The amount of supplements for the bodybuilding market is absolutely astronomical – and the frenzy they generate is even more colossal. Each supplement claims to be the best, newest, most advanced formula available. Some claim to be able to pack on unbelievable amounts of muscle on your frame, burn fat quicker than anything else you can possibly do, or give you so much energy and strength you could give superman a run for his money in the weight room.
But, are supplements all they are cracked up to be, or is mostly just clever marketing?
To cut to the quick, I’d have to say for the most part, it’s more hype than anything – but, there are supplements which do work, and do make your job of putting on weight easier. And when it comes down to it, that’s what it’s all about, after all.
Supplements shouldn’t be relied upon or put on some huge pedestal as if they are some kind of magic bullet. The fundamentals of good bodybuilding practice and diet are what will make you what you will eventually become – and good supplements, if used, can make your journey that little bit smoother and easier…
For instance, you may not always have the time nor the appetite to prepare and eat a meal, so, using a supplement which has good nutritional value (and isn’t simply loaded with sugar to bump the calories) can help you to stay on track, minus the hassle. Supplements such as MRP’s (meal replacement powders) and protein shakes generally shouldn’t be used any more than twice a day. Particularly after training, as consuming a milk shake loaded with everything you need can be more quickly digested than a solid meal.
Another supplement there is much fanfare about is creatine – a supplement which helps your body to store energy (glycogen) and transport nutrients around your system quicker and better. Yes, certain creatine’s do work – and yes, they do allow you to workout harder and recover quicker… but they aren’t the holy grail to making gains.
Creatine is a useful supplement to help you break plateaus or boost your energy when you are feeling tired and lethargic, so they do have a use. But, many people seem to take creatine because they have heard you can achieve anywhere from 3 – 8lb of body weight in under a month. The misconception is that this is solid muscle tissue… when in fact, the majority of any rapid gains when beginning creatine use will be from the higher level of water retention it promotes.
So, yes – there is a place for supplements, but think twice before getting your wallet out every time you hear amazing claims… because the basics of a good bodybuilding diet will never be too far – if at all – behind what supplements can achieve.