Instead of always looking for the next big supplement to hit the market, teen bodybuilders should start with the tried-and-true essentials. But that begs the question, "what are the best supplements for teens and which products should they say no to?"
It's simple: The best supplements for teens are those that produce results without doing damage to a still-growing body. They don't have to be beneficial only for goals like muscle gain and weight loss—supplements that help to improve overall health are just as beneficial to a teen bodybuilder as those aimed solely at aesthetic goals. And with improved overall health, the aesthetic goals become that much more achievable.
It's also important to understand that no supplements will replace a good diet or make up for poor training. But if you have your training and nutrition dialed in, adding some supplements could give you the extra boost you're looking for.
Here's a roundup of the best choices for growing teen bodybuilders, along with some suggestions for products to avoid.
The Best Supplements for Teens
Protein is the building block of muscle. Your body already requires more fuel simply due to the natural growth processes you're experiencing during your teen years. Add intense weight training and any sports activities, and your protein requirement gets much higher than that of a sedentary adult. While you should already be consuming adequate protein from your diet, protein powders are a convenient way to ensure you meet your daily protein needs and tide you over when it's not possible to get in a regular meal. There are lots of different kinds of protein powders, so it shouldn't be too hard to find the right one for you.
If you're trying to build muscle, you'll need plenty of protein! A good protein powder can help you meet your daily protein needs without the hassle of whole foods.
Just as teenagers need more protein than a sedentary adult, you also need more vitamins and minerals. One reason is that teen diets often lack variety, particularly when it comes to fruits and vegetables. They also often include a lot of processed foods, which are notoriously lacking in nutrients. The bottom line is that your body is likely low on some nutrients.
If you plan to seriously pursue fitness, you should absolutely dial in your nutrition, but it's also a good idea to purchase a solid multivitamin. Getting enough vitamins and minerals will keep your body's many functions running smoothly.
Multivitamins can support your overall health and athletic performance by making sure you're getting the micronutrients you need.*
There are no arguments about the athletic benefits of creatine use. It has been proven time and again to provide benefits for anaerobic fitness, strength, and power, and it's the most widely used supplement for those participating in power-based sports.*
If building muscle is the goal, supplementing with creatine is a no-brainer!
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are essential amino acids found in protein-rich foods. These aminos are considered "essential" because the body cannot produce them and they must be obtained in the diet.
BCAAs in their free form can get into the body faster than those ingested in whole food and protein powders, helping with recovery and supporting muscle growth.*
The branched-chain amino acids—leucine, isoleucine, and valine—aid recovery and muscle growth. Supplementing with BCAAs can be your key to getting bigger!*
Protein bars provide the ultimate convenience. Teens are notoriously busy and sometimes it's impossible to eat a meal or even mix a protein shake. You need something simple. Something that tastes good. Something that has every macronutrient you need for that meal. Protein bars are the solution! From gluten free to low carb to vegan, there is a protein bar for every diet. Just be sure to read the label carefully, as some kinds can contain a lot of sugar and fat, making them little more than glorified candy bars.
Tastes like a cheat meal but helps you meet your fitness goals? It's a win-win!
Supplements to Avoid
Testosterone boosters include ingredients that spark the body to produce more testosterone. It's best to avoid these supplements not just because of possible health risks but simply because they are mostly a waste of money. As a teen, you are already producing sufficient testosterone, as well as growth hormone which is ideal for muscle growth.
Fat Burners and Pre-Workouts
The main ingredient in most fat burners and pre-workouts is caffeine, which is a stimulant. It causes an increase in your metabolic rate (burns more calories), alertness, and physical performance. Sounds great, right? It is—when taken in moderation. A cup of coffee a day is fine, however the amount of caffeine many fat burners and pre-workouts contain is more than is recommended for teens. These products are also unnecessary for most teens; teenagers naturally have more energy (provided you're getting enough sleep) and are able to burn fat more quickly than most adults.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.