Bodybuilding supplements, as soon as you utter the term, will draw raised eyebrows and frowns from people. This is because of the controversies about athletes and bodybuilders using steroids and other illegal drugs to attain the body and performance level that they want. But today there are many products that are legally accepted and used by many people who’d like to primarily boost the development of their muscles.
Among the recommended and commonly consumed supplements for bodybuilders are protein shakes and creatine.
Protein shakes are, perhaps, the most popular supplement for those who are seriously into building fuller-looking but lean muscles. But protein is actually beneficial not just for muscle development, but also for stronger bones and ligaments. It is also a vital element in having healthier skin and hair.
Protein can be found in many of foods that people eat everyday. However, these food items usually contain fats and other unwanted elements that can also harm your muscle development. Since it’s almost impossible for a bodybuilder to get his or her protein requirements on natural sources alone, protein shakes are consumed to fill in the gap.
Protein shakes include a good amount of branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs. These BCAAs are the essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are primary stimulants in building protein in your muscles and also helps minimize the possibility of muscle breakdown. Bodybuilders and athletes who undergo intensive training programs benefit from BCAAs not just for strength and endurance of the body, but of the mind, as well. BCAAs also help users to have improved concentration.
Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of creatine supplement in the market. You can find it as the prime ingredient and you can also get it mixed in many protein shake products. Many use creatine products as bodybuilding supplements, because the element increases energy release and eventually improves performance. It helps them consistently give maximum performance for longer periods. Being able to do this allows their body to produce new lean muscles.
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All the Supplements in a Nut-shell – The Good and the Bad
The few good scientific studies available on these “dietary” supplements suggest that they either are ineffective or, at best, produce only slight changes in performance. More disturbing, they can contain powerful and potentially harmful substances, such as:
Androstenedione, which can upset the body’s hormonal balance when it metabolizes into testosterone and estrogen, and may cause premature puberty and stunted growth in adolescents.
Creatinine, a substance produced by the body that can help generate brief surges of muscle energy during certain types of athletic performance. Many others who use creatine monohydrate, a supplement used as a derivative, can gain up to 15 pounds and gain muscle mass. However, it is mostly water retention. After you stop taking the supplement, you will lose the weight and feel less strong. Again, nothing lasts a lifetime. Another negative side is that you can’t constantly use creatine since this would cause your body to permanently stop producing creatinine (body produces it naturally). You can be on it for just a couple of month and then take it again a year later.
Ephedra, a herbal stimulant that acts like an amphetamine (“speed”) and that some investigators hold responsible for dozens of deaths and permanent injuries.
“All you have to do to get these products is walk into a food-supplement store,” says Gary Wadler, M.D., a New York sports-medicine specialist and adviser to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. That’s because a federal law, the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, allows supplements to be sold to consumers of any age without rigorous safety testing and without meaningful oversight of product quality.
Little is known about the long-term safety of these products in adults, and even less about their effect on youngsters. However, if the supplement industry has its way, at least ever-increasing numbers of week-end athletes will consume some of these products.
“Sports nutrition isn’t just for hard-core athletes any more,” Anthony Almada, president of a California supplement company, told an industry journal. “It’s for anyone seeking energy improvement,” he said, or “a woman who wants to tone her body and lose a few pounds, or a person who rides a bike and wants to perform like an athlete.”
Nutrition Business Journal, a trade publication that tracks the industry, estimates that 4 percent of American adults have taken a sports supplement at least once, including 1.2 million who use the products regularly.
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