Proper supplementation is an important aid in achieving your health and fitness goals. Without proper supplementation you may risk losing muscle gains or could be missing out on your fat burning potential! With all of the supplements out there it can be confusing and overwhelming on which supplements to take to get the most bang for your buck! In this article I’ll provide you with suggestions for supplements that will benefit you whether your fitness goals include bulking or leaning.
During a bulk cycle the goal is to gain and maintain lean muscle while gaining as little fat as possible. There are several supplements that you can take to promote protein synthesis, maximize anabolic cell growth and increase strength and endurance. For bulking, I suggest the following key supplements:
During a bulking cycle, it is detrimental to lift heavy in order to break down the muscle for rebuilding lean mass. However, heavy lifting can be extremely damaging to your joints. Omega 3-6-9, along with a glucosamine chondroitin supplement such as Osteo-Bi-Flex™, is perfect for joint health and lubrication! These essential fatty acids also help reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer while aiding in muscle recovery, growth and fat loss simultaneously!
Omega 3-6-9 contains many anti-inflammatory properties, which will also help you recover faster and promote all the gains you have worked so hard for!
Casein protein supplementation is essential for bulking since it helps provide a small trickle of protein to your muscles over a long period of time. It keeps feeding your muscle through the day or night to aid in a slower, steadier, and more efficient release of casein’s amino acids. However, I wouldn’t suggest taking casein directly after your workout. Right after your workout you need a fast-digesting protein like Whey.
Casein can be taken in the morning, first thing upon waking, or at night before bed to ensure your muscles get fed all through the night while you sleep. This will ultimately help your gains by reducing protein breakdown and amino acid oxidization.
Waxy Maize (or other fast-acting carbs like simple sugar)
The most natural anabolic supplement you can take is Waxy Maize or simple sugar (sucrose) post-workout. However, to prevent converting this fast-digesting carbohydrate into fat it should only be taken directly after a heavy weightlifting session. Most nutritionists will suggest to intake approximately 0.5 grams of simple carbohydrates per pound of lean body mass.
Post-workout your simple sugar intake should be roughly double that of your whey protein intake to maximize the anabolic effect. This will help refill the glycogen storage in your muscles right after your heavy training session and kick-start the growth process (anabolism).
Creatine is essential for building lean muscle because it aids in protein synthesis, while minimizing protein breakdown. The debate is still out there on whether it’s best to take creatine pre- or post-workout. I personally take EFX Kre-Alkalyn™ post-workout to help aid in refueling my natural creatine storage after my muscles have been fully depleted from a heavy training session.
Not only does creatine aid in your gains for building lean muscle and promoting protein synthesis, it is also known to increase strength and endurance which help you prevent the fatigue that comes from intense workouts.
NO (Nitric Oxide) Dilator
NO dilators, taken with a pre-workout, are especially essential when bulking. They help increase oxygen and nutrient-rich blood flow to your muscles for a greater muscle pump. Increased blood flow will also aid in increased muscle recovery rates, reduce both mental and physical fatigue, enhance endurance during your workouts, increase energy, and increase glucose use in your muscles.
A lot of stacks and pre-workout formulas include nitric oxide, but I personally prefer an NO dilator with l-citrulline such as ProSupps NO3™ or ANS Dilate™. L-citrulline is an amino acid that converts into l-arginine and then nitric oxide. I feel less fatigued during my workouts because the l-citrulline significantly reduces the rate of lactic-acid buildup.
During a leaning cycle the goal is to maintain lean muscle while burning as much fat as possible. Although you’re expected to lose some muscle, you want to try to prevent losing too much! There are several supplements that you can take to prevent muscle catabolism, maximize amino acid utilization, and unleash your body’s natural fat burning potential!
For leaning, I suggest the following key supplements:
BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids)
BCAAs are the building blocks of protein. Most supplement products on the market contain these 4 key aminos from the group of essential amino acids: Lysine, Isoleucine, Leucine, and Valine. They are essential because they cannot be produced naturally by the body and must be ingested either through food or supplementation. By increasing your BCAA intake you can protect your precious muscle, providing an alternate source for amino acid utilization.
Fat burners and caffeine are extremely popular when leaning. They help provide you with the energy and focus that you need to get through your day (and especially your workout). When leaning, carbs and calories are significantly reduced. This robs the body of its ability to use your food intake as a natural source of energy. This is why many find fat burners and caffeine essential!
I suggest taking caution when using any fat burners or caffeine products. Everyone responds differently to caffeine and other fat-burning ingredients so it’s important to listen to your body.
Most fat burners shouldn’t be used for a period over 12 weeks before cycling off it. Also, they can pose potential health risks if you have heart conditions or other medical issues, so always be sure to do your research, read the labels, and check with your doctor to avoid serious side effects.
Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid. It is naturally produced in the body, however supplementing with glutamine to boost your natural levels can provide many health benefits when leaning. After a heavy training session, glutamine is significantly depleted.
By supplementing with glutamine you can assist your body metabolize protein, maximize cell growth, and reduce muscle catabolism. In addition to its benefits of maintaining your muscle, it provides immune support and maintains your intestine and bowel health!
CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)
CLA has become popular in recent years for its ability to burn fat while increasing lean body mass. Essentially, it is a fatty acid produced from high amounts of sunflower and safflower oil. When you take CLA it provides your body with free fatty acids to utilize as an energy source; by doing this it allows more free fatty acids to enter your bloodstream while exercising and thus you’ll be able to burn more fat! In order to make sure you’re maximizing the fat burning effects of CLA you should take at least 3.4 grams of CLA per day before your workout.
Whey protein isolate is probably the most familiar and widely used supplement in the health and fitness industry. But what is it? Whey protein contains several iron binding proteins, along with calcium, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B12, folic acid and biotin.
So how does that aid you in your fat loss goals? Whey protein not only provides you with essential amino acids and peptides, it also contains a highly efficient protein rate of absorption and processes through your stomach rapidly to aid in protein synthesis.
The key component that helps you burn fat is calcium! Calcium decreases accumulation of body fat by stimulating a parathyroid hormone in your body, promoting increased fat breakdown and energy partitioning from fat to lean. It also aids in promoting your body’s natural source of HGH (human growth hormone) to feed and maintain your hard-earned muscle!
In summary, proper supplementation is all about educating yourself; it’s about knowing your body and what your body needs to function properly. Using the recommendations above, along with exercise and a healthy diet, will help you maintain and build lean muscle while reducing unwanted body fat to promote your fitness goals!