How to Choose Fitness Supplements: Everything You Need to Know

The global fitness industry is worth $87 billion. And the fitness market in the US brings in almost half of this amount at $33.25 billion per year. Experts project that the global industry will hit nearly $435 billion by 2028.

Are you one of the fitness enthusiasts who contribute to this multi-billion-dollar market? If so, you have probably heard about the benefits of fitness supplements.

How to Choose Fitness Supplements : Everything You Need to Know
A handy graphic I created around fitness supplements

Yet, when it comes time to choose fitness supplements for you, you may not know where to begin. That is why, today, we are bringing you this guide to finding the right supplements for your fitness journey.

Are you ready to find the supplements you need to build more muscle, lose weight faster, and smash your fitness goals this year? Then keep reading because this one is for you.

Types of Fitness Supplements

The first thing you need to know is the options for supplements available to support your fitness journey. The FDA categorizes supplements into botanicals and herbs, vitamins and minerals, amino acids, and probiotics.

For our purposes, we will create new categories: muscle-building products, products supporting weight loss, and general health supplements that can also support your fitness goals.

Here’s what you need to know about each of these sports supplement categories.

Muscle Building Supplements

Muscle-building supplements do what their name suggests. These products – in conjunction with exercise, of course – help you increase your muscle mass. The way in which they do so depends on the product, though.

For example, some muscle-building supplements may encourage protein synthesis. Others may speed up post-workout recovery. Stills others may boost your workout performance so you can go harder for longer.

You can take supplements before or after working out

Some of the most popular supplements athletes and fitness enthusiasts use for building muscle include:

  • Protein powders (for muscle growth and repair)
  • Branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements (for performance, muscle growth, and muscle recovery)
  • Creatine (for performance and muscle growth; more on this below)
  • Multi-vitamin (for overall health)
  • Caffeine (for performance)

These supplements are a great option for people looking to boost their results from resistance training. Resistance training, also known as lifting or weight lifting, is done to build strength and muscle.

Weight Loss Supplements

Another big goal many fitness enthusiasts want their supplements to support is fat loss. After all, 73.6% of US adults over the age of 20 are considered overweight or obese.

burn fat with supplements
You can burn fat with supplements…or by not eating

To lose fat, you must either reduce your calorie intake, increase your metabolism, or do both. Here are the types of weight loss products fitness enthusiasts prefer to achieve these goals:

  • Meal replacement products (e.g., bars, shakes, and smoothies)
  • Thermogenic supplements (e.g., caffeine, capsaicin, and garcinia cambogia)
  • Insulin resistance supplements (e.g., chromium, magnesium, and resveratrol)

Meal replacement products can help with calorie reduction. These edible products typically contain all the nutrients you need to function optimally. Yet, they have much fewer calories than a typical meal.

Thermogenic and insulin-resistance supplements can boost your metabolism and improve your body’s uptake of blood sugars, respectively. Both of these actions result in your body getting better at naturally burning fat.

General Health Supplements

General health supplements can help support a healthy body and brain. They can also help replenish vitamins and minerals that get depleted during a workout.

For example, many athletes use image 3 fatty acid supplements. These products can not only help with weight loss but also improve cardiovascular function. This can help increase oxygen delivery during exercise.

supplements for weight loss

Vitamin D is another common supplement used by fitness enthusiasts. This vitamin 1technically, it’s a hormone when produced by your kidneys helps to strengthen bones, which can reduce your risk of exercise-related injury and speed up post-workout recovery.

Mineral-rich sports drinks and oral supplements are also common for replacing electrolytes depleted through sweat. Electrolyte supplements can prevent dehydration and electrolytic imbalance, especially if you work out for more than 75 minutes per session.


Which Supplements Do You Need?

Heart-shaped supplements because I love you, dear reader
Heart shaped because I love you, dear reader

In addition to the above categories, we can also break down fitness supplements in terms of necessity. Some supplements are ideal for all people, while others are what we call accessory supplements.

Keep reading to learn how we define standard or basic supplements vs. accessory supplements.

Standard Fitness Supplements

Most fitness enthusiasts will tell you that the following supplements are must-haves for anyone who works out:

  • Protein powders or BCAAs
  • Multivitamins
  • Caffeine or creatine
  • Electrolytes

Creatine, for example, is one of the most well-studied supplements. It has been reviewed in over 500 peer-refereed publications and has been shown to be effective and safe in younger and older athletes.

In fact, the article I linked above states

there is growing body of evidence showing that creatine supplementation, particularly when combined with exercise, provides musculoskeletal and performance benefits in older adults.

These supplements will help you build more muscle, maintain your general health, and improve your workout performance.

Optional Accessory Supplements

What if your fitness goals extend beyond the ones we mentioned above? You should consider an accessory supplement.

That's a lot of fitness supplments
Who’s ready to party? Seriously, don’t take this many supplements.

For example, say you have trouble building muscle because you can’t put on weight. You could try a mass gainer. These supplements contain a mixture of ingredients to support weight and muscle gains.

Here’s another example: your fitness goal may be to increase your flexibility. In this case, you would use a joint and/or muscle flexibility supplement. Glucosamine is a great choice for joint flexibility, while vitamin C, taken alongside copper, can be used as a nutrient for muscle flexibility.

Figuring out fitness goals such as these can help you determine whether or not you need an accessory supplement.

Tips for Buying Supplements Online

By now, we hope you understand a bit more about the types of fitness supplements available. Hopefully, you feel more prepared to start shopping.

But before you wade into the online supplements market, we want to offer some tips to help make the process of how to choose fitness supplements easier.

Keep reading for our top five pieces of advice when shopping for supplements on the web.

1) Figure Out Your Fitness Goals

If we have not stressed this point enough yet, we will do it again! You have got to figure out your fitness goals before buying supplements.

As we will discuss, supplements can be expensive. You do not want to waste money buying products that do not work for your specific needs.

If you are not sure how to set your own fitness goals, talk to a personal trainer. These professionals can help you identify your current fitness level, the fitness level you want to be at, and the goals you need to get there.

2) Consult With an Expert

If you still are not sure what kinds of sports supplements you need, talk to an expert. Doctors, dieticians, and holistic practitioners can help you find the right products for your unique needs.

This tip is especially important if you have any pre-existing health conditions. A doctor can recommend supplements that will be effective for your goals but also safe for your health.

Another expert who may be able to help is your nutritionist or personal trainer. They can not give you prescriptive advice but they can make recommendations based on their own or their other clients’ experiences.

3) Set Your Budget

Supplements can be pricey, so it is a good idea to set your budget before your start shopping. That way, you will know what you can and can not afford when comparing supplement prices.

Fitness supplements can quickly get pricey
Fitness supplements can quickly get pricey

However, beware of prices that are too low. Some scammy supplements will draw you in with cheap prices, but the products are not as represented.

Instead, search for “goldilocks” supplements — those that are not too cheap, nor too expensive. It’s your best bet for finding affordable, quality products.

4) Check the Label

The FDA does not regulate supplements the same way it regulates other products. That is why it is so important to read supplement labels carefully.

Only buy products from companies that list all ingredients on the label. Furthermore, make sure you research any ingredients you do not understand before purchasing.

Another tip: avoid products that have a lot of non-essential ingredients, also known as fillers. Common filler ingredients include sugar, cellulose, and gelatin.

5) Read Credible Reviews

Still not sure which fitness supplements to choose? We suggest checking out online reviews (such as ours!) to see whether or not people like you would recommend the product. We always tell the truth – whether good or bad – when it comes to supplements.

But since we can’t test everything, online customer reviews on the supplement store website can also be super helpful here. But, do keep in mind that sometimes companies can (and do) pay for reviews.

So, in general, it’s often better to seek out supplement reviews from a source you can trust. And that is where our supplement reviews can help you.

Choose Fitness Supplements With Reviews You Can Trust

Most fitness supplements help with muscle gains, weight loss, or general health concerns. The supplements you should choose depend on your fitness goals, which is why it is so important to define those goals before you start shopping.

Are you searching for high-quality supplements to support your fitness journey? Here at DumbbellsReview, we want to help you choose fitness supplements. Check out our supplements reviews to find the right products for your needs.