If you keep track of what is happening in the bodybuilding world at all you will have noticed the craze that food supplements have created in the industry. I don't want this to sound like an advertisement but I will show you some of the most useful supplements currently on the market.
I personally have tried almost everything on the market. I really feel that you have no right offering advise on the subject if you haven't at least tried most of the products currently available. That being said, I have wasted alot of money on worthless supplements over the years. Because of this I am far more reluctant to try different supplements now than I was a few years ago. The bottom line is that most of the miracle pills on the market are of absolutely no value. The other side of the coin are the new takes of the older standbys. Let's begin with a look at the monster of all supplements.
Creatine is quite possibly the biggest supplement to ever hit the market. Consiquently, it has also been the source of the most scamming. Large companies are now raving about their newest innovation in Creatine supplementation. The new wonder supplement that will make you huge in a matter of days. 90% of these innovative supplements offer no benefits over and above the use of regular Creatine Monohydrate.
Creatine does work quite well for the vast majority of trainees. That much I can't deny. If it is loaded properly and used in cycles it tends to yeild some great results over an eight to ten week period. I would call creatine the anchor of any bodybuilding supplement regimine. If you are not using anything else then give this a try.
Some of the larger companies have gotten their status for a very good reason. They know how to sell their products. That's the bottom line, sales. Believe me they are not interested in how well the product actually works for you, only how much they can make by marketing it properly. Many companies have taken marketing to an extreme level by placing those 6 page ad reports in the magazines. This is truly effective marketing. They give you an ad that looks like a research article. Place some numbers about how their product compares to product XYZ and that is it. You are sold on the use of their new "improved" product. Take my advise
don't believe a word of it!
Take my advise and save your money. Buy some plain
Creatine Monohydrate powder. It's cheap and can be loaded with whatever you decide to put in it. Try to buy a good brand, not necessarily the cheapest available. Go for one that has been micronized. Basically this means that the crystals have been made very tiny to make it easier to dissolve and easier for the body to absorb.
makes a Creatine Monohydrate powder that I use containing Creapure Brand creatine. This is just to ensure the highest possible rating of purity. You get it from the link at the top or bottom of theis page. Or search their data base for any brand that you prefer.
The supplement industry marketted protein very effectively right from the start in the 60's and 70's. It would be extremely difficult to find a bodybuilder that isn't using some form of protein powder. However, I don't recommend large amounts of protein. If you have read any of my articles about bodybuilding nutrition you will have noticed that I state how useless overdosing on protein.
The usual arguement for high protein intake is that muscle is made of protein so consuming extra protein can add muscle to your frame. Muscle is made up of a lot of protein. The key note though is that muscle is 70% water. If you want to add muscle to your frame the best supplement to consume is plain water. If you are taking any creatine supplement you should be especially aware of this need because creatine supplementation causes an increased retention of water in the muscles. Taking in extra water during this time can only add to your results from creatine usage.
But, getting back to the protein issue, the body of weight training athlete does need some additional protein. For the non-training person the requirement is 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. For the weight training athlete this increases to a maximum of 1.5 g per kilogram or roughly 0.7 g per pound of bodyweight. I would go as high as 0.8 g per pound of bodyweight just to be sure but that is being generous.
The bottom line is that we don't require as much protein as you would think. If you feel you need more calories to grow on I would suggest getting a good Meal Replacement Powder (MRP) or bar. What you really need is extra whole food meals to help you gain weight.
Of course no protein article would be complete without a little talk about Whey protein, the latest fad protein powder. It's interesting to note that only about 6 years ago Soy protein isolate was the hot protein and now it's really taking a bad rap. Now the trend seems to be heading back to proteins that are a combination of the many different sources of protein. The bad press on soy protein is really unfounded. It has many desirable effects on the body. Eating soy regularly can cause a decreased risk of cancer and in particular prostate cancer in men. It has also been touted as reducining the effects of aging in both men and women.
Whey protein has been heralded as the best protein for muscle building because it has a very high Biological Value (BV), in fact it has the highest available BV known to man currently. However this number is very misleading. The BV is merely a measure of what goes in and what comes out. If alot of the protein "disappears" after being consumed and doesn't show up in the feces of the organism we say that the protein was used by the body and the protein gets a very high BV. There are, however, several other calculation for the usefulness of a protein. The other most common one is the Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER). The PER is a bit more complex and I won't get into the mechanics of it here but it actually appears to be a better way to measure a proteins usage. The PER actually takes energy usage and respiration into account. If you compare Whey, Soy, and Casein using the PER the number is exactly the same for all three. This suggests that the body really treats them equally.
The one big advatage of whey protein is that it is very fast acting. This is only an advantage immediately after training though. This is because immediately after training the body has a need for nutrients in order to begin the recuperation process. This is the one time that I would reccomend having whey protein available at your disposable. It really can kick start your recuperation. For the rest of the day a regular MRP is the best as it provides the slow release of amino acids from the protein over a period of several hours. Find a good MRP with a combination of different proteins as the base. Don't worry too much about the other stuff that the companies may stack it with just go for one that is cost effective and the you like the taste of. Don't try to gulp down gross tasting MRP's. If you don't enjoy the taste you are not likely to stick with taking it. If you can't afford an MRP product then the next best choice is milk. If you go this route just try drinking several litres of it throughout the day. This is often difficult to tolerate for many and for this reason I would still recommend an MRP as the top choice if you can manage it.
Glutamine is another one of the big supplements on the market now. The great thing is that it actually seems to work quite well when combined with creatine. It doesn't seem to exert much effect on its own however. Glutamine is somewhat pricy right now because of its current popularity but I personally have found it to be worth the investment. Basically all you do is load it the same as creatine for maximum effect.
Glutamine is primarily a recuperation booster. Because it is used almost exclusively in muscle tissue it has the ability to cause an increase in protein synthesis. This can help you recuperate from your training faster and get you back to the gym sooner. Although I never recommend high frequency of training, the more training sessions you can do and get progress in the more your progress will mount up over time. I would definately recommend this supplement.
This one is a hit or miss. For some it seems to work excellent. For others it's a dud. If you can spare the cash give it a try. I personally had great results with it and I usually get my trainees to at least give it a one month trial. Taking 1000mg 2-3 times a day is a great way to test its usefulness. One of the most pleasant side effects is increased sex drive. Hey ya gotta love it! The great news is that it seems to have an equally great effect on women as men.
The ECA (ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin) stack is of little value to the person attempting to gain weight except for its stimulating effects. It is great for getting cut though which is what it is intended for. ECA increases the bodies basil metabolic rate which means that the body burns more calories even while the person is sitting still. For those of you who would love to have your abs back this is the ticket. You have two choices here. You can buy a combination product like Xenadrine or you can combine the individual products yourself. The most cost effective option is the latter. Ephedrine can be purchased very cheaply on its own as can the other two products. The usual dosage is 25mg of Ephedrine, 120mg caffeine (the eguivalent of a cup of brewed coffee) and 80mg aspirin (one baby aspirin). This combination is normally started at twice a day for the first 3 weeks and then is increased to three times daily. Avoid taking this stack after about 6:00pm as it will probably keep you up at night. If you find this happening or notice that you are jittery there is a simple antedote. Taking 1000mg of vitamin C will offset the effects. Doing this will also blunt the metabolic effects of the stack as well though so I wouldn't do this as a regular part of the program only if needed. It may be a good idea to take your vitamin C each night before you go to bed anyway. It will ensure that you are calm and it also has some anabolic/anticatabolic effects.