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Sports Supplements

Despite the impressive marketing claims by sports supplement vendors and pro bodybuilders who are sponsored by them, most sports supplements sold to bodybuilders simply do not work. The only effects they have on you are the placebo effect (a positive effect based solely on the power of suggestion) and the financial effect (you are basically sponsoring the sport when you buy supplements, which is of course a good thing). The only sports supplements of which I believe that they may have real beneficial effects for bodybuilders are those discussed below.

Protein Powders
Protein is without any doubt the most important nutrient for building muscle mass. I personally consider protein powder as a normal food product rather than a food supplement because it is derived from natural food products such as milk or eggs and not by chemical synthesis (water, olive oil, table sugar and salt are other e amples of pure substances that are not considered food supplements). !at at least " gram of animal protein for each pound of your body weight (" kg # $.$ pounds). The best protein powders are made from milk (whey and casein), or eggs. %hey proteins are digested by the body within appro $ hours, egg white proteins within appro & hours, and casein proteins within appro ' hours. (ilk protein e ists for about $)* of whey and +)* of casein, and is therefore an ideal source of fast and slowly absorbing amino acids. The slowly digesting casein protein powders are often recommended to be taken right before going to bed, while the fast absorbing whey protein powders are preferred in the morning and right after the workout. There also e ist milk protein powders (referred to as isolates) that are very low in lactose and therefore ideal for lactose intolerant people who have problems digesting milk sugar. ,ccording to my personal e perience all types and brands of protein powder are e-ually effective, but I prefer the ones from (yProtein (use the .* discount code MP51244 during checkout). I especially like their unflavored Impact %hey Protein and unflavored (ilk Protein /mooth as they are "))* natural without any chemical additives. ,nd of course 0odybuilding.com , the largest supplement store on the internet, offers some similar products. MyProtein.com - Best Prices in Europe (use the .* discount code MP51244 during checkout) 1ere I buy supplements myself. 2 3os 2

Amino Acids
Proteins are broken down into amino acids during digestion. If you eat enough protein, there is no need to take additional amino acids. ,mino acids are rather e pensive and have totally no additional value. In the past amino acids have been popular, but in the meantime most bodybuilders have figured out that they are not worth the money. I don4t believe that taking 05,,4s (branched chain amino acids), !,,4s (essential amino acids) arginine, glutamine, or any other amino acid 6ust before, during, or 6ust after your workout will accelerate muscle growth significantly. ,ny good whey protein contains $)2$.* 05,,4s and &)2.)* !,,4s that get absorbed by the body within $ hours.

Creatine
5reatine naturally occurs in the muscles and plays an important role in the energy supply during e ercise. The main sources of creatine in your diet are meat and fish. /ince the amount of creatine in meat and fish is very low (about . g per kg) and since most of us don4t eat big -uantities of it, supplementation of creatine may be worth considering. In contrast to most other sport supplements, creatine supplementation definitely has real noticeable effects on your body if taken long enough in large enough -uantities. /ome of these effects are definitely interesting for bodybuilders. The main beneficial effects of creatine supplementation are7

8our muscles will absorb e tra water, which makes them bigger and harder, and you can e perience as a result an increase in bodyweight of up to 9*. The levels of creatine phosphate in your muscles increase, resulting in more energy during your workouts. 8ou can do more reps with the same weight. 8ou will be stronger and thus being able to lift heavier weights for the same number of reps. 8ou will feel a more solid pump in your muscles during your workout. 8ou will e perience increased stability of the 6oints, lowering the risk of in6uries.

,s a result of the above listed effects, you should be able to increase the overall intensity of your workouts, which in turn could theoretically result in faster muscle growth. 5reatine is however not a magical product. It also has some drawbacks7

,ll the beneficial effects disappear completely a couple of weeks after stopping creatine supplementation. /ome people4s digestive system gets upset by creatine supplementation, resulting in diarrhea and insufficient absorption of the creatine supplement by the body.

There are some concerns about possible negative side effects of long term use of large dosages of creatine on for e ample the kidneys and liver. The pump in your muscles can become so pronounced that it can actually become inconvenient during some endurance e ercises or physical labor. People who have high natural creatine levels or eat large amounts of meat and fish may not get additional benefits from creatine supplementation.

,lthough the . beneficial effects that I listed above are in my opinion factually true, so far I didn4t see any proof yet that creatine supplementation does really speed up actual muscle growth or can push actual muscle mass to higher levels that could not have been reached without creatine supplementation (I use here the term :actual muscle: for not confusing it with the e tra water that is temporary absorbed by the muscles during creatine supplementation). %hen I first tried creatine supplementation I was $. years old, and full2grown in terms of muscle mass. 5reatine supplementation has never been able to help me increase my actual muscle mass beyond that level. During creatine supplementation I e perience a body weight increase of about ; pounds, fuller and harder muscles, up to ".* strength and energy increase, a powerful pump and a significant increase in 6oint stability. !specially the latter effect I like very much because it really helps me to prevent tendon in6uries. I get the best effects with a loading phase of ") days with ") grams of pure creatine monohydrate powder per day, followed by a maintenance dose of . grams per day. ,ll brands of creatine monohydrate work e-ually well. 8ou might consider choosing e tra fine milled creatine monohydrate to facilitate its absorption, however, for me it doesn4t make any difference. I take my creatine powder 9 or & times per day, and take it with plain water, 6uice or milk. ,lthough I don4t think that creatine supplementation has any permanent long term beneficial effects, its short term effects are certainly -uite spectacular. I recommend everybody to try it out at least once to see whether you like it.

Carbo ydrate Powders


During an intense weight training workout the glycogen stored in the muscles and liver is the main energy source. <or optimal strength and endurance during your workouts it is very important that these glycogen supplies are completely restored before starting a new workout. The best moment to replenish e hausted glycogen supplies is during the first $ hours after the workout. !asily digestible food products containing lots of fast absorbing carbohydrates (high glycemic inde ) are recommended for this purpose. During the rest of the day food products with slowly absorbing carbohydrates (low glycemic inde ) are preferred in order to provide a steady supply of energy to the body and to maintain the glycogen supplies. <or those of you who like to optimi=e their carbohydrate intake there are some very handy carbohydrate powders available that can easily be added to protein shakes.

!e"trose
De trose is another name for glucose, the most important building block of most carbohydrates that occur in our food. >e t to fructose and sucrose, glucose is an important sugar present in most fruits. During digestion most carbohydrates are broken down into glucose molecules that enter the blood stream and are transported to the muscles and liver where they are converted into glycogen. De trose has the highest glycemic inde of all naturally occurring carbohydrates. ,dding de trose (about " gram per kg of body weight) to your post2workout protein shake is the most efficient way to replenish your glycogen supplies rapidly.

Maltode"trin
(altode trin, which is produced from corn starch, is another carbohydrate powder that is very easily digestible and has a glycemic inde very similar to glucose. 1owever, unlike de trose, maltode trin is not sweet. Therefore you can replace part of the de trose in your protein shake by maltode trin in order to keep its sweetness limited. , .)?.) mi ture of de trose?maltode trin also gets slightly faster absorbed by the body than a pure de trose or maltode trin solution.

#ine milled oats


In contrast to de trose and maltode trin, milled oats are a great source of slow carbohydrates (low glycemic inde ) that additionally provide lots of healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals. %hen milled ultra fine they are very easily mi able into a protein shake and they provide a great smooth taste. <ine milled oats are a great source of carbohydrates for throughout the day.

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'itamins and Minerals

Bitamins and minerals are essential nutrients for a good health. 1owever, if you follow a normal healthy diet, especially if you regularly include some fresh fruit and vegetables, your body will have plenty of all vitamins and minerals. The importance of vitamin supplementation is e tremely hyped up by the health care industry, and they are the favorite placebos prescribed by physicians. I do not recommend anybody to use additional vitamin or mineral supplements unless medical e aminations clearly demonstrate a shortage (e.g. some people may have a shortage in iron). ! tra vitamins or minerals will certainly not increase muscle growth or body fat reduction.

Ep edrine( Ca$$eine( and Aspirin


!phedrine (or its natural e-uivalent ephedra) together with caffeine and sometimes aspirin has proven to be really helpful in burning body fat, and has therefore often been used in sports supplements (so2called fat burners). !phedrine is however a dangerous drug and prohibited by most anti2 doping organi=ations. !phedrine (or its natural e-uivalent ephedra or ma huang) does not belong in the human body and should never be used by true natural bodybuilders.

Pro ormones
Prohormones are often sold as sports supplements. I don4t know very much about them because I think that all supplements that have the word :hormone: in their name should not be used by true natural bodybuilders. ,ccording to many sources, however, some prohormones do really stimulate muscle growth. Prohormones are converted into real hormones (usually testosterone or anabolic steroids) by the body, and can have a minimal hormonal effect by themselves. In some countries (including the A/) they are no longer legally available and they definitely should never be used by a true natural bodybuilder.

)ormone Boosters
,ll kinds of hormone boosters are currently on the market as alternatives for hormonal doping with testosterone, anabolic steroids, growth hormone etc. These supplements are supposed to increase your natural levels of these hormones in a safe and legal manner. 1onestly, I don4t know very much about these products, but I doubt very much that any of these products can really significantly increase your natural hormone levels. In each case, in my opinion all substances that don4t occur in a normal healthy daily diet, especially when they are supposed to manipulate your hormone levels, should not be used by true natural bodybuilders. I also believe that from a health perspective, it is not wise to disturb your natural hormonal balance.

*lucosamine and C ondroitin Sul$ate


/everal studies have shown that glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate may have beneficial effects for the health of your 6oints. They are claimed to help relieve 6oint ache, treat osteoarthritis, and improve the health of your cartilage and maybe your tendons. In !urope they are even approved as safe and effective medical drugs for osteoarthritis. ,lthough I have never tried them myself, I believe it may be worthwhile trying them to prevent or treat 6oint in6uries.

Conclusion
The only sport supplement that I believe is really beneficial to all bodybuilders is protein powder, because protein is really an essential nutrient for muscle growth. 1owever, as e plained above, I consider protein powder as a food product rather than a supplement, because it is isolated from natural food products such as milk and eggs. The only other sport supplement that true natural bodybuilders could benefit from is creatine monohydrate. 1owever, I do not think that creatine supplementation has any long term beneficial effects. I believe that all other sports supplements currently on the market have no significant benefit for bodybuilders, do not work at all, or should not be part of true natural bodybuilding. >ote that it is well possible to eliminate the need for sports supplements completely, simply by eating large enough -uantities of meat and?or fish. 0y eating about 9 lbs of meat and?or fish per day you fully cover your daily needs of -uality protein and creatine, eliminating the need for any supplementation. !ating such high amounts of meat or fish can, however, have a few disadvantages7 meat and fish can contain lots of saturated fats and cholesterol, they can be rather costly, and take lots of time for preparing and eating. ,lso take a look at my section on supplement safety. If you are curious about which supplements you would find in my closet, take a look at my list of food supplements and training accessories.