Supplements that Are Worth Your Money

6 Supplements That Are Worth Your Money

It’s Friday afternoon and you walk down the brightly lit shop aisle, purposely avoiding the gaze of the young shop attendant, past the packaged fruit and herbal teas and straight to the “Sports” section. “Just protein powder,” you say to yourself “I just came in for protein powder.”

In your pursuit of health and a better body, you have arrived at the supplements store. Hundreds of shiny coloured jars are lined neatly on the shelves, their golden lids promising longevity, performance, fat loss or more energy.  As you reach down for the cheapest tub of protein powder the sweet young shop assistant interrupts you. “Oh you must workout then! Have you tried this?” She’s holding up a tub of BCAA’s, with a picture of your favourite athlete on it. She asks about your training and when you let on that you are interested in fat loss she suggests a particular fat burning supplement. It claims to help you lose up to 70% more weight than dieting alone. It’s an improbable claim, but it’s only £15. Isn’t it worth the chance- just in case it works?

As you leave the store, products in hand, and wallet $100 lighter, you wonder if you might have just blagged yourself into buying magic beans. Confused, you then realise- if your results do skyrocket, how will you know which supplement did it?

If this sounds familiar you are not alone. Clever marketing, celebrity endorsements and commercially funded studies all serve to murk the waters of the supplements industry, leaving us digging through the bullshit to find products that work. The truth is that most supplements are flat out a waste of money. Under researched ingredients, vague or tenuous claims and overuse of fillers can be detrimental to your wallet and your health.

Here I run down the top supplements worth considering.

Protein Powder

supplements worth your money

The most popular supplement by far!

Protein is essential for many bodily functions-not just building muscle. This means protein powder can be beneficial to all of us- not just the guys who want to get jacked! I often recommend protein shakes to my female clients, whether they are looking to slim down or build strength in the gym. Protein is the most satiating and thermogenic of all the macronutrients. This means it keeps you feeling full and uses more calories to digest than carbs and fats. [1]

When on a diet, keeping your protein intake high can signify to your body to hold onto muscle mass and instead burn fat and carbs for energy.[2] Protein shakes as meal replacements can be effective for fat loss, and are especially useful for busy mums on the go who don’t have time to prepare a proper breakfast or lunch. It can also be used as a healthy snack to keep you going between meals.



Creatine is produced in the body and is also found naturally in foods we eat. It is used in the production of ATP energy, the type of energy needed for short, explosive movement. Supplementation can improve muscle strength and weightlifting performance, compared to just training alone. [3]

Creatine Monohydrate is the most researched and scientifically backed performance enhancing supplement available. All the research pertains to the monohydrate version- similar versions such as HCL or ethyl ester do not have the same scientific backing. Is it worth it? That depends. Some people are non-respondent to it[4], it’s another thing to remember to take every day and it can cause stomach issues. But it is cheap so if you really care about strength give it a bash. Creapure, a branded version of Creatine Monohydrate known for its purity, is usually only a few pounds more than the unbranded version and is generally considered worth the extra expense.


BCAA stands for Branched Chain Amino Acid. The three amino acids in BCAAs are Leucine, Valine and Isoline. These are all essential amino acids. While leucine is the main amino acid needed for muscle growth, evidence shows that our body prefers to have the full spectrum of amino acids to repair and grow.[5] This means using protein powder is preferable to using BCAAs. BCAAs can come in a variety of flavours, like watermelon or fruit punch. They may be useful as a refreshing alternative if you don’t feel like a shake but don’t offer much other benefit.

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in promoting the production of proteins that protect the body from unwanted microorganisms. In addition it plays an important role in muscle and bone functions, and is vital in the absorption of calcium and other minerals.

Vitamin D deficiency is common in the UK and US but even more common is insufficiency. This means, you may not have real symptoms which send you to your doctor, but your levels are low enough to affect your wellbeing and health. Your doctor can test you to find out your exact levels and may recommend supplementation or injections.

Omega 3

supplements that are worth your money omega 3Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body, and may boost your immune system. They are proven to be beneficial for heart health, and although research into their effect on brain health looks promising it’s too early to say for sure how they might help.

Your need to supplement depends on how much omega 3 you are getting in your diet. If you do not consume 3 -4 portions of oily fish each week, a supplementation of 300- 1800 mg per day can be taken. Look for supplements with 500mg of EPA and DHA. Vegetarians need to be careful where they supplement from. The beneficial form of omega 3’s are DHA and EPA.[6] Many vegetarian forms of Omega 3 supplement contain ALA, rather than EPA and DHA. ALA can be converted to EPA and DHA in the body, but this process is very inefficient[7].


My personal favourite! Some pre-workouts contain excess caffeine, “secret” formulas, and unnecessary ingredients. Good ingredients to look for are caffeine, beta-alanine (currently 2nd to creatine as the most evidence backed performance supplement)[8], BCAA’s, sodium bicarbonate, red beetroot extract and L-tyrosine. There is also a lot of anecdotal evidence on the use of L-citrulline. If you’re down for more energy and power, a pre-workout could be your answer. Just choose your product carefully or you could end up in a jittery mess, spending more time squatting in the bathroom than the gym!

What do you think? Do you take any of these supplements and do you notice a difference when you do? Let me know in the comments.


About the Author

Sylvia Best is an online coach and personal trainer. She enjoys deadlifting, baking and thrill seeking. Sylvia lives in the English countryside but helps clients around the world with her bespoke online training programs.


[1] J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Oct;23(5):373-85.

The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review.

[2] Nutr Rev. 2016 Mar;74(3):210-24. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuv065. Epub 2016 Feb 16.

Effects of dietary protein intake on body composition changes after weight loss in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

[3] J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Nov;17(4):822-31.

Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance.

[4] J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Nov;17(4):822-31.

Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance.

[5] Front. Physiol., 07 June 2017 Branched-Chain Amino Acid Ingestion Stimulates Muscle Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following Resistance Exercise in Humans

[6] Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jul;84(1):5-17.

n-3 Fatty acids from fish or fish-oil supplements, but not alpha-linolenic acid, benefit cardiovascular disease outcomes in primary- and secondary-prevention studies: a systematic review.

[7] Reprod Nutr Dev. 2005 Sep-Oct;45(5):581-97.

Conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to longer-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in human adults.

Burdge GC1, Calder PC.

[8] Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2014 Feb;24(1):14-27. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2013-0007. Epub 2013 Aug 5.

The effects of beta-alanine supplementation on performance: a systematic review of the literature.

Quesnele JJ1, Laframboise MA, Wong JJ, Kim P, Wells GD.