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Is the consumption of supplemental products such as protein, creatine, and/or l-carnitine beneficial for the development of muscle and loss of fat? What evidence exists to support that, and does being a beginner effect this in any way?

Alternatively, is it better to simply eat right (focusing on natural foods) as opposed to utilizing supplements?

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First of all, it is always best to first have a healthy diet before taking any supplements. There is no scientific evidence for fat burning supplements, so I should not use those anyway. The best fat burner is creating muscle mass, which will help you increase your metabolism.

Increasing your muscle mass will help with a high protein intake, but also here above the 1.5 gram per kilo body weight is only feeding your toilet. There are various articles on the internet and a normal person, doing normal sports, gets enough protein when taking 0.8 gram per kilo body weight. A normal diet should suffice to get this amount of protein. First when you have a training regime where you train more than 3 times per week 1.5 hours, you might need supplements for training. Then it is best to consult a trainer or take dietary advice. Again, more than 1.5 gram per kilo body weight will not help you any further.

Creatine is a different thing. It helps your muscles to hold more ATP and therefore boosts short term performance. IT also increases the water hold by your muscles and therefore make them bigger and you heavier. Scientific studies have found no side effects and it is pretty safe to take. As a beginner this might help you in muscle growth, since you will be able to do more and that increased training will grow your muscles.

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To respond to your question directly, yes, it is always preferable to eat well before considering dietary supplements. And this is especially true of beginners, since it establishes the norms by which we train throughout our careers thereafter.

The Australian Institute of Sport and its state equivalents institute a ‘no supplement’ policy for all of their under-18 athletes for this very reason. Although these athletes are elite, the importance of managing a good diet is placed above any supposed advantages that supplementation may afford. And, it should be noted, they have an impressive performance record both domestically and internationally.

The justification is simple: there is no evidence that supplementation is necessary for optimum recovery—indeed, the nutrient requirements of amateur and elite athletes, alike, are easily attained through a varied diet. A typical Western diet, for example, provides twice the amount of protein recommended for the normal population, or the maximum that can be utilised by elite strength and power athletes. And that is just the average diet! Supplementation, whilst conveniently providing the macronutrients, by its very nature—since its nutrients are refined and isolated—it does not provide all of the other nutrients essential to good health. Thus a reliance on supplements tends to encourage poorer overall nutrition.

That said, although it is not ideal, supplementation is certainly warranted when an individual has a restrictive diet, or when they otherwise find it difficult to meet their dietary requirements for any other reason. Also, there is considerable evidence to support the claims made for supplementation of certain nutrients such as l-carnitine and creatine. In such cases, whilst supplementation may provide a theoretical and measurable benefit to more advanced athletes, such benefits are unlikely to be seen by novices, since their progress is limited at a more fundamental level—restricted, for example, by the planning of their training, their skill mastery, and their tolerance to exercise volume.

So in summary, it is preferable for all athletes—beginners through to elite—to address their nutritional needs with a broad, varied diet based on whole foods. But more advanced athletes, particularly, may benefit from supplementation of particular nutrients such as l-carnitine and creatine. And although it is a sub-optimum strategy, certain athletes with special dietary requirements may also benefit from supplementation.

As a final note, it should be understood that this is not to imply that a typical diet necessarily meets all of the nutritional requirements of a beginner—poor diets are common amongst the normal population—but rather that with careful planning and attention, a broad and varied diet can easily meet those needs. And it should go without saying that an understanding of dietary planning is an essential skill for any beginner to learn.

I hope that offers you a different perspective on the issue.

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Eating healthy is one thing. Having supplements is another.

You can eat healthy, with the right macros for your body, eat every 3-4 hours, and still, you might need supplements.

It depends always on your specific goal. And I say a specific goal because ok fat loss is a goal but not specific. How much fat loss do you want to have? You have to be micro-focused. Also, some nutrients its really difficult to find them in a normal portion of foods (again depending on your goal). Because you are a beginner I would recommend having BCAA's after your work out mixed with creatine for better recovery. Also, you might like to have casein protein before bed (this can work perfectly all night long, along with your body protein synthesis and recover the damaged muscle fibres better). Better recovery means more training.

Also sometimes by having let's say a protein shake (whey protein low calories) you can feel full and don't eat much. Always remember that calories-in < calories-out = fat loss (about 10-15 % fewer calories than you need is optimum)

Regarding your fat loss, you should consider building more muscles (fat burners) and doing some mixed cardio with hit workouts in your training week.

Another reason I am pro supplements is that it's more convenient to have them on the go and some times cheaper.

I wish you all the best for your fitness journey (it's hard and need dedications but its worth)

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