There are literally hundreds of supplements on the market targeted at body builders and meant to increase your body size.
They are designed to maximize the body’s natural abilities and help you get the body mass you want.
How do you know which supplement is right for you?
Creatine is the most popular and commonly used sports supplement available today. There are numerous studies backed by anecdotal evidence that support the efficacy of creatine supplementation.
For the majority of the population, including both elite athletes and untrained individuals, creatine supplementation increases fat-free mass and improves anaerobic and possibly aerobic performance.
Creatine is a natural constituent of meat, mainly found in red meat. Creatine is manufactured naturally in the body from the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. This process takes place in the kidneys, liver, and pancreas.
Approximately 40% of the body’s creatine stores are free creatine (Cr), while the remaining 60% is stored in a form of creatine phosphate (CP).
The typical male adult processes 2 grams of creatine per day and replaces that amount through dietary intake and fabrication within the body.
Creatine is used for the resynthesis of ATP. ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is the “power” that drives muscular energetics.
When a muscle is required to contract, the bonds in the ATP molecule are split, yielding ADP (adenosine-diphosphate). The energy released by breaking this bond powers the contraction of the muscle.
When ATP is depleted within the cell, the cell can no longer contract. There are several methods by which the body rebuilds ATP.
The fastest method, without oxygen, is through CP. Creatine phosphate is “split” to yield the phosphate portion of the molecule.
This phosphate portion bonds to the ADP, turning it back to ATP. Once CP stores within the cell are depleted, the body must use other methods to replenish ATP.
Supplementation with creatine increases Cr and CP within the muscle, allowing further capacity to regenerate ATP.
In other words, the creatine enhances the ability of the muscle to maintain power output during brief periods of high-intensity exercise.
The periods are brief because the ability of a cell to store CP is limited, therefore the body will quickly move to other methods of replenishing ATP.
There are two ways to decide what dosage of creatine you should take. In the “loading phase” which is where you begin adding creatine to your diet, the dosage is 20 grams a day for five to seven days. After that, it’s recommended that you stick to 5 grams per day.
You can also calculate creatine dosage according to body weight and mass. Follow along closely, this could get confusing! Not really, though.
Experts say in the “loading phase”, you should be consuming .3 grams of creatine per kilogram of body weight. So if you weight 200 pounds, the formula would look like this:
1 lb divided by 2.2 kg multiplied by .3 = 27 grams of creatine per day
After the loading phase, your weight is multiplied by .03, so you would require 2.7 grams in the maintenance phase.
Essentially, creatine can create muscle fullness as well as create an environment within your body that is conducive to muscle growth. It can also delay fatigue during repeated workouts.
However, you must use your creatine regularly instead of sporadically for it to be effective.
Creatine is also thought to increase the body’s aerobic abilities. One study showed that using creatine supplements help to reduce the oxygen cost of activity so less strain is placed on the cardiovascular system while performing an aerobic activity.
This is a huge advantage for the body builder as this means you will be able to work harder and longer losing fat and building up muscle.
Creatine is safe for most everyone to take with the exception of people with renal issues. Doctors are even beginning to endorse creatine which is generally unheard of with supplements.
Many people like to take their creatine in a shake as it most often comes in the form of powder. You can mix the creatine powder with some skim or soy milk and even add some fresh fruit for flavor.
It is generally a good idea to have your creatine after you workout so that the glycogen in your body is replenished and recovery can be enhanced.
Another popular supplement among body builders is glutamine.
Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that is produced naturally by the body. Sixty percent of glutamine is found in the skeletal muscles. The remainder is in the lung, liver, brain, and stomach tissues.
Over 60% of our amino acids come in the form of glutamine. Under normal conditions, our body can produce more than enough.
However, during times of stress, glutamine reserves are depleted and must be replenished through supplementation. This includes stress that the body is under during periods of exercise.
If you have too little glutamine in your system, it can result in muscle loss.
This amino acid is essential to muscle building because it helps nitrogen in the body move around to where it needs to be. You have to have a positive nitrogen balance in order to gain muscle mass.
Creatine is also thought to prevent sickness, promote healing, prevent sore muscles, and speed up growth hormone production.
The typical American diet provides 3.5 to 7 grams of glutamine daily which is found in animal and plant proteins. Many people are choosing to supplement daily due to the long growing list of benefits.
Research shows levels of supplementation from 2 to 40 grams daily. Two to three grams has been found to help symptoms of queasiness.
This two to three-gram dosage used post workout builds protein, repairs, and builds muscle and can induce levels of growth hormone found in the body.
If you want to build a ripped body, you’ll need both creatine and glutamine alike. Again, it usually comes in powder form, so you’ll want to take it with milk or in a shake.
The importance of protein to a body builder is a no-brainer. It is the single most important nutrient in a body-building regimen.
Protein is what makes up and maintains most of the stuff in our bodies. Protein has been shown to have the best effects on the body when combined with carbohydrates.
Much of your protein will come from your diet, but if you really want to grow your body mass, increasing protein through weight gainers or protein powders is necessary.
Of course, you’ll need to be careful not to overdo it and monitor the amount of protein you are consuming.
The best type of protein supplement on the market is whey protein because it is the highest yield. Whey is the best investment because of its capacity as a post-workout recovery supplement.
This is a critical time after severe physical stress when the cells will act like a sponge and take in almost anything. The extreme hunger of the cells and the fast-acting properties of whey will make sure you use the best window for recovery to the fullest.
If not, the body will hunt the stored reserves of nutrients and when on a diet for example that will cause them to rob other muscle-tissue of glutamine.
Thus, whey is the best protein, especially on a diet. It also supplies the most amino acids that bodybuilders use.
It’s unfortunate high cost. however makes me advise you to use it sparingly. Whey protein is the only choice when on a diet, however.
When on low-carb diets whey can function as an alternate source of energy, sparing hard-earned muscle protein and glutamine stores within the body.
As with creatine, the best time to take your protein supplement is post-workout. As we said before, it’s good to combine your protein with some form of carbohydrate for maximum results.
Combine the powder with some eggs, low-fat milk, ice cream, and olive oil. You can also add in some fruit for flavor.
Another powerful supplement you can take as part of your bodybuilding program is nitric oxide. Many body builders take nitric oxide for a variety of reasons.
Nitric Oxide, a key molecule manufactured by the body, causes vasodilation [an expansion of the internal diameter of blood vessels], which in turn leads to increased blood flow, oxygen transport, delivery of nutrients to skeletal muscle and a reduction in blood pressure.
Nitric oxide promotes the extension of the ability to lift weights.
It also signals muscle growth, speeds recovery, and increases strength along with stamina.
This element also increases energy levels and some people even feel that it promotes a better sex life!
During a workout, when muscle contracts and blood vessels dilate, Nitric Oxide is present for a brief moment.
The release of nitric oxide creates surges of blood flow, which is the muscle pump we are familiar with. Unfortunately, this pump is only temporary, and will dissipate shortly after you complete your workout.
It often comes in pill form, and should be taken in the manufacturer’s recommended dosage.
Nitric oxide also comes in powder form as well, so you can take it in a shake just like with other powdered supplements.
Steroids and Growth Hormones
We’re not going to spend a lot of time on these types of supplements because they are certainly not recommended, but they are used by bodybuilders all over the world.
Both of these substances are highly controversial, and in many places, they are illegal.
Steroids and growth hormones stimulate muscle growth often quite quickly which is why they are so popular among body builders. They also enhance performance making a person stronger and extending their stamina.
Steroid use is generally not condoned in the sports world and constant testing is done of the athletes to see if they are getting an unfair advantage by using steroids or growth hormones.
Steroids do have some advantages. They are used in treating a variety of health problems including AIDS, cancer, and other serious diseases. They help the body fight the ill effects of these diseases and promote healing.
However, steroids have some serious health implications when taken for reasons other than therapeutic. They can cause serious liver damage and even lead to liver failure.
Steroids increase testosterone production which can lead to overly aggressive behavior, a decrease in libido, and low sperm count.
The reason many bodybuilders use steroids is because they increase water retention in the muscles which leads to an anabolic state.
However, this increase in fluid retention makes the heart work harder which can increase blood pressure and even bring on a heart attack.
All steroids eventually change to estrogen which causes feminization in men. That causes an enlargement of the breasts along with an increase in fatty deposits.
Growth hormones stimulate the elements in the body that make muscles grow. They are naturally produced by the body, but many bodybuilders take them to basically tell their muscles to get bigger. They can be dangerous, though, as well.
You can get huge, ripped muscles without having to resort to using illegal substances like steroids or artificial growth hormones.
They can make you bigger quicker, but the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages you are taking by introducing these substances into your body.
Bodybuilding has long been thought of as a man’s sport, but more and more women are getting interested in it as well.
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