There are so many different supplements on the market that it can become difficult to establish what you need, and what is nothing more than a luxury. A process that becomes inherently more complex when you start to factor money into the equation.
Here at Amino Z we appreciate that not everyone has an abundance of spare cash to spend on supplements -- which is why we endeavor to provide top quality options at a very affordable price point.
But even then, you cannot debate the fact that some supplements are simply more affordable than others.
While there are a number of reasons as to why this might be the case, the biggest comes down to production costs. In short, some supplements are much more expensive to make than others -- and this cost is then passed onto consumers.
With all this in mind, we wanted to highlight some of the most effective, and most affordable, supplements on the market. These are supplements that will cost you very little money, but have a huge impact on the results of your training.
So, without further ado -- the three most cost-effective supplements on the market.
Creatine is a compound found naturally occurring in your body. Most of the creatine found in your body is stored within your muscle tissue, where it is then used during exercise to produce energy during short, high intensity, efforts.
The kicker here is that the amount of energy you can produce using creatine is predicated on the amount that is stored within your muscles. Oh, and I should note that this amount is actually quite small -- which is exactly where creatine supplements enter the discussion.
By increasing your creatine stores, they increase the amount of energy you can produce during exercise. In a gym training environment, this results in a few extra reps per set, or simply more weight on the bar for the same amount of reps .
Now, while I appreciate that being able to lift more weight in a single gym session is pretty cool, it is when we take a look at the long-term picture where creatine supplements really start to shine.
Research has shown that individuals who supplement with creatine observe much larger increases in strength and muscle size than people not taking creatine -- even when they perform the exact same training program [2, 3].
With this in mind, creatine is actually one of the most well researched, effective, supplements on the market.
Now for the really cool part… It is also one of the cheapest.
A 1kg bag of creatine monohydrate (arguably the most effective type of creatine supplement) will set you back about $25.00. Which, when we consider that a single serve of creatine (you take one serve per day) is 5 grams, works out to about 12 cents per serve.
If you are after an affordable supplement, then look no further.
2. Protein Powder
Protein powder is arguably the most commonly sold supplement on the market -- and for very good reason too.
See, every time you train, you place your body under stress. This stress then tells your body that it needs to grow bigger and stronger so that it can better tolerate that stress in the future.
It is this process that really describes how muscle growth and strength adaptation occur in response to training.
The caveat here is that if you don't have enough protein readily available in your body, then this adaptation simply cannot occur -- meaning you end up spinning your wheels, doing a heap of training without any gaining.
Now, there has been quite a bit of research looking at how much protein you need on a daily basis, and it has established that the minimal threshold to maximise muscle growth when lifting weights is 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, per day .
Note I said the minimum amount to optimise muscle growth...
There is some research that suggests going as high as 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight may have further benefits .
This means that if you weigh 70kgs, you should be eating somewhere between 112 and 154 grams of protein every single day.
The negative here is that very few people actually consume anywhere near enough protein to support their training goals. Which is really why protein supplements are such a viable and effective option.
Now, 1kg of protein powder will typically set you back somewhere between $25.00 and $35.00 (you often get a discount when you buy in bulk). While a kilogram of protein may not sound like a lot, it should last you about a month if you take a single serving per day.
While this is certainly not as affordable as creatine, it is still a great deal.
As most of you would be aware, caffeine is a naturally occurring compound found in plants that also happens to act as a potent stimulant. While caffeine is most commonly consumed in the form of coffee and tea, it can also be taken in the shape of a supplement, most often as a powder or tablet.
One of the most interesting things about caffeine is how it works in the human body.
After consumption, caffeine enters the bloodstream and makes its way into the brain, where it starts attaching itself to specific receptors known as “adenosine receptors”.
Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that acts to relax the brain. Under normal conditions, adenosine levels slowly accumulate in your body, making you feel tired and helping you fall asleep
But, caffeine blocks these receptors, making you feel more alert and energised.
Interestingly (and arguably more importantly), caffeine also increases the levels of adrenaline, dopamine, and norepinephrine, in your body. These three compounds stimulate your brain, improving cognitive function and physical capacity.
As a result, caffeine has been shown to cause vast improvements in mental alertness and function, leading to better attention, reaction time, problem solving capability, short term memory, and judgement .
As I am sure you can imagine, this can have a marked increase in workout quality.
But even more important is the effect that caffeine has on physical performance. A recent review looked at a number of studies in the scientific literature and established that caffeine supplements can cause significant improvements in strength, endurance, and power .
This makes it one of the most effective pre-workout supplements on the market.
And the best bit?
It is super affordable.
A container of around 100 moderately dosed tablets providing 200 mg of caffeine (a regular cup of coffee contains about 80 mg of caffeine) will set you back between $10.00 and $20.00 -- which works out to be between 10 and 20 cents per workout.
This is a must have if you are looking for a simple and effective pre-workout supplement that won't break the bank.
Despite what big name supplement brands might have you believe, you really don’t have to spend a lot of money to get some seriously effective supplements.
In fact, you don't have to spend much at all.
For as little as 30 dollars per month you can get a high quality protein powder, creatine, and caffeine, all of which will improve performance, recovery, and your training results in a very meaningful -- and affordable -- way.
Simple and effective.
- Mills S, Candow DG, Forbes SC, Neary JP, Ormsbee MJ, Antonio J. Effects of Creatine Supplementation during Resistance Training Sessions in Physically Active Young Adults. Nutrients. 2020;12(6):1880.
- Rawson ES, Volek JS. Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2003;17(4):822-831.
- Cooper R, Naclerio F, Allgrove J, Jimenez A. Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012;9(1):33.
- Morton, Robert W., et al. "A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults." British journal of sports medicine 52.6 (2018): 376-384.
- Stokes, Tanner, et al. "Recent perspectives regarding the role of dietary protein for the promotion of muscle hypertrophy with resistance exercise training." Nutrients 10.2 (2018): 180.
- McLellan, Tom M., John A. Caldwell, and Harris R. Lieberman. "A review of caffeine’s effects on cognitive, physical and occupational performance." Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 71 (2016): 294-312.
- Grgic, Jozo, et al. "Wake up and smell the coffee: caffeine supplementation and exercise performance—an umbrella review of 21 published meta-analyses." British journal of sports medicine 54.11 (2020): 681-688.