Nutritional supplements allow bodybuilders to optimize their training and workout routines as well as speed up the results of hours spent in the gym. Enhancing muscle growth, increasing testosterone levels, reducing catabolism (muscle wasting), improving sleep and reducing body fat are just a few of the many benefits received from targeted supplementation. When combined with proper training and nutrition, bodybuilding supplements can help you achieve the results you want in a fast and efficient manner.

When it comes to safe, effective and proven bodybuilding supplements, creatine easily ranks number one. Along with protein, creatine has the most scientific research supporting its reliability and effectiveness in promoting gains in strength, power and lean muscle mass. Creatine is a nitrogenous acid that is essential for supplying energy to muscle cells. Supplementing with creatine “loads” the body with levels of creatine that cannot be achieved through diet alone. Creatine helps pull extra water into muscle cells, making them appear fuller and denser. The results are increased performance, improved endurance and faster recovery times. Regardless of your age or experience level, creatine should be the cornerstone of your supplement protocol.

Although many types of creatine exist, the most popular creatine derivatives include Creatine Monohydrate, Kre-Alkalyn, and Creatine Ethyl Ester. Creatine Monohydrate is the most common and cost effective form. It can be taken in powder form or in capsules or tablets. Kre-Alkalyn is pH-buffered creatine that has been shown to have higher solubility and stability. Some people also find Kre-Akalyn to be gentler on the stomach. Creatine Ethyl Ester is a creatine derivative that may be more bioavailable, meaning that less of it can be taken to achieve the same saturation levels within the muscles.

• Best Creatine: BodyStrong Creatine Monohydrate,

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They help the body maintain proper metabolism function as well as aid in the growth and repair of muscle tissue. Essential Amino Acids have been shown to enhance muscle growth and prevent muscle catabolism (muscle wasting) during intense training. Branched-chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) possess an unusually high potential for muscle repair and growth. The three BCAAs include leucine, isoleucine and valine. Research suggests that BCAAs are the most bioavailable amino acids in terms of building and protecting muscle mass. Glutamine, helps enhance recovery from training and also boosts immune system function. Beta-alanine, has sufficient research supporting its ability to delay muscular fatigue and improve strength. L-Arginine, is a powerful amino acid that promotes nitric oxide production in the bloodstream. Bodybuilders primarily take L-Arginine to help promote muscle pumps in the gym. L-Carnitine, is critical in cellular energy metabolism and therefore makes a perfect choice for those looking to stay lean while gaining mass or those looking to speed up their fat loss efforts.

• Best Essential Amino Acids: BodyStrong Amino Complex

• Best Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): BodyStrong BCAA Powder, MRM BCAA plus G 6000

• Best L-Glutamine: BodyStrong L-Glutamine

• Best Beta-alanine: BodyStrong Beta-alanine

• Best L-Arginne: BodyStrong L-Arginine Powder, Country Life L-Arginine Caps (500mg)

• Best L-Carnitine: BodyStrong L-Carnitine, Body First L-Carnitine Liquid

The amino acids found in protein comprise the building blocks of lean muscle tissue. Bodybuilders must ingest adequate amounts protein to sustain muscle mass. Since many bodybuilders are engaging in strenuous metabolic resistance training multiple times per week, their protein needs are much higher than that of the general population. Protein supplements can be organized into categories based on your goals as a bodybuilder. Whey Protein Concentrate is the most common and economical form of protein. Whey protein absorbs quickly into muscle cells to aid in muscle recovery and should be taken immediately post-workout. Whey Protein Isolate is similar to concentrate, but lower in fat, carbs and calories, making it ideal for dieters. At nighttime, slow-absorbing proteins like Casein and Egg are ideal for providing a steady stream of amino acids to muscles while you sleep, recover and grow. Those looking to gain weight should consider a Weight Gainer, which typically includes higher amounts of protein as well as and other vital macronutrients like healthy fats and carbs.

Pre-workout supplements are some of the hottest (and most effective) supplements in bodybuilding right now. They are typically taken 30-45 minutes before workouts and contain ingredients that contribute to a more powerful and effective training experience. The goal of any quality pre-workout supplement should be to increase motivation, energy, pumps, strength, and explosiveness, and to stimulate higher training intensity. Pre-workouts typically contain caffeine, beta-alanine, Arginine and/or 1,3-dimethylamylamine as well as other assorted compounds. When combined, these nutrients increase blood nitric oxide levels and enhance the mind-body connection.

• Best Pre-Workouts: Body Surge, Jack3d

When it comes to bodybuilding, testosterone is KING. Higher free testosterone levels result in improved insulin sensitivity, increased protein synthesis, heightened libido, increased energy, and the list goes on. Science and real world bodybuilders alike have both reported impressive gains in testosterone levels from supplements containing tribulus terrestris, a fruit extract that may also help increase energy metabloism. ZMA is a natural mineral supplement that combines zinc aspartate, magnesium and vitamin B-6 designed to support testosterone production. D-Aspartic acid is an emerging testosterone booster that has been shown to boost natural testosterone levels in as little as 12 days by boosting hormone synthesis. DHEA is naturally produced in the adrenal glands, testes and brain and helps men of all ages improve testosterone levels.

Miscellaneous Bodybuilding

The following are popular and effective supplements that are important to many bodybuilders, but don’t fit clearly in any of the aforementioned categories.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a body recomposition agent that helps users build lean muscle while burning fat.

• Best CLA: BodyStrong CLA, AllMax CLA

Chromium Picolinate helps increase insulin sensitivity and regulate blood glucose levels, both important factors in shifting the balance of calories towards muscle gain and away from fat.

• Best Chromium Picolinate: BodyStrong Chromium, Universal Chromium Picolinate

Melatonin is a natural hormone found in your body that helps regulate sleep patterns and circadian rhythm.

• Best Melatonin: BodyStrong Melatonin,

5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a natural hormone that functions as the pre-cursor to the hormone serotonin. It promotes positive mood, feelings of well-being and helps reduce spontaneous and late night hunger cravings.

• BodyStrong 5-HT: BodyStrong 5-HTP , M.R.M. 100mg 5-HTP

High Potency Multivitamins are also becoming increasingly popular amongst bodybuilders because they help cover the nutritional gaps that are sometimes created in the pursuit of building muscle.

• Best MultiVitamins: Strong Man Multi, Strong Woman Multi

HMB is a potent amino acid metabolite of l-leucine that has been shown to help bodybuilders hang onto precious muscle tissue by preventing catabolism (muscle wasting).

• Best HMB: BodyStrong HMB,

* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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