The Best Supplements to Support Your Fitness Goals 

by JJ Virgin on March 28, 2024

Navigating the world of fitness supplements can feel overwhelming. Some make extravagant claims, while others lack scientific backing. A few may even carry potential health risks. 

My goal is to break through the hype and confusion so you can make informed choices that support and uplevel your fitness journey. The following options aid in muscle growth, recovery, endurance, and overall performance, and are the top evidence-backed supplements to support your fitness goals.  

1. Protein Powder 

A high-protein diet provides many fitness benefits, such as aiding in fat loss and preserving muscle mass.1 Protein also helps stabilize blood-sugar levels, preventing energy crashes and providing sustained energy for workouts and daily activities.2 

Optimal protein intake can stimulate muscle protein synthesis, supporting muscle recovery and growth while also reducing muscle soreness and aiding in post-workout recovery by repairing damaged muscle fibers.3,4 The essential amino acids found in protein serve various functions that align with your fitness goals, including hormone regulation and enzyme production.5 

Aim for 30-50 grams of protein at every meal. Incorporating foods like grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, and other animal proteins into your diet is an excellent way to meet this goal. 

To complement this “eat-protein-first” approach, protein powder can be a valuable addition. A quality supplement offers a convenient way to meet your protein requirements, whether as a meal replacement or consumed around workout times. Protein powders are also incredibly versatile, easily mixing into a loaded smoothie or your favorite foods like coconut yogurt for a quick protein boost.  

2. Digestive Enzymes 

Getting the right amount of protein is crucial, but equally vital is the absorption of that protein. Incomplete protein digestion means you might not fully benefit from this essential macronutrient. That's where digestive enzymes come in—they play a key role in maximizing the nutritional benefits derived from your protein intake. 

Efficient protein digestion and amino acid absorption support faster muscle recovery, reducing muscle soreness and improving your readiness for subsequent training sessions.6 By facilitating the breakdown of protein, digestive enzymes expedite the delivery of amino acids to muscle tissues during and after workouts, improving muscle protein synthesis.  

However, protein breakdown and digestion can become less efficient under certain circumstances, including age.7 A comprehensive digestive enzyme supplement not only provides the enzymes that break down protein but also targets fat, carbs, and problematic ingredients like gluten or dairy that might inadvertently find their way into even the most carefully designed meal plan. Additionally, a quality digestive enzyme should contain betaine hydrochloride (HCl), which functions similarly to stomach acid to further optimize nutrient breakdown.   

3. Collagen 

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, serving as a critical structural component of tissues like skin, bones, tendons, and cartilage. It provides strength, elasticity, and support to various body structures, contributing to skin firmness, joint flexibility, and connective tissues that support muscles and organs.8 

This multitasking protein contains specific amino acids supporting muscle repair and growth, and post-workout recovery. Supplementing with collagen helps maintain joint integrity, reducing the risk of injuries often associated with high-impact activities and strength training.9 

Muscles rely on bones as anchor points to generate force and facilitate movement. Collagen, found within bone tissue, contributes to bone strength and integrity, ensuring a stable framework for muscle action. Collagen can also alleviate exercise-induced joint pain and discomfort, making sticking to a fitness routine easier.10 

Introducing a high-quality collagen powder into your diet can increase your body's collagen supply, which naturally declines with age.11 This multitasking supplement can support skin health, joint function, muscle and bone strength, and overall well-being.* 

4. Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) 

Amino acids are the fundamental building blocks of proteins. They fall into two categories: essential and non-essential amino acids. While your body can produce non-essential amino acids, it cannot independently generate essential amino acids, so you must get them from food or supplements.  

EAAs provide the vital components for muscle protein synthesis, helping to form muscle tissue. Supplementation with EAAs post-exercise enhances your body's ability to repair and build muscle, with leucine (a key amino acid) playing a significant role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis.12,13 

EAAs also help reduce muscle protein breakdown, especially during intense training or calorie restriction, preserving muscle mass and strength.14 Reduced fatigue and increased endurance can lead to more productive workouts and faster progress toward fitness goals. 

By supplementing with EAAs after workouts, recovery is accelerated by providing the necessary amino acids for muscle repair, reducing muscle soreness, and allowing frequent training sessions.15 A comprehensive supply of amino acids supports hormone regulation, enzyme production, and other bodily functions that can help your workout.16 

A free-form amino acid powder offers a rapid supply of essential amino acids, swiftly absorbed by the body. Since they bypass the need for digestion, these amino acids are readily available for muscle and tissue utilization. This quick availability supports muscle protein synthesis, repair, and recovery, particularly during and after exercise. 

5. Creatine 

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in certain foods and synthesized in your body. Creatine supplementation increases creatine phosphate levels in muscles, providing rapid energy during short bursts of intense exercise.17 This supplement helps you push harder during workouts, resulting in more reps, heavier weights, or improved sprinting ability. 

Creatine can also promote muscle growth by increasing water content in muscle cells. Enhanced cell volume can stimulate muscle protein synthesis, where muscles repair and grow in response to exercise-induced damage.18  

Creatine also delays muscle fatigue during high-intensity exercises by expediting the replenishment of ATP, the body's primary energy currency.19 As a result, you have better muscle function, strength, and energy during workouts.  

Creatine has been linked to a reduction in muscle cell damage and inflammation after intense workouts, further supporting faster recovery and less muscle soreness.20 

Creatine powder is a convenient way to enhance your workout performance and muscle growth.* It is flavorless and mixes easily into loaded smoothies or any liquid, making it effortless to incorporate into your daily routine. More than any other supplement lately, creatine has been a game-changer for me

6. Electrolytes 

Electrolytes are essential minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride. They play a vital role in preserving your body's fluid balance. Electrolytes ensure the correct amount of fluids remains inside and outside your cells. They help maintain sufficient water intake, support nerve and muscle function, and regulate blood pressure, all of which are crucial for peak physical fitness. 

When you work out, you lose electrolytes through sweat. Restoring these electrolytes is essential to prevent dehydration, enhancing overall exercise performance, more efficient workouts, and reducing the risk of muscle fatigue and cramping.21 Electrolytes also assist your cells in energy production during exercise.22 

Look for an electrolyte formula that provides potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, and other fitness-focused nutrients such as D-ribose, taurine, vitamin C, quercetin, and citrus bioflavonoids. Many commercial fruit-flavored powders contain sugar or artificial sweeteners. Look for one sweetened with stevia.  

7. Vitamin D 

Vitamin D is a sometimes-overlooked but critical nutrient to support your fitness goals. This fat-soluble vitamin helps regulate muscle contractions. It also enhances the strength and integrity of muscles, ensuring they function correctly.23 

Vitamin D aids calcium absorption in your intestines, which is essential for strong bones. Strong bones, in turn, provide the structural support necessary for resistance training and overall muscle function.24  

Having optimal vitamin D levels can lead to improved muscle performance during workouts. It may decrease fatigue, allowing for sustained energy levels throughout the day.25 Vitamin D also contributes to muscle recovery after workouts, reducing your risk of muscle soreness.26 A quicker recovery lets you engage in more frequent and effective workouts. 

Vitamin D plays a role in regulating hormones like testosterone, vital for muscle growth and strength.27 

Vitamin D works best with vitamin K to optimize calcium absorption for strong bones, reduce joint inflammation, support heart health, and more. A high-quality supplement combines these fat-soluble vitamins to enhance the benefits of vitamin D.* 

8. Omega-3 Fatty Acids 

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the primary omega-3 fatty acids in wild-caught seafood and fish oil supplements. They have various health benefits, including supporting your heart and brain health. These fatty acids can also help your fitness goals in several ways.  

  1. Inflammation management: Omega-3 fatty acids can help your body better manage inflammation, reducing muscle soreness and joint pain. This capability can enhance post-exercise recovery.28 
  1. Improved joint mobility: Omega-3s contribute to improved joint mobility, making them particularly valuable when you're engaged in weight-bearing exercises.29 
  1. Muscle protein synthesis: Omega-3s promote muscle protein synthesis, which supports muscle recovery and growth.30 

When buying a supplement, look for one with high amounts of EPA and DHA. Many commercial supplements boast high amounts of omega-3s but contain low amounts of EPA and DHA. A quality supplement should have around one gram of combined EPA and DHA in each serving.* 

Reach Your Fitness Goals Faster

My Resistance Training Cheat Sheet provides everything you need for your fitness journey and complements your supplement regimen. Whether you're new or want to upgrade your current plan, this cheat sheet offers home gym essentials, an 8-week workout plan, and a progress tracker to track your sets, reps, and weights with each workout. 

Get your FREE Resistance Training Cheat Sheet here.


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The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.     

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.