Considering supplementation, but confused because you aren’t exactly sure what each supplement does, or which brand is best? You aren’t alone. There are so many brands and so many supplements to choose from. We’re here to help!
We’ve got the top five recommended supplements for bodybuilders – amateur, competitive, and aspiring.
Most men don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables in their diet. That’s where a multivitamin comes in; they can pick up the slack and supplement your lacking diet. A good multivitamin contains nearly 100% (if not 100%) of your daily recommended intake of several vitamins and minerals needed for optimal health.
If you think that you may have nutrient deficiencies, a multivitamin may be right for you. A basic blood panel can give you the information that you need. Take your multivitamin at the same time each and every day, ideally in the mornings.
Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men Multivitamin
Universal Nutrition Animal Pak Sports Nutrition Multivitamin
2. Protein Powder
Believe it or not, it’s unlikely that you aren’t getting a substantial amount of protein from your diet, but for post-workout nutrition, a snack throughout the day, or even the occasional on-the-go meal, protein powder can be a lifesaver.
Protein powder is the perfect supplement for those hoping to pack on muscle without excessive calories or adding fat mass. Protein powder is also great for individuals who are bulking or trying to gain weight as they typically have at least 20 grams of protein or more per scoop, and can be mixed with whatever you prefer for taste and nutritional content.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder
Pro JYM Protein Powder
Creatine is a supplement that is believed to increase muscle strength and size, enhance brain function, and promote faster recovery. Sounds perfect for a bodybuilder, right?
There is also research supporting the idea that creatine supplementation can negate degenerative effects like sarcopenia – age-related muscle loss, as creatine maintains levels of Insulin-like growth factor 1 and enhances fast twitch muscle fiber coherence. For aging bodybuilders, creatine can be an extremely beneficial supplement.
One thing to note when supplementing your diet with creatine is to ensure that you are adequately hydrating. The best time to supplement with creatine is post-workout and/or one hour prior to your training session.
MuscleTech Platinum 100% Creatine Powder
RSP Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate Powder
4. Branched-chain amino acids
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have numerous benefits for bodybuilders, especially those who are cutting or dieting down. They help to maintain muscle mass during a caloric deficit, stimulate protein synthesis, and slow protein breakdown.
BCAAs are also believed to help improve the intensity of your workouts. Competitive bodybuilder Layne Norton states that supplementation of BCAAs reduces the amount of tryptophan entering the brain, which decreases perceptions of fatigue, allowing you to workout longer and at a higher intensity.
The best time to consume BCAAs is to take 5-10 grams within an hour before and after your training session. This is one supplement that can also be used as an pre-workout supplement, meaning there are benefits to drinking it throughout your training session as well, rather than both before and after.
Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy
5. Fish Oils
Most bodybuilders are training for strength gains and aesthetics. When strength training, we are actually making microscopic tears in the muscle fibers being worked, leading later to inflammation and soreness. Growth and change occur with recovery and proper nutrition and supplementation.
Fish oils are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can play a huge role in recovery. This supplement has the ability to reduce needed recovery time and aid in reducing muscle soreness post-exercise.
Try taking your fish oil supplements in the morning, perhaps with your multivitamin if that is a supplement you are using as well. This is one supplement that you would not want to take right before a workout, due to the possibility of an upset stomach or indigestion.
Optimum Nutrition Fish Oil Softgels
MuscleTech Platinum 100% Fish Oil
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