people think "supplements," they think of anabolic steroids-powerful
drugs that cause intense muscle gains, have scary side effects,
and are banned from all major sporting events. However, most body
building supplements are perfectly legal-and many do not have
serious side effects, especially when taken in moderation.
disclaimer: we're not doctors, and we can't give you advice on
which supplements to take based on your individual situation.
If you have concerns about specific supplements or any health
condition that might play a part in the supplements you use, consult
a doctor. That being said, here's an overview of some of the major
supplements body builders use to get big.
Creatine is a muscle-building acid that's made naturally in the
body. In supplement form, it enhances a muscle's ability to maintain
power during brief, high-intensity exercises. It also reduces
fatigue, lessening the burning sensation you get from lactic acid
buildup in your muscles and delaying muscle failure. It allows
you to work out stronger and harder, encouraging your body to
build muscle more effectively. Creatine is generally safe for
everybody, although studies on its effects on people with diabetes
and kidney problems haven't been completed.
Protein provides the building blocks for muscle, hormones, tissues,
and enzymes in the body. When body builders work out, their protein
stores are depleted-and you need protein to build more lean muscle.
It also raises levels of growth hormone, speeds up your metabolism,
increases your body's fat-burning abilities, and lowers insulin
levels. There are several different types of protein supplements,
including whey, glutamine, albumin, casein, and soy. In general,
protein is considered a natural supplement and safe to take, and
it's usually taken immediately after workouts in powder form.
Meal replacement products include bars and powdered drink mixes.
They are meant to replace a whole meal, and most include a combination
of high protein, low fats, moderate carbohydrates, and vitamins
and minerals. Because body builders must eat every three hours
or so, meal replacements are valued for their ease and convenience
as well as their nutritional benefits. In general, they have no
serious health side effects.
and minerals. Body builders take vitamin and mineral supplements
for a variety of reasons. Supplements with zinc, Vitamin B, E,
and C, magnesium, selenium, and niacin are believed to aid in
muscle recovery and repair. Beta-carotene and other vitamins reduce
free radicals in the body, while Vitamins E, C, and other anti-oxidants
are believed to promote heart health. While there are side effects
associated with taking some vitamins in high doses, in general
they are safe when taken in moderation.
supplements. Thermometric supplements are fat-burners that
raise the body's core temperature, thus raising its metabolism
and causing it to burn fat more quickly. Up until 2004, almost
all supplements of this type contained caffeine, aspirin, and
ephedrine. When the FDA banned ephedra supplements, manufacturers
started adding replacements such as bitter orange, which contains
synephrine-a chemical similar to ephedrine, and that also acts
as a stimulant. There is no scientific evidence proving the effectiveness
of this chemical in weight loss. But there are side effects, including
increased nervousness, heart palpitations, and shaking. In general,
taking more of these supplements only results in increased side
effects-not increased weight loss.
In addition to defining male sex characteristics, testosterone
helps the body build muscle and burn fat. Men's testosterone levels
peak in the teens, and drop as the body ages. Because of this,
many older body builders seek to maintain their testosterone levels
by taking supplements. There are many supplements on the market
made from plants, vitamins, and synthetic chemicals that claim
to boost testosterone levels, although proof of these claims is
sketchy. There are serious side effects to taking too much testosterone,
including hair loss, acne, shrinkage of the genitals, and changes
in voice. In general, teenagers are advised not to take testosterone
supplements, as their bodies already produce high levels of the
hormone (HGH). Human growth hormone raises your energy levels
and metabolic rate, giving you more energy and allowing your body
to burn fat at a higher rate. It lessens fatigue, strengthens
ligaments and joints, and encourages the growth of lean muscle
mass. It's also less easily detected than other hormone supplements.
Side effects can include a distended belly if you take the drug
too frequently; abnormal growth of bone and internal organs; increased
risk of diabetes; atherosclerosis and high blood pressure; headaches
and muscle pain; and bloating and swelling in the arms and legs.
steroids. Anabolic steroids have been used for years in body
building and in many other sports to build muscle beyond what
the human body is capable of building on its own. Steroids are
powerful performance-enhancing drugs that can have adverse effects
on the body. Some of the side effects include altered sex characteristics-including
breast growth, testicular shrinkage, and infertility in men; and
facial hair and a lowered voice in women. Both sexes can experience
increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, coronary
artery disease, and liver damage. The use of these steroids is
banned in all major sporting industries, including body building.
are bad for your health when taken in high or even moderate doses,
while others are relatively safe. In addition to safety, it's
important to consider whether or not the supplement you're considering
is backed by any scientific evidence that proves it's effective.
If not, you may be wasting your money on a product that doesn't
work. Do your research and talk to your trainer and doctor, and
you should be able to find the combination of supplements that
works for you.
About the author
Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body
Building Resource which provides articles on weight training,
nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.