The best supplements for bodybuilders and powerlifters

This was written for a bodybuilding fitness discussion forum, today’s discussion is about

There are different supplements that you should look at adding to your diet to continue to build and maintain your muscles. These can be found in mixtures or on their own with different brand names, but they still work the same way.


Creatine is naturally found in the body, and is created in the muscle cells, primarily in the skeletal muscle tissues. The body uses creatine for energy production and the modulation of the energy. Most athletes take creatine when they are bodybuilding, due to the rapid pace which muscle mass is built. It is also easy to stop taking creatine, as it’s naturally produced in the body. It takes between 3 to 4 weeks for the levels of creatine in the body to return to normal.

Whey Protein

Many body builders and their trainers use whey protein shakes or supplements when they are trying to improve their performance and gain muscle mass. Whey protein supplies the body with high levels of protein to jump-start the body’s ability to create muscle gain. Whey protein is normally consumed before and after a person’s workout, to increase the synthesis of protein and to help with the muscle recovery times.

Branched-chained Amino Acids (BCAA)

Another supplement that many weight trainers and bodybuilders use is branched-chained amino acids (BCAA). BCAA’s are used to improve the results of the workout. BCAA refers to leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which are three of the 20 amino acids found in the body. Like whey protein, BCAAs drive nutrients to your muscle tissues, creating an improved workout recovery time.


Beta-alanine is a natural occurring non-essential amino acid, and is found in foods rich in protein like poultry. The best Beta-alanine is used as a performance enhancer is that it increases the level of carnosine in the muscles. The increased levels of beta-alanine may cause the levels of carnosine to rise over 60 percent in around four weeks. The increase of carnosine in the muscles can delay the onset of muscle fatigue and failure.


Glutamine is known for its ability to slow down the breakdown of muscle tissues during a workout. The slowing of the breakdown of tissue can improve strength threshold and rise muscle endurance. Those who are weight training and taking Glutamine may find they are able to lift more weight for longer time periods, and are able to train more often. The preservation of the muscle tissue also allows you to burn more fat than normal, the more lean mass your body has, the higher your metabolism becomes.

Testosterone Boosters

Testosterone-boosting supplements are cocktails of various herbs or extracts that are said to increase testosterone production in the human body. Marketed to male weight lifters, the claims found on the label are the stereotypical claims associated with steroid usage.

Testosterone boosters are in an odd position. There are numerous herbs (fenugreek, Bulbine Natalensis) or molecules (D-Aspartic Acid, vitamin D, DHEA) that do appear to work, but the increases are quite small relative to testosterone injections, and these studies do not actually measure muscle mass gain over time. More importantly, there are an astounding number of things marketed to increase testosterone with no apparent consistency in what works and what doesn’t. Even then, libido enhancers (sole purpose is to make you hornier) are very commonly put into testosterone boosters to make you feel like they’re working; the most popular T-booster, Tribulus terrestris, is evidence of this. People often confuse increased libido with an increase in testosterone, but the two can be independent of each other.

Fish oil

Fish oil, for athletes, is most frequently used to reduce joint pain and inflammation and to allow for faster recovery. It is commonly followed up by studies showing that NSAIDs (the other choice for reducing soreness) hinder muscle growth in youth, while fish oil can theoretically increase glucose uptake and enhance leucine signaling in muscle tissue.

The joint health and inflammation issue is well known and researched, and does appear to exist. Fish oil dose-dependently reduces soreness and inflammation, and this appears to be secondary to a slight immunosuppressive effect. Although there is not as much evidence for the muscle-building claim, it is potentially true as well. Relative to people without dietary fish oil, those with inclusion of fish oil appear to have enhanced leucine signaling (and muscle-protein synthesis from amino acids) and increased glucose uptake into muscle cells. There are no current studies that assess actual muscle growth (rather, they measure fractional synthesis rates over a few hours) so while it cannot be claimed that fish oil builds muscle, it does seem possible.