What are weight lifters doing to get so big and buff? Is it all a result of hard work, or do they take something? While numerous bodybuilders rely on food and exercise to build their muscles and do so successfully, many of their peers prefer to take supplements that help them reach their goals and they don’t turn to illegal performance enhancers either. Is there a difference in their results compared with the natural approach? What are the top weight lifting supplements? We can answer both of those questions here.
Should You Take a Supplement?
It’s just possible that your diet isn’t sufficient or is holding you back in some way. Perhaps you eat too little protein or dietary restrictions make it difficult to feed your cells. Certain individuals have trouble gaining weight anywhere on their bodies as fat or muscle, but they want to get bigger for body building and weight lifting competitions while remaining lean. The guy with a body made to gain muscle just eats more steak, but his counterpart has to get all the help he can from any legal source out there. Supplements are not for everyone, but they don’t usually do any harm unless you are allergic to an ingredient.
The five most popular supplements available to weight lifters today are Creatine, Beta-Alanine, BCAAs, Whey Protein, and Glutamine. These are all legal, available, and relatively affordable. There is a ton of information about each one, lots of research already published, more coming, and many number of products on the market.
Where to Buy Supplements
Before we talk about the supplements, let’s discuss availability. Gyms, health food stores, big pharmacies, some major grocery stores (Walmart, for instance), and online stores sell some or all of the five ingredients in one form or another.
Compare prices and the quality of products as well based on what you read on the pages of health and fitness magazines. Focus on what they say in publications devoted to weight lifting and body building where the topic is of greater value than on sites related to yoga or running.
Supplements help runners gain lean muscle mass too, but those athletes aren’t into muscle building to quite the same extent. You can save some serious money online, especially if you find coupon codes and apply those at the checkout. Watch out for shipping fees, though. Brands like GNC, JYM, Dymatize, Optimum Nutrition, and Muscletech all carry their own versions of BCAAs, etc. and there are lots of reviews to refer to.
What Are These Supplements?
Whey protein is the densest protein available, easiest to digest, and most quickly absorbed by the body. It is also the tastiest form and creates the nicest texture of most protein supplements, certainly nicer than rice or hemp. Whey protein contains amino acids which the body uses to create muscle with the help of BCAAs.
Branch Chain Amino Acids enable the body to make use of amino acids and to help muscles recover from exertion. While whey powders make wonderful shakes, BCAAs don’t taste so good. Swallow them as capsules or in the form of flavored drink mixes.
Muscle tissue, when stressed, will fail to keep its strength and density. This is partly due to injury and strain, but also a result of catabolism. If the word sounds like cannibalism, it’s no coincidence. Catabolism occurs when the metabolism goes looking for a source of energy, can’t find any available calories, and chews up muscle tissue instead. The body will bypass muscle tissue if you feed it well and provide enough carbohydrates for the metabolic system. One supplement to aid you here is Glutamine. BCAAs support it in the role of promoting healthy cells which are not as vulnerable to the need for fuel.
Beta-Alanine is associated with energy. When we work out, our bodies store certain acids which make us tired. With Beta-Alanine in our supplement mixture, that is not as likely to happen. Creatine is another muscle-recovery aid and a help when you want to get bigger. Yes, working out more does the trick better than anything, but if you don’t want to lose those cells you gain during a session, Creatine is essential.
No one of the supplements above works in isolation. The ideal approach is to combine them all. They do not interact negatively and there are helpful suggestions for when and how to take them so you aren’t overwhelmed. You could blend them in a single smoothie to drink during a break. You might consume some before a workout, some in the middle, and some right afterwards. The protein shake for breakfast with a BCAA drink mix in-between to hydrate is a popular combination.
You guessed it: these products don’t come cheaply. Brands tend to keep costs low but you will need to either swallow pills or adjust flavor by using fruit juice or making tasty smoothies. Many of the top brands are trendy and hyped; costly too.
Food Allergies and Preferences
Whey is not an option for vegans. They can still gain benefits from hemp, soy, and nut-based protein powders but they won’t be quite as effective or create the same smooth texture. Soy is a notable exception: great for texture, but not as rich in protein.
Soy is a common allergen too, but at least there are non-GMO options out there. It’s also possible to obtain benefits from protein-dense foods like salmon, chicken, and red meat. They’re just not as available or as quickly digested and put to use as these processed supplements.