move into prohormones may be unwanted or unwise and testosterone boosters may offer many of the benefits but in a safer and more natural manner. Testosterone boosters can also be used for much longer than prohormones and steroids which should always be treated with caution. Testosterone boosters can come as single herbal extracts, or, more commonly now, as specialised matrices of multiple extracts and other compounds. Popular herbal extracts you will find include Tribulus Terrestris, Eurycoma Longfolia, Avena Sativa, Fenugreek and Maca Gold. As with any herbal medicine always look out for high grade extracts (usually classed as a percentage of the active ingredient). Testosterone boosters are not advised for use by women.
ANTI ESTROGENS (SPECIALIZED SUPPLEMENT)
The flipside to testosterone is estrogen (sometimes spelt Oestrogen). Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone and is dominant in women in the same way testosterone defines men. Estrogen is present in men, much as testosterone is in women, only in very small amounts. Estrogen plays some vital roles in male physiology, the problem occurs when estrogen production increases, tipping the hormonal balance. Runaway estrogen in the male body has numerous unpleasant effects, including rapid fat gain and increased water retention, inhibited sex drive and even gynecomastia (development of breasts in men). Estrogen can increase in the male system for various reasons, environmental toxins, stress, pollution, genetic abnormalities, medicine and drug use and particularly as a side effect from use of prohormones or steroids. In any case where a man has unusually high estrogen, the Anti-Estrogen supplement class offers various ways to deal with this, with both natural and synthetic options to reduce the production or effects of this feminine hormone, especially during use of prohormones that can convert to estrogen.
PRO HORMONES (SPECIALIZED)
Category - Pro Hormones
Prohormones are synthetic precursors that once introduced to the male body turn into anabolic hormones (hormones that build muscle) much like testosterone. Pro Hormones represent the closest legal equivalent to anabolic steroids and are designed to vastly accelerate muscular development, fat loss and physical performance. Prohormones come in a whole variety of forms, each with a particular set of characteristics. Some are more likely to pile on mass, but may add fat at the same time, others may help retain muscle during extreme fat loss dieting, others may be geared more towards explosive strength. All are extremely potent compounds and are strictly for use by men over 21. Women and younger males should never use prohormones. When introduced to the body, these synthetic precursors cause a disruption in your natural hormone balance. This means they must be used in very carefully planned cycles to ensure long term hormonal balance is maintained. Prohormones will make an utterly enormous difference to your physique, very rapidly, but they are complex supplements and you should gather as much knowledge and seek advice before use.
PCT (Post Cycle Therapy) (SPECIALIZED)
Category - Testosterone Boosters
Post Cycle Therapy is the term for the phase of supplementation that follows a cycle of Prohormones. A cycle of prohormones is used to elicit major changes in muscle development and fat loss, however the use of synthetic precursor hormones disrupts the natural production and balance of the hormonal system. Once the cycle ends, in order to restore the body to normal function, and ensure that all the gains from the cycle do not fade away, a short period of ancillary supplements are used to restore natural testosterone and limit unwanted estrogen. Our cutting edge range of Post Cycle Therapy supplements are designed to fit the needs of any prohormone cycle and ensure you maintain your enhanced physique.
BARS AND SNACKS (FOUNDATION)
Category - Bars/Ready to drink
One of the keys to building and maintaining an impressive body is a long term consistency with proper nutrition. Unfortunately sticking to a very strict diet in the stressful modern world can sometimes be extremely taxing. Luckily there are now a whole range of 'ideal' convenience foods you can use to stay on diet, whether you are on the move, away from home, have difficult work conditions, or you just want something different. These 'healthy' option convenience foods have come a long way since the nutrient-poor and calorie-dense 'energy' bars still found in many health food shops and websites. Today high protein snacks with little to no sugar can still taste great. In this category you will find bars (both endurance energy and high protein snacks), RTD (Ready to Drinks - premixed easy to carry versions of your favourite protein shakes) Shake n Takes (Single serving shots of energy or post workout protein drinks which just need a little water adding) and special snacks (tasty protein desserts, sweets and breakfast mixes).
JOINT SUPPORT (ADVANCED)
Category - Joint Health
Our body hinges on its joints, our mobility, flexibility and speed all requires healthy and well functioning joints. Unfortunately working hard can often place a lot of stress on these lynchpins, working at our peak can spill over into injuries and strains. Supporting your joints, both to remain healthy throughout your life, to resist injury, or speed up repair should an accident occur can all be aided by the supplements found in this category. Look after your joints and they will look after you for the long term.
VITAMINS MINERALS (FOUNDATION)
Category - Vitamin and Minerals
We all know we should be getting our vitamins and minerals but many people get confused about the hows and whys. With the nutrient poor diets of today, the stresses of modern life and increasingly harsh environmental factors we can often find ourselves deprived of these tiny micro-nutrients that are nevertheless key to a properly functioning body. Vitamins and minerals and other minor co-factors such as anti-oxidants all play a vital role in our body's ability to build, repair and function. You can find advanced multi-vitamin and mineral formulas which act as a 'safety blanket' against poor nutrition. These are often far more advanced and of better quality than the poorly absorbed, ill-proven formulas found in supermarkets. You may also find specific single Vitamins and Minerals in more active doses which can support certain goals, or eliminate certain deficiencies.