If you are working towards building the muscle mass in your body, then you are probably looking for advice on how to speed up the process and attain the best possible physical fitness results. After moving away from workout regimens and dietary schedules, the question now becomes one of whether bodybuilding supplements are beneficial to the bodybuilding process or not.
To give you an answer on the question of supplements, we are going to go through all its benefits and drawbacks as we try and help you make a final decision.
What is a bodybuilding supplement?
A bodybuilding supplement is a product that is meant to supplement your bodybuilding workout and diet, in order to support your bodybuilding efforts. These supplements may contain a variety of minerals, herbs, vitamins, amino acids, botanicals, enzymes, metabolites, glandular, and organ tissues.
The current bodybuilding supplements on the market will come in the form of capsules, tablets, gelcaps, powders, liquids, and softgels.
Pros Of Bodybuilding Supplements
Before I list the pros of bodybuilding supplements below, it is important to remember that some manufacturers greatly amplify the abilities of their supplements. That is why a physician’s guidance on picking the right supplement is necessary.
- Boosted Muscle Strength
A number of bodybuilding supplements like creatine supplements have been proven to augment your muscular strength. A study in the November 2003 publication of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, showed that this supplement in combination with resistance training will improve your body’s strength.
- Enhanced Muscle Mass
If you are familiar with the benefits of resistance training, then you know that this is a recommended method of stimulating muscle growth in your body. However, without the correct nutrients resistance training will be insufficient and ineffective.
When you pair your training with the right supplements such as whey protein, you can promote muscle size and speed up muscle recovery time after your workouts.
- Increased Fat Burning
When you are building your muscles, you also work to burn body fat so that you have a sculpted figure. A way to increase the fat burning process in your body is to take bodybuilding supplements that contain amino acids. These amino acids are known as the building blocks of protein, and work to build the muscles in your body.
Furthermore, supplements with branched-chain amino acids also enhance fat oxidation during your training sessions.
- Developed Blood Flow
Another advantage of bodybuilding supplements is improved blood flow. Supplements that provide this benefit are taken pre workout, and usually contain arginine which is essential in the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide promotes blood flow to your muscles, in turn improving the delivery of nutrients which can result in better performance during your bodybuilding workouts.
- Increased Energy Levels/ Power Output
Creatine increases the body’s ability to perform high intensity work, through its high energy molecule form known as creatine phosphate which is stored within the cells. This molecule form supplies fast-twitch or explosive muscle fibers with instant energy so that they do not fatigue ahead of time.
When energy is supplied to these muscles, contractions become more powerful and your body gains the ability to pump out more reps, engage more aggressively in your workout, and even sprint at a faster rate. Therefore taking bodybuilding supplements with creatine allows your muscles to store more high-energy phosphate which is crucial for increased power and energy in your muscles.
- Enhanced Muscle Recovery
Bodybuilding supplements with compounds such as creatine and whey protein have been shown to enhance the muscle regeneration process, therefore ensuring that damaged and inflamed muscles are quickly repaired and strengthened once your bodybuilding workout is done.
- Creatine Bonanza
As you might know, creatine is perhaps the most popular bodybuilding supplement with wide ranging benefits that we have seen above. However, it will take an entirely separate article to go over the benefits of creatine supplements so we will just list them below.
Apart from the aforementioned muscle recovery, power output and muscle strength benefits given above, creatine has also been shown to improve anaerobic capacity, enhance methylation, increase brain function, improve bone healing, increase glucose tolerance, reduce age related muscle loss, and improve muscle status in vegetarians.
Cons Of Bodybuilding Supplements
As with the pros of bodybuilding supplements, the cons of these supplements depends on the manufacturer. Therefore, the drawbacks listed below are not a generalization of all supplements out there, but rather the unfortunate outcomes that have been witnessed in more than one bodybuilding supplement.
- Gastrointestinal Issues
While creatine has been known to boost muscle strength, some creatine muscle supplements have been shown to cause gastrointestinal issues. More particularly, creatine can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea.
For all lactose intolerant individuals, taking dairy-based bodybuilding supplements such as whey protein may lead to nausea, bloating and cramps.
As someone who has experienced insomnia, I can agree that this negative symptom is not pleasant. Unfortunately many bodybuilding supplements combine caffeine and creatine in order to provide a more intense workout for you by amplifying your energy levels.
However the customary use of supplements containing caffeine will result in insomnia, anxiety and restlessness, especially if you take these supplements right before you sleep. Furthermore, the combination of caffeine and creatine usually increases your chance of becoming dehydrated, which will negatively impact your workout performance.
- Damaged Kidneys
As seen from the aforementioned drawbacks, creatine can have negative results on your health. In addition to insomnia and gastrointestinal issues, creatine may cause renal or kidney damage in the long term. This adverse side effect is according to the 2001 publication of the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness.
As you can see, bodybuilding supplements come with their fair share of pros and cons. It is now up to you to decide whether the effectiveness of these supplements outweighs their respective drawbacks. Whatever outcome you arrive at, make sure to consult with your physician before buying a particular supplement. Additionally, keep in mind that the correct dosage of each supplement will dramatically reduce the possibility of side effects.
So best of luck on your bodybuilding endeavors!