What Supp?

Jump into the sport of bodybuilding and you’ll quickly find out that supplementation is the number one accessory to your workouts and your bodybuilding goals. Most of us can easily drop a solid c-note at our local supp shop in hopes to build muscle, stay shredded, and lift heavier. However, before the next monthly shopping spree, let’s take a look at some of the top bodybuilding supplements to make sure we’re getting the most bang for our buck!

Whey Protein

What is it:
Whey protein is a by product of the cheese making process. When certain enzymes are added to milk, the milk separates into two constituent parts called curds and whey. The curds go on to make cheese while the leftover liquid whey protein gets pasteurized and dried into a powder. The powder is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all 20 amino acids and all 9 essential amino acids in amounts that are proportional to the human body’s needs.

When to use it:
Whey protein can be used to supplement any other protein source throughout the day. It is also ideal for a post workout meal simply because it is a quick and easy way to get an adequate amount of protein and amino acids.

Why use it:
Staying within and on top of your macros is important when trying to bulk up or lean out. For some, reaching the protein goal may be difficult. When this occurs, whey protein is an excellent means to boost your daily intake. Also, consuming protein after a workout has been shown to slow down the catabolic process and even help to build and retain muscle.

Casein

What is it:
Casein, like whey, is another protein derived from milk. The big distinction between the two milk proteins is that unlike whey, a fast digesting protein, casein is a slow digesting protein. Casein is the most abundant protein in milk and is relatively insoluble until it forms structures called micelles that increase solubility in water. During the processing of milk, which usually involves heat or acid, the casein peptides and micelle structure become disturbed or denatured to form simpler structures. As a result, a gelatinous material is formed. This is the basis for why casein has a slower rate of digestion and results in a slow but steady release of amino acids into circulation.

When to use it:
Casein is a protein best used prior to periods of fasting. Between meals and before bed is an excellent time to consume casein.

Why use it:
Because of its slow rate of digestion, casein consistently releases of amino acids over a long period of time. This can lead to muscle retention, muscle growth, and fat loss. Casein is the perfect protein for bedtime shakes and meals because it promotes a sustained anti-catabolic environment while you sleep.

BCAAs

What is it:
The acronym BCAAs stands for branched-chain amino acids. These particular amino acids are essential nutrients that must be consumed because the body cannot naturally synthesize them from other amino acids. BCAAs typically come in a standalone powder but can be found in various other bodybuilding supplements. There are three branched-chain amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

When to use it:
The most critical time to take them is around workouts. Pre and post workout supplements should contain 5 to 10 grams of BCAAs. Drinking them upon waking up can also be useful in the sense that it can stop the catabolic process that occurs during sleep due to fasting.

Why use it:
Branched-chain amino acids have a wide range of benefits. They can stimulate protein synthesis, reduce catabolic effects, aid in fat loss, and delay workout fatigue. This is particularly good during cutting season when the body stays in a consistent deficit for a long period of time. The body begins to use its resources to sustain energy. Adding BCAAs to your drinking water can help to ensure that the energy your body breaks down and uses does not come from your hard earned gains.

Fish Oil

What is it:
Fish oil can be obtained by eating fish or by taking supplements. The beneficial oil is known as omega-3 fatty acids and is derived from the tissues of oily fish such as mackerel, herring, tuna, salmon, cod liver, whale blubber, and seal blubber. Two of the most important omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

When to use it:
Because of the rate of digestion of fats, most recent research suggests that taking fish oil in the evening is the best way to go. Fatty acid supplements like fish oil can cause gastric distress and indigestion when consumed immediately prior to a big workout. To avoid this, taking them with your last meal of the day can reduce fishy burps and allow for an adequate amount of time for absorption without issues.

Why use it:
A lot of the benefits of fish oil seem to come from the omega-3 fatty acids that it contains. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce pain and swelling, increase mood, lower cholesterol, reduce the stiffness in joints, improve blood flow, enhance recovery, and support overall bone health.

Creatine

What is it:
Creatine is a naturally-occurring amino acid that is found in meat and fish and also made by the human body in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. In the muscles, creatine is converted into creatine phosphate or phosphocreatine and stored, later to be used for energy.

When to use it:
There has been a lot of debate on whether it is best to take creatine prior to a workout or post-workout. In 2013 a study found that, although there was not a significant difference, taking creatine post work showed a slightly higher effect on lean muscle gains and muscle strength.

Why use it:
Supplementing creatine raises phosphocreatine levels in the muscle which can result in an increase in muscle mass, strength, and athletic performance, particularly during high-intensity, short-duration exercises such as lifting weights. Not all human studies show that creatine improves athletic performance, though. Also, not every person seems to respond the same way to creatine supplements. Those who tend to have naturally high stores of creatine in their muscles don’t get an energy boosting effect from the extra creatine.

Glutamine

What is it:
Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in the body. It is produced in the muscles and is distributed by the blood to the organs that need it.

When to use it:
It’s important to note that glutamine should not be taken at the same time as creatine or another muscle building supplement. These supplements compete with one another for absorption by the body and decrease the likelihood that they will be effective. Aside from that, the best times to take glutamine is in the morning, after a workout, and at night before bedtime.

Why use it:
Glutamine plays a key role in protein metabolism, cell volumizing, and anti-catabolism. It has also been known to increase the body’s ability to secrete human growth hormone, which helps metabolize body fat and support new muscle growth.

Beta-Alanine and Carnosine

What is it:
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid. Non-essential amino acids can be made by the body, so they don’t have to be consumed with our foods. It is also the building block of carnosine, a molecule that helps buffer acid in muscles, increasing physical performance in the 60–240-second range. Another notable characteristic of beta-alanine is the “tingle” felt after consuming pre-workout.

When to use it:
If you take pre-workout, you might already be consuming beta-alanine before workouts. If you do not take pre-workout or your pre-workout does not contain the ingredient, prior to a workout is the recommended time to take it since it can provide an acute stimulating effect.

Why use it:
Beta-alanine is used for improving athletic performance and exercise capacity, building lean muscle mass, and improving physical function. It does this, in part, by increasing the carnosine concentration in our body.

Conclusion

Supplements are a great accessory for our workouts and bodybuilding goals. Whether we’re  consuming whey protein or getting the tingles from our beta-alanine, one thing is for certain, its all about timing. Knowing when to take certain supplements increases their effectiveness and helps us to get big, lean out, or lift heavy in an efficient manner. It also ensures that we don’t literally piss away our money. Certain supplements that are not absorbed will pass through our system and be excreted in a matter of hours. Now that we know how to save money and make gains, only one question remains. What supp will you take?

Whey protein scoop. Sports nutrition.
Whey protein scoupe. Sports nutrition.

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