Since I began training back in the late 1980’s the world of sports supplements has changed immensely! Liver tabs, brewer’s yeast, liquid amino acids, Anabolic Mega Paks, and chalk-like protein powders have been replaced by shelves and shelves of the latest pills, powders and potions put out by dozens of different manufacturers, each looking for the next big seller. Some of these products are actually based on real science…some, theoretical science…some, pseudo science…and others, no science at all (unfortunately). Regardless, consumers spend millions upon millions of dollars every year in hopes of finding a magic bullet toward massive muscle gains and faster fat loss. In fact, the subject of supplementation has become so big that it is often discussed with more passion and energy than proper training or dietary strategy! For proof, stop by just about any bodybuilding discussion board on the net and see which forum is the busiest.
As a natural pro bodybuilder and contest prep coach myself, I certainly see great value in supplementation. However, I feel that today, the majority of young bodybuilders coming up have lost their way. There is nothing, and I mean nothing you can buy at a GNC or Vitamin Shoppe (or even a pharmacy) that can replace a solid training and diet program! Just look at some of the great physiques of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, before any supplements (and even steroids) were available, and you will see some guys so massive and strong that they would easily blow away most guys at any gym in your town.
So, what is my point here? Well, it is twofold. First, before investing any of your hard earned cash on the newest Hardcore Mega Cryogenic Monsterbolic Nitro Juice powder, make sure you are eating 5-7 well-designed meals per day, working with an effective and progressive weight training program, and getting a decent amount of sleep every night. Second, start with the tried-and-true supplements that have been producing results in labs, gyms and on the field for decades, such as multivitamin/minerals, essential fatty acids, BCAA’s, creatine, glutamine, antioxidants, whey protein, and beta alanine. These things will form the foundation of progress 7 days per week, 365 days per year. Then, once “your base” is solidly and consistently in place, feel free to experiment with some of the newer and more specialized products on the market. Train hard, eat right, rest well, and exercise…a little supplement sanity!
Justin Edwards: JE
Eric Broser: EB
JE: When it comes to protein powders, which is best, whey, egg, soy, casein, or a mix or altogether something else?
EB: For pre and post workout I feel straight whey is best. Before bed, casein is best. At other times of day a mixture of whey, egg and casein is my preference.
JE: If a whey protein powder is isolate or made of concentrate should it make a difference? Should you opt for the cheaper or is the typically higher priced isolate worth the cost?
EB: If you have the money and/or are a serious competitor go with an isolate if possible. If you are just trying to get big or lift to stay in shape, a concentrate is just fine.
JE: Out of the list of supplements you mentioned that are tried and true, which one gets left out in the cold the most and should be one every bodybuilder uses?
EB: Glutamine has gotten a bad rap by many “experts” in the industry, but I feel it is one of the most important supplements an athlete/bodybuilder can take.
JE: Pick one, the most overrated supplement of all time?
EB: “Nitric Oxide Boosters.”
JE: Pro hormones, derivatives of anabolic steroids, yet chemically altered to be made legal to sale. Many of these have been proven to work when it comes to gaining muscle and losing body fat, it has also made a huge impact on the supplement market. Is there a place for them in a bodybuilders supplement bag? Or is it a waste of time and money?
EB: Sure there is a place for them if you are not a “natural” bodybuilder. Some OTC PH’s are just as effective as illegal steroids, but also just as harmful