People often ask if they can make gains without the use of steroids or other performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), and my answer is always “yes!” However, it is important to remember that a proper nutrition and training plan will determine most of the results you will be able to get. What’s more, in spite of the fact that steroids (AAS) and other PEDs may enhance your results, they will not achieve your goals for you. Therefore, when it comes to being a “natural” bodybuilder, there are a few supplements that I would consider essential. In this article we will look at some of the most effective supplements that every natural bodybuilder should include in their program.
Table of Contents
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid produced form the amino acids glycine and arginine. Supplementation of 5-10 grams (g) per day has been shown to significantly increase strength and endurance. The results will be best demonstrated through explosive movements like weight lifting. It will also allow for quicker recovery and has proven to have anti-catabolic properties. Besides, creatine is one of the most studied supplements on the market, and it has been shown to be not only effective but very safe as well. Remember that creatine pulls water into the muscles, so make sure to drink adequate amounts of water to avoid dehydration and bloating.
Unfortunately, there are many supplements out there marketed as creatine supplements, but they may also contain sugars, caffeine, and other fillers. However, you want to make sure you are getting a pure creatine, so it is crucial to read the ingredient label when choosing a creatine product.
We all know that protein is the building block of muscle; hence it is not surprising that bodybuilders tend to have diets very high in protein. In fact, there can be various reasons for including whey protein in your diet. For instance, you may be a very busy person and it is convenient, or you may just have a tough time eating enough whole foods to reach your daily protein goal.
Whey protein comes in four different forms: concentrate, isolate, hydrolysate, and native. The first three forms are the most common in whey supplementation. Concentrate has the most fat and cholesterol compared to the other forms, and is 29-89% protein by weight. Meanwhile, isolate is processed to remove fat and lactose, and it has 90%+ protein by weight. Hydrolysates are predigested for easier metabolizing, and they generally cost more than the other forms of whey.
Interestingly, when choosing a whey protein powder, the same rule of label reading applies - it is important to make sure you are getting a product with the least amount of carbs and fat. Generally, a whey isolate is the best choice for bodybuilders.
Regarding the dosage, it will depend on each individual athlete, since whey protein should be taken in sufficient amounts to cover all the daily nutritional needs.
Athletes, including bodybuilders, require more nutrients than a typical person. With diets being so high in protein, sometimes bodybuilders miss out on some of the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. Therefore, supplementing with a quality multivitamin is a way to ensure you are getting enough of the essential vitamins and minerals that keep the body functioning at top level.
Nonetheless keep in mind that typical vitamins and minerals will compete and block each other for absorption. However, when they are chelated, the vitamins and minerals are ionically neutral and do not compete with each other. Consequently, it is important to choose a multivitamin that has the chelated form of vitamins and minerals, as they are already in a form that the human body can easily absorb.
Fish oil is made from the tissue of oily fish and it contains omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Over the years, fish oil supplementation has been shown to have various health benefits, including reduction of inflammation in the body, increasing fat burning, boosting memory, reducing signs of aging, and preserving lean muscle. Moreover, it has also been proven to be very important in maintaining an overall healthy heart, although there is still debate on whether fish oil can prevent heart attack or stroke. A good dose is between 5-10g per day.
Training hard and eating right are the keys to looking and feeling great. Thus, incorporating some, or all of these, supplements can only help keep the body healthy and get you to your goals. If staying natural is your plan, then adding these few supplements to your regimen can make a difference. As always, when choosing a product, make sure to read labels and understand all the ingredients that are present. Feel free to ask about specific products on the forums to get your questions answered.
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