Boost Women’s Health

To look and feel your best at every age, it’s important to make smart lifestyle and health choices. Here are six simple things that women can do every day (or with regularity) to ensure good health:

Health Tip #1: Eat a healthy diet. “You want to eat as close to a natural foods diet as you can,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. That means a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Eat whole grains and high-fiber foods and choose leaner cuts of meat, fish, and poultry. Include low-fat dairy products in your diet as well — depending on your age, you need between 800 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily to help avoid osteoporosis, Dr. Novey says. Avoid foods and beverages that are high in calories, sugar, salt, and fat.

Healthy eating will help you maintain a proper weight for your height, which is important because being overweight can lead to a number of illnesses. Looking for a healthy snack? Try some raw vegetables, such as celery, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, or zucchini with dip made from low-fat yogurt.

If you’re not getting enough vitamins and nutrients in your diet, you might want to take a multivitamin and a calcium supplement to make sure you’re maintaining good health.

Health Tip #2: Exercise. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in America, but plenty of exercise can help keep your heart healthy. You want to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, if not every day. Aerobic exercises (walking, swimming, jogging, bicycling, dancing) are good for women’s health in general and especially for your heart, says Sabrena Merrill, MS, of Lawrence, Kan., a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and a spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise.

Health Tip #3: Avoid risky habits. Stay away from cigarettes and people who smoke. Don’t use drugs. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Most women’s health studies show that women can safely consume one drink a day. A drink is considered to be about 12 to 14 grams of alcohol, which is equal to 12 ounces of beer (4.5 percent alcohol); 5 ounces of wine (12.9 percent alcohol); or 1.5 ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey, 80-proof).

Health Tip #4: Manage stress. No matter what stage of her life — daughter, mother, grandmother — a woman often wears many hats and deals with a lot of pressure and stress. “Take a few minutes every day just to relax and get your perspective back again,” Novey says. “It doesn’t take long, and mental health is important to your physical well-being.” You also can manage stress with exercise, relaxation techniques, or meditation.

Health Tip #5: Sun safely. Excessive exposure to the sun’s harmful rays can cause skin cancer, which can be deadly. To protect against skin cancer, wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 if you are going to be outdoors for more than a few minutes. Even if you wear sunscreen faithfully, you should check regularly for signs of skin cancer. Warning signs include any changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of birthmarks, moles, or freckles, or new, enlarging, pigmented, or red skin areas. If you spot any changes or you find you have sores that are not healing, consult your doctor.

Health Tip #6: Check for breast cancer. The American Cancer Society no longer recommends monthly breast self-exams for women. However, it still suggests them as “an option” for women, starting in their 20s. You should be on the lookout for any changes in your breasts and report any concerns to your doctor. All women 40 and older should get a yearly mammogram as a mammogram is the most effective way of detecting cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable.

A woman’s health needs change as she ages, but the basics of women’s health remain the same. If you follow these six simple healthy living tips, you will improve your quality of life for years to come.

Know The Health Benefits of Hypnosis

Today is World Hypnotism Day, and according to the official website, its mission is to “remove the myths and misconceptions while promoting the truth and benefits of hypnotism to the people of the world.” There are certainly many of those misconceptions around, largely due to movies and TV shows that depict eyes following a swinging watch, or people called up on stage who get suckered into acting like clucking chickens or barking dogs. But proponents say it’s time to forget those old stereotypes — whether it’s called hypnosis, hypnotism, or hypnotherapy, this practice is actually an effective, drug-free way to promote behavioral change.

What is hypnosis, anyway? According to the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, it is a tool that allows the mind to focus — similar to how a magnifying glass focuses and intensifies the sun’s rays. Unlike the popular myths, you’re not actually unconscious while in a hypnotic state, but fully awake and in a heightened state of concentration. There are several different ways that practitioners can help individuals who are under hypnosis: They may present ideas or suggestions, encourage patients to come up with mental images that illustrate positive change, or help them better understand their underlying motivations.

Need more convincing? Hypnosis is also recognized as a valid medical procedure by the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association. If you’re curious, here are just a few of the ways hypnosis can help your health:

Hypnosis for weight loss: Hypnosis can help people change their eating behaviors and drop the pounds. According to a Vanderbilt University review of the scientific literature, hypnosis works best for weight-loss when combined with a behavioral weight -management plan.

Hypnosis to quit smoking: At the 2011 annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, Jose Maldonado, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, reported that the success rate of hypnosis for smoking cessation may be as high as 64 percent.

Hypnosis for depression: Cognitive hypnotherapy, which combines hypnosis with cognitive-behavioral therapy, helps change unwanted patterns and behaviors by connecting with the subconscious mind. Experts say this treatment can help the “stuck” thought patterns that go along with depression, anxiety, OCD, and other mood disorders.

Hypnosis for pain management: Hypnosis has been used to treat both chronic types of pain (arthritis, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome) and pain resulting from serious injury. A study published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnotism found that hypnosis using virtual reality software reduced the intensity of pain in hospitalized trauma patients more than standard treatment alone.

If you want to try hypnosis, these professional groups can put you in touch with licensed, accredited practitioners near you:

  • American Society of Clinical Hypnosis
  • Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis
  • American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists

Tips To to Eat a Healthy Diet

If you are what you eat, it follows that you want to stick to a healthy diet that’s well balanced. “You want to eat a variety of foods,” says Stephen Bickston, MD, AGAF, professor of internal medicine and director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Center in Richmond. “You don’t want to be overly restrictive of any one food group or eat too much of another.”

Healthy Diet: The Building Blocks

The best source of meal planning for most Americans is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Food Pyramid. The pyramid, updated in 2005, suggests that for a healthy diet each day you should eat:

  • 6 to 8 servings of grains. These include bread, cereal, rice, and pasta, and at least 3 servings should be from whole grains. A serving of bread is one slice while a serving of cereal is 1/2 (cooked) to 1 cup (ready-to-eat). A serving of rice or pasta is 1/2 cup cooked (1 ounce dry). Save fat-laden baked goods such as croissants, muffins, and donuts for an occasional treat.
  • 2 to 4 servings of fruits and 4 to 6 servings of vegetables. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat, making them a great addition to your healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables also provide the fiber, vitamins, and minerals you need for your body’s systems to function at peak performance. Fruits and vegetables also will add flavor to a healthy diet. It’s best to serve them fresh, steamed, or cut up in salads. Be sure to skip the calorie-laden toppings, butter, and mayonnaise, except on occasion. A serving of raw or cooked vegetables is equal to 1/2 cup (1 cup for leafy greens); a serving of a fruit is 1/2 cup or a fresh fruit the size of a tennis ball.
  • 2 to 3 servings of milk, yogurt, and cheese. Choose dairy products wisely. Go for fat-free or reduced-fat milk or cheeses. Substitute yogurt for sour cream in many recipes and no one will notice the difference. A serving of dairy is equal to 1 cup of milk or yogurt or 1.5 to 2 ounces of cheese.
  • 2 to 3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts. For a healthy diet, the best ways to prepare beef, pork, veal, lamb, poultry, and fish is to bake or broil them. Look for the words “loin” or “round” in cuts of meats because they’re the leanest. Remove all visible fat or skin before cooking, and season with herbs, spices, and fat-free marinades. A serving of meat, fish, or poultry is 2 to 3 ounces. Some crossover foods such as dried beans, lentils, and peanut butter can provide protein without the animal fat and cholesterol you get from meats. A ¼ cup cooked beans or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter is equal to 1 ounce of lean meat.
  • Use fats, oils, and sweets sparingly. No diet should totally eliminate any one food group, even fats, oils, and sweets. It’s fine to include them in your diet as long as it’s on occasion and in moderation, Bickston says.

Healthy Diet: Eat Right and the Right Amount

How many calories you need in a day depends on your sex, age, body type, and how active you are. Generally, active children ages 2 to 8 need between 1,400 and 2,000 calories a day. Active teenage girls and women can consume about 2,200 calories a day without gaining weight. Teenage boys and men who are very active should consume about 3,000 calories a day to maintain their weight. If you’re not active, you calorie needs drop by 400 to 600 calories a day.

The best way to know how much to eat is to listen to your body, says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. “Pull away from the table when you’re comfortable but not yet full. Wait about 20 minutes,” he says. “Usually your body says, ‘That’s good.’ If you’re still hungry after that, you might want to eat a little more.”

Healthy Diet: Exercise Is Part of the Plan

At the bottom of the new USDA food pyramid is a space for exercise. Exercise is an important component of a well-balanced diet and good nutrition. You can reap “fabulous rewards,” says Dr Novey, just by exercising and eating “a healthy diet of foods that nature provides.”

Some Non Stimulant Fat Burning Supplements

Fat loss is on everyone’s mind at one time or another.

It’s natural; as human beings we like to look good, and there is nothing wrong with that. Diet and exercise are both definitely the recommended first line protocol for burning fat, and if executed correctly, will lead to fat loss.

However, a time may come after losing some weight when things “plateau”. You may feel like you’re doing everything necessary for fat loss, but week after week the scale does not budge.

This is the time when the assistance of a fat burning supplement is usually recruited. This is a good next step, but is also the point where many things can go wrong, especially if you just consume any random supplement without knowing what it contains and what it does.

The most common fat burning supplements broadly fall into one of two categories; stimulant or non stimulant based.

Stimulant based fat burners typically include one or more compounds related to caffeine, and work by increasing levels of catecholanmines – chemicals in the body which boost alertness, and fat burning potential.

On the other hand, are the non-stimulant fat burners – those without stimulants that work via mechanisms separate from elevating catecholamine levels. These supplements are usually stacked in order to boost their efficiacy, as used alone their effects may seem underwhelming.

Related: How To Choose The Right Supplements According To Science

In regards to stimulant based fat burners, the increased levels of the catecholamines that they result in are essential to the fat burning process, but can be troublesome in individuals who do not realize that they may possess some degree of genetic intolerance to them and are generally sensitive to stimulants.

Which brings us to the major reason to opt for a non-stimulant fat burner:

INTOLERANCE TO STIMULANTS

The primary reason most people should avoid using stim based fat burners is because of the unpredictable effects they may have once ingested. Catecholamines, which are the chemicals elevated via the action of stimulants, do not follow a predictable pattern of metabolism in humans.

A large part of this unpredictability is due to genetic mutations possessed by a large number of people, which affect the ability of the enzyme COMT to efficiently break down the catecholamines.

This is why some people experience symptoms following ingestion of stimulants, including nausea, palpitations, anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations and more-simply because the catecholamines are not removed in a timely manner.

If you’ve consumed coffee before and felt uneasy for hours following ingestion, chances are that your stimulant tolerance is low, and it may be better for you to opt for non-stimulant fat burners.

Related: Capsaicin – A Potent Fat Loss Supplement

If you handle your caffeine well, then you possess a faster COMT enzyme and have no problem using stimulant based fat burners, but you can still also benefit from the non-stimulant ones, preferably by stacking them together.

Consider the following when formulating your stack:

1. CARNITINE

An extremely popular non-stimulant fat burner, which is also an amino acid. It is found naturally in foods such as dairy and beef, though getting the amount necessary for fat loss from food may be highly impractical.

Carnitine promotes the uptake of fatty acids into the mitochondria, where it is burned more efficiently1. Without this ability of fats to enter the mitochondria, using them for fuel would be an uphill task. Carnitine also promotes the metabolism of fat into free fatty acids, since it is these “broken” fragments of fat that enter the mitochondria and become energy.

Carnitine can also help with lean muscle mass gains, as it is known to aid in the production of new androgen receptors as well. With more androgen receptors, the likelihood of more testosterone and DHT interacting and eliciting effects becomes greater.

2. CLA (CONJUGATED LINOLEIC ACID)

CLA is an omega-6 fat, basically a modified form of linoleic acid. It can be obtained from diet, similarly to Carnitine, found in grass fed beef and high fat dairy. Supplemental CLA is superior once again, as getting enough from food is not practical.

CLA can be consumed by anyone who wants to lose weight and maintain great body composition, as its potential has been confirmed in studies2, exhibiting numerous mechanisms of action. It may suppress appetite, promote use of fat for fuel and inhibit storage of new fat, as well as boost testosterone.

Our favorite way to consume CLA is by fat infusing our coffee with high fat creamers!

3. CHOLINE

You have surely heard Choline mentioned so many times in Nootropic circles, but its benefits extend far beyond those alone. Choline is also a well-known lipotropic, boosting fat oxidation via the liver.

It is common in many vitamin preparations, and is considerably weak for weight loss on its own. However, combined with Carnitine, choline promotes “fat-flushing”3, or excretion of fatty acid molecules via urine.

4. EXOGENOUS KETONES

The ketogenic diet is among the most well established low carbohydrate diets for weight loss. When on a carb depleted diet, the body becomes more efficient at using fat for energy, producing ketone bodies in the process.

The body can lose weight while in a ketogenic state, though staying in said state is the real challenge. Carb cravings break many dieters within the first few weeks of being on.

Rleated: Which Diet is the Best for Fat Loss?

Exogenous ketones can help you achieve ketosis diet-like benefits, while allowing you a little breathing space from carbohydrate restriction. This is because ketone bodies signal to the body that ketosis has been achieved, and allows for continuous fat burning without the severe restriction of carbs.

5. ALPHA LIPOIC ACID (ALA)

Alpha lipoic acid is itself a fat based compound which promotes fat loss via multiple ways4. Among these are appetite suppression, and nutrient portioning; which is extremely useful.

This nutrient portioning ability promotes the uptake of carbs into muscle cells, as opposed to fat. It also promotes the use of glucose, helpful in insulin resistant individuals who have difficulty losing weight.

Finally, is ALA’s potent anti-oxidant effects which help preserve organ function under high oxidative situations, and can help reverse aging markers in those with metabolic syndrome.

WRAPPING UP

There are quite a few more good options when it comes to non-stimulant fat burners, but one thing is clear; they work wonders when stacked together.

Individually, they may appear weak, but when combined their ability rivals stimulant based products, but without the inherent risks.

Know The Beneficial Ingredients to Look for in Preworkouts

I am a scientist by training, not a shill.

So I am not going to try and convince you to buy some mysterious powder from the Himalayas that will make you jacked.

I am, however, going to cut to the chase and tell you about why a few supplements might be worth taking to maximize your training.

The main reason for each of these is that they increase your ability to do work, which we know is the main dictator of how jacked you get during your bulk cycle.

The three on the list today are caffeine, beta-alanine, and citrulline.

1. CAFFEINE

Caffeine is touted as one of the most efficacious pre-workout supplements for increasing energy, focus, and training capacity. It is also thought to elicit the following: increased anaerobic running capacity, power output, adrenaline, aerobic exercise, blood glucose and fat oxidation, as well as decreased insulin sensitivity.

Related: 4 Supplements You Should be Taking This Bulking Season

Caffeine primarily works by antagonizing (essentially blocking) adenosine receptors. Adenosine normally binds to these receptors, causing drowsiness. By antagonizing these receptors, caffeine can increase alertness and combat drowsiness.

Caffeine is also distributed throughout the body and interacts with receptors on the surfaces of other cells to elicit different physiological processes including the release of adrenaline and cortisol.

Several studies have shown that caffeine pre-workout can increase power output1, 2, 3. However, it appears to not be related to improvements in 1 repetition maximums but in “sustain power,” e.g. 3-5 RM and Wingate.

It may be due to a reduction in pain perception, and mobilization of intramuscular calcium (the stuff that lets your muscles actually contract).

There have been documented increases in aerobic capacity from caffeine supplementation4, 5, 6. This is potentially mediated by increased free fatty acid (FFA) release. However, contradictory evidence shows that adrenaline increased FFA release, thus decreasing FFA oxidation.

Related: How To Choose The Right Supplements According To Science

Dosing of caffeine is highly variable. Your genetics and habitual use of caffeine play a large role in how much is needed to elicit an effect. The more you consume on a daily basis, the more you will need to consume in order to see any training benefit.

Additionally, there appears to be a “saturation” limit where you only receive an anti-fatigue benefit and no additional effects from higher levels of caffeine intake.

2. BETA-ALANINE

Beta-alanine is the beta form of the amino acid alanine (meaning the amino group is in the beta position). It is the rate limiting (read bottleneck) precursor to a chemical called carnosine which acts as a buffer to prevent reductions in pH.

Beta-Alanine is purported to increase your training capacity by improving the body’s ability to buffer exercise-induced decreases in pH. In essence, Beta-alanine isn’t doing the work; it is providing your body with the ability to make more carnosine.

Beta-Alanine is a well-researched supplement with some actual evidence to support its use. However, there appears to be no real timing component and it does not necessarily have to be taken as a pre-workout.

Briefly, Beta-Alanine helps you avoid “hitting the wall” a little bit longer, essentially increasing your workload by 1-2 additional reps in the 8-15 rep range7, 8, 9. The consistent finding throughout the research is that it can increase your muscle endurance by about 2.5%.

It has also been shown to improve interval-type training, where individuals have improved performance in repeated bouts of sprint intervals.

In addition to Beta-Alanine increasing muscle endurance, there have been some small improvements in fat reduction reported in the literature10.

One important facet of this finding is that the research is unable to determine if it was directly due to supplementation, or if the increased fat loss was a result of the increased work during training. My guess, it works something like this.

Although it is marketed as a pre-workout supplement, there is little evidence to support a specific time-domain. You can take it at any time and you will receive the benefit as the goal is to increase your intramuscular carnosine levels. That being said, it can easily just be included in your pre-workout supplement and it works just fine.

The typical dose for beta-alanine is 2-5g/day. There have been reports of users getting a tingling feeling when consuming large doses of beta-alanine. This is scientifically known as paresthesia, I prefer to call it “itchy face”.

Splitting your daily dose into two smaller doses can alleviate this, if you decide that the itchy face feeling doesn’t get you jacked up to train. This has been shown to be as effective as a larger, once-daily dose.

Related: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Bodybuilding Supplements

Like creatine monohydrate, beta alanine has well documented benefits for increasing training capacity in certain training modalities. If you are looking for an extra few percent in your training, beta-alanine might be a useful tool.

3. L-CITRULLINE

L-citrulline has been shown to have a myriad of benefits in humans, including increased training volume, decreased muscle soreness, decreased fatigue, and increased blood flow.

In a fairly large (large as far as supplement research goes) double-blind placebo-controlled study, 41 participants supplemented with 8g of citrulline or placebo and performed 8 sets of bench press to fatigue. The citrulline group noticed a drastic improvement (52.92%) of reps they were able to achieve than the placebo11.

In this same study, the group receiving citrulline noted a 40% decrease in soreness at 24 and 48 hours compared to the placebo group. A separate study showed that supplementing with citrulline decreased fatigue during a rest-recovery style training protocol12.

Another well-known aspect of citrulline is the breakdown of citrulline into L-arginine. L-arginine then can be converted into nitric oxide and increase blood flow. In a small study of only 8 men, supplementing with 2 and 15g of citrulline increased arginine levels in the blood, and in a dose dependent manner13.

In a double-blind placebo-controlled trial of healthy men, citrulline supplementation did in fact increase serum nitric oxide and decrease a measure of arterial stiffness, indicating possible vasorelaxation14.

Given the large effect of citrulline on cardiovascular parameters and recent evidence from individuals with heart failure, L-citrulline may be an ideal supplement for individuals with cardiovascular problems15.

Besides changes in fatigue, soreness, and cardiovascular parameters there may be some positive effect of citrulline supplementation on growth hormone.

Related: Top 5 Supplements You Need to Be Taking

In one double-blind placebo-controlled study conducted in 17 young men, 6 grams of citrulline prior to exercise increased exercise induced growth hormone response almost 70%16. Currently, this aspect of citrulline needs to be validated with follow-up studies

Citrulline-malate displays a wide range of potential benefits from decreasing fatigue and increasing training volume to improving exercise capacity in individuals with heart failure.

While there are some reported gastrointenstinal side effects (similar to creatine), citrulline appears to be a well-tolerated supplement that has potential to be on par with creatine and beta-alanine in terms of efficacy.  Doses of approximately 6g prior to exercise are the most common dosages observed in the literature.

BONUS: THEACRINE

As mentioned above, caffeine is one of the most effective pre-workout supplements on the market. However, overtime it can become ineffective for people due to the habituation effect. Think about the first time you took a caffeine loaded pre-workout versus yesterday. Is the kick still the same? Most likely the answer is no.

A new compound, theacrine (which goes by the brand name TeaCrine®), has recently surfaced in the sports performance world that may work similar to caffeine yet not have the downside of habituation.

As with any new compound, safety is the first bar that must be passed before we even begin to look at any potential benefits for training (yeah, I know, us conservative scientists want to know if it is going to kill us before we mainline it).

In a fairly robust safety study, 60 healthy men in their late teens and early twenties were randomized into three groups and given either a placebo, 200mg of theacrine or 300 mg of theacrine for 8 weeks17. In the study, there was no change in resting blood pressure, heart rate or breathing.

Furthermore, with regard to overall health and metabolic parameters there were no safety concerns with heart function of blood lipids or glucose. Overall the trial showed superb safety measures.

In a pilot investigation of theacrine involving dose response studies, 200 mg of theacrine reduced subjective levels of fatigue in two groups of people, suggesting it may have a similar effect on subjective energy levels as caffeine. These findings have been supported in separate study, leading to a greater likelihood the effect is real18.

Additionally, in a recent abstract presented at the International Society for Sports Nutrition, supplementing with 275mg of theacrine showed a benefit on time to exhaustion. Interestingly, it also appear to work synergistically with caffeine.

The combination of theacrine and caffeine is also currently being investigated as there is some evidence to suggest that caffeine may actually help augment the efficacy of theacrine supplementation

Based on the most current evidence we can draw a few conclusions about theacrine (TeaCrine®). First, it appears to be non-habituating which makes it an attractive compound to replace or augment caffeine supplementation. Second, it appears to be safe for human consumption with no currently reported negative health outcomes.

Third, it likely has an impact on perceived fatigue and may improve endurance capacity. Fourth, supplementing alongside caffeine may enhance theacrine’s efficacy. Fifth, this is an interest compound worth much more scientific investigation.

THE WRAP UP

When it is time to bulk there is no reason to left stones unturned. Supplementing can be a key piece of your nutrition regime to help you get the last 2-5% of your gains.

Caffeine, Beta-Alanine, and Citrulline are 3 of the most proven, effective supplements you can use for increasing the volume and intensity of your training. Finally, Theacrine is a supplement to keep your eye on as more and more studies and research is conducted using the ingredient.

Know Which Supplements That Worth The Weight

Open a magazine and just look at not only the amount of supplement ads but all the different types of supplements on the market. It is no wonder that bodybuilders are always researching the latest information on the newest supplements and how and when to use them. It can be difficult to sift through all of the info and find which ones really do work and which ones may be a waste of your time. How do you know which supplements are worth your hard-earned money? How do you determine which ones to try and which ones should be a staple in your quest for the ultimate physique? Well, set your chicken, rice and broccoli aside for a moment as I will tell you which supplements should be a part of your foundation program and which you should give an honest chance.

This list will be structured by level of importance and how much relevance it has to your bodybuilding goals for muscle mass growth. It is also considering that you have a sound bodybuilding-friendly diet consisting of plenty of whole proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats eaten in small frequent meals (five to seven) spread throughout the day. Supplements are just that-they are for supplementing or adding to already good eating habits. If you are not practicing those habits then supplements will not come to your rescue. If so, then enjoy your forthcoming gains!

Number 1: Whey Protein

Whey protein is the granddaddy of supplements and is a must in your mass seeking arsenal. As a fast digesting protein, it is ideal for pre and post workout nutrition and extremely convenient. Rich in Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) leucine, isoleucine, and valine, whey is invaluable as a fast-acting muscle booster to help you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to muscle repair and growth.

Try taking 20 grams with complex carbs about 30 to 60 minutes before training and 40 grams with 60 to 80 grams of simple carbs immediately after training. Taking whey before training will set up an anabolic environment in the muscles and taking it after training will enable whey to be more readily absorbed by the muscle tissue. This will bookend your efforts in the gym so you will leave no stone unturned on your pursuit of the most effective recovery.

Also, when choosing a whey protein product make sure it is low in carbs and fat. Carbs and fat slow digestion down a bit. Post workout you want protein to rapidly enter the muscles, which can slow digestion down a bit when you need it most post workout. Some products include protein enzymes to help with digestion. If you have digestion problems with whey try a product with enzymes included, it may do just the trick and allow you to easily digest this “must have” supplement.

View all Protein Powders

Number 2: Creatine

If you have never heard of creatine, then welcome to earth. Touted by athletes and researchers as one of the most effective supplements ever created, creatine has grown quite a powerful reputation. Heavily researched and widely used, athletes from all disciplines have sworn creatine’s effectiveness with readily apparent and fast-acting results. This supplement is another “must.”

As it gets converted to creatine phosphate in the muscles it creates a very anabolic environment in the tissue allowing more protein synthesis to occur. This “superhydration” of fluid in the muscle cells allows more nutrients to help repair and grow tissue. Try taking 3-5 grams pre and post workout with your whey shakes. Again, the pre workout dose will prime the muscles so they will be ready for the intense training to come and the post workout dose will enable the muscles to shuttle in creatine at a quick rate so the tissue will be topped off for the next session.

Some people claim creatine bloats their stomachs and/or intestinal area. If this is the case, it may not be digesting properly or completely. Creatine monohydrate may only be partially absorbing in the intestines but some may still be sitting outside of the intestinal walls. This causes that area to attract water and therefore a bloat in the lower G.I. tract. You are in luck. Creatine ethyl ester is a form of creatine that has been developed to be absorbed even more effectively. Creatine ethyl ester is broken down more readily for easier digestion. For you that means less bloat and more effective digestion of creatine to where it needs to go for growth and repair.

View all Creatine Supplements

Number 3: ZMA and Antioxidants

“What?” You’re saying. Yes, zinc, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin E are essential to the body when you are undergoing intense training. Sure, they don’t sound like the latest supplement breakthroughs, but the body produces free radicals which can circulate and cause damage. Antioxidant vitamins C and E can help combat these free radicals and strengthen the immune system, which means a healthier recovery ability and better gains. ZMA helps with increasing Insulin Growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and testosterone-potent hormones to help you along your quest for a more massive physique.

These two categories are what I call foundation supplements. You won’t instantly feel them working like creatine or caffeine, but they are of utmost importance regarding the body’s general health and wellbeing. If the body is not in a healthy state to begin with, how can it possibly build any muscle tissue? ZMA and antioxidants help maintain a healthy foundation so you are able to build upon it.

Take 500 mg of vitamin C and 200 to 400 IU of vitamin E with your first whole food post workout meal. Before bed take a ZMA supplement providing around 30 mg of zinc, 450 mg of magnesium, and 10 mg of B6.

View all ZMA Supplements & Antioxidants

Number 4: Casein Protein

Another great protein product which, with the right timing, can be used to your advantage is casein protein. Casein is a slow digesting protein for those times when you need a longer lasting supply of amino acids in the bloodstream. It can be taken before bedtime with some healthy fats such as flax oil or natural peanut butter to have steady release of protein. Since it digests slower, casein is also ideal for when you need a convenient protein shake at any time during the day when you are unable to eat solid food. The steady flow of nutrients will allow your body to keep feeding, supplying those muscles with what they need. 20 grams of casein is great to add to your post workout shake of whey, creatine and simple carbs.

View all Casein Protein Supplements

Number 5: Glutamine

Another unglamorous supplement is glutamine which is a very abundant amino acid in the muscle tissue. Although not “sexy,” glutamine has a host of unbeatable benefits such as helping muscles take up glycogen after a workout, maintaining immune function, and increasing growth hormone levels. It can also delay fatigue so you can workout harder longer and keep you out of that dreaded catabolic state. If your system is in short supply of glutamine it will actually steal it from muscle tissue, so can you think of any reason not to supplement with it?

Try 10 grams pre and post workout to help combat the fatigue factor and give the recovery process a head start. Again, glutamine may not be a jolt of energy or enable you to instantly have strength gains, but in the long run you won’t be sorry. As another “foundation” supplement glutamine works behind the scenes to help other processes happen.

View all Glutamine Supplements

Other supplements to try:

Here are a few more supplements that may or may not work for you so just remember to try them one at a time. If you were to take all of them at once how would you know which ones worked?

Maltodextrin:

Maltodextrins are carbs that are easily digestible. They made from natural corn starch which is cooked, and then acid and/or enzymes are used to break down the starch. Maltodextrin is a great carb addition to a whey or casein shake. This “weight gainer shake” is a convenient way to get some serious calories into your diet without the added sugar.

View all Complex Carbohydrate Supplements

Vitargo:

Vitargo is a high molecular weight, sugar free carbohydrate which is perfect for your post workout shake. It can produce the same insulin spike after training as sugar without the unwanted effects. Combined with creatine and whey protein, vitargo is a great way to add carbs while staying on a low sugar diet.

Arginine:

Arginine readily converts to nitric oxide (NO) in the body. By dilating blood vessels, arginine allows more nutrients such as amino acids and glucose into the muscle cells. With more nutrients and fluid in the muscle more protein synthesis can occur. Try 3 grams upon waking, pre workout, and before bed.

View all Arginine Supplements

Tribulus Terrestris:

As a testosterone booster tribulus terrestris can also increase nerve activity in the muscle cells allowing for more powerful workouts. Take 300-500 mg before training.

Carnosine:

Carnosine allows muscle to contract more forcefully and for longer periods of time. In addition it can delay fatigue so you can last longer with greater intensity in the gym. Try 1-2 grams before workouts.

So there you have it; five must have supplements with a few to take to the lab (gym) and try for yourself. Remember to always use caution when taking any supplement and always ask a medical professional if you feel you have any health concerns. With a sound bodybuilding diet, hard training, and a few strategically taken key supplements you can build one impressive physique without confusion.

Should You Know If Eyes a Window Into Brain Health

People who have mild vascular disease that damages the eyes’ retinas are more likely to have vascular disease in the brain that causes thinking and memory problems, new research indicates.

The study included 511 women with an average age of 69 whose thinking and memory skills were tested every year for 10 years. The women’s eyes were tested about four years into the study, and they underwent brain scans about eight years into the study.

On average, the 39 women with retina damage (retinopathy) had lower scores on the cognitive tests than those without retinopathy. The eye damage in these women was not serious enough to cause significant symptoms.

The brains of women with retinopathy also had more areas with damaged blood vessels than those without retinopathy.

The findings held true even after the researchers accounted for high blood pressure and diabetes, which can be factors in vascular issues in the eyes and brain, the researchers said.

“Problems with the tiny blood vessels in the eye may be a sign that there are also problems with the blood vessels in the brain that can lead to cognitive problems,” study author Mary Haan, of the University of California, San Francisco, said in a news release. “This could be very useful if a simple eye screening could give us an early indication that people might be at risk of problems with their brain health.”

Although the study, which appears in the March 14 online issue of Neurology, showed an association between vascular disease in the eyes and memory problems, it does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Know More about Nitric Oxide Supplements

Until you have achieved “the pump” you haven’t fully lived.

If you have never walked out of the gym with your biceps feeling like they are going to explode, your whole life has been a lie.

I’m only half kidding here. Well, actually I am not kidding at all; the pump is the best.

In fact, there is a whole class of supplements that were originally designed to help you achieve the pump, known today as nitric oxide boosters.

More recently, nitric oxide boosters have been utilized in wider applications as they are meant to increase blood flow.

Increased blood flow can improve nutrient delivery to muscle tissue, allowing you to train longer, harder, recover better, and makes achieving the elusive pump easier.

While most nitric oxide boosting supplements contain a plethora of ingredients, there are really only a few things you need to know about to really understand NO boosters.

WHAT IS NITRIC OXIDE?

So before we go any further we should probably fill you in on what the heck nitric oxide is and why the heck you would want to boost it.

Nitric oxide causes vasodilation. This effectively increases blood flow which can increase nutrient and oxygen delivery to the muscles. Essentially, vasodilation gives your muscles more go juice.

Related: Are BCAAs an Essential Part of Your Supplementation Plan?

L-ARGININE

The Quick and Dirty: Arginine is an amino acid that is turned into nitric oxide in the body. In theory arginine should improve blood flow and thus improve performance and enhance your training.

Currently, the results are mixed and we don’t have a slam dunk case for it. This supplement may be a case of “responders vs non-responders” and some self-experimentation may prove that it is an effective supplement for you.

The Deeper Dive: The real science from studies done on L-arginine studies indicate that it does get taken up into the body and that nitric oxide boosting supplements with L-arginine do effectively increase arginine levels.

However, the increase of arginine levels in the blood doesn’t always translate into efficacy for blood flow or improvement in work capacity. One study has shown that arginine supplementation increases levels of arginine in the blood but does not increase levels of nitric oxide or muscular blood flow, nor does it enhance muscle protein synthesis.1

Yet, another shows that it increases blood volume but not strength performance.2

Even longer term supplementation of arginine appears to be largely ineffective. 7 days of supplementing with 12d/day of an arginine-alpha-ketoglutarate supplement showed that it did indeed increase plasma levels of L-arginine but had zero effect on hemodynamics or blood flow.3  More studies have shown no meaningful or significant increase in training capacity.

Currently, the evidence suggests that L-arginine may increase circulatory blood flow, but does not consistently or meaningfully increase training performance. No it isn’t all doom and gloom as when you look deeper into the research it appears that there are definitely “responders” and “non-responders” (I looked at a lot of papers and made assumptions based on means and standard deviations).

Perhaps it is time to enter a brand new era of NO boosting and find something that is more effective.

ENTER NITRATE

The Quick and Dirty: L-arginine is only one way to increase nitric oxide in your blood and increase blood and oxygen deliver. There appears to be a different molecule that is more effective than L-arginine at boosting NO and at improving training.

Recent evidence has shown that inorganic nitrate (NO3-) from dietary sources can also increase NO production.4 Most supplemental nitrate comes from beet root juice or nitrate salts.

The Deeper Dive: Dietary NO3- is broken down into a bioactive form nitrite (NO2-) which causes a rise in plasma NO2-.5 Plasma NO2- is then further reduced in the blood and tissues into bioactive NO. Let’s stop and take a look and compare this to L-arginine.

Now that we have an idea of how it works, we can dive into what the research says about how effective it is in improving performance.

When I set out to write this article I knew I was going to need a bit of backup so I contacted a colleague of mine, Dylan Dahlquist MSc, who is well versed in the research regarding dietary nitrates and human performance and he got me up to speed on the research.

Several studies have shown that consuming roughly 8 mmol/nitrate per day through beet root juice can improve performance during a cycling trial.6 One of the interesting things that has come out of the research is that it may improve “efficiency”, meaning that less ATP is required to complete the same amount of work.

This is pretty mind blowing and no one really understands exactly how this happens . . . science is hard. One hypothesis is that it improves mitochondrial function and makes it more efficient, which is pretty cool.7

Related: Pre-Workout Nutrition: 4 Strategies to Improve Performance & Maximize Results

When we summarize what we know about nitrate supplementation is that it appears to be a bit more effective than L-arginine at accomplishing the same task and may have performance enhancing effects. The studies conducted clearly show an increase in NO production with acute and/or chronic supplementation and may elicit the ergogenic effects and improve athletic performance.

If used as a pre-workout supplement it is wise to take it about 2-3 hours before training as blood levels typically peak roughly 2-3 hours after ingestion, which relates to the peak increase in NO bioavailability.5

THE WRAP UP

Nitric oxide boosters are based on the idea that increased blood flow is a good way to boost performance. There are really two main supplements that work to boost nitric oxide, L-arginine and Nitrate.

Based on what the research tells us it looks like nitrate is the much better option than L-arginine for this specific task and if you are looking for a supplement that works as advertised that is the way to ensure you maximize your investment.

Learn More About Power Muscle Burn Bulking Diet

To maximize your efforts in the gym you need to eat properly. Many trainees make the huge mistake of going gonzo with the weights, but eating like a ten year old girl. This won’t cut it. To get big, you have to eat big, and eat smart.

Another cornerstone of the muscle building puzzle is proper supplementation. There are literally thousands of supplements on the market aimed at you…the muscle builder. A good supplement plan can help you maximize muscle repair and growth, speed up recovery, reduce muscle soreness, provide you with more energy in and out of the gym, and bolster your overall health.

The Power Muscle Burn training approach isn’t easy. It isn’t for the meek. It is an aggressive push for strength and muscle size, and includes crazy-intense burn sets that will leave you crawling out of the gym. It is at this point that the true battle for muscle growth begins. Once you leave the gym, you had better be prepared.

What follows is a simple bulking and supplementation approach aimed at equipping you with the tools to grow and recover. It is impossible to create a perfect plan that fits everyone, but I tried to create a plan that will help everyone. The sample eating plan is just that – a sample plan. You are not required to follow it to the letter.

Bulking Approach

To grow you need to eat more daily calories then it takes to maintain your body weight. If you eat 3000 calories per day and don’t gain weight, 3000 calories is your maintenance level. You are “maintaining” your weight by eating this amount of food each day.

To GAIN weight (muscle!), you must simply eat more then it takes to maintain your weight. It really is as simple as that.

Now I know what your next question is…how do I know what my calorie maintenance level is?The answer…you don’t know. Yet. But we are going to find out. Learning how your body responds to food intake requires some trial and error. Here is what you need to do:

  • Start at 3500 Daily Calories. Eat 3500 calories per day for 2 weeks. You must count calories during this period. Eat no more, and no less.
  • Not Gaining Weight? If you did NOT gain weight by eating daily 3500 calories during this two week period, eat 3800 daily calories for the next 2 weeks. If you are still not gaining weight after 2 weeks, add more daily calories.
  • Gaining Too Much Weight? If you gained more then 3-4 pounds during this 2 week period, bump your daily calories down to 3200 and try that for 2 weeks. If you are still gaining weight too rapidly, lower your daily calorie level again.

A beginning natural bodybuilder who is training hard and eating right should gain at least 10 to 16 pounds of muscle during his first year of hardcore training. An intermediate to advanced lifter will gain fewer pounds as the years progress. According to Casey Butt, this is the muscle progression that an average natural bodybuilder can expect:

  • Year 1 – 16 pounds of muscle.
  • Year 2 – 8 pounds of muscle.
  • Year 3 – 4 pounds of muscle.
  • Year 4 – 2 pounds of muscle.
  • Year 5 – 1 pound of muscle.

When bulking, you will also gain some fat. Some fat. Keep in mind that this bulking protocol will not turn you into a sumo wrestler, but you may add 5 to 10 pounds of fat during a given year. Some will gain slightly more, and some will gain slightly less fat. If you have fat fearand undereat, you will be limiting your gains. Bodybuilding requires building, or eating more. You simply can’t maximize muscle mass by trying to eat less. There will be plenty of time to see your abs once you are a muscular beast!

Here are some general guidelines on how much weight gain you should aim for based on your training and muscle growth experience:

  • Beginners. Beginning lifters who have gained no prior muscle mass should set a goal to gain about 2 pounds a month over the course of their first training year. In a perfect world this would equate to 16 pounds of muscle and 8 pounds of fat.
  • Beginner to Intermediates. Second year lifters (or someone who has gained about 16 pounds of muscle mass) should set a goal to gain one pound per month over the course of the next year. In a perfect world this would equate to 8 pounds of muscle and 4 pounds of fat.
  • Intermediates. Third year lifters (or someone who has gained about 24 pounds of muscle mass) should set a goal to gain two pounds every 3 months over the course of the next year. In a perfect world this would equate to 4 pounds of muscle and 4 pounds of fat.
  • Intermediate to Advanced. Fourth year lifters (or someone who has gained about 28 pounds of muscle mass) should set a goal to gain one pound every 2 months over the course of the next year. In a perfect world this would equate to 2 pounds of muscle and 4 pounds of fat.
  • Advanced. Fifth year (plus) lifters (or someone who has gained about 30 pounds of muscle mass) should set a goal to gain one pound every 2 months over the course of the next year. In a perfect world this would equate to 1 pound of muscle and 5 pounds of fat.

A Note About “Skinny” Guys

If you are underweight, it may be beneficial to eat a bit more until you reach a more normalized weight. Skinny guys should make it a goal to gain 3 to 5 pounds a month until they are no longer considered underweight. The following table details normal weight ranges based on frame size:

Weight Chart for Men
Height Small Frame Medium Frame Large Frame
5’2″ 128-134 131-141 138-150
5’3″ 130-136 133-143 140-153
5’4″ 132-138 134-145 142-156
5’5″ 134-140 137-148 144-160
5’6″ 136-142 139-151 146-164
5’7″ 138-145 142-154 149-168
5’8″ 140-148 145-157 152-172
5’9″ 142-151 148-160 155-176
5’10” 144-154 151-163 158-180
5’11” 146-157 154-166 161-184
6’0″ 149-160 157-170 164-188
6’1″ 152-164 160-174 168-192
6’2″ 155-168 164-178 172-197
6’3″ 158-172 167-182 176-202
6’4″ 162-176 171-187 181-207
  • 6 am – Wake up! – Have a whey protein shake immediately upon waking up. Whey protein digests quickly, and will allow you to “rush” amino acids and nutrients into a hungry body.
  • 6:30 am – 4 egg omelet with cheese and chopped tomato and onion, oatmeal with fresh fruit, large glass of whole milk.
  • 9: 15 am – Weight gainer shake, or a whey protein shake blended with a banana, whole milk and peanut butter.
  • Noon – Filling lunch of choice. Make sure to include some veggies! Possible combinations include a cheeseburger with a large baked potato (with sour cream) and broccoli, or chicken tacos with rice and refried beans. Wash down lunch with juice or milk.
  • 2:30 pm – Pre-workout – Casein protein shake with fresh fruit.
  • 3:30 pm – Workout! – Make sure to drink plenty of water.
  • 4:30 pm – Post-Workout – Immediately after completion of your workout, have a whey protein shake that contains 30 to 50 grams of protein, along with dextrose/waxy maize – a fast digesting simple carbohydrate source that will induce an insulin spike and replace glycogen in muscle cells which is lost during training.
  • 5:30 pm – Big meal! Eat your biggest meal of the day. Make sure to include a veggie and a healthy carbohydrate source.
  • 8:30 pm – Hit the hay! It’s time for bed. Have a casein protein shake right before bed. This will furnish your body with a slow-digesting protein source while you sleep.

Keep in mind that to build muscle, it is recommended that you:

  • Eat Enough Protein. Try to eat at least 30 to 40 grams of protein every 2.5 to 3 hours. Increasing your daily protein intake while on a resistance training program helps to increase lean muscle mass.
  • Eat Fruits and Veggies. Make sure you eat a variety of fruits and veggies each week.
  • Eat Healthy Fats. Do NOT avoid healthy fats. The body requires fat intake for numerous functions, including vitamin absorption and the regulation of numerous bodily functions.
  • Eat Healthy Grains. Eat several servings of healthy grains each day. Healthy grains include oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa.
  • Eat Dairy. Dairy foods such as milk and cheese are high protein, and nutrient and calorie rich foods.

Sample Supplement Plan

The following supplement plan is provided as a template, and is meant to be run along side the provided bulking template. Adjust it as needed:

  • 6 am – Wake up! – 5 grams of BCAAs and 5 grams of glutamine.
  • 6:30 am – 1 gram fish oil, multivitamin.
  • Noon – 1 gram fish oil.
  • 2:30 pm – 40 grams of waxy maize (with casein protein drink).
  • 3:00 pm – 30 minutes Pre-workout – 5 grams of BCAAs, 5 grams of creatine, nitric oxide supplement.
  • 3:30 pm – Workout!
  • 4:30 pm – Post-Workout – 5 grams of BCAAs, 5 grams of glutamine, 5 grams of creatine, 40 grams of waxy maize.
  • 5:30 pm – 1 gram fish oil.
  • 8:30 pm – Hit the hay! 5 grams of glutamine, ZMA.

Optional – Beta- Alanine. Promising research is revealing a synergistic relationship between creatine and beta-alanine. Beta-alanine must be taken every 4 hours at approximately 750 to 800 mgs. It also also a good idea to supplement with taurine when using beta-alanine.

Know More About Supplement Like The Pros

Supplements can be a mystery. Add up all the different types of supplements, and possible supplement combinations, and it’s enough to send rocket scientists to the medicine cabinet for some aspirin.

So what should you take? What supplements are essentials, and the best buy for your hard-earned cash? Muscle & Strength has the answers for you. This article is a meta-analysis of the favorite supplements recommended by over 30 top pro natural bodybuilders, and fitness and figure athletes. This article contains no fluff. It contains only the top, must have supplements used by the best natural lifters in the world.

Every supplement listed on this page is a top choice by at least one pro. Supplements are listed according to popularity. Six supplements received multiple votes. Several supplements received a single vote. These supplements are listed at the end of the article. For more information on popular supplement categories, please visit the Muscle & Strength Supplement Store.

And The Winner Is…Protein Powder!

This should come as no big surprise…a vast majority of pro natural athletes list protein powder as their top supplement. Proper protein intake is the cornerstone for maximizing muscle growth. Trying to build muscle without eating enough daily protein is like trying to run a marathon with your shoes on the wrong feet.

The top protein powder choice of pro natural bodybuilders and athletes was whey protein. Several athletes simply listed their top supplement choice as protein powder, and one female figure competitor listed soy protein powder as her favorite supplement. The following athletes list protein powder as their must have supplement:

  • Tim Martin
  • Obi Obadike
  • Tannis Miller

A Strong Second Place: Creatine

Creatine supplements land in second place, and for many good reasons. Natural athletes use creatine monohydrate and creatine ethyl ester (the two most popular forms of creatine) to increase performance, delay fatigue and to boost strength. Creatine also saturates muscle cells, adding muscle mass. There is no better muscle building supplement then creatine.

Some athletes listed specific creatine products – such as BSN Cellmass – as their favorite supplement. It should also be noted that creatine monohydrate edged out creatine ethyl ester as the number one creatine choice of the pros. The following natural athletes list creatine as their must have supplement:

  • Joe Ohrablo
  • Kim Landry-Ayres
  • Christopher Wescott

Glutamine Muscles Its Way Into The Third Spot

The third most popular supplement, as chosen by pro natural bodybuilders and fitness and figure athletes is…glutamine! Glutamine assists in protein metabolism, and bolsters the immune system. It is also the most prevalent amino acid in the human body. Weight training can deplete glutamine levels. Natural athletes supplement with glutamine to help replenish these levels, and to assist in the building of new muscle mass.

Glutamine is sold in two forms: glutamine capsules and glutamine powder. The best time to supplement with glutamine is post-workout. Glutamine powder is often added to post-workout drinks, or capsules are taken with post-workout waxy maize or whey protein drinks. The following natural athletes list glutamine as their must have supplement:

  • Philip Ricardo
  • Layne Norton
  • Tracie Euker

BCAAs and Amino Acids Come In At Number Four

Four professional natural athletes listed some form of amino acids or BCAAs as their go tosupplement. The human body requires amino acids for muscle tissue repair, and new muscle tissue growth. Three amino acids make up BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAAs are often taken as a stand alone supplement, and used in addition to amino acid supplementation.

BCAAs are generally taken before, during and after a workout. Amino acids should be taken before and after workouts and meals, and on an empty stomach. One of the most popular BCAAs/amino acid supplements listed by pro natural bodybuilders was Scivation Xtend. The following natural athletes list BCAAs and/or amino acids as their must have supplement:

  • Layne Norton
  • Mariya Mova
  • Andrew Chappell

Tie For The 5th Spot Between Multivitamins And Fish Oil

Both multivitamin supplements and fish oil received a fair amount of votes. Supplementing with a good multivitamin and mineral is a no brainer. Hardcore training depletes vitamins and minerals in the body. Vitamin and mineral supplementation improves overall health, gives you energy and aids in recovery.

Fish oil is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs). Omega 3’s assist with proper brain and central nervous system function. Fish oil is also good for the heart and joints. It is one of the best supplements on the market for good overall health and wellness. The following natural athletes list either a multivitamin or fish oil as their must have supplement:

  • Colleen Castaneda
  • Tracie Euker
  • Chelsea Kmiec

Other Supplements That Made The List

Three other supplements made it into the list of must haves, receiving only a single vote each:

  • Antioxidants. Antioxidants fight free radicals in the body, which can impair the immune system and numerous other important physiological functions. Antioxidants improve overall health, and aid in recovery between workouts.
  • Meal Replacements. Meal replacements come in the form of powders (drinks), or food products such as cereal or pancake mix. Meal replacements are a healthy, nutritionally-sound food source that provides a hard working athlete with everything they need from a muscle building meal.
  • Protein Bars. Protein bars are a tasty and nutritionally dense protein powder alternative. They are often eaten in between major bodybuilding meals, or for convenience…when bringing along containers of food just doesn’t work. Most natural bodybuilders and athletes keep protein bars around just in case.

Recap – What Have We Learned?

For seasoned muscle-building veterans, this list will come as no surprise. All the supplements listed in this article are staples, and appear over and over again in the supplement plans of some of the best natural athletes in the world. If you want to fortify your training and diet with supplements, everything listed on this page is worthy of your attention.

Pro bodybuilders, and fitness and figure athletes aren’t gods. They are people just like you and me. They don’t make much money from their respective sports, so these athletes must pick and choose wisely what they spend their money on.