You’ve got your gym membership, you’ve made your workouts and you’ve made your diet chart. But did you get your bodybuilding supplements? No! How can you build muscle then?
That’s what you would have heard till now, but that’s not true! You don’t need supplements if you are someone who just needs a good looking muscular physique.
But if you want to be a professional bodybuilder then you may need supplements!
It’s a myth that has been going on, that you cannot build your dream physique without taking supplements.
But why do people say so? Because today almost everyone goes to the gym and everyone wants a good physique.
Everyone wants to be healthy but what they do not understand is that both bodybuilding and healthy life is not a one day’s job!
To be honest, supplements may give you an edge of 5-10%. However, if you take a well nutritious balanced diet then it won’t make much of a difference and you absolutely do not need any supplements.
You should take supplements if you are someone that has a very hectic schedule and you can’t take enough proteins that you need to take.
You can’t recover because you can’t have proper sleep and rest or you have some other problem that restricts your natural process. If that’s not the case you need not spend so much money on supplements.
Now don’t get me wrong bodybuilding supplements are not bad but they are not a necessity. Supplements can be really helpful in multiple situations.
Let’s see what all supplements you may need:
- The most important supplement: Whey protein
- Omega-3 fish oil
- Ashwagandha and gokshura
The Most important supplement: Whey protein
Almost every other guy that goes to the gym today consumes whey protein. Protein is very essential to gain muscles.
But is whey protein a necessity?
If your daily requirement of protein is 150g and you are not able to consume that 150g from your diet then you can add whey protein to your diet. It is the most important supplement in this list.
If you are a vegetarian adding whey protein to your diet becomes very important because plant protein does not contain all the essential amino acids that you need.
You need to combine different food times like chole with rice to get all the essential proteins. That’s why it becomes difficult for vegetarians to get complete protein from their diet.
You can also have a look at my vegetarian diet plan to build muscle and lose fat if you want to see the various combinations and meals.
Whey protein is a milk derivative and since milk is an animal protein it contains all the essential amino acids in it.
Milk is processed in a way that most of the fats and carbohydrates are removed from it and what is left is lean protein. Now this protein is very fast absorbing. So, you can also find whey from the water which is there with curd.
When you make paneer from milk the water that we usually drain is whey but the amount of protein in it is very less.
That’s why whey protein powder is made so that in just one scoop you could have a high amount of protein (20-25g).
Whey protein is totally safe to consume but there is a lot of duplicacy going around in the market of bodybuilding supplements. Therefore, you must be careful about where you get your supplements from!
Dosage of your protein supplement
A lot of people take their whey protein after they wake up, some take it after their workouts, some take it before sleeping and some take it when they skip a meal. But what is the correct time to take whey protein?
In my opinion, you should take your protein at that time when you need the amino acids immediately. At some times your body needs amino acids quicker than other times.
Firstly, after we’ve done our workout and secondly after waking up from a long night’s sleep are the times when we need a quick supply of amino acids to our muscles. At both times our body is starving and whatever we consume gets directly absorbed by our body.
So, taking whey at these times would be the most effective. If you take your protein some other time it almost equal to taking any other source of protein.
At both times you need not take any more than one scoop at a time. You could take your whey either with milk or with water but if you take it with water it would be easier to digest and absorb for your body whereas if you take it with milk it will become slow digesting.
It won’t be as effective with water as it would be with water.
Whey protein concentrate
The type of protein that has a slightly smaller amount of protein than the other type.It contains about 75-80% protein in it and the rest carbohydrates and fats.
Though whey protein concentrate is high in protein they still have some fats and carbohydrates.
Whey protein isolate
It is a little expensive supplement than the usual whey protein concentrate because it has a higher content of protein in it.
They still contain carbohydrates and fats though but in a much smaller percentage, almost negligible. The amount of protein in isolate is about 95% and the remaining carbohydrates and fats.
Though the content of carbohydrates and fats is higher in concentrate it won’t matter much if you are someone who doesn’t want to compete and just wants a good physique. It is just a matter of 1-2g!
Another form of protein is also there known as the casein protein which I find absolutely ridiculous. Casein protein is just a very slow-digesting protein.
It gets slowly digested and absorbed into our body so that our body gets small supplies of protein in a short duration. I mean you could just consume some paneer instead!
Creatine: Supplement to increase strength
Creatine is already present in your body but a very less quantity. If you’re someone who has been regular to the gym for at least 6 to 10 months then only you should supplement with creatine.
For someone who is into lifting weights, it’s all about those explosive movements, on a molecular level if you break it down your body has a bunch of different systems for different activities.
For these activities, your body’s main fuel is a molecule called ATP and this is where the creatine game comes into play.
ATP, adenosine triphosphate. ATPs are the little batteries in your muscles which come into play when you are doing explosive movements like lifting weights.
So whenever you do an explosive movement that lasts 10 seconds your muscles use these ATP batteries.
How will creatine give you more energy?
Your body breaks the ATPs, adenosine triphosphate into ADP adenosine diphosphate and a free phosphate molecule. ATP contains three phosphate molecules whereas ADP contains two phosphate molecules.
If you are not supplementing with creatine that’s what will happen but if you are supplementing with creatine then there is a high concentration of phosphocreatine in your muscles and the ADP will recombine with the free phosphate molecule and form ATP again.
It gives you more energy with the help of those ATP batteries.
So if you can to do 10 repetitions on the bench press after supplementing with creatine you will do 12 repetitions and eventually, you will lift more weights and provide more resistance to your muscles faster.
When you take creatine it sits in your muscles and draws water, so you need to increase your water intake while supplementing on creatine.
If you don’t intake more water then that creatine will draw more water form all your muscles resulting in cramps and making you dehydrated.
But how would you know that you are properly hydrated or not? The best way to do that is by observing the colour of your urine throughout the day.
If it is white then your body is properly hydrated. The more it is towards the yellow side the more you are dehydrated.
A very common myth is that creatine will make you all bloated and bulky. That definitely is not true.
Creatine will not make you bulky, it just retains a little bit of water into your muscles which makes your muscles look much fuller and not bulky.
In fact, some people even take creatine in their cutting phase.
Dosage for creatine
How to use creatine?
- Creatine loading
Your body is like a glass and creatine is like a liquid you are putting in the glass. Initially, your job is to fully fill the glass with the liquid. This is known as creatine loading when you fully load your body with creatine you are loaded.
After loading for 2 weeks you should not supplement for anther 2-3 months.
The whole concept of loading is to see what effect the supplement has on your body. There are two ways to load:-
- To take about 15-20g for the first week until you get loaded and then reduce it to 5g in the following week. This process will get you loaded faster.
- Take a steady amount of 5g. This will get you loaded a little slower. Getting loaded by this steady process may take 2 weeks.
In my opinion loading with a steady process is a better option.
You can take it with water and at any time you want there is no particular time when you should take creatine but taking it after your workout gives an edge of 10%.
How long should you use creatine? Just finish your jar and then stay away from it for like 3 months. Give your system a break!
To break it down simply, what creatine does is that it takes your body from level 0 to level 10 when you are taking creatine and when you stop using it you go to level 8. But overall you got from level 0 to level 8 with the help of creatine.
It is the second most important supplement in this list of bodybuilding supplements.
Creatine is a very cost-effective supplement but you should be beware from adulteration and you must buy it from a trusted source.
Creatine monohydrate is the best form of creatine you should consume, you don’t need any other form of creatine.
BCAA: The overrated supplement
The full form of BCAA is Branched-chain amino acids. BCAA contains three essential amino acids: valine, leucine and isoleucine.
These three amino acids are present in various food items and in your whey protein too.
It is said that for your proper and fast recovery you must take BCAA supplementation. But are they a necessity? Let’s find out!
The arguments people and supplement brands mainly have are:
- BCAAs are a broken-down form of protein and they absorb very fast into your body.
- Not metabolised in your liver but in your muscles. In simple words, your muscles immediately utilise these BCAAs so that your recovery is fast.
One thing we must understand is that these arguments are made by the bodybuilding supplement companies or rather the marketing wing of these companies.
There is no concrete research on these arguments and whatever research is there it is conducted by these brands only. Sounds fishy, doesn’t it!
The only time you need BCAAs while working out is if you are working out on an empty stomach and your BCAAs will get quickly absorbed by your muscle.
If you are someone who trains with a very high intensity equal to a competitive athlete then only you should consume BCAA otherwise it is just a regular drink that tastes good!
You absolutely do not need BCAAs and for the price that they come, they are absolutely ridiculous. Sticking to whey protein only will just do the job.
In fact, almost every whey protein already has some amount of BCAA in them which is the perfect amount.
Omega-3 fish oil: Supplement for secret gains
Omega-3 fatty acids are the essential fatty acids that your body requires but can not produce on its own so you have to consume them through your food or supplementation on a daily basis.
Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids. They are polyunsaturated fats. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 if you lift weights or do some sort of resistance training is 1:1.
Food items like fish, cereals, nuts and most vegetarian foods that we consume on a daily basis contain a great amount of omega-6 fatty acids in them. So there is no supplementation of omega-6 since you can consume it in ample amounts.
Now let’s see some benefits of omega-3 fatty acids:-
- Good for your skin, hair and nails. Gives a glow to your skin.
- Helps in fighting auto-immune diseases.
- Reduces the risk of heart attacks.
- Good for brain health and functioning.
- Blood pressure is controlled
- Good cholesterol increases.
As you can clearly see how important omega-3 is for your body. So consuming omega-3 on a daily basis is very essential.
Food items like fish, flax seeds, walnuts and soybeans are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Seafood particularly is rich in omega-3. But if you are a vegetarian and you cannot consume fish oil supplements you need not worry.
Vegetarian sources like flax, chia seeds, walnuts and soybean are also rich in omega-3 and omega-6.
Taking 1 tbsp of flax seeds or chia seeds will just provide you with the right amount of omega-3. You could also have 3-4 walnuts if you don’t feel like eating seeds.
You can easily fulfil your daily intake of omega-3 through food items like flax seeds and chia seeds.
But, if you still don’t feel like eating them or you have difficulty in adding them to your diet or you just have some extra money to put in supplements you can add fish oil to your supplement stack.
Multivitamins: Must have supplement
The most highly neglected supplement because we do not see a quick effect of vitamin supplements but other bodybuilding supplements like creatine and whey protein show quick effects.
Another reason is that companies do not promote this supplement as much as they promote other bodybuilding supplements and we think multivitamins are not important. But is that true? Let’s find out!
We eat such crazy foods, we eat fish, chicken, rice, oats, paneer, soybean and it’s very necessary that our body digests and absorbs these nutrients.
A good multivitamin supplement will help you digest and absorb your food properly.
Some guys have this problem and they say, I eat a lot but it doesn’t affect my body I’m still so skinny! That is because you are deficient in vitamins.
As someone who lifts weights, your requirement of vitamins is higher than someone who leads a not so active lifestyle.
Hack to get cheaper multivitamins
You can buy multivitamins from the supplement store or you can buy them from the chemist shop. Wait what? Yes, you heard that right.
Multivitamins from the chemist shop and from the supplement store are the same, it’s just that the ones from the chemist shop are cheaper than the supplement store.
But why are they cheaper at the chemist shop if they are the same?
The tax imposed on the supplement industry is much higher than the tax imposed on medicinal drugs and supplement brands want to earn more profits but medicine manufacturers have lower profit margins.
A multivitamin that you can buy from the chemist shop is becadexamin.
You can get vitamins and minerals from your veggies and fruits. Fruits especially are rich in vitamins but when you are lifting weights and the number of vitamins your body needs is increased up to three times.
If you consume fruits according to this requirement you also consume a lot of sucrose which is high in calories.
So, taking multivitamins along with eating lesser controlled amounts of fruit will be a perfect fit.
Eating a bowl of fruits with 4-5 different fruits like banana, apple, pineapple, grapes and papaya.
Consuming seasonal fruits is the best option. Combine these fruits with 3-4 tablets to get the best results.
One more advantage of taking becadexamin instead of buying from the supplement store is that there are no chances of adulteration in medicines.
Dosage for multivitamins
Taking 3-4 tablets of becadexamin is the same as supplement brands.
There is no particular time for taking your multivitamins but taking them with a high-fat meal will be better for absorption or taking them before you go to sleep when your body is in maintenance mode will be ideal.
Remember knowledge is key to building your dream physique.
Ashwagandha and gokshura: Testosterone supplement
Yes, ashwagandha and gokshura. But why are they here in this list?
We all know how important testosterone is for building muscle. Testosterone is the most important hormone when building muscle.
Taking both gokshura and ashwagandha will naturally give a boost to your testosterone.
They are made from ayurvedic herbs that is why they do not have any side effects. However, overdosage may show side effects.
Himalaya’s gokshura and Patanjali’s ashwagandha are the best options and the dosage should be 1 tablet each daily.
Everyone wants a physique as fast as possible. That’s why brands and influencers have made this myth that you need supplements. They are the most important thing if you want to build muscle and manufacturers know that people are ready to pay these hefty amounts.
However, supplements can help you a lot if you lead a busy lifestyle or you have some kind of intolerancy.
No, whey protein is just a supplement. And supplements are meant to support your diet only if you’re not able to complete your daily protein intake with food items then only you need whey otherwise you do not need it if you can take it from your food sources.
There is no such best food supplement. Supplements are meant to fill gaps which are created when you miss some nutrients from food.
The best supplement for you may be different from the best supplement for someone else. You have to choose the best supplement according to your own need.
Yes, supplements are absolutely safe for bodybuilding. There is a difference between supplements and steroids.
Steroids are not at all safe for your health whereas bodybuilding supplements are safe to use. Also, you should buy supplements from a trusted source only.
No, bodybuilding supplements do not have any side effects but excess of everything is bad.
If you overdose your bodybuilding supplements then you might see some side effects.