Maik Wiedenbach here, one question I often get from my NYC personal training clients is: What is the best muscle building supplement?
Finding the best muscle building supplement is certainly worth a look since we can use all the help we can get in order to achieve a herculean physique.
The supplement industry in this great country of ours puts most other countries GDP numbers to shame; the figures I found are around $470 billion in 2018 (my gym being responsible for 75% of that sums). Is that because they work miracles? No but we all like to dream that a simple pill or powder could get us to the promised land
To be clear : supplement can only be an addition to a well though out training and diet program. You can not out supplement a crappy diet of soso exercise program.
5 things to be on the look out for!
.1. PROPRIETARY MIX…This means: “we can put in whatever the hell we want without telling you the actual amounts as long as we give you the ingredients”.
Newsflash: every drug manufacturer is supposed to list all ingredients, therefore you should be able to tell me what is in the bottle. If you cannot do so, it means you are using the low cost ingredients in greater numbers to make up for quality deficiencies One prime candidate for that is caffeine and vitamin b6. Caffeine gives a buzz, niacin makes the skin tingle= the client feels something. However, if I do not know how much caffeine I am taking I am in for some bad news!
Also, in the past, there have been cases where companies have hidden speed or oral steroids within their proprietary mix. Those supplements worked very well, but there is a price to pay. By you the consumer!
2. The shot gun principle
Certain supplements seem to have it all and can do it all. Note: if yous supplement has too many ingredients, you are only getting minuscule amounts of each. If you want creatine, buy creatine. If you want glutamine, buy that. An all in one supplement is bound to fail.
3. Not disclosing the amino acid profile
Lack of visibility with anything is an issue, This goes for protein powders and bars obviously.
There are two classes of amino acids that you should look for when buying a protein product: BCAA and EAA. BCAA stands for Branch Chain Amino Acids, and EAA stands for Essential Amino Acids (meaning the body cannot make them on its own).BCAAs, while not essential work as an anti catabolic and energy source during the workout loss cycle, Essential Amino Acids function in an anti-catabolic manner, thus helping the body to spare lean muscle tissue. Essential Amino Acids are Tryptophan, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Valine, Isoleucine, and Leucine, the last three also being BCAAs albeit Isoleucine is semi essential. A good protein powder brand will have proper amino acid profile, with detailed amounts of each AA. . If they do not, run for the hills! ( disclaimer: some companies spike the protein powders which is truly despicable)
Net carbs” clever term set up by the food indsutry. A loophole in the FDA code allows companies to label maltitol as non-sugars since they do not affect the blood sugar levels. What is even more alarming they lose their caloric value. Repeat after me: this is not true! Sugar alcohols have fewer calories than regular carbs but still about 2.1 calories per gram! They can also cause stomach upset and mild allergic reactions so best to stay away from
5. Stupid CLAIMS
I know bodybuilders have a reputation for not being very bright but come on: lose 20 lbs of fat in 30 days? Gain 10 lbs of muscle in a month? Destroy your fat cells? Watch your muscles explode with new growth?
If you read any of the above, run for the hills. Also, before of the those clever little graphs. Alto often, you will see things like 400% increase in growth, when we are talking 4oz of muscle vs 1 oz in a “study” that contained four subjects, three of them 80 year old retirees.
So should I even bother with supplements?
Yes, but you must manage your expectations.
In the grand scheme of things you can supplement can be divided in three groups:
1. Meal replacements (protein powders, protein/carb mixes, protein bars, etc.) These have their place as they can come in handy when traveling or when people have to take in large amounts of protein ( I for one do not fancy eating 3 lbs of meat a day). Sadly, quality differs greatly so be on the look out for an independent analysis. Protein bars are more or less glorified candy bars.
2. Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) This is a forgotten subgroup because it is not flashy but pretty much all of us are deficient in zinc, magnesium and vitamin E, K and D3. You should definitely supplement with the,
3. The rest, ranging from the better researched items such as creatine to the ever popular steroid replacement or fat burner.
Taking it from the top, training, diet, and recovery will be responsible for 95% of your physique.
Supplements worth considering
Supplements are somewhere in the 3-5% range. Protein powders fall somewhat into the diet part and can be very helpful, especially for larger athletes or when traveling.
What about the rest?
Glad you asked.1. Zinc and magnesium deficiencies are very common among athletes since your soils are depleted and we put our bodies through a lot, so a ZMA supplement at night will be helpful to restore balance and also help with sleeping better sleep means higher Growth hormone output and better recovery.
2. Vitamin D3 levels are chronically low, especially during the upcoming (ugh!) winter months which can lead to depression, loss of interest and overeating. All things you do not want to do in your bodybuilding career. Think 2,000 to 6,000 IUs a day.
3. Creatine is one of best researched supplements and has proven time and time again to work very well in terms of enhancing recovery and building up strength. To rule out another old wives’ tale, there is no issue with the kidneys unless there is a pre existing condition.
.4. Digestive enzymes preferably Wobenzym helps with digestion of food and overall recovery.
5. And to answer what everyone really wants to know:Fat burners = overpriced caffeine pills which can be had much cheaper at your local pharmacy.
Steroid replacements= why would anyone break the law, risk jail time trying to get their hands on the ” real thing” if they could just take the latest “as seen on FOX NEWS” herb?
Supplements do have a place in a well-thought-out diet and training regime. Here is what you could consider adding:
Creatine mono hydrate: 5 grams per day
Green powder: 2 scoops with your protein shake post workout or in the am
Whey protein: for are and post workout
Glucosamine/Chondroitin: 3 grams a day
Wobenzym: 6-8 tablets a day Vitamin C: 3 grams a day Vitamin D3: 5000 IU a day
Are Workout stack (optional):
L-tyrosine 2 grams Agmantine 2 grams Beta Alanine 2-3 grams Caffeine 200 – 400 mg L- Theanine 400 mg
ZMA: taken at night Melatonin: 1-3 mg at night
Not to sounds like a broken record, but nothing will work unless your training and diet are in check!
My favorite workouts are here!