5 Essential Bodybuilding Supplements

5 Essential Bodybuilding Supplements

If you are just starting out in the world of bodybuilding the amount of supplements on the market, all vying for your attention, can be completely overwhelming. There are countless advertisements for bodybuilding supplements that claim the best results in the shortest time, but the truth is very few of them deliver on their promises and most of them are a downright waste of money.  

The most important point to remember when selecting which supplements are right for you is they are not a substitute for a good diet and hard work and there is no product that is going to give you the body you want overnight. Your focus should be on working as hard as possible, and developing an effective plan that you’re able to stick to. Supplements will simply help you keep on top of your nutrition, even with a busy lifestyle.

When your eventual goal is serious hypertrophy, there are only five essential bodybuilding supplements your body actually needs.

There are only five essential bodybuilding supplements your body actually needs.

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Multi-Vitamin/Mineral

Multi-Vitamins

Multi-Vitamins help you fill in nutritional gaps from a busy lifestyle and may have added health benefits.

A high quality multi-vitamin should be the first item on your supplement shopping list for many reasons. Although your diet may contain all the nutrients you think you need, and our bodies are very effective at absorbing nutrients from food, there is always a chance that you are using up more than your daily intake now that you are working harder at the gym.

This can lead to noticeable slumps in energy, a lowered immune system, and a higher risk of injury. You don't have to buy an expensive vitamin; a generic drugstore brand will work fine as long as the label says it has 100% of your recommended daily intake of each nutrient.

Whey Protein

Whey Protein

Whey Protein is one of the best bodybuilding supplements you can take.

Protein is essential for building lean muscle mass and without it your body cannot repair itself. Lifting weights causes microscopic tears in the muscle which then heal, giving you larger, stronger muscles; protein is a vital component of this process and without enough of it, you will never see the best results you possibly can.

Protein is essential for building lean muscle mass and without it your body cannot repair itself.

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There are several different forms of protein, some absorbed and used quickly by your body, some more slowly. A fast release protein such as whey is ideal post-workout. In addition to this, you should also consider a slow release protein supplement, such as casein throughout the day.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates

Quick snapshot of how carbohydrates work.

Carbohydrates can be broadly broken down into 2 types. Simple carbs are absorbed very quickly by your body, giving you fast energy. Fast acting carbohydrate foods include:

  • Rice Cakes
  • Candy
  • White Bread
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Peas

Complex carbohydrates are of more benefit over longer periods, breaking down slowly and releasing energy steadily. Some great examples of food containing complex carbs are:

  • Nuts
  • Fructose (sugar in fruits)
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Brown Rice

Your body needs both of these types at various times; choose a fast acting carbohydrate drink immediately before, during and after your workout to ensure that your body has a ready source of fuel when it needs it most, and complex carbs to keep you going throughout the day.

Glutamine

L-Glutamine

L-Glutamine supplementation can minimize breakdown of muscle and improve protein metabolism.

Glutamine is an amino acid and is essential in your diet for a number of reasons. It is vital for encouraging muscle growth, reducing catabolism and even supports your immune system. When your glutamine levels drop, your body immediately starts going into a catabolic state and uses your muscle protein as an alternative store.

This means you will immediately start losing the benefits of all your hard work in the gym so far; some studies have also shown that taking a glutamine supplement can have a positive effect on the amount of growth hormones naturally occurring in your body, leading to more lean muscle gain. For best results it's advised to take around 10-15 grams daily, and it's usually taken as 3 separate doses. The best times to take it are in the morning with breakfast, a dose straight after your workout, and another in the evening.

Fish Oil Supplement (Omega Fatty Acids)

Omega Fatty Acids

Fish oil has both EPA and DHA. Algae oil has DHA and may be a good option for people who don't eat fish.

Continuous, heavy strength training can cause all sorts of inflammations in your body, not only your joints but also cellular inflammation. Fish oil is a fantastic supplement that not only helps with this problem but is also thought to have a positive effect on everything from your immune system to your mental health and even your heart.

When choosing a fish oil supplement, look out for the ones that contain a high EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) ratio. These are known as long-chain omega 3 fatty acids and are responsible for all those great benefits and more. You would usually take 1 or 2 capsules per day, totaling around 3 grams to start with but, as always, follow the advice on the product label.

When choosing a fish oil supplement, look out for the ones that contain a high EPA and DHA ratio.

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Bodybuilding supplements are a convenient and cost-effective way of giving your body the nutrients it needs when you are undertaking a heavy and punishing training schedule, and ensuring that you never go into a deficiency. However, it is important to remember that they will never be an effective substitute for an effective and regular training regime, healthy unprocessed food and a clean lifestyle.

Make sure when you choose a supplement that you thoroughly read and stick to the instructions on the label. This is extremely important, as some can have serious side-effects if not taken correctly. Another reason to check the label is that some supplements can contain others mixed into them. 

Also, before you add a new supplement to the ones you are taking, make sure there are no potential effects from mixing them with others and never take something unless you completely understand what effect it has, or any potential side-effects. When considering whether a new supplement may be right for you, do some research first — don’t simply trust whatever a company’s celebrity spokesperson tells you. There is a lot of great (some free) information out there but always remember, bodybuilding supplements are a multi-billion dollar market so it’s up to you to sort out the facts from the fiction.

Stephen Ralph
Stephen Ralph
Stephen is the Founder of Health Haxor, an active duty USAF service member, online entrepreneur and fitness buff. In between a busy schedule Stephen is an active contributor to Health Haxor and regularly posts articles related to men's health, fitness and nutrition.
Stephen Ralph

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