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If there is one question that fitness buffs and athletes as more than any other, it is “do supplements work?” Simply put, the answer depends primarily on your expectations. Supplements are exactly what their name suggests, so they are designed to “supplement” a healthy lifestyle.
Healthy fats, such as omega-3s, are one of the most popular and important supplements in any athlete’s regimen. They are most commonly found in fish and seeds (such as flaxseed), and they are most well-known for their ability to help fight inflammation, increase levels of HDL cholesterol, and decrease levels of LDL cholesterol. In fact, many bodybuilders who rely on anabolic steroids often turn to these supplements since steroids are known for their adverse effects on cholesterol levels.
Creatine is another popular supplement found in most die-hard bodybuilders’ gym bags, and for good reason. Although it can cause water weight gain initially, this will eventually subside and make way for lean muscle growth. It is an osmotically-active substance, which means it draws water into the muscle cells and helps with protein synthesis. What’s more, thanks to its ability to regenerate the ATP (adenosine triphosphate) molecule, it is a coveted energy-booster that can help athletes and bodybuilders alike enjoy more intense workouts, which translates to harder, bigger, stronger muscles down the road.
Protein supplements have been the center of numerous debates over the years, but whey protein continues to be one of the most popular supplements among athletes nonetheless. Bodybuilders require a lot of protein in their diets, which generally means that they need to consume massive amounts of calories in order to get that protein. Whey protein (including other blends such as casein) offers a healthy way to take in additional protein without excessive calories. What’s more, several recent studies show that men who supplement with whey protein have higher levels of HDL along with healthier triglyceride and systolic blood pressure levels.
It’s also worth considering supplementing with amino acids which are also proteins and play an integral role in the building of muscle. The most popular amino acid supplement include branched chain amino acids or BCAA’s for short. These include leucine, isoleucine and valine which are only a few of the nine essential amino acids. By taking BCAA’s, bodybuilders can help prevent muscle breakdown, and also recover quicker after workouts.
All of that working out is hard on the body. It takes a lot out of people, and the body must work extremely hard in order to create the new protein chains that help build muscle. As such, many bodybuilders find that their bodies are actually deficient in many vitamins and minerals. Taking a high-quality multivitamin with added minerals can help improve or even enhance the conditions under which muscle growth occurs, even at the cellular level.
Testosterone boosters are products that are designed to help the male body produce more testosterone naturally. They are not exogenous testosterone. The vast majority of these boosters contain an ingredient known as tribulus terrestris, which comes from a flowering plant that grows in the warm tropical regions of Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia. Men often use it to help improve their libido, mood, restorative sleep, and assist in the formation of lean muscle. Although very few clinical studies have been performed on this supplement, men around the world have utilized it for years.
So, do supplements work? They certainly can. Keep in mind that supplements alone cannot help anyone carve out the ripped, toned body they want. It takes dedication, discipline, and a healthy lifestyle complete with the right foods and workout plan in order to build muscle or burn fat.