Muscles in a Bottle: The Science Behind Bodybuilding Supplements

Are you thinking about adding supplements to your workout routine but don’t know where to begin? It can be hard to separate fact from fiction when it comes to fitness marketing. It can seem like every product offers incredible breakthroughs and instant results.

That’s why it’s important to understand the science behind how the different supplements work. You’ll learn how to cut through the hype when looking for products. You’ll also gain a better understanding of what your body needs and why.

Bodybuilding Supplements

Keep reading to learn more about supplements for bodybuilding.

 

Protein

The most important supplement you need when building muscle is protein. That’s because protein is the building block of human tissue and a major source of energy.

Every time you lift, you’re causing trauma to your existing muscle fibers. This causes the body to build new tissue to support the existing muscles, resulting in greater mass.

In order to build new tissue and repair the old, your body uses protein. By increasing your protein consumption, you’re fueling your muscle-building efforts.

 

That’s why it’s recommended that you take 30-grams of protein within a half-hour of working out. This is to ensure that your body has enough protein to repair the damaged tissue.

Taking more than 30-grams is overkill, as your body won’t be able to process any more than that. You should aim for about .72 to .81 grams of protein per pound of body weight a day to build muscle. Make sure to vary your sources, though. Protein shakes should be used along with other sources like meat, eggs, and dairy.

When shopping for protein supplements, don’t get hung up on proprietary formulas. Your biggest concern is going to be the amount of protein-per-serving. Many additives are included more for marketing purposes than for any scientifically-proven effectiveness.

 

Creatine

Second to protein is creatine when looking for muscle building supplements. Proven to increase muscle mass, performance, and strength, it’s a naturally-occurring amino acid.

A simple creatine monohydrate added to your protein shake will make a marked improvement on your strength and size. 5 grams a day is the recommended dose, though some experts suggest doing a 20-gram-a-day loading phase for the first week.

Taking it increases the body’s ability to make ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. What ATP does is allow energy to transfer quicker between cells. This is what leads to increases in performance and strength.

 

BCAA

Without getting too deep into the science of it, branched-chain amino acids are an essential nutrient in muscle proteins. They help the body repair the muscles quickly.

Recovery time is important to building muscle, as this is when most of the growth occurs. Taking BCAAs helps speed this process up, getting you back in the gym sooner.

The only issue to be mindful of with BCAAs is that they need to be taken throughout the day. Supplements like creatine need to only be taken once-a-day.

 

Fat Burners

While the above supplements are nutrient-based, fat burners offer something else. They use ingredients, often stimulants, to raise your core temperature to burn more fat. Raising the body’s temperature creates more energy, which causes the metabolism to break down fat for its energy.

Bodybuilders often struggle to add muscle mass without gaining fat. That’s led to many adding fat burners to their list of supplements.

The problem with stimulant-based fat burners is that they put stress on your body. To manage the higher levels of energy they create, the heart needs to pump faster to supply more fresh blood. This can create health risks in certain individuals.

Always consult with a health care professional before starting with fat burners.

 

Mass Builders

On the other side of the spectrum are mass builders. While creatine and protein fall into this category, there’s a whole spectrum of ingredients that will help add greater volume.

Many of these ingredients aim to trigger the body’s own testosterone and human growth hormone to build more mass. You can read this article on how deer antler velvet can lead to massive gains.

Many of these products will also include protein, creatine, and even starches to help the body grow. The goal of a mass builder is to, well, build mass. They make it convenient to consume greater amounts of calories without the need to constantly be eating.

When shopping for a mass builder, take the time to investigate the ingredients they use. Don’t waste money on obscure-sounding products that don’t have the scientific backing behind them. Unless you’re already maxing out an advanced workout routine, chances are you’ll be able to get all the nutrients you need elsewhere.

However, if you need help making those last few gains, a product like this might be right for you.

 

Caffeine

Does a simple cup of coffee really belong on a list of bodybuilding supplements? Absolutely. People worldwide already depend on their morning cup to help them start the day.

That’s because caffeine is a stimulant. It speeds up the metabolism, improves focus, and increases performance. It’s already found in many different workout supplements for those very reasons.

Best of all? It’s delicious.

Just remember, that like with any other supplement, there are risks of consuming too much caffeine. Anxiety, digestive issues, and jitteriness are common side-effects of having one coffee too many.

 

Final Thoughts on Supplements for Bodybuilding

As helpful as the different supplements for bodybuilding are, they can only support a proper workout regiment. Unless your training properly and following a healthy diet, you won’t gain by taking a specially formulated pill.

If you’re new to bodybuilding, meet with a personal trainer and a nutritionist. Build a solid foundation and put in the work to properly build your strength. Supplements like protein and creatine will help beginners, but you’re not ready for the benefits of the other products.

 

However, if you have a solid routine and diet, and you’re consistently putting in the work, you have options. This is when specialized supplements can really make a difference.

Visit the Health section of our page for more articles on making the most of your workouts.

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