Bodybuilding: Supplementation For Better Performance

Supplements to Grow & Thrive In and Out of the Gym!

Bodybuilding: Supplementation For Better Performance

Supplements to Grow & Thrive In and Out of the Gym!
Bodybuilding: Supplementation For Better Performance
Author Writter Image By: John Stamatopoulos

A concise article on the importance of good supplementation for the hard training bodybuilder (Competitive or Not)!

Today I will talk the importance of supplements.

Many people have argued with me about if a bodybuilder that does not want to compete, should he use supplements or not. Most of them believe that a natural bodybuilder should never use any kind of supplement, and the only supplements that they can use are through food and natural fruit juices. But if you want to be a better bodybuilder you can not count only on them. The reasons are many, but let me just report a few of them.

Of course there are hundreds of different supplements on the market today that more or less enhance performance. It would be quite impossible to analyze all of them, even though this will be a "two-part" article. I will talk only about the best ones this week, and the very good ones in next week.

Also, since most bodybuilders that want to train naturally can not afford a fortune every month in order to get the "perfect" supplementation, I will report only for the supplements that can help you be much better, without paying "an arm and a leg".

The Supplements

Multivitamin /Mineral Formulas - Learn More

Many people underestimate the importance of them. They think that since you can not get 10 pounds of muscle, it is useless to take them. But here is something very important. If your body is deficient in just one of the essential vitamins and minerals over a thousand chemical and enzymatic processes in your body could be impaired. Each and every vitamin and mineral is responsible for thousands of biochemical reactions, including the formation of hormones. Bottom line? If you don't use a good multivitamin and mineral formula you will never reach your fullest potential.

Extra Antioxidants - Learn More

As I said before, using a good multivitamin/formula can help you to reach your fullest potential. But unfortunately, in order to give your body the extra anti-oxidant protection, you need an even bigger consumption of 4 basic vitamins, and 1 mineral. Again it is impossible to get the right amount that you need, even if you eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

I will analyze each one of them very briefly and remember that maybe they work better in bigger quantities but always avoid mega doses. Also it's very important that many scientific studies of these vitamins, have shown possible anti-cancerous activities.

When should you take multivitamin/minerals and extra antioxidants? Simply take your multivitamin/mineral formula first thing in the morning, and IMMEDIATELY after your weight training, take one multivitamin/mineral plus your extra antioxidants. On the days you don't train, take only one serving of vitamin/mineral formula in the morning, and in the afternoon take your antioxidant protection.

Creatine - Learn More

For many people this is the number one supplement and thats due to its quick-resulting size and strength gains. Many people that have used creatine for the first time have experienced 10 pounds in only one week, having at the same time noticably larger muscles. And one very good "plus" of creatine, is that it is very safe. (If you don't have of course any pre-existing problem with your liver or kidneys).

Creatine is a compound that's naturally made in our bodies to supply energy to our muscles. It is formed from the amino acids "Glycine-Methionine-Arginine". It is manufactured in the liver and it can also be produced in the pancreas and kidneys. Once creatine is bound to a phosphate group, it is permanently stored in a cell as phosphocreatine until it is used to produce chemical energy called adenosise triphosphate (ATP).

Increased creatine levels in the muscle help optimize energy turnover so that you have more energy for high intensity exercise and faster recovery, during and after workouts. The richest source of creatine is meat, but unfortunately you have to consume more than 10 pounds of red meat per day in order to get just 4-5 gr of creatine. Since that is impossible you have to take creatine through supplements. There are many different types of creatine available on the market. There is Powdered Creatine, Micronized powdered, Creatine Plus Potentiators (ie with dextrose), Effervescent Creatine, and Creatine available in capsules, tablets, liquid, or chewable.

Also there are other different forms of creatine, such as Creatine Phopsphate, Creatine Citrate, and new Creatine Pyruvate, but personally I believe the best form is Creatine Monohydrate.

Finally, remember that creatine belongs to the supplements that you should be cycled on a yearly basis because it requires your liver and kidneys to work at their highest level. The safest way to use it is to have a cycle of eight weeks of using it, followed by four weeks off.

Recommended dosage:

For the first 5 days, take 20gr seperated by 4 equal doses of 5gr each (Pre loading phase). The best times are a)when you wake up b)30 min before your lunch c)after your training, and d)before you go to sleep. One important note: On the first 5 days that you don't train, take one 5gr dose at the time you wake up, and after that, every 4 hours (having always the last dose before you go to sleep). From the sixth until your last day, start using only 5gr every day. (Maintenance phase). Always take 5gr IMMEDIATELY after your training, and at the days you don't train take 2.5gr (half a tea spoon), when you wake up, and another 2.5gr before you go to sleep. (If you don't take at the same time L-Glutamine, or if you do, take your last Creatine dosage before your dinner).

L-Glutamine - Learn More

Also a very "famous" supplement. It's the most abundant amino acid in our muscle tissue. It comprises 61% of the amino acid pool in skeletal muscle. Glutamine alone is responsible for 35% of the nitrogen that gets into the muscle cell. Glutamine drives muscle building nitrogen into the muscle cell where it is synthesized for growth. Glutamine is a key factor in muscle growth, and controlling the skeletal muscle/whole body glutamine gradient is critical in maintaining and building muscle tissue. The higher the muscle glutamine levels you can maintain, the less chance you have of falling into catabolism and the faster muscle will grow. And last but not least, it is very important for immune function.

As you understand, Glutamine is a very important "cutting-edge" supplement. Many scientific studies have said that it works. So in order to become better (bigger), you should use supplementary L-Glutamine. The best part about Glutamine, is that it is not toxic at all, even in high consumption. Also you don't have to cycle it. Everything looks fine for Glutamine consumption, but you have to take care something. Glutamine will not work good at all if you take it at the same time when you are going through your Creatine cycle. I will explain why.

Creatine and Glutamine depend on many of the same substrate carriers and cotransporters. When the two are competing with one another for the same carriers, one wins and one loses. Let's say for example you have a molecule of sodium (sodium is a carrier for both glutamine and creatine) available to carry a molecule of creatine or glutamine into the muscle cell. Well it's only going to attach to one of them. It's not going to carry both. Therefore one is out of luck and thus will perform some other possibly mundane task or just get excreted as waste.

Recommended dosages:

So having always in mind that you should take Glutamine at different times of Creatine (2 hours distance is fine), 5-10gr per day seems to work very good for many people. Of course you might hear that you need much bigger dosages but l think after some point, whatever you take (l am not talking only about L-Glutamine), is counterproductive. The best times of the day to take it, are 5gr just before you go to sleep, and again 5gr before your training (optionally).

MRP's (Meal Replacements) - Learn More

As I said in my previous article, only protein can build muscle. But you should eat the right food in order to get the amount of the protein you need, otherwise if you eat a high protein meal, but it has also many calories from fat it is counterproductive. Of course there are foods that are high in protein and low in fat, such as chicken and turkey breasts, tuna, or extra lean beef. But how many meals of them you can eat every day without getting bored? One? Two? Three? Maybe even four? The point is that you should eat at least 5-6 good nutritional meals every day. And also:

And if some of you are saying that they won't eat junk food and they wait till they go home to eat, don't forget that since it's very good to eat every 2-3 hours every day in order to keep your insulin levels in positive nitrogen balance, and to increase your muscle mass, it would be very counterproductive if you ate nothing and just wait after breakfast to eat again after 7-8 hours.

That's where MRP's take place. Most of them taste delicious,and have no fat. They provide 100% of the necessary vitamins, minerals and amino acids that your bodies need, they have very low cholesterol, and they are very convenient since you can take them anywhere. Also at the crucial point after your weight training, they are better than regular food since they are getting absorbed and digested in your bodies faster. (Having as a pioneer the whey protein powder).

Recommended dosage:

The recommended dosage depends of many parameters such as what kind of protein powder you use (how big of a concentration the protein contains), what is your primary purpose (get bigger, or leaner), and how many grams of protein you are consuming with the other regular meals of the day. I won't talk about quantities but about servings. So the best time to take your MRP's (except when you are out of your house and you can not have anything better to eat), is IMMEDIATELY after your weight training, and before you go to sleep. And about with what to mix: either with water, milk or fruit juice.


So far I've talked about the importance of the right supplementation and also what supplements work best for you in order to be a better bodybuilder without paying a fortune. So far I said that a good multivitamin/mineral formula, with the addition of extra anti-oxidants, Creatine, L-Glutamine and >Meal Replacement Powders, you can feel secured that your supplementation program is very good. But what other supplements can make you an even better bodybuilder? That's what we are going to discuss today.

HMB (Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate) - Learn More

It is a metabolite of the amino acid "leucine". It appears to upgrade the body's natural potential to build muscle and burn fat by minimizing the muscle tissue breakdown that occurs after all intense exercise sessions.

In one study that was published in the "Journal of Applied Physiology", it was revealed that athletes who supplemented their diets with 3 grams of HMB a day, for only three weeks, gained three times as much lean body mass and experienced an increase in strength two and a half times greater than test subjects who followed the same workout program but used a placebo.

Also another very good plus, is HMB is very safe and nontoxic. (You don't need to cycle it). Despite many people's belief that HMB does not work, HMB has been extensively studied and has been found to have a very consistant, positive effect on protein metabolism. The reason that some people believe that HMB does not work is because as with most supplements, it can not work for the 100% of the population. It's effectiveness is around 70% for the people that try it.

Recommended dosage:

3 grams per day.


Ribose is a naturally occurring energy metabolite found in all cells of the body. It plays a vital role in myocardial and skeletal muscle metabolism through it's participation in the synthesis of ATP and other adenine nucleotides. Research indicates that supplementing with Ribose is an effective way to increase energy levels (ATP) within the muscle cell, enhance muscular performance, and aid in recovery after high intensity exercise. Ribose is a wondrously effective nutrient for increasing energy, maintaining normal function of the heart and skeletal muscles, and keeping energy levels high and performance at its peak.

Recommended dosage:

3 to 5 grams per day should be enough to maintain normal ATP levels. Serious competitors or individuals concerned about cardiovascular health may want to take more. 5 to 10 gram per day is appropriate. Start with the lower dose first, however, and move up if more seems necessary. Ribose has been found to be completely safe at these recommended dosages.

NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine)

N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is an altered form of the amino acid cysteine, which is commonly found in food and synthesized by the body. It has been shown to help increase glutathione levels by up to 500%. Research has shown that NAC supplementation virtually eliminates the exercise related changes in glutathione status by preventing the increase of oxidized glutathione in the blood.

Also, in one more study, the positive results were not just because of NAC's ability to scavenge free radicals but also its ability to support higher levels of Glutamine in the bloodstream, which aids in repairing damaged tissue. Something very interesting about NAC, it has been found that NAC supplements improved symptoms in individuals with bronchitis. Finally remember that NAC may increase urinary zinc excretion. Therefore, supplemental zinc and copper should be added when supplementing with NAC for extended periods.

Recommended dosage:

Take 600mg of NAC every day, divided in 2 seperated doses through the day. (So take two-300mg dosage, for better results).

EFA's (Essential Fatty Acids) - Learn More

Many of us have experienced very bad results when we wanted to diet hard, because we had eliminated fat from our diet as much as possible. We were thinking that since fat is bad, if we don't eat fat at all we will get leaner, right? Totally wrong! The more fat we refuse to eat, the more our testosterone levels drop, insulin function becomes impaired, muscle growth slows, and finally we run out of energy. What most of you don't know, is that there are good and bad fats around. Some fats are essential to life itself, not to mention that we need them in order to have optimal muscle and fat metabolism.

The fats that you should avoid are the saturated and the hydrogenerated, and these fats are responsible for problems like heart disease, cancer, and many more health problems. In contrast, Unsaturated and Poly saturated fatty acids are much healthier (solid evidence shows that eating EFA's will protect your most important muscle, your heart), and those are the ones you should ALWAYS consume when you are dieting.

The essential fatty acids are the omega-3 (linoleic) and omega-6 (linolenic) fatty acids. These nutrients can maximize athletic performance in various ways and are useful supplements for anyone with a physically active lifestyle. Omega-3 (linoleic) fatty acids are found in abundance in flaxseed oil and fish oils. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in many vegetable oils (such as black currant seed, borage, flaxseed, walnut, chestnut and soy), and are especially abundant in evening primrose oil.

So if you want to diet right, you need EFA's. One last note: Remember that if you want OPTIMAL health and athletic performance, you need to consume the right proportion of omega-6s to omega-3s, up to approximately five times more omega-6s than omega-3s.

Recommended dosage:

Take 5-8gr of omega-6s and 1-2gr from omega-3s. (Or take a supplement containing Alpha-Linolenic Acid (the parent of the omega-3 family).


Last but not least, I left maybe the most controversial supplement that exists on the market today. In many countries is not approved due to its "steroid like effects", and it's banned from any athletic organization that is under the guidance of the IOC (International Olympic Committee). So if you are a competitive athlete in any sport, and they have regular drug tests, forget this supplement.

Also the opinions of most people are totally split. Half of the people that have taken it, swear that it works like a mild steroid, and the rest believe that what you can get from it is only negative side effects and nothing good.

Without entering into details to say if it works 100% or not I will try to explain briefly all the forms of andros/nor andros and what they do to your body. Before I start, just remember that there are only two compounds that convert directly into testosterone in the body. These are Androstenedione and Androstenediol. Other substrates will convert into testosterone but not directly.


This was the first steroidal nutrient that hit the market almost 3 years ago. When you take androstenedione it is converted into testosterone by a natural enzyme in the body. Once converted into testosterone or nortestosterone in your body, you may get the numerous muscle-building and recovery effects testosterone provides through its various pathways.


4-androstenediol, like androstenedione, is quite androgenic. Also noteworthy is the fact that 4-androstenediol probably has some inherent intrinsic anti-catabolic value. (This means that it doesn't have to convert into anything for it to be active and that it can be considered to have true hormone-like activity). It seems to work better than Androstenedione.


It seems to work a little better than 4-Androstenediol. The benefit to 5-Androstenediol is it may exert anabolic effects in its unconverted state. This means that it might not have to be converted into testosterone to have an anabolic effect on muscle tissue. This is very significant because a large portion of all pro-hormone substrates go unconverted in the body. With 5-Androstenediol, this unconverted portion may be anabolic in muscle tissue.


19-Norandrostenedione, supports nortestosterone production. Nortestosterone is a highly anabolic hormone but is considered low androgenic. It seems also to work pretty good without experiencing the negative side effects.


19-Norandrostenediol is an isomer of norandrostenedione. It converts into nortestosterone via enzyme conversion just like the other nor-andro products. What is very interesting about this steroidal nutrient, is that it seems to be the best in terms of safety and effectiveness. A study that held in late 50s, determined it to be a highly effective anabolic compound on the same order as nortestosterone. The patent describes this steroid as a relatively weak androgenic agent. It is of special value in human (and in veterinary therapy) because of its high degree of activity in promoting nitrogen anabolism. This compound also has anti-estrogenic properties.

Recommended dosages for andros/norandros:

At first I want to say that any steroidal nutrient can not be totally safe. It seems that Nor-Diol works the best with the minumum side effects but if you decide to take them do it at your own risk. Read very carefully the warnings that every pro-hormone product writes at its label. So if you decide to try them, I repeat, it would be at your own risk. So for all the forms that I described above, DO NOT exceed 500-600mg at most per day. Personally, I think that you are fine if you use only 200-300mg per day, divided in two or three equal 100mg doses every day, or only one dose for some supplement companies that produce andros having 300mg per capsule.

Anything more than 500-600mg will not produce better results, but in contrast, it might put you in greater danger for any possible negative side effects. Also, if you want to stack different andros in order to get better results, that might be good, but remember never exceed the 500-600mg point. So take 100-200mg when you wake up, and again, another 100-200mg dosage, 30-40 min before you train.

Remember that you should always cycle andros. The best cycle seems to be 6-8 weeks on, 3-4 weeks off.

Also on your non-training days, remember again that it is very important to take supplements as these are critical recovery days where your body may utilize the pro-hormone substrates and other nutrients for supporting muscle growth and repair. However, it's fine if you take only one serving every day since you are not putting your body in the same catabolic state that you do when you weight train. (That means to take half the dosage that you take on your training days).

Finally about the best form of andros available, I think capsules work the best since we don't have many scientific data that say that pro-hormones in liquid or time-released form, work better.

This was the end of my second part about supplements you can use in order to have even better performance. So far you know every supplement, dosages, and when you should take them in order to help you increase your performance and your muscle mass and what can help you achieve the great body that you always wanted.

Just remember to keep in mind, that no matter what supplements you take, if you don't eat 5-6 good nutritional meals every day, and if you don't sleep at least 7-8 hours every day, you won't experience great results. So use supplements wisely.

Thank You

Tags: Athlete Nutrition Supplements Protein Creatine Amino Acids General Health

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