Supplements That All Bodybuilders Should Be Taking
Ever wonder if there are supplements out there that you haven’t heard of but should be taking? Yep, most of us serious bodybuilders know that the thought crosses our mind all too often. Those who want to be the best also want the best supplements. As I’m sure you know it takes serious time and commitment to stay on top of new products, evaluating their labels, estimating their effectiveness, calculating expected results and weighing out costs.
To help you out I’ve put together a list of supplements you may or may not be using, but absolutely should consider. There are some obvious entries on here, but you’d be surprised at how many people look for the “obscure” and “revolutionary” (untested) products with wild marketing and forget about the time-tested winners like creatine and beta-alanine.
The Bodybuilders Must-Have Supplement Collection
- Alpha GPC: One of my personal favorite supplements for sports nutrition. This product has not been marketed as a sports enhancing supplement (yet), but it works and it works the first time you use it. Alpha GPC enhances the mind-body connection by improving neural function in the brain. It allows your body to utilize more of your muscle fibers during exercise, typically prohibited by your brain’s natural “safety mechanisms” to prevent injury. Alpha GPC allows you to slightly override this precaution, but still stay well within a safe parameter. I’ve taken Alpha GPC before and instantly added 5-10% more weight on all my lifts and much faster sprint times. It’s amazing how it works the same the first time and every time after. Directions: Take 600mg first thing in the morning when you wake up before you workout and take 600mg 60-90 minutes before your next workout.
- Creatine Monohydrate: You are already familiar with creatine monohydrate, try and take 5-10 grams each time you workout. If you workout twice in one day, then take 10-20 grams total that day. Directions: Take 5-10 grams sometime before, during and after each of your workout.
- Beta-Alanine: A natural beta amino acid that will give you the “tingles” after taking it (flushing of the skin that feels like pins and needles, which is harmless and perfectly normal). Beta alanine has been observed to reduce lactic acid in muscles, enhancing endurance and improving strength. It is a very effective natural supplement and I recommend taking it everyday if you can. Directions: Take 2-4 grams immediately before all of your workouts and 2-4 grams immediately after.
- Coenzyme Q10: Studies have shown that 300mg per day of CoQ10 increases fast-twitch muscle fiber make-up in sedentary individuals. Imagine what it can do for athletes. I’ve experimented with high-doses of CoQ10 (over a gram a day) and added over 40 pounds to my bench press in 2 weeks. Unfortunately, CoQ10 is expensive if you’re super-dosing it, but it definitely works and if you can afford it I’d say do it. Directions: take 100-400mg of CoQ10 with each meal each day.
- Phosphatidylserine (PS): A natural phospholipid that helps balance cortisol levels by reducing 11-beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-1 (called 11beta-HSD-1). I’ve evaluated multiple research studies that have shown 300-800mg of PS to be highly effective at reducing post-workout cortisol levels as well as discouraging muscle breakdown. Directions: Take 300-800mg post workout with a meal.
- Rhodiola Rosea: An herbal adaptogen that is all natural and helps boost focus, concentration and energy. Directions: Take 1-2 caps first thing in the morning with water.
- Digestive Enzymes: These consist of protease, amylase and lipase that break down protein, carbohydrates and fats into their component nutrient counterparts to aid your body’s digestion system. There are also plant enzymes like papain and bromelain that help with protein utilization. Cooked foods are devoid of living enzymes, they are rendered useless after being heated over 105 degrees, which is why some people are fans of the “raw food diet” aka uncooked foods diet. I say, eat cooked foods but supplement with digestive enzymes. Now you get the best of both worlds: cooked foods like meats and steamed veggies with a replacement of the living enzymes your body needs to break them down. This saves your pancreas and digestive system from having to pump out digestive enzymes every time you eat cooked foods. Directions: Take 1-2 capsules with each food meal and protein shakes.
- Wobenzym N: Complex blend of systemic protease enzymes and citrus bioflavonoids that have been shown to improve flexibility, mobility and improve joint strength among many other factors. It is all natural and the enzymes are found in papaya, pineapple and some are also produced in your body’s own pancreas. Directions: Take 3 capsules first thing in the morning on an empty stomach with water. Take 3 more capsules in the afternoon 45 minutes after a meal and 45 minutes before a meal (dead center in between meals). The reason for this is because if you take it with a meal the enzymes might be used to break down food instead of being absorbed into the body.
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