There are tons and tons of bodybuilding supplements on the market, and the overwhelming variety just gives more confusion to beginners and intermediates. Many people just go from one “best supplement of the month” to another. Few know that, essentially, 80% (or even more, in some countries like USA, where health control is not so strict) of all the supplements are absolute rubbish. And we mean it – waste of time, money, and in the worst scenario – waste of health. In 2006 even U.S. Federal Trade Commission agreed that most supplements related to weight loss are just lies and exaggerated claims. It isn’t any different with bodybuilding supplements.
But what are the supplements that actually do work?
Good-old protein powder. It should be your number one supplement, if you are serious about building muscles. We had a good article about Top 5 Protein Powders here, take a look – https://www.realmuscleforum.com/content/top-5-protein-powders-for-best-muscle-gains/860
Doesn’t matter what kind of protein powder you choose, whey, isolate, casein or a mix of these, just avoid soy protein. And you must know that casein is great when taken before sleep (1-1.5 hours) or any time during the day if that’s your off day. And it’s not a perfect choice to take directly after a workout for the very same reason. Best idea is to take protein isolate, or just simple whey protein, they are absorbed at a much faster rate.
Don’t forget that protein powder is just a supplement and it’s not designed to replace meals. It’s best taken in between meals or it could be considered as a snack, if you eat some fruits and nuts with the protein shake. And remember, only 20-30% (40 is absolute maximum) of protein should come from protein shakes. Everything else should come from a balanced diet.
Creatine. It’s another supplement that stood the test of time. Creatine Monohydrate is widely known and easily accessible. It’s cheap too.
Creatine has a lot of strengths. First of all, you get additional energy, which in the best case translates into additional 2 or even 3 reps in your hardest sets. These are just short bursts of energy available at your command, when your muscles are exhausted.
Secondly, you will gain at least few kilograms of muscle mass. For the most part it happens because of the additional water stored in your muscle cells. However, a part (roughly half) of it will be lost when you stop taking creatine. You need optimal hydration when you are taking this supplement, which simply means – drink more water!
There are dozens of studies were made and no side effects were found from using creatine for prolonged periods of time. That’s why some bodybuilding experts suggest that you use it regularly, year round. Some use it 3-5 times throughout a year, taking a break after each 300 grams or so. How you are going to use it is entirely up to you. It will work anyways.
5-10 grams (1-2 scoops) of creatine per day is recommended. Any more than that and you will be flushing your creatine down the toilet, quite literally. “Loading phase” is not necessary, but it might help (“loading phase” is precisely described on any creatine container).
BCAA (branched-chain amino acids). Amino acids are the foundation of any protein. They have 3 main qualities:
- They promote catabolism, which means they prevent your muscle tissues from breaking down.
- They promote anabolism, which means they promote muscle growth and repair.
- They give you additional energy, by saving your glycogen (glucose).
If you already take protein shakes, and decided to start taking BCAA, cut your protein consumption a bit, because excess protein consumption doesn’t build more muscles.
These 3 the golden supplements that anyone can take and expect results. But be aware – supplements are not magic pills, and they will not transform your body overnight. They just “supplement” your diet and hard training and make the process more effective.
Oh and by the way, whether you are taking any supplements or not, you should get good multi-vitamins and fish oil if you are going into the gym or doing any other sports. These are not even supplements, they are a necessity.