Last year, Americans spent roughly 27 billion, yes billion, dollars on sports and dietary supplements, and chances are if you are reading this you contributed to that staggering total. The question you have to ask yourself is it money well spent? Did the supplements you purchased have a positive impact on your bodybuilding journey?
First, before delving into what supplements are tried and true and should be included in every aspiring bodybuilders stack, I need to go on a small rant. Sports and dietary supplements are exactly what they are called, supplements. What I mean by this is that the multitude of products available to you today should be seen as something extra, or in addition to, a proper training and nutrition program. There isn’t a supplement out there that is effective enough to allow for lackluster nutrition or training, and while I’m not denying the supplements may help, I would liken it to putting a Band-Aid on a cut that should definitely require stitches. It may or may not hold, but in the end it’s going to take a lot longer to heal, and the scar it will leave will be much uglier than if you had just done things right and got your stitches. Just like trying to use a Band-Aid when you should get stitches, using supplements to make up for the lost ground of improper nutrition and training will just make it take that much longer to reach your goals, and the end results you are able to produce will be less (uglier!) than you would’ve gotten with a proper foundation. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, I’ve recently written blogs on both nutrition and training that people have found helpful. /rant
Alright, now that I got that out of my system, let’s talk supplements! I’m going to present to you first those supplements that I believe any person trying to improve themselves physically should be taking, and then in a follow up to this blog will tell you what I believe should be staples in the supplementation of an advanced bodybuilder.
Whey Protein: Protein is usually the first thing that comes to mind when you talk to someone about supplements, and for good reason. A solid whey protein for after your workout can be one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself. This is because whey is digested much faster than any other protein source available, and because of that is optimal to use post workout, when your body needs nutrients as soon as possible. When looking for a good whey protein, things to look for are servings per container, protein per serving, and the “bad” nutrients. The reason I said to look for these things is obviously you want to maximize your money spent, so servings and amount of protein per serving is supremely important. The reason I said look at the “bad” nutrients, or fats and sugars, is because it can tell you a couple things. Whey protein isolate and good whey protein concentrate are very low in sugars and fats, so when you see proteins that are high in these things, I can guarantee it is due to using a low quality whey protein concentrate, which is high in sugar, or they are using a lot of extra sugar or fat to make the product taste better. This is something that can be accomplished without adding fats or sugars, it just takes time and money to develop a good flavor system, and that is sadly something a lot of supplement companies are skimping on these days. Try to drink your whey within 30 minutes of you workout, making sure to get AT LEAST 40 grams. Try to limit yourself to 3 shakes per day, as milk proteins in large amount can be hard on your stomach, and lacks some nutrients whole foods have.
Weight gainer: If you are having trouble gaining muscle weight, then perhaps a good weight gainer is right for you. Try this: MAKE YOUR OWN WEIGHTGAINER! Simply buy the whey protein you’ll be using post workout, add oats, and blend. In addition to saving a lot of money since weight gainer formulas are typically more expensive, the oats you’ll use in place of the weight gainer will provide your body with healthy, complex carbohydrates your body will use to make serious gains. Just as a reference, a half-cup of dry, instant oatmeal has 150 calories. If your in to big of a hurry, or the texture/taste of the oats simply turns you off, let me recommend our Lean Body Mass 60 to you, as it has a fraction of the sugar of most other weight gainers, in addition to using high quality whey isolates and concentrates. These factors lead to a significant decrease in the intestinal discomfort many users experience with cheaper, lesser quality weight gainers.
Creatine: Simple, safe, effective, proven, and cheap. You will experience size and strength gains while taking it. That’s because creatine increases phosphocreatine stores inside the muscle, and causes muscles to hold more water. That’s really all I have to say about creatine, besides it doesn’t really matter what kind you get, as long as it is high quality. Look for name brand pharmaceutical grade creatine, such as Creapure™, which is used in our Crealean™ product. I do not believe in front loading or mega doses of creatine, as creatine is a nutrient that your body saturates your muscles with, and once your saturated, it’s like putting more water into a cup that’s already full. 5 grams per day should suffice.
Glutamine: This amino acid is the most prevalent one in your muscle tissue, as a matter of fact; about 61% of your skeletal muscle (the kind you want to build!) is compromised of glutamine. When examining the composition of glutamine, it is 19% nitrogen, making it one of the key shuttles for nitrogen into your muscles. Beyond the muscle building and recovery benefits of glutamine, it is a proven immune system booster, making it in my book a very essential part of anyone’s supplementation. Take 5-10 grams per day.
Multi Vitamin: Even if you have a picture perfect diet, there are some nutrients, vitamins, and minerals you just don’t get enough of, or even any at all, from your diet. Giving yourself the added benefits of a good multi vitamin will not only aid your progress in the gym, but also increase your quality of life in general. A very short and incomplete list of things a good multivitamin can do for you include: increased testosterone, increased bone density, boosted immune function, healthier hair and skin, increased energy, and much, much more.
I know this is a very short list, and may be disappointing to some who think making gains is synonymous with supplement use, but fact of the matter is the above products when coupled with proper nutrition and training will lead to serious gains in the gym, as well as a better overall sense of health. Look out for the follow up to this blog, as I will share what I believe are must haves for more advanced weightlifters and bodybuilders, as well as my personal supplementation program. Until then, train hard, and try to apply something you just read to your training and supplementation regimen!
About the Author
Hunter Labrada, amateur bodybuilder and fitness author, who got started in bodybuilding via football and now does it with the end goal of being at the Mr. Olympia stage.
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