Before we talk about specific supplements, we need to back up. What does the word “supplement” mean? It means to “add to.” Bodybuilding supplements are intended to supplement your diet.
Before considering supplements, you first need to get your diet under some semblance of control!
If you are eating near anything and everything with no regard to proper nutrition, adding protein powder or creatine or branched chain amino acids (BCAA) “ain’t gonna go shit!” We need to be honest here.
Now you do not need a perfect and saintly diet to benefit from supplements. Conversely if you are eating well, training appropriately, and getting plenty of rest and recovery time, you can build a great body without supplements, absolutely!
- There are benefits to many supplements.
- A lot are also useless garbage.
- And the jury is out on a lot of them.
The supplements business is a massive business with lots of money involved. They’ll sell you anything they can, and just because something is popular and made by many companies doesn’t mean it is any good. And often when there are many brands available, they may be all essentially the same and made by the same very small number of factories with different labels and packaging.
Protein Powder is a supplement worth considering. What is best is several small meals a day, but that is not always possible. You can supplement with protein powder. Also, sometimes we may not get a lot of protein. I’ll often have a salad for lunch and some protein powder a bit later. Whey protein powder is great, but casein protein powder is also very good and cheaper. Casein is digested slower and also many people report it makes them feel less full.
Many people use protein powder both before and after workouts, possible anabolic windows.
And of course, you can cook with protein powder making more anabolic foods.
Creatine exists naturally in meat, and in fact the name comes from the Greek world for meat, “creas.” When I take creatine, usually for a month or so at a time, I find it quickly improves my strength, makes my muscles look bigger, and then when I stop the gains remain as long as I keep working out hard and eating right. Many users report similar results. 5-10 grams a day in 2-3 servings is about right.
I recommend the original, Creatine Monohydrate. You’ll find all kinds of newer types with fancy marketing but I do not believe they are any better (just more expensive!)
Meal Replacement Powders or Shakes, closely related to protein powder, may be a somewhat controversial choice since since I’m so few supplements, but it works for me and many others. I don’t have the perfect and boring lifestyle; my life is hectic, exciting, and at times nearly overwhelming. Many times I’ll get home, or have a tiny window for lunch, or maybe back to the hotel (I travel a lot), and I do not need a full meal (or ordering from room service, or sitting at the bar for only one drink and a sandwich etc.), but one or two meal replacements packs mixed with water are perfect.
There are other supplements you may want to consider, but start with these three.
Remember that supplements are not essential! Getting your diet under control is most important and needs to be done first. It is perfectly possible to build an awesome body without supplements, in fact some well known customized plans use little to no supplements at all.
There are however some proven supplements that may be of benefit to you, and they go above and beyond this short list of “best.”
The best muscle building supplements? Hmm, maybe. It depends on you. But these are solid choices for most people!