When you're trying to make progress as an amateur bodybuilder, it can be tough to sort through all of the conflicting information you'll hear at the gym, from trainers, and in magazines. There is a lot to keep in mind, and everyone will have different advice about your diet, your training routine, and what kind of supplements you should or should not be taking. Supplements are one of the most hotly contested topics when it comes to bodybuilding, and there are a lot of myths and misinformation floating around. It's time to take a look at the three most important and most misunderstood bodybuilding supplements and find the truth once and for all.
The Truth About Protein
If there's an all-time most popular supplement for bodybuilders, protein is it. You need large amounts of protein in order to grow your body the way that you want to, and getting it all into your daily diet would be difficult, if not impossible. If you're having trouble eating enough, throwing some protein powder into a shake is a quick and easy way to get the protein that you need. And as long as you don't replace all or most of your solid diet with supplements, it's also safe and healthy.
But how much protein do you actually need? The myth is that you need one gram of protein per pound of body weight. That's a lot of protein. If nobody's repeated that calculation to you yet, you're probably pretty new to bodybuilding circles – and you're bound to hear it at some point in the future. However, it's not true. Repeated studies have shown that protein intake of 0.82 grams per pound is the maximum possible effective amount, and some studies place the optimal amount even lower, around .75 grams per pound. When you're calculating how much of a protein supplement you need in addition to your diet, you should base it on these numbers, not on the mythological one gram per pound standard.
The Truth About Creatine
At least when it comes to protein, almost everyone agrees that the supplement is helpful and necessary. There is no such consensus when it comes to creatine supplements. Some bodybuilders swear by the supplement, while others avoid it, citing concerns about anything from kidney problems to weight gain. Concerns like these can (and should) give any new bodybuilder pause. After all, you're trying to improve your body. You don't want to do anything to damage it.
Luckily, some investigation shows that the fears about creatine are unfounded. The belief that creatine causes kidney problems is probably linked to the excess creatinine your body produces when you take the supplement. Elevated creatinine levels can be a marker for kidney trouble, but they can also simply indicate that you've been supplementing with creatine – essentially, the creatine gives a false positive, but is not actually linked to any kidney damage.
While creatine supplementation may cause some minor stomach disturbances in some people, there's also no evidence to link creatine to cramping, dehydration, compartment syndrome, or rhabdomyolysis. And while creatine supplements may lead to a slight weight gain in the early days of usage, this is water weight that evens out with time; the water weight gain can also be avoided by reducing your dose. By following the dosing schedule recommended for your size, you can see some pretty amazing gains in strength, performance, and lean body mass.
The Truth About Glutamine
There are two sides in the argument about glutamine: those who say that the supplement adds to their athletic performance and those who say that it doesn't. So who is right? To answer the question, you can look at some studies that have been done on the use of glutamine.
In a study done by the American College of Sports Medicine, test subjects performed an intensive workout on the first and sixth day of the study. Power measurements showed that the subjects who'd received a glutamine supplement did not show a decrease in power when measured on the sixth day, while subjects who received a placebo did decrease in power. In fact, the glutamine recipients were actually able to increase their workout time, while the placebo recipients could not. Other studies show that glutamine increases metabolic rates. It also increases growth hormone levels, which can be very useful if you're taking it in combination with bodybuilding steroids. The science shows that glutamine is a useful supplement, so you can feel confident in ignoring any naysayers.
Supplements are a vital part of effective bodybuilding. While these three are some of the most common, you should research the studies on any supplement or enhancement you're considering before dismissing it. You don't want to miss out on a good thing that can help you achieve your goals. You should also know that you can buy legal steroids designed to help you build muscle.