When it comes to staying fit and healthy, we have to put in a ton of work consistently. Maintaining an optimal body weight, muscle mass, and body fat percentage takes nearly round-the-clock commitment. And when it comes to bodybuilders, the constant desire for more muscle, bigger lifts and better definition requires even more dedication and effort.
If you are a bodybuilder or just someone who enjoys weightlifting and hitting the gym, you likely already know the importance of proper nutrition. Successful bodybuilding and diet are closely related, and without a proper diet you will struggle to achieve the gains you’re looking for while keeping your body healthy and happy. Weightlifters should eat plenty of protein, fruits and veggies, and other whole foods.
Beyond diet, we enter the world of supplements. Today, there are TONS of different supplements designed for bodybuilders. There is everything from protein powders, which help you get enough protein, to pre-workouts, which help you get the most out of each workout, to recovery supplements which help to optimize your post-workout recovery time.
How Can Supplements Help Bodybuilders?
In order to lift increasingly heavy hunks of metal, bodybuilders need to push their bodies to the limit. As you likely know, weightlifting can be hard on the body. Good bodybuilding supplements can help you support your body’s health while aiding in optimizing workout results.
Mainly, top bodybuilding supplements are used in two ways: before your workout, to improve athletic performance while increasing energy and endurance, and after your workout, to speed recovery time while reducing muscle soreness.
As you can see, the best supplements for bodybuilding can provide a wide range of benefits. Do note that these are the benefits of a category of supplements, so you shouldn’t expect to enjoy all these benefits from a single product.
Why Should Bodybuilders Take Supplements?
Bodybuilders have much more reasons to take supplements than the average person does. Why? Well, the average bodybuilding uses his or her body to do some pretty extraordinary things. Lifting heavy weights is fun, satisfying, and healthy – but it can also put your body under a lot of stress.
One major reason that bodybuilders should consider taking supplements is that weightlifters tend to need more nutrients than the average person. For instance, people who strength train can benefit anywhere from 25%-100%+ more protein than a typical person. Some other nutrients, like creatine and BCAAs, are needed for bodybuilders because intense exercise can deplete natural levels in the body. By staying on top of your nutrition, you can ensure that your efforts will not be wasted.
Another reason is that building muscle is hard work! It takes real dedication and a lot of time to get in shape and stay in shape – and even more to continually increase muscle mass. Because of this struggle, weightlifters should use all the (safe and legal) resources that are available to them to improve their results. For instance, creatine is a naturally occurring substance that can help improve energy and strength during exercise, allowing you to lift longer and heavier.
10 Supplements That Bodybuilders Should Take
Joint Support Vitamins
What are Joint Support Vitamins?
Joint support vitamins are vitamin products designed to support the health of your joints. These products generally contain a mix of vitamins, minerals and other ingredients, which work together to improve joint health. Common ingredients include calcium, MSM, zinc, glucosamine, chondroitin, and more.
How Joint Support Vitamins May Benefit Bodybuilders
It’s no surprise that weightlifters put their bodies through some pretty significant strain. Lifting heavy chunks of metal day and in day out does take its toll on our bodies. While muscle pain and other muscle issues are common, one problem that can be more damaging long-term is joint damage.
For bodybuilders, joint damage is possible from injury, or simply from long-term wear and tear. In order to stay happy and healthy for many years to come, it’s best to take preventative steps to protect your joints. Joint support vitamins can provide a wide range of benefits.
Do keep in mind that joint support vitamins are just a piece of the puzzle: it’s still very important to take other preventative steps. The most important is to learn proper form for all the lifts you do; otherwise, you run the risk of getting injured. It’s also a good idea to stretch, and allow adequate time for your body to recover.
How to Take Joint Support Vitamins
Joint support vitamins are generally in capsule or pill form, and are taken once or twice a day, every day. Timing is not important, but usually you should take them with a meal.
Joint Support Vitamin Side Effects
Most people will not notice any side effects from these supplements, but some people experience stomach discomfort, gas, nausea, etc. And there is always the risk that the ingredients will interact with medication. We recommend you speak with your doctor before taking any supplements.
What are Fat Burners?
Fat burners are just what they sound like: supplements designed to help burn fat. There are a few different types of these supplements; for the purpose of this guide we will group them into one category. Basically, these supplements contain ingredients designed to boost the metabolic rate and thermogenesis, leading to a higher calorie burn.
How Fat Burners May Benefit Bodybuilders
Most bodybuilders like to look good and show off their hard-earned muscles. However, sometimes it can feel like fat and “bulk” is hiding away the goods! Especially after bulking cycles, muscle definition is just not what it could be, and many weightlifters look for a way to shed some fat. At the same time, restrictive diets are often not a good idea for bodybuilders, because limiting caloric intake can lead to lost muscle mass.
How to Take Fat Burners
Fat burners typically come in pill or capsule form. Dosages and recommendations vary, so you’ll want to examine the product package and follow the included instructions. Typically, these products require 1-3 doses per day. It’s generally best to take them on a full stomach to avoid stomach discomfort.
Also, keep in mind that most of these products contain caffeine and/or other stimulants. Because of this, you’ll want to avoid taking them in the late afternoon and at night, as stimulants can make it difficult to get to sleep.
Fat Burner Side Effects
Fat burners contain a wide range of ingredients, and each formula is slightly different. Many people don’t notice any significant side effects, but some do. The most common side effects are trouble sleeping and dehydration, both of which are typically caused by the caffeine in these fat burners. To avoid these effects, drink plenty of water and don’t take a dose close to bedtime – or try a stimulant-free fat burner. As always, more serious side effects are possible if you take more than the recommended dose of a product.
Green Food Supplements
What are Green Food Supplements?
Green food supplements are health products that contain concentrated amounts of healthy vegetables and greens. Featuring a huge range of healthful ingredients, ranging from spinach to broccoli to green tea to spirulina, these products are chock-full of goodness. Primarily, these supplements are designed to provide an easy way to meet nutritional needs through natural ingredients, rather than synthetically created nutrients. Typically mixed into smoothies, these supplements are gaining popularity rapidly.
How Green Food Supplements May Benefit Bodybuilders
Green food supplements can benefit just about anyone, but the reason they made our list of the best bodybuilding supplements is that they provide many benefits which are particularly beneficial for athletes.
Greens can help speed up recovery time, which is obviously a big benefit for weightlifters. They can also help ensure that you get adequate amounts of nutritious foods every day, and are very convenient to take.
How to Take Green Food Supplements
You can take it at any time of the day – some prefer to use it as a snack, others prefer to have a green smoothie for breakfast. Regardless of timing, you’ll want to mix the supplement into a drink or smoothie.
These supplements typically have a very earthy, vegetable taste. Some may find it unpleasant, but others love it. Regardless, it tastes best if you mix it into a fruit smoothie or something similar. Most people won’t like the taste if it’s simply mixed with water.
Green Food Supplement Side Effects
Green food supplements are made up of natural, healthful fruits and vegetables, and therefore typically do not cause any side effects. Some people report minor stomach discomfort. As with all supplements though, it is recommend to speak to your doctor first and always follow the label instructions.
What is L-Glutamine
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that is found naturally in the human body. Glutamine plays a key role in the upkeep of your muscles, and naturally, it’s the most prevalent amino acid found in muscle tissues. In supplement form, L-Glutamine is often taken by athletes and bodybuilders to help with their goals.
How L-Glutamine Benefits Bodybuilders
L-Glutamine can provide a wide range of benefits to weightlifters and athletes. From enhancing protein synthesis to helping recovery, glutamine is one amino acid you will definitely want to consider looking into. As we mentioned, this amino acid is found naturally in muscle tissues – in supplement form, it’s used to replenish and improve stores of this key amino acid.
How to Take L-Glutamine
The standard serving size is 5g. Most of these products come in powder form, and are easy to mix into water, milk, or juice.
L-Glutamine Side Effects
L-Glutamine is a naturally occurring amino acid, and does not usually cause side effects. However, some people have reported some negative effects, such as gastrointestinal issues, joint pain, and headaches, particularly when taking large doses.
What are Pre-Workout Supplements?
Pre-workout supplements are strong bodybuilding supplements designed to boost workout performance. They aim achieve this goal by helping in increasing energy. Most pre-workouts use a blend of different ingredients, such as creatine, caffeine, etc. and are taken immediately before working out.
How Pre-Workout Supplements May Benefit Bodybuilders
Pre-workouts are some of the best supplements for bodybuilding because they help enhance your performance and results at the gym. By improving various aspects of your workout, these products will allow you to reap better rewards from your efforts.
As mentioned, pre-workouts are generally a mix of ingredients. Some key players include creatine, caffeine, B vitamins, BCAAs, and more. All these ingredients work together to deliver powerful results.
How to Take Pre-Workout Supplements
Pre-workout supplements should be taken shortly before your workout. Ideally, you’ll want to take a dose about 10-30 minutes before you begin exercising. This will allow some time for the ingredients to digest and get to work in your body.
Most pre-workouts come in powder form, and must be mixed into drinks. You can prepare a drink on-the-go using a BlenderBottle.
Pre-Workout Supplement Side Effects
There are some potential side effects involved with taking these products, although most people won’t experience any notable ones. The specific side effects depend on the ingredients found in each product, and since there are a wide range of formulas at work in these supplements, it’s difficult to make a definite list of potential side effects. However, almost all pre-workouts contain caffeine, and caffeine side effects can include trouble sleeping, anxiety, etc. Creatine can also cause some side effects, such as bloating.
What Are Multivitamins?
Multivitamins are a supplement that most people will be familiar with. Basically, these products offer a blend of most essential vitamins and minerals, in one convenient package. With one dose a day (typically), you can get a portion of your daily nutritional needs. Almost everyone can benefit from taking multivitamins, but bodybuilders in particular should definitely be taking a good once daily multi.
How Multivitamins May Benefit Bodybuilders
For many folks, multivitamins serve as a sort of nutritional insurance. For many, it can be challenging to reach daily nutritional needs through diet alone. Multivitamins can help you reach those needs in one easy package. However, do note that these products are not intended to be a replacement for a healthy diet – nutrients and vitamins found naturally in foods are almost always more effective than those found in supplement form.
It’s also good to note that bodybuilders are often more prone to nutrient deficiencies when compared to average people. This is because athletes tend to put more strain on their body, which requires more nutrients. They also tend to sweat more, and some nutrients can be lost through excessive sweating.
How to Take Multivitamins
Multivitamins generally come in capsule or tablet form. Usually, they are in a once-a-day formula that only requires one serving each day. You’ll want to check the packaging instructions of the product you choose, but typically you’ll just need to swallow one serving each day. It’s generally best to take multivitamins with food, as this can help to increase absorption rates of certain nutrients. Again, while multivitamins can be very beneficial, they are no replacement for a healthy diet. Be sure you’re following a healthy diet for weightlifters, and add a multivitamin on top of that.
Multivitamin Side Effects
Most folks won’t experience any side effects from taking multivitamins. Some people experience minor stomach discomfort if they take these products on an empty stomach, which is another reason it’s recommended to take vitamins with a meal. Other multivitamin side effects include headache and unpleasant taste in mouth.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
What Are Omega 3 Supplements?
Omega 3 supplements are health products containing omega 3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are found in a variety of foods, and are found in particularly high concentration in certain types of fish. This is why, for the most part, some of the best omega 3 supplements are fish oil products, which contain concentrated oils extracted from fish which are very high in these healthy fats. Omega 3 fats are essential fats, which means that the body needs them to function properly. Although they are essential to proper health, the body is unable to make them, so they must be consumed through the diet. And although you likely get a decent amount in your diet already, adding an omega 3 supplement (most likely fish oil) can sometimes be beneficial.
How to Take Omega 3 Supplements
You can set aside a specific time each day to take them, or you can simply add them to your existing supplement routine. Timing is not too important, although some folks believe that taking a dose after a workout is best for recovery. Lastly, take your omega 3 supplement with a meal, as that aids in absorption.
Omega 3 Supplement Side Effects
Most people won’t notice any serious side effects from these supplements. With that being said, some folks experience minor stomach upset, nausea, etc. Also, with fish oil (the most popular type of omega 3 supp), it’s possible you’ll notice a fishy taste/aftertaste after you take your dose. To avoid this, take your dose with a meal, or consider freezing the capsules before you take them.
What are BCAAs?
BCAAs are branched chain amino acids. There are three different amino acids that make up the BCAA family: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Amino acids are beneficial for many different processes in the body, but for weightlifters, their chief benefit is their role in protein synthesis. Proteins are actually made up of amino acids, which are often labeled the “building blocks” of protein. There are many amino acids, but for now we’ll be focusing on the branched chain amino acids and explaining the reasons why BCAAs are good bodybuilding supplements.
How BCAAs May Benefit Bodybuilders
BCAAs provide a wide range of benefits for everyone, but are particularly useful for bodybuilders. BCAAs promote protein synthesis and induce glucose uptake into muscle cells. They can also help delay fatigue caused by intense exercise.
As mentioned, branched chain amino acids are found naturally in protein-rich foods. So, your body already has a natural store of these amino acids. However, during exercise, BCAA stores can be diminished, causing fatigue.
How to Take BCAAs
A lot of people mix them into their pre-workout shakes, and many also sip on some as they are working out. It can also be beneficial to take them post-workout.
As for BCAA dosage, it’s best to follow the instructions on the package. Typically you’ll find serving sizes in the 3-6g range. Also, many BCAA supps are labeled to show you the ratio of each BCAA used. Since there are three amino acids that make up these products (leucine, isoleucine, valine), you’ll often see something like 2:1:1 or 3:1:2, which refers to the ratio of each amino acid used. All three of the BCAAs are beneficial, but each offers individual benefits.
BCAAs Side Effects
Branched chain amino acids are considered safe to use in supplement form, when taken as directed. There are no side effects for most people, although some folks report feeling fatigue or loss of coordination when they first start taking these supplements.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that occurs naturally in the body, and is found naturally in some foods such as beef and tuna. In the body, creatine is naturally made by combining three amino acids; arginine, methionine and glycine. Creatine serves a number of important roles in the human body, but the most important aspect is its role in energy production. In simple terms, creatine supplements can increase the body’s natural ability to produce energy rapidly.
While there are some food sources of creatine, bodybuilders can benefit from adding a creatine supplement. In fact, creatine is considered by some to be the most effective bodybuilding supplement out there.
How Creatine Benefits Bodybuilders
Creatine is hailed by some people as one of the best supplements for bodybuilding – it may even be the best, depending on who you ask! But why is that? Why do millions of weightlifters and bodybuilders take creatine every day?
Creatine helps increases the body’s ability to perform high-intensity exercise. Creatine won’t build your muscles on its own, but it does provide you with the boost of energy needed to push your workouts to the next level, thereby allowing you to build more muscle.
How to Take Creatine
Creatine typically comes in powder form, and is simply mixed into water or other liquids. Creatine is a supplement that is often taken on a daily basis. Creatine levels in your body build up to their optimal levels slowly, and even once those levels are achieved you should take a “maintenance dose” to sustain that optimal creatine concentration.
For the most part, the typical creatine dosage is 5g per day. It’s generally best to take creatine before working out, but once you have a good level built up in your system the timing of your dose is not overly important. There is much debate over the best time to take creatine, but as long as you take your dose properly, timing should not make a huge difference.
Creatine Side Effects
Creatine is considered safe to take long-term. For most people, it does not cause any serious side effects. The most common complaint is bloating. Creatine can also cause bloating, particularly in women.
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is one of the most popular and most effective bodybuilding supplements out there. It is used by many people every day as a way to supplement protein intake.
Whey protein is derived from dairy, and is actually a byproduct of the cheese making process. It comes in powder form – generally flavored, but you can find unflavored as well. In supplement form, whey protein is mixed into water, milk, or made into protein shakes. It’s also added to many foods, such as energy bars. There are many forms of protein supplements out there – whey, casein, soy and others. Whey has an excellent amino acid profile, which means it’s filled with some of the most beneficial amino acids out there.
How Whey Protein Benefits Bodybuilders
Whey protein benefits bodybuilders in the same way protein benefits them. Protein is essential for good health, and although there is lots of protein in many foods, it can sometimes be difficult to get enough in your diet. Bodybuilders need significantly more protein than the average individual if they want to build muscle and strength, which is one reason whey protein is so beneficial.
Primarily, whey protein is used as a recovery supplement. After strenuous exercise, your muscles need protein (and the amino acids that make up proteins) in order to recover and grow. All protein types are beneficial for muscle repair, but whey in particular is quite useful because it digests very rapidly, meaning it gets to work quickly. This rapid digestion is a key part of why whey protein is a good bodybuilding supplement.
How to Take Whey Protein
Whey protein should typically be taken as soon as possible after you exercise. While it does digest rapidly, the quicker you can get it in your system post-workout the better.
Whey comes in powder form, and is generally pretty easy to mix into water, milk, or throw in a protein shake. Aim to take it as soon as you get home from the gym. Some people even take it to the gym with them, and use a BlenderBottle to mix it up on-the-go.
A typical serving of whey protein will contain 20-30g of protein. You can use a protein calculator to figure out how much protein you should be consuming on a daily basis. For bodybuilders, the amount is quite significant; many experts recommend around .5-1g per lb of bodyweight, per day.
Whey Protein Side Effects
Whey protein doesn’t generally have any noticeable side effects, although it is always possible that you may experience some minor ones. Some commonly reported side effects include stomach discomfort, gas, bloating, etc. As long as you take it as directed, you shouldn’t experience many side effects, if any. There may be some long-term risks of consuming too much protein, so speak with your doctor if you have any concerns. Also if you are lactose intolerant you will want to avoid whey since it is a dairy product.