When it comes to supplements, you just want the truth. Everyone under the sun has an opinion on what supplements to take, and nine times out of ten, these opinions contradict one another.
So just what should you take? Is there a way to know what supplements are effective, and which are a waste of money? The answer is yes. Have no worries...Muscle & Strength is here to set the record straight.
One of the best way to know which supplements are worth your time and money is to study what veteran natural bodybuilders take. But you don't have to do that. I've done the research for you. This article is a comprehensive look at the supplements plans of approximately 20 natural male bodybuilders. Sorry women - I didn't analyze the supplement plans of female bodybuilders for this article.
Every supplement on this page comes straight from the daily regimen of at least one natural bodybuilder. I've organized the supplements by popularity. There are a total of 28 supplements listed in this article. Of the 28, all but one was listed by multiple competitors. Only meal replacements was listed by a single lifter, revealing that the supplements on this list aren't flukes.
The information in this article is raw data. I am not interpreting the information for you. It is up to you to decide which supplements to spend your money on. Do your research, and prioritize.
For the sake of simplicity, I have broken down the supplements into 4 categories based on popularity:
- Hot! - "Hot" supplements are taken by nearly every natural bodybuilder. If you want to get big, start here.
- The Arsenal - Supplements in "the arsenal" are used by at least 50% of the bodybuilders in this study. They are the main weapons in the battle for more muscle mass.
- The Tool Belt - "Tool belt" supplements are used by 25 to 50% of bodybuilders in this study. Like a quality set of tools, these supplements are good to have on hand.
- Favorites - "Favorite" supplements are used by 5 to 25% of natural bodybuilders. There are many amazing supplements on this list. Don't overlook them!
Are you ready for the big reveal? The big shocker? Brace yourself! Nearly all natural bodybuilders take...protein powder and creatine! I'll give you a moment to gather yourself, comb your hair and climb back into your chair. Ready? OK! Let's move on.
Naturals use protein powder and creatine because they work. Protein is needed to build and repair lean muscle tissue. Creatine boosts performance in the gym, and adds strength and muscle. Before you purchase any other supplements, invest in a quality protein powder and creatine product. I've included some information on both of these supplements, as well as a list of some of the best sellers.
- Creatine - To learn more about creatine, including information on the two major forms of creatine - creatine monohydrate and creatine ethyl ester - please read the A to Z Creatine Supplement Guide.
- Protein Powder - To learn more about protein powder supplementation, and the various forms of protein powders - including whey protein, casein protein, soy protein and more - please read the A to Z Protein Supplements Guide.
Top 3 Protein Powder Products:
Top 3 Creatine Products:
For more top selling supplements from the M&S store, click here.
The Arsenal consists of four supplements: glutamine, BCAAs, multivitamins and nitric oxide. Let's take a closer look at each of these.
Glutamine. Glutamine is a popular muscle building supplement that plays a major role in protein synthesis. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body, and can speed up recovery, as well as boosting the immune system. Hard and heavy weight training sessions deplete bodily glutamine levels. Because of this, glutamine is popular as a post-workout supplement. For more information on glutamine, please read the Glutamine Supplements Guide.
BCAAs. BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) are a special group of essential amino acids, comprised of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, that help muscles to synthesize other amino acids. BCAAs are essential for muscle repair and growth. BCAAs may also help to spare muscle tissue during hard workouts. For more information on BCAAs, please visit the BCAAs page at the M&S store.
Multivitamin. A good multivitamin is an essential for all hard working athletes. Exercise depletes the body of vitamins and minerals, and even if you're eating a nutritionally sound diet, your body may be demanding more vitamins and minerals then you can supply. For more information on multivitamins, please visit the multivitamin page at the M&S store.
Nitric Oxide. Nitric oxide is extremely popular as a pre-workout, energy boosting supplement. Nitric oxide increases blood flow and nutrient delivery, and powers you both physically and mentally through tough workouts. Nitric Oxide (NO) supplements also bring about quality muscle pumps. NO products are a must try supplement, especially for those who feel tired or unmotivated when they hit the gym. For more information on nitric oxide, please visit the nitric oxide page at the M&S store.
The Tool Belt
The Tool Belt is comprised of four supplements: amino acids, fat burners, CLA and fish oil.
Amino Acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Amino acids are vital for muscle repair and new muscle tissue growth. They also aid is recovery. Amino acids are rapidly digested, and activate much faster in the body then whole protein foods that contain amino acids, such as chicken, milk or protein powder. It is not uncommon for bodybuilders to use aminos throughout the day, and especially before, during and after a workout. For more information on amino acids, please read The Importance Of Amino Acids.
Fat Burners. Fat burners encompass a wide variety of products aimed in assisting natural bodybuilders with fat loss. Very few fat burner products contain the same ingredients. It is not uncommon for a fat loss products to contain 6 to 12 ingredients or more. For this reason, it's best to stick with top-selling fat burners. For new products, make sure you do your homework. For more information of fat burners, please read the Fat Loss Supplement Guide.
CLA. CLA is a somewhat obscure supplement, virtually unknown to the average gym rat. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a naturally occurring fatty acid found primarily in dairy foods and meat. Research has revealed that CLA can assist in building muscle and decreasing body fat levels. It also contributes to good health by creating an optimum cell environment. For more information on CLA, please visit the CLA page at the M&S store.
Fish Oil. Fish oil is an essential fatty acid (EFA) that is rich in Omega-3. Because of this, fish oil contributes to better brain and central nervous system health. Fish oil is also know to be heart friendly, assisting in proper heart function. It is also good for the joints. For more information on fish oil, please visit the fish oil page at the M&S store.
The are 18 total supplements in this category. Though each individual supplement is used by less then 25% of natural bodybuilders, on the average, each lifter uses more then two of the supplements in this list. Take a long, good look at each of these products, and see if they are right for you.
- Carnitine - Carnitine is a non-essential amino acid that is used to improve fat burning during exercise.
- EFAs - EFAs (essential fatty acids) have the ability to improve muscle gains, bolster sleep, help you recover from injuries, enhance stamina and more!
- Waxy Maize - Waxy maize is a unique complete carbohydrate that is absorbed rapidly by the body. It is very effective at replenishing glycogen stores lost during hard training.
- Vitamin C - Vitamin C is the most popular of all vitamins. It is a powerful antioxidant, and may help fight cancer.
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin - Glucosamine and Chondroitin is taken to improve joint health. It can protect the joints from damage, and assist in the repair of joint-related injuries.
- Green Tea - Green tea is one of the most popular weight loss supplements in the world. It assists in metabolizing fat for energy, and also works as an antioxidant.
- ZMA - ZMA is a effective testosterone booster that is strongly backed by clinical evidence. Studies reveal that ZMA supplementation can lead to increases in strength and muscle, and can also help you get a better night's sleep.
- B-Complex - B-complex vitamins play an important role in cell metabolism. They also promote cell growth, and assist in immune system and central nervous system function.
- Beta-Alanine - Beta-alanine promotes higher energy levels and better athletic performance. The combination of beta-alanine with creatine is thought to be especially effective.
- HMB - HMB, beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate, is an essential amino acid that plays a part in the synthesis of muscle tissue. Research on HMB reveals that it assists in strength gains and improves endurance, while also increasing fat loss.
- Liver Pills - Liver pills are a blast from the past. They were once a bodybuilding staple. Liver pills are rich in protein and amino acids.
- MCT Oil - MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides) is known to encourage the burning of fat over carbohydrates. It also assists in appetite suppression.
- Post-Workout - Post-workout supplements is a generic term that covers a broad range of products used...post-workout! These products aim to remove the body from a catabolic state, and aid in recovery.
- Pre-Workout - Pre-workout supplements encompass a broad range of products and supplement combinations. They enhance energy and blood flow, and increase the quality of your workouts.
- Protein Bars - Protein bars are protein rich food products that often contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals. They serve as a perfect bodybuilding protein meal "on the go" for busy times of the day.
- Testosterone Booster - Testosterone boosters help regulate and increase bodily testosterone levels, leading to more muscle mass, strength increases, fat loss, improvements in sexual libido, and much more!
- Weight Gainers - Weight gainers are calorie dense protein powder supplements meant to assist in rapid weight gain.
- Meal Replacements - Meal replacement supplements are all-in-one meals, and contain all the nutrition that you would expect from a whole foods meal.