With all the bodybuilding supplements out there, how do you know which ones really work and which ones are just money making gimmicks?
Today, we’ll be looking at the most popular supplements, and giving you a heads up on which ones to avoid and which ones to use!
Using science back studies and my own personal experience, we’ll examine each supplement.
You might be tempted to purchase every single supplement out there so you can achieve maximum gains!
But the reality is you can use all the supplements you want and none of them come close to what really matters when it comes to building muscle:
- Working your butt off in the gym
- Constantly increasing the weight every workout
- Utilizing the proper nutrition
- Getting 8 hours of sleep a night
- Letting your body fully recover
After you have these habits checked off, you can use supplements to give you a little edge.
Learn the proper fundamentals first, so you’re not struggling to build muscle for years like so many people do.
Then, I suggest you can look into supplements.
Tip: Use Specific Brands
Protein powders are pretty expensive. A tub of protein can cost you $70, even more, and would last you only a few weeks if you consume a serving size every single day.
A lot of protein powders on the market (specifically whey protein) are filled with additives and artificial sweeteners to make them taste better.
The added crap from placed by the manufacturers can pose some serious risks to our health.
Now the evidence isn’t all there, but some reports have linked protein powders with an increase in testicular cancer for men.
Pretty scary stuff.
While a lot more research has to be done I recommend choosing your protein powder wisely.
Choose one that is vegan, organic, and made from all natural ingredients such as rice protein, pea protein, and chia seeds.
If your protein powder has a lot of additives and ingredients you can’t pronounce, dump it.
It may be more expensive but the health benefits included will have you and your body feeling much better.
They taste pretty good, although I won’t say it’s fantastic.
To get the most out of the protein powder, drink it in a protein shake with some vanilla soy milk, peanut butter, and a banana. Of course, you can use your own ingredients but I find this to be the best combo.
Remember, protein powders are only to be used when you’re not hitting your daily protein goals. It’s not to be used as a replacement for protein.
Nothing beats eating high-quality protein that comes from your food. No protein powder will ever amount to that.
But if you’re in a rush to work and don’t have something to eat and you know you’re low on protein, cooking up a quick protein shake is a great way to go.
Tip: Use it!
Creatine is one of the most heavily researched bodybuilding supplements on the market.
Proven to increase both muscle mass and strength, you should be taking 3-5 grams (1 serving) of creatine a day.
How does it work?
Creatine works by increasing the amount of ATP in your body, which is the energy source that gives you strength and power during your lifting sessions.
The extra power lets you lift heavier and increase your volume.
I like to take my creatine during my workout, although the time of day doesn’t really matter.
The best form you can purchase is creatine monohydrate.
I recommend buying this one from Amazon, I’ve seen some pretty good results and it’s pretty inexpensive. It also has 114 servings so it should last you a couple of months!
Creatine monohydrate has been studied numerous times it’s widely known as the best quality, the cheapest, and the safest creatine out there.
You can also go to your local GNC or Vitamin Shoppe and pick a case up if you’re not big into online ordering.
I’ve heard some wild questions where people have asked me if you need to cycle creatine?
It’s not an anabolic steroid.
There’s no need to cycle creatine or other supplements for that matter.
Creatine is found naturally in the body.
Tip: Use it!
Downing a cup of black coffee straight before a workout has been proven to increase energy and power levels.
It’ll give you the little extra kick when you’re attempting to deadlift a new PR!
Although I recommend using caffeine or coffee as a supplement, this doesn’t mean heading over to Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks before every workout.
Those drinks are filled with a ton of sugar, syrup, milk, and so much other junk. Only a fraction of the drink has caffeine, which is what you’re after.
Instead of going out, brew some of your own coffee at home.
I use a Starbucks Barista Espresso Machine and brew a cup of Folgers ground coffee which you can buy at Trader Joe’s or almost any other supermarket.
Once your coffee is ready to go, drink it straight black. Avoid using any sugar, but if you really need to, add a little bit of brown sugar.
Drinking straight black coffee will wake both your mind and body, and give you a little boost in motivation too!
As soon as you finished with your coffee, head straight to the gym. Don’t lounge around at home.
Drinking coffee should be the last thing you do before leaving the house and getting that killer workout in.
When you hit the gym you’ll notice that increase drive and ambition!
Now it’s time to lift heavy and break records!
Tip: Use it if need be
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
Broken down by enzymes, the amino acids then become are converted into tissue which you know as muscle.
There are two categories of amino acids.
The first is non-essential amino acids. You don’t need to worry about these. Your body creates them on its own.
The next is essential amino acids or EAA for short. These amino acids are only attained through food and diet.
By eating the right foods you can reach the daily requirement of essential amino acids.
But how do we know we’re getting the RDI of amino acids?
It’s quite hard to tell since there are very few apps that calculate your EAA intake.
Cronometer is pretty good at it, but it doesn’t have the same capabilities and database of foods like MyFitnessPal.
A general rule of thumb I follow is that if you reach your protein goal and you get your protein from multiple different sources on a daily basis, you should be fine and you don’t require an amino acids supplement.
However, if you don’t reach your daily protein goal consistently which is a lot of us, or you feel you could use an extra bit of recovery, this is where I suggest using an amino acids supplement.
Amino acids supplements are generally comprised of 3 essential amino acids.
These are the most important of the 9 essential amino acids responsible for building muscle.
It’s best to take an amino acid right during or after a workout, so you can digest them and reap the benefits right after a heavy workout.
Tip: Avoid 100%
Pre-workouts are just very expensive forms of caffeine.
Do they work?
A good portion of them do, but once again, they’re filled with a ton of crap.
“Artificial Flavors, Polydextrose, Citric Acid, Malic Acid, Calcium Silicate, Silicon Dioxide, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, FD&C Red Lake #40”
That’s what’s marked on the ingredients label for C4 Pre-Workout, one of the most popular brands on the market.
I don’t know about you but I don’t feel the need to ingest any of that stuff.
Not to mention they also throw a WARNING right on the nutrition label: “Do not consume more than 2 servings a day.”
It’s also well known that taking a lot of C4 pre-workout starts to increase your tolerance and after a few weeks of taking it so often you’ll lose the pre-workout jolt it once gave you.
Like I stated before, just stick to good old black coffee and you’ll reap all the benefits from pre-workout, plus its 10 times healthier.
Tip: Avoid 100%
Stay away. Period.
I once heard a story of someone who took this oddly-named weight gainer.
The guy claimed to have gained 40 pounds of muscle in 6 months.
A total crock of shit.
No one can gain that much muscle in that short period of time. If they claim so, they are on serious anabolic steroids, lying, or they gained a ton of fat.
The truth is most of those weight gainers just make you put on fat, not necessarily muscle.
They are filled with calories.
And by the rule of science, more calories in than calories burned will make you gain weight. But too many calories lead to a ton of fat gain with little muscle.
You’ll start feeling slower… and looking pudgier…
Also, the ones I’ve seen online are really expensive! Over $50 a tub or $70 for these weird capsules.
Do you want to pay a lot of money just to become obese?
I didn’t think so.
Tip: Avoid 100%
A magic pill?
I think not.
I had a friend who claimed that he took a protein powder that was filled with test boosters.
He claimed it made him super angry, and that his strength grew exponentially.
I call that the placebo effect.
Science proves that testosterone boosters barely increase your test levels if anything actually happens at all.
There more dangerous than effective, and can have some harmful effects on the liver.
Most test boosters come in the form of pills.
They are expensive and a total joke to the fitness industry.
Don’t waste your time with these.
There’s no magical pill you can take every morning that boosts your test levels and helps you put on massive amounts of muscle.
If there were such a thing, they’re what we call anabolic steroids…
Overall opinion about supplements
Are they really absolutely necessary?
Can they help?
You just have to know which ones work and which ones to avoid.
You can’t replace supplements for food, and you certainly can’t replace them for the work you do in the gym.
Nothing gets done unless you do it yourself.
Don’t rely 100% on supplements to get you big, cause that’ll never happen.
Remember, muscle building is a business for many.
There are a lot of crooks out there who have zero problems scamming you for your money.
A general rule of thumb – Do your research, trust your instincts, and do what’s best for your health.