Now that the festive season is behind us and the New Year is underway, many will be looking to set new fitness goals or recommit to old ones.
I spoke to sports nutritionist Abi Roberts, over at Bulk.com who kindly shared her comprehensive shopping list tailored specifically for fitness enthusiasts.
Whether you are a seasoned fitness aficionado or someone just starting their fitness journey, this guide will provide expert insights and recommendations.
Nutrition and Supplements
No matter your training goals, increasing your protein intake can serve as an important building block in the process.
Protein helps to support muscle recovery after exercise, decrease muscle soreness and promote the synthesis of new muscle. It can also support weight loss as it helps to regulate the hormones that control hunger and satiety.
Getting enough protein in your diet from whole foods is achievable but can often be time-consuming and expensive. Therefore, supplementing with protein powder can make it easier to hit your protein intake goals.
The most recognised form of protein powder is whey protein, which can be mixed with water or milk, and contains all 9 essential amino acids that the body needs for muscle repair and growth.
Whey protein typically comes in two forms; whey concentrate and whey isolate. The latter undergoes an additional level of processing to remove some of the lactose from the whey, which reduces the carbohydrate and fat content and yields a higher protein content per gram.
Whey isolate is better suited to individuals who struggle to digest lactose or those seeking a protein powder with a leaner macronutrient profile. However, it is worth noting that whey isolate is typically more expensive than its whey concentrate counterpart.
For vegan fitness enthusiasts, there are plant-based protein powders available, typically derived from pea or hemp protein sources.
These alternatives cater to individuals following a vegan lifestyle, providing them with suitable protein supplement options.
Creatine monohydrate is a natural source of energy that, when available in sufficient quantities, provides a steady energy source to support your muscles as they work.
This compound can be obtained from protein-rich foods such as beef and fish and is also produced naturally by the body, but not at the levels required to enhance creatine stores in the muscle.
As a result, supplementing with a creatine monohydrate powder can be useful for beginners and longtime fitness enthusiasts looking to increase muscle performance.
Research has shown that creatine increases physical performance in successive bursts of short-term, high-intensity exercise. It is therefore beneficial for those taking up weightlifting or high-intensity sports such as football and rugby.
BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, are essential nutrients often found in protein-rich foods, that can be taken as a supplement to aid muscle growth, and reduce exercise fatigue and muscle soreness.
Amino acids are molecules that act as the building blocks for different proteins created by the body. Your body requires 20 different amino acids to function correctly, nine of which are considered essential. This means the body cannot make them, and they must be obtained through your diet.
Of these nine, three are considered to be branched-chain amino acids due to their chemical structure; leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
These have been proven to support muscle growth, reduce muscle soreness, and reduce the fatigue that comes with strenuous exercise.
BCAAs are available as a supplement in powder form, which is mixed with water and can be taken pre, intra or post-workout.
BCAA powder is also vegan-friendly, which makes it handy for those on plant-based diets who may not acquire sufficient BCAAs through their diet.
While fitness is a lifestyle commitment, there are some days when you may not feel motivated to push yourself as hard.
That’s where pre-workout supplements come in, offering natural support to boost performance, alertness, and concentration, allowing you to maximise the benefits of every workout session.
Pre-workout, which is often available in powder and tablet form, can vary in its ingredients from product to product.
Most pre-workout formulas will contain caffeine to increase alertness and energy, as well as ingredients such as arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, citrulline malate and BCCAs.
These powerful components enhance your physical performance and aid in post-workout recovery. Additionally, they may contain L-tyrosine, a vital ingredient that supports mental function.
If you are purchasing these supplements for someone who is intolerant to caffeine, it is crucial to carefully examine the ingredients list to ensure it aligns with their needs.
High-quality vitamin and mineral supplements can be a valuable addition to an active lifestyle. While studies have shown that vitamin deficiencies are rare amongst athletes, those combining exercise with dieting in order to reach their fitness goals may find multivitamins beneficial for energy and overall health.
These supplements can play a crucial role in ensuring that both beginners and long-time fitness enthusiasts receive all the necessary nutrients on a daily basis.
6. Protein bars
Protein bars are the perfect gift for the fitness enthusiast constantly on the move. Packed with approximately 20g of protein per bar, they are an excellent choice for individuals looking to meet their daily protein goals, while remaining low in fats and carbohydrates.
Protein bars can be an efficient way to snack without compromising fitness goals. Moreover, they are a fantastic alternative to protein shakes, offering a quick and easy way to fuel your body with extra nutrition between meals.
Protein bars are available in various delicious flavours to cater to diverse tastes.
Maintaining optimal gut health is crucial for overall well-being. An effective way to achieve gut balance is by incorporating friendly bacteria into our body’s natural microflora.
Research has shown that probiotics support normal immune function and aid in treating common conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
While high-quality fermented foods like yoghurt and sauerkraut are often excellent sources of probiotics, incorporating probiotic supplements into one’s diet can provide a convenient and hassle-free alternative.
A protein shaker is the ultimate solution for blending protein shakes, pre-workout and BCAAs while on the move. These handy containers are equipped with a wire mixing ball, guaranteeing smooth and clump-free shakes with every use.
Protein shakers are available in various sizes to cater to individual preferences. Shakers featuring convenient carry handles are particularly beneficial for fitness enthusiasts, making them an ideal gift for your loved ones who prioritise their health and fitness goals.
9. Water bottle
Hydration is a core part of a healthy and fit lifestyle. A reusable water bottle is the best gift to help the fitness lover in your life maintain optimal hydration throughout their workout, while also minimising their consumption of single-use plastics.
10. Resistance bands
As the name suggests, these bands are used to add resistance to an exercise, making it harder to perform and working the muscles harder.
They come in a range of resistance levels, and their portability means they can be utilised at both at home and in the gym.
If you struggle to do pull-ups, resistance bands can also reduce the effort needed to pull your body up to the bar.
Simply add a resistance band to the pullup bar, place your knees into it, and the band should make it easier to perform.