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We’ve said it before and we will say it again until we’re blue in the face and not from deadlifts either… There is simply no substitute for a healthy, balanced diet. Real food will never in our opinion be replaced.
Despite this, so many would-be body builders rely heavily on supplements to make up the majority of their daily intake. Partly due to convenience (laziness in the kitchen) and partly because they have convinced themselves through all the media and advertising that these supplements are better than real food.
While we would never advocate the abandonment of plenty of real food over supplements, you can’t help but acknowledge that supplementation is a very easy and convenient way to bump up your daily intake of the essential nutrients the body needs to withstand the hard work you put in at the gym.
The issue with supplements is that the market has been flooded with hundreds of thousands of products. You could easily waste hundreds of pounds per month on different supps. The trick is to pick out those you really need and that really work.
The best way to go is to start with the supplements backed by science and not just the latest advertising noise.
Here are four supplements every would-be bodybuilder should be using before they invest in the fancy bells and whistles.
#1: Fish Oils (Omega 3)
Fish oils have long been hailed as the super supplement, though it seems many overlook them for fancy trending products.
There isn’t anyone who wouldn’t benefit from having regular fish oil in their diet.
Fish oils provide numerous benefits including joint health and lubrication, as well as having anti-inflammatory properties.
New gym goers are likely to experience muscle and joint soreness, particularly early on in their fitness journey and all too often turn to medication like Ibuprofen as a short term solution. While this is an option, regular use of anti-inflammatory meds like Ibuprofen are linked to long term heart problems and can cause stomach irritation, even ulcers.
Give fish oils a try, most will feel the benefits to regular use from as little as one small dose taken daily in the morning. Keep oiling the machine and it will run like a dream.
#2: Whey Protein
Protein is an absolutely essential nutrient for the human body. Most people just don’t get enough of it or fail to spread the consumption evenly throughout the day to remain anabolic. Protein is actually required to power your body’s immune system also.
High protein intake requirements shouldn’t be new news to any bodybuilder but holding our hands up, 8x chicken breasts per day isn’t an easy achievement. A creamy chocolate whey protein shake is a little more appealing.
Whey protein in its various forms is fast absorbing protein and most variations will be absorbed in to the body within 60-90 minutes of consumption, some much faster.
Look for products that compliment your goals, higher calories ideally some from quality carbs for those looking to gain size or low sugar lower calorie options like pure Whey Isolates if you’re cutting.
Our suggestion to keep the balance would be to limit to three servings per day which include a larger serving immediately post workout to kick start recovery.
#3: Greens and Superfood Supplements
A lack of beneficial green vegetables or superfoods like wheatgrass in the average person’s daily diet is common, even among some of the more health aware individuals. Many don’t like the taste or don’t really know how to cook with these ingredients. Others simply don’t realise the benefits.
While a moderate amount of greens in the diet is sufficient for a sedentary individual, a more active and intensely trained body will need more. Stands to reason really doesn’t it?
There are a variety of options available from capsules to powders you can mix in to food or flavoured drinks to help kick up your greens intake for the day without the hassle of eating a ton of broccoli with each meal.
Creatine is one of the only modern day bodybuilding products that has genuine testing to back up its claims.
Creatine supplementation in active individuals has been shown to genuinely improve available energy in the muscle, improve short term strength output and even increase the volume of the muscle.
Creatine has come in a few forms as the product has progressed, the standard being pure creatine monohydrate which many feel needs to be loaded in order to take full effect, vs more innovative products including CEE Creatine Ethyl Ester in which the creatine molecules have been attached to a fast absorbing ester to get it in to the muscle tissue faster without need for loading.
Creatine in our option is a year round product but for maximum effectiveness many cycle on and off alongside the claim it improves absorption long term.
Keep in mind that due to the nature of creatine some of the muscle volume comes from the retention of water in the muscle, which dependant on your current condition can cause you to look softer and less ‘dry’.
Be sure to drink plenty of water also when supplementing creatine as it can cause dehydration without adequate fluid intake.