One of the most confusing things about getting into bodybuilding is the mind-boggling array of supplements that are available. This is an area that is rife with marketing hype. The people who know the most about supplements, the competitive bodybuilders, don’t volunteer their information for free. And if they do say that they use a product, it just happens to be the product that they are selling.
Almost all of the products out there are different combinations of the same basic ingredients: whey protein, creatine, caffeine, arginine, and citrulline malate. Some of them try to dazzle potential users with fancy terms. One supplement touted that it contained the fertilized yolk of a Gallus gallus domesticus—a quick Google search reveals that the ingredient is nothing more than a chicken egg. You’d be better off just eating an egg because it is certainly cheaper than the supplement.
I am not a giant believer in bodybuilding supplements. Old-school bodybuilders like Steve Reeves were able to look fantastic without the use of creatine or whey protein. Still, if there is something that is going to help me make gains in strength and size without endangering my health, I want to make use of it. In my experience, there are some bodybuilding supplements that work.
This is my current supplement regimen:
Nitrix 2.0 – If I could only go with one supplement, my choice would be Nitrix 2.0. It’s goal is to maximize pumps, improve recovery, and increase strength.
Nitrix is a combination of niacin, citrulline, and creatine, as well as some other vasodilators. I can see and feel the difference with Nitrix. I get awesome pumps and my muscular growth is nothing short of phenomenal.
Amino X – The reason I started using Amino X is that I found I was having problems recovering in between my workouts. I currently lift weights six days a week and I also run about six miles per week. The muscle soreness was starting to get in the way of working out every day so I added this to my supplement regimen. If you are not working out very hard, I think that you can skip this supplement, but if you are really blasting away in the gym, this is an excellent addition to your supplement regimen.
Amino X contains 10 grams of BCAAs and amino acids that help prevent muscle wasting during a workout and that speed recovery after a workout. It also contains ingredients that have been proven to assist with endurance so that you can train longer and harder.
L-Glutamine – L-Glutamine is an amino acid that assists in maintaining a positive nitrogen balance which is necessary to grow muscle. It is a great recovery aid and it may help in strengthening the immune system. I take 5 grams after working out and 5 grams before bedtime as a study shows that a small amount of glutamine can significantly increase growth hormone levels. I don’t use any particular brand, but I find a powder is more economical to use versus capsules.
Protein – Of course, any bodybuilder is going to take some form of protein supplementation. I am still experimenting in this area. I was taking Isopure whey protein and I had very good results. Also, the Cookies and Cream flavor is one of the best tasting protein powders. Isopure mixes very nicely.
The only disadvantage to Isopure whey is that it is not very filling as a snack. I find that I am hungry shortly after drinking a serving. However, its effectiveness as a muscle building supplement is unquestionable.
More recently, I’ve been getting away from the pure whey protein because whey protein is a very fast digesting protein. Instead, I have started to try protein powders that incorporate a combination of fast and slow digesting proteins. My current favorite is Muscle Milk Pro. I have one scoop about an hour before bed to keep me in a positive nitrogen balance through the night. It delivers 25 grams of protein along 2.5 grams of fat and 9 grams of carbs. I think including the fat and the carbs make Muscle Milk a better choice as a quick meal replacement or snack. I also think that taking protein in combination with carbs and fat is a more natural way of consuming protein.
The disadvantages of Muscle Milk are that it is more difficult to mix and grittier than Isopure. However, the taste is acceptable, and it mixes easily enough with a shaker bottle.
As I continue to experiment with supplements, I will update this post.