I am often asked the following two questions:
- What do you take and how is it working?
- But can't you build a better physique from whole food?
The answer to both questions is yes. You can build a better body on a real good diet just like the guys back in the 50's did, but to do so can take so much time, energy, and trips to the supermarket. Believe me, mothers hate running to the grocery store to buy food. It's one of my mom's biggest pet peeves.
Supplements make it much easier to get the necessary nutrients to build muscle and can even give you an advantage and enhance your training when taken right and combined with a good diet.
In this following article, I'm going to talk about the importance of supplements, their rank of importance (in my opinion), and supplements that can be added to give you the advantage over the guy who refuses to use creatine, but thinks he'll get big from eating frosted flakes after he works out.
OK, let me first say that the most important aspect of diet is whole foods. You must eat 6-7 meals per day and each one should contain protein and carbs. 3-4 of these meals should consist of whole foods like chicken, rice and salad. The other 3-4 should consist of liquid protein like protein shakes and MRP's.
Usually when I pick out an MRP, I try to get the most inexpensive. Most contain about the same ratio of macro-nutrients, but I still choose one that is from a reputable company. Right now I am taking EAS Myoplex ($1.90 per serving).
As you can easily see it is much cheaper and much better for you than eating at a fast food restaurant and about the same price as 10 egg whites and a serving of oatmeal, but much easier to eat and better tasting. Usually I take a packet between classes (I eat breakfast at 7:30, and lunch at 2:30).
View Meal Replacements Sorted By Top Seller Here.
Equally important are whey protein powders as they are absorbed faster than MRP's and therefore desirable after working out and before bed. This is exactly when I take them. A scoop after working out, then a scoop and a half before bed. Like MRP's, I try to find one that is inexpensive, has low-sodium (under 100mg), low-carbs (under 5-6mg), and from a reputable company.
Right now I am taking Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey, but Prolab's Pure Whey and EAS's 100% Whey Protein are high quality and inexpensive also.
View Whey Protein Products Sorted By Top Seller Here.
I believe that along with the top two multivitamins rank in the top 3 (between protein and multi's it is impossible to distinguish which is more important, they are both essential). Currently I take a generic one-a-day multi four times per day (2 with breakfast and 2 before bed).
Make sure you are getting at least 500 mg's of vitamin C and 400 mg's from vitamin E. The other nutrients should be over 100%, remember people that exercise intensely need more nutrients than those who don't.
When you're diet is good and the above three are being used properly, then and only then (considering you have the money, that's why I gave what I thought to be the most inexpensive solutions) should you move on to the next set of supplements. I think the next most important supplement is creatine.
View Multivitamins Sorted By Top Seller Here.
While it has never really worked well for me (I'm in the unlucky 10 percentile), almost everyone else I know has gotten phenomenal results from this supplement. The most important time to take it is directly after working out with a high carb. I prefer to take it with Endurox Accelerade, but grape juice will work well too.
It is important to take your creatine with a protein powder that is not enriched with glutamine (this means you cannot take it with MRP's as most are enriched with glutamine) because the two amino's use the same substrate to transport them into your muscle cells and when taken within 1-1/2 hour apart will not absorb.
I prefer to take it with a carb, then have a protein shake an hour later, then eat a whole food meal an hour after that.
When buying creatine it is important to find a reputable brand. This means no GNC blowout sale creatine as it can be very low quality. Personally I think the best creatine products out there (pure creatine, flavored ones are a waste of money in my opinion, as you are paying for dextrose which costs about 30 cents a pound) are Prolab's AST's, and EAS's.
View Creatine Monohydrate Products Sorted By Top Seller Here.
Glutamine is also very important as it makes up to 60% of the amino acids in the skeletal muscles. When you train intensely (as I'm sure you do) glutamine is the first amino to be used as fuel. It is found in food, so if you're eating a high protein diet, you probably are getting somewhere from 3-5g per day.
You can find it in most whole protein foods, but it is abundant in cottage cheese, whey protein, and most MRP's are enriched with it.
Most people supplement with 5-10 g per day. Some of the advantages to taking glutamine is that not only does it replenish your glutamine stores in your muscles, but it highly strengthens the immune system which for those of you who have had to miss workouts due to illness will gladly appreciate.
Lastly (I have seen this in many places, although I'm not sure how true it is) it can increase growth hormone by as much as 400% if taken before bed. I have taken glutamine religiously for the past 3 months and feel it has helped my recovery immensely. This is great because it takes my legs forever to recover and I have to do a lot of walking being in college.
I recommend glutamine to all of those who have the money. Take it first thing in the morning (5 gm) and right before you go to bed (5 gm). Will it cause you to put on 10lbs in under a month? No, but being deficient in it could hurt your gains greatly. My favorite glutamine brand is Prolab.
View Glutamine Products Sorted By Top Seller Here.
I highly promote caffeine as it is a great supplement toward fat loss and preserving muscle in the process. I have gotten the most dramatic results from caffeine.
Not only can it significantly increase your fat metabolism when you are using a cutting diet, but it can help you increase the intensity of your workouts. When I'm tired from classes, I'll pop a caffeine and 15 minutes later be pumping out more weight than I would if I had gone in without it.
It is very important that you cycle it if you are taking it every day for fat loss, and if you are taking it as a workout booster, not to use for more than 3 days per week without out cycling. I try not to take it more than 2 times per week. I think in the aspects of saving money that buying Prolab Caffeine 200mg is good.
View Caffeine Products Sorted By Top Seller Here.
Being a teenager means you have naturally high testosterone, and while it is bad to alter it unnaturally by introducing androgen's or steroids into the body, it's always a plus to enhance your testostorone production naturally. ZMA is becoming one of the most popular supplements today, and it's also one of the safest.
Your body needs zinc and magnesium, the two are responsible for over 500 different functions in the human body, and these minerals are hard to get because multivitamins contain calcium as fillers. ZMA is calcium free, and when taking on an empty stomach before bed can give great results for most people.
I believe that because so many are deficient in these minerals and when they get enough it causes a great change. This just shows how powerful it can be. I think most of the ZMA on this site is of good quality. I think the most cost effective is Optimum Nutrition's ZMA.
View Natural Testosterone Boosters Sorted By Top Seller Here.
Sample Supplement Stack
As I have said many times before, diet is the most important aspect of the nutrition part of bodybuilding. Once your diet is in order though, supplements can give you a great advantage. Below I'm going to briefly outline a great supplement stack for a workout day (provided you have the money, most won't).
Only take caffeine on workout days (less then 3 days per week) and on non-workout days take your creatine mid-day on an empty stomach.
- 5g Glutamine
- 500mg Vitamin C
7:00 AM: Breakfast
- MRP in skim milk
12:00 PM: Lunch
- EAS Myoplex in water
3:30 PM: Workout
- 5g Creatine
- Chromium picolinate
- Protein shake in water
6:30 PM: Dinner
- Protein shake> in skim milk
Now obviously most of you being students cannot afford this, but this would be the ultimate teenage stack to add lean mass. The reason your protein shake after your workout is in water is because the casein in the milk slows the absorption of whey, and after you lift, you want it to be absorbed fast.