As an athlete, bodybuilder or anyone interested in health & fitness, one of the biggest concerns is the use of dietary supplements. This concern often leaves the big question; “Should I use supplements? If so, what supplements should I be using?”
Are We Being Tricked?
With the inability to answer the question above, the supplement companies take advantage of the curious customer. Most popular supplements use a catchy slogan like “Build Muscle Fast!” and feature a huge bodybuilder as an endorsement (that obviously has used illegal substances to achieve their physique) to make their products stand out. Along with the endorsement and catchy slogan, the companies often advertise falsified research results; these results are not backed with any scientific evidence or long-term research. The companies use ridiculous claims as an attention grabber because the supplement companies know that you will not do your own research or perform a ‘trial and error’ process to prove or disprove these claims. It seems as if we are being taken advantage of. However, in the modern supplement world, there are typically only a dozen or so different main ingredients available. But despite this, the companies tweak little aspects of the products claiming that the product is a “New Discovery!” and try to trick you. The companies have you believing that this ‘NEW’ product is the secret to the body of your dreams. But beware; if you’re like me, then you will probably just end up with disappointment and an empty wallet.
So, What Supplements Actually Work?
Don’t worry! We all have fallen victim to the supplement companies at one time or another, but now it’s time to protect yourself with THE TRUTH! Remember guys, we don’t grow in the gym; we grow outside the gym with nutrition, rest and supplementation. In order to help you grow and get the most from your workouts, supplements can be used. Therefore, I have compiled a list of essential supplements that are proven to work. These supplements should be taken daily in order gain muscle, burn fat and achieve a healthy body. If you do not use the following supplements, you’re doing yourself an injustice, the supplements below are scientifically proven, with decades of research and studies behind them and the results from supplementing with the products are overwhelming!
The absolute most important supplement is Whey & Casein Protein. Whey protein is the fastest absorbing protein, which is great for post workout! Unlike wise, Casein Protein is a slow digesting protein that can be taken throughout the day and especially before sleep. The reason I listed protein as the most essential supplement is due to the importance protein plays for our bodies. As you should recall, there are three macronutrients; Protein’s, Carbohydrate’s & Fat’s. Out of these three, protein takes the longest for our bodies to digest. Therefore, this digestion will actually use a lot of calories as the energy to digest it. This caloric use can cause fat loss by just digesting, how great is that? The next important reason behind Protein’s importance is a process called “Protein Synthesis”. Protein synthesis is creation of new proteins, for example; your hair, nails, skin, organs, eyes and most importantly muscle is made up of proteins! In order for all those to exist, protein synthesis must occur. So, by taking in additional protein, your body uses it to create new muscle at a much quicker rate! Proteins are without a doubt the most important supplement to use, for their key role in your functions and ability to burn fat and build new muscle.
While Creatine may be one of the most effective supplements, it is also one of the most controversial as well. Many misconceptions and negative side effects are rumored about Creatine, but these rumors are due to the misuse or misunderstanding of the supplement. The biggest misunderstanding is that Creatine ‘creates muscle’. Creatine does not create muscle, Creatine aids in the muscle building process. Creatine increases the energy level of muscle output. Meaning, that Creatine provides the muscles more energy(ATP) to perform more work, therefore the more your muscles work, the more muscle mass that will be created. To be effective, Creatine should be taken before and after your workout to ensure maximum energy and maximum recovery. The recommended dose is approximately 5 grams before you work out and 5 grams after you work out.
*WARNING: Often times a label will recommend a ‘Loading Phase’ asking you to use 20 grams or more Creatine to start a cycle. This lie is a sales pitch making you run out of Creatine quicker; your body cannot absorb 20 grams of Creatine, and if you do use more than 5 grams per serving, your body will flush it out as waste.
Amino Acids, found in protein are considered the ‘Building Blocks of Protein’. These building blocks are important because the aid tremendously in muscle growth. Out of the 20 Amino Acids, L-Glutamine is the fastest absorbing Amino Acid. The majority of the skeletal muscle is made of L-Glutamine and is the best amino acid for recovery. Meaning, L-Glutamine speeds up the recovery process better than any other supplement on the market. The recommended dose is approximately 10-15 grams per serving. Take one serving twice daily; immediately after your workout and before bed time.
Hydroxy Methylbutyrate or better known as HMB is primary used for its Anti-Catabolic effect.
In the 1990’s, Iowa State University used HMB on a study of Cattle. At the end of 8 weeks, the cattle with the HMB had a significantly lower body fat percentage and higher lean muscle mass increase than the cattle that did not take it. These astonishing results later caused human experiments where the same result was proven. Like I previously mentioned, HMB is best known for its anti-catabolic state; but what exactly does that mean? Anti-Catabolic means an increase in anabolism (muscle increase) and a decrease in catabolism (deterioration of muscle). Right before your body enters the overtraining mode, the addition of HMB will prevent your body from using muscle as an energy source; protecting your muscles from being cannibalized. All in all, HMB speeds up the recovery process to drastically increase muscle size and strength which makes it an essential supplement.
Most often used in the form of Fish Oils, Omega 3 Fatty Acid provides several benefits and is an essential fatty acid which means your body cannot produce it. The most popular benefits from supplementing with Omega 3’s include preventing cancer, heart attack, diabetes, and strokes. Omega 3 also improves vision, concentration and most notably helps reduce arthritis, joint stiffness or tenderness. Due to its ability to perform ‘all in one’, it is considered an essential supplement. The recommended amount per serving is 1-3 grams. Take Omega 3’s two to 3 times a day for maximum effectiveness.
Although as bodybuilders, we typically eat healthy. It can be certain that we do not consume all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need. Vitamins and minerals are responsible for regulating our bodies’ major and minor functions. Therefore taking a multi-vitamin can help ensure you are not missing out on any vitamins and minerals.
Always remember when choosing a supplement, do your own homework, don’t believe the hype of advertisement, typically the supplement companies spend more money on advertisements then on actual product development itself. Meaning you’re buying the hype instead of the results. If you are trying to get more muscle mass, more strength and get healthier, by not taking the supplements listed above, you are doing yourself an injustice. Remember it’s not all about who trains the hardest, it’s about who trains the smartest.