Why Are Supplements So Important in the Fitness Industry?
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Before we get stuck in let us define what the word supplement actually mean. Supplements are any form of solid or liquid that can be consumed that enhance sport performance. In this article we are referring to bodybuilding but the use of supplements applies to every sport.
Most supplements are powdered or in a pill form. Over the decades supplements have advanced in quality and the benefits have increased greatly. This is demonstrated in our history in today’s bodybuilders and athletes.
Supplements and Looking Through History
The most famous track and field sporting event the 100 metre sprint with Usain Bolt being the current record holder of 9.58 seconds was achieved in 2009. Before this there was a time approximately fifty years ago where running 100 metres in under 10 seconds was unheard of.
Jim Hines of the United States was the first man to run 100 metres under 10 seconds which set the new standard. His record was 9.95 seconds in the year 1968. Fifteen years later Calvin Smith managed to beat this record in 1983 by 20 milliseconds or 0.02 seconds with a new record of 9.93 seconds. Nowadays as we all know it is very common to see athletes sprint 100 metres in under 10 seconds.
For bodybuilding it is a lot less technical as looking at their physical appearance over the years reveals how supplements like protein powders have evolved immensely. Of course training techniques have also come a long way since then but supplements and the knowledge of nutrition has changed even more so.
Reg Park from the 1960s to Arnold Schwarzenegger 1975, Dorian Yates 1994, Ronnie Coleman and today’s Phil Heath demonstrates bodybuilding’s greatest physique of the eras.
As you can clearly see that muscle development has evolved since the times of Reg Park.
Who’s physique is most ideal? That is topic for another day, but the fact remains that bodybuilding and other sports as a whole has evolved over the years.
The biggest factor that has led to the improvement of bodybuilding and other sports is due to the advancement of supplementation.
Bodybuilders are bigger in terms of muscle mass more than ever and this is because of today’s best muscle building supplements.
Muscle Building Supplements
So what are the best supplements for muscle gain? The fitness and bodybuilding industries are huge and rely on the sales of their supplements.
Click on our How to Build Muscle article to learn what one must do to build muscle
This being said there are many supplements that are just down right useless.
For the people battling to build muscle and especially for those that are classed as ‘hard gainers’ these are crucial muscle building supplements. They will help achieve your fitness goals let us look into these muscle supplements in more detail:
Whey protein is the staple supplement for sport athletes and bodybuilders in today’s modern era. When you start of bodybuilding and you come across an advance lifter he/she will generally recommend whey protein.
Why do people recommend whey protein? This is due to their sheer quality of protein they possess. Everyone knows the value of consuming protein for muscle building.
Whey is the liquid by-product of making cheese. In cow’s milk 20% of protein is actually whey protein and 80% is casein protein. Whey protein is a natural source of protein that contains all of the essential amino acids that the human body requires and it is easily digestible.
When exploring the best muscle building supplements then there is not doubt that whey protein is pretty much on top of the list.
The benefits that whey protein possess is truly remarkable. Whey helps you recover from your exercise and helps you build bigger and stronger muscles. Whey is unique because when consumed it enters into the body very quickly which is important after demanding exercise session. Whey protein is regarded as one of the best muscle building supplements, hands down.
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Whey protein is also linked to anti ageing abilities, prevention in cancerous cells and lower stress levels. Consuming whey protein keeps your body in an anabolic state (muscle building) state and reducing the hormone cortisol which is the number hormone linked to stress and muscle break down.
Best Whey Protein
Are all protein made equal? Definitely not! Whey protein is superior and like all other proteins, not all whey proteins are made equal.
The quality of protein differs from manufacture to manufacture. There are 2 ways to identify the quality of a protein powder.
- The percentage of protein stated on the packaging is a vital thing to look out for. Keep this in mind that when protein powders are processed in a factory and manufactured and then stored in a tub what happens to the quality? Does is not deteriorate over time? Yes it does and in fact many powders have very little protein significance the moment it is in the tub. Check the packaging and the nutritional values as the best brands and manufactures will clearly state the percentage of protein. If no information is given then it is quite possibly a low grade protein powder that is not worth the investment.
- Protein in grams (g) per gram of protein powder. In terms boxing you may have heard the term the pound for pound best boxer and it is exactly the same as protein powders. So how much protein are you getting exactly in per gram of powder. The higher the grams of protein the higher per grams of powder the benefit. Most brands advertise “Xg” of protein per 30g a scoop and some advertise it per 100g as the protein grams appear higher but when calculated to 30g it is actually less. Watch out for this little marketing trick.
Whey Isolate vs Whey Concentrate
What is better whey isolate or whey concentrate?
Whey concentrate has a approximate protein content of around 80% where compared to whey protein isolate the content is roughly around like 90% and above.
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The quality difference between whey isolate and concentrate is down to how they are processed. Whey isolate undergoes a process of cross-flow micro-filtration which involves the separation of protein from fat, cholesterol and lactose.
The purpose of this process it to extract a purer protein as the end product. Hence whey isolate is typically regarded as the better whey protein. So arguably the best muscle building supplement could well be whey isolate.
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Casein in some what similar to whey as this protein is derived from milk as is often referred to as milk protein. For sport purposes there is no about extraordinary benefits that whey protein offers. Casein protein is also another incredibly protein powder. This particular protein isn’t as talked about as whey but the benefits are really impressive especially for those that do not put on muscle easily.
As a ‘hard gainer’ myself I struggled putting on muscle and even weight. Milk protein has helped me achieved great results as I notice something about my body. I was naturally an ectomorph yet I ate huge amounts of food. I wasn’t man vs food hungry but I did eat a lot for my small frame.
As bad it sounds I had plenty of junk food like fast foods such as our British classic ‘fish and chips’ but I barely put on any muscle. Casein protein however helped me do it. Casein protein has a unique ability to feed you protein at a slow rate. When you drink casein protein it literally drip feeds you for around 7 hours. (Feeding your muscles constantly and slowly for 7 hours)
Casein is the opposite of whey protein. Whey equals fast absorption and casein equals slow absorption. Two incredible muscle building supplements and used appropriately these two supplements become fundamental for building muscle.
I am naturally a hungry person and I can never sleep on an empty stomach so drinking milk protein was ideal. It was quick and effective. Before this shake I would wake up each morning feeling deflated and of course hungry.
Drinking a casein shake (milk protein shake) before going to sleep to this day, makes my muscles feel more full and make me less hungry when getting up from bed in the morning.
Casein/milk protein is highly recommended for people that find it difficult to put on muscle and weight. If you are struggling to pack on muscle give casein a go.
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What is Creatine and the Benefits?
Research proves that creatine is extremely effective in high-intensity training and explosive activities. Sports such as football, basketball, rugby, American football, sprinting and weight training.
Creatine is a naturally found in our bodies and it is in fact crucial in one of our energy systems that our body uses. Without getting into a biology lecture on the topic the human body has 3 energy systems.
- Aerobic system relies on constant oxygen to the muscles (marathon). So jogging, rowing any activity that is slow long in duration.
- The Creatine Phosphate system is called upon for high-intensities and explosive activities (sprinting/powerlifting).
- The Lactate system can be seen as the system that is in between the following two energy systems.
The creatine phosphate system uses energy stored within the muscles. Creatine phosphate and ATP are the energy sources. Consuming creatine supplementation increases the performance longevity of the intense activity.
Athletes and bodybuilders know the ability that creatine has on their performance hence creatine is a big part of their supplementation. Creatine is also found naturally in meats and fish.
Creatine is easily makes it top 2 as the best muscle building supplement. Serious athletes and bodybuilders use them. In fact creatine has become so popular within the fitness industries that is a common supplement for the average gym goer.
Quality of Creatine
To keep it brief and sweet when purchasing creatine only buy creatine monohydrate or kre-alkalyn which are high quality source of creatine. With creatine monohydrate it is best to use the creatine on cycle. You do not want to be using all year round as it may damage kidneys as some people say. Drink plenty of water and use around 5g of creatine a day.
With kre-alkalyn it is more of a buffered form of creatine but you will still need to drink plenty but it is possible to use all year round unlike creatine monohydrate, however monohydrate does make you pack on more size (majority of the weight gained is water retention).
Supplements That Are Overrated or Not Needed
From time to time you hear stories of sport professionals get banned from an event due to using pre workouts. This is due to the sports professional not being aware that some pre workout powders add extra ingredients that are stronger and more intense. This has led to many disqualifications as a result of some ingredient being an unnatural performance enhancer.
We are not saying to not use pre workout shakes as there might something unnatural in there but do check the ingredients carefully.
We recommend not drinking pre workout shakes too regularly as they are filled with sugar and contain large amounts of caffeine. In actual fact in today’s modern society we consume far too much caffeine from coffees, espressos, soft drinks/sodas and red bull. There are far too many coffee shops like Starbucks and other franchise coffee shops. So why would need additional caffeine?
Caffeine does increase brain activity which does wake you up but it also elevates your blood pressure. Train without the use of pre-workouts if possible.
Personally myself I have never relied on pre workouts in the years of training. If one day for example you feel extremely tired (not due to lack of sleep) and it may cause you to skip a workout then by all means have a pre workout.
Best advice if you are feeling low on energy have drink of coffee which is a more natural way to consume caffeine.
At the end of the day if consuming a pre workout gets you into the gym then at least you have some consistency with your training. However do not rely on pre workouts to supply you with short lived energy prior to working out. Do not make it a habit. too much caffeine and sugar isn’t great for your health.
Brain chain amino acids can be extremely beneficial for those lacking vital amino acids within their daily diets. Vegetarians and vegans are more prone to this.
There are 20 amino acids in total however there are 9 essential amino acids that the body needs to promote good health. These 9 amino acids are important as when obtained through food then the body can synthesise the remaining 11.
These are the 9 amino acids: phenylalanine methionine tryptophan threonine lysine isoleucine leucine valine histidine
Food sources that contain them are called complete protein food such as animal based food such as fish and meat. Plant based food lack the essential amino but experts claim that some such as soy, buckwheat and quinoa are also complete protein foods.
If you eat enough animal based food then BCAAs are not really required and in some sense a waste of your money.
BCAAs are more useful for vegans and vegetarians as they can find it harder to obtain the full range of amino acids. Also people training for sports and bodybuilders looking to get on stage can benefit greatly as it ensures you are consuming all amino acids.
Weight Gaining Powders
Be careful with the use of weight gain powders as they are overly packed with carbohydrates which is not good in one go. Consuming more calories is essential when gaining weight but drinking these type of shakes have unnecessary amounts of carbs and sugars.
For some they may help you increase a bit of weight but it will be predominantly be excess fat in the gut area.
Artificial sweeteners are something that should be avoided. Brands such as Splenda and Sweet ’N Low should be limited or not used at all.
The reason why sweetness are around is because of the known fact that sugar is detrimental to health. Sugar is bad for your teeth, it makes you fat and causes many health problems.
Artificial sweeteners were introduced to substitute sugar. Sweeteners have not been around long enough for clinical studies to show any critical side effects. The sad truth is artificial sweeteners are found in our foods everywhere like yogurt, soft drinks and our protein powders.
It is almost impossible to avoid them completely and what we recommend is to take supplements like protein powders moderately. Once or twice a day is fine, just do NOT over do it and make sports supplements your main source of food.
Stick to whey protein, creatine and casein powders. These 3 are the only true supplements that you need to help you achieve that impressive physique. These 3 are the best muscle building supplements.
Along with these supplements make sure you eat proper meals with high amounts of protein, vegetables and carbohydrates.