Supplements don’t just provide healthy hair and nails, they can also be used to help you to achieve your exercise goals, from fat loss and muscle gain to athletic performance and health. Below we’ll look at the top 7 supplements you can use to support your exercise and how to get the most out of them.
Probably the most well know workout supplement, whey protein has been proven to help with athletic performance, muscle building, and fat loss. 
There are a wide variety of different protein powders you can buy, with lots of different flavours and calorie contents available. What you choose is up to you, but make sure to check the label carefully to see if leucine is the main amino acid in your shake. Leucine is the most important amino acid for protein synthesis within the body. Some brands bulk out their protein powders with other amino acids to cut costs, but these alternatives aren’t as effective for building muscle. [2,3]
As well as this, opt for protein that’s labelled as ‘isolate’. Protein in isolate form is sightly purer than concentrate and hydrolysed.
Many people, including bodybuilders and professional weightlifters, find that pure creatine monohydrate to be a beneficial supplement for building strength, muscle mass, and exercise performance. [4,5]
Some people believe that creatine is unsafe or has side effect, but this is not supported by evidence.  In fact, creatine is one of the world’s most tested supplements and has an excellent safety profile. 
Creatine helps you to complete a few more reps in a workout, boosts your power output, and increases water retention in your muscles (which can help with muscle growth). 
A recent study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology has found that higher levels of Vitamin D within the body are associated with greater exercise abilities.  Dr Amr Marawan, assistant professor of internal medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University and a co-author of the study, said “the relationship between higher vitamin D levels and better exercise capacity holds in men and women, across the young and middle age groups, across ethnicities, regardless of body mass index or smoking status, and whether or not participants have hypertension or diabetes.” However, Marawan is also quick to point out that the study is only observational and doesn’t highlight the cause and effect between Vitamin D and exercise ability. 
Public Health England recommend that everyone should be taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of Vitamin D. 
Vitamin K2 can help to improve bone strength and decrease calcium build up in your blood vessels and kidneys. [11,12] This reduces calcification of your arteries and your risk of stroke and heart disease. [13,14] It has also been recently identified to an increase in the heart’s output during endurance exercise. 
Vitamin K2 comes from animal sources like high-fat dairy products from grass-fed cows, egg yolks, liver, and other organ meats.  Alternatively, Vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, natto, and miso. 
If these foods are inaccessible to you, you can take Vitamin K2 supplements. The benefits of supplementing Vitamin K2 may be enhanced when you are also supplementing Vitamin D, as these two vitamins have been shown to have synergistic effects. 
Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring beta amino acid. It can help to prolong the time it takes for you to get exhausted and can help to increase muscle endurance in older adults. [19-23] However, it hasn’t been as well studied as creatine.
Despite the fact that it’s not widely known, Berberine is one of the most potent supplements available.  It has powerful effects on many different systems within the body, but most importantly for your exercise goals is its impact on the enzyme ‘AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)’. 
Berberine activates the AMPK enzymes inside the cells of various organs including the brain, muscle, kidney, heart, and liver.  This enzyme is sometimes called a “metabolic master switch” as it plays a major role in regulating metabolism. [27,28]
Two studies so far have looked into berberine’s ability as a weight loss supplement. A 12-week study of obese individuals who took 500 mg of berberine 3 times a day observed an average weight loss of about 5 pounds. The participants also lost 3.6% of their body fat.  Another 3-month study observed 37 men and women with a metabolic syndrome who took 300 mg 3 times a day. The participants’ BMIs dropped from 31.5 to 27.4, or from obese to overweight, in only 3 months. They also reduced their waist circumference and improved in other health markers. 
Berberine has also been shown to inhibit the growth of fat cells at a molecular level. [31,32]
Magnesium is used in over 600 chemical reactions in the body. In fact, every cell contains it and needs it to function. Most importantly, it helps to convert food into energy, create new proteins from amino acids, and create and repair DNA and RNA. It is also involved in the contraction and relaxation of muscles and helps to regulate neurotransmitters in the brain and nervous system. 
Studies have shown that magnesium can boost exercise performance, thanks to its ability to move blood sugar into your muscles and dispose of lactate (which causes muscle fatigue). In one study, volleyball players who took 250 mg of magnesium per day experienced improvements in jumping and arm movements.  Another study of athletes who supplements magnesium for 4 weeks showed faster running, cycling, and swimming times during a triathlon. They also had reduced insulin and stress hormone levels. 
However, evidence is mixed. Other studies have found no benefit in athletes with low or normal levels of magnesium using supplements. [36,37]
Magnesium can be found in seeds, nuts, leafy green vegetables, dark chocolate, and coffee, but studies suggest that around 50% of people in Europe and the USA get less than their daily recommended amount of magnesium. [38,39] Magnesium supplements are available.