What Supplements Should I Take?



Understanding fact from fiction can be crucial to your health when it comes to supplements. We’ve all heard the pitch, “Get ripped in no time!” or “Burn fat the easy way!” Sounds pretty good right? Well, that all depends. Today’s vast array of health and fitness supplements can be mind numbing to navigate, and deciding what type of supplement is appropriate for your individual body and workout goals can be even harder. Supplements can be effective in helping you reach your goals, but they also have the potential to increase your heart rate and blood pressure, while others just don’t work. Before you pony up for another supplement, let’s take a closer look at a few of today’s most popular health and fitness supplements.

Protein powders

What are they?
Ingesting protein alone won’t build muscle. Your muscles need to be worked first at which point protein is effective in feeding muscles during your workout and will aid in the rebuilding process afterward. Ingesting more protein than your body needs will not provide any benefit, and can, in fact, put a great deal of stress on your liver and kidneys. Beyond repairing tissue, protein is also used in the development of hormones and enzymes that will aid in the development of blood, skin, bone, and cartilage. For this reason, protein is an effective and safe means of building body mass when taken in conjunction with a workout and it can also provide benefits to your total body fitness. Like any supplement, protein should be taken responsibly and in proper measure.

How to use them

The accurate amount of protein to ingest daily is one gram per each pound of body weight. Protein powders are typically mixed into shakes or juices and can be ingested at multiple points throughout the day -- no need to take it all at once. In the morning, protein can help take your body out of its catabolic state after sleeping. Taking protein before a workout will help feed your muscles throughout the workout and afterward protein will help the rebuilding process. Taking protein before going to sleep at night will help aid the rebuilding process even more since the most active reconstruction period occurs during rest.

Amino acids

What are they?
After protein is ingested it breaks down into amino acids. Amino acids are known as the building blocks of proteins and are responsible for the development of all of your body’s enzymes, including those responsible for digestion. Among aiding other crucial body functions, amino acids will also help in the repair and growth of muscles when taken in conjunction with your workout. Each of the commonly known amino acids have a specific function in the human body. They are categorized in two types: essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids are not produced naturally by your body and must come from food sources. Non-essential amino acids are produced naturally in your body.

How to use them

Although recommended doses vary, and dosage will depend on the type of amino acid, one-and-a-half grams of powder three times a day is a commonly sufficient quantity. To get optimal benefits from amino acids they should be taken before working out or after a workout to feed and repair muscles. Capsule form is recommended because heat and pressure are used when developing most tablets and this process can actually destroy amino acids. Choosing the right amino acid will depend on your fitness goals, however isoleucine, leucine and valine help promote muscle growth, while glutamine helps provide glucose to give your body energy.

Help your body rebuild with creatine and glutamine

Human growth hormone

What is it?
HGH or Human Growth Hormone is a hormone released naturally from your body via the pituitary gland which is located in the middle of the brain. HGH is responsible for several crucial body functions, including providing energy and developing and repairing muscle. Over the counter HGH supplements often claim to either contain HGH or help boost the production of HGH. The effectiveness of these supplements, however, is unproved and caution should be taken when you consider using any type of HGH. Furthermore, there have been reports of the potential for HGH supplements to promote cancer as well as other serious side effects. The reason that HGH has so much appeal is that Human Growth Hormone depletes in your body naturally approximately after age 30 and continues to deplete throughout the later stages of life. It’s thought that HGH can even deplete by up to 80%.

How to use it
HGH supplements are not recommended as there effects are unproved and have the potential for serious side effects. However, people do use them via prescribed injection, mouth sprays and herbal pills.


What is it?
The effects of creatine as a supplement are debated as the supplement has not been widely studied. However, many health professionals caution against the use of creatine. About 2 grams of natural creatine is produced in your liver, kidneys and pancreas everyday. Creatine is used to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) -- a molecule responsible for providing energy to your muscles. Additional creatine is usually obtained in your diet via meat or fish. When taking creatine supplements people will typically report gaining a few pounds of weight immediately, however this initial weight gain is water weight, not muscle. There have been studies that indicate increased athletic performance as well as increased strength, but it is unknown whether or not these side effects are purely psychological. Furthermore, creatine has been known to cause dehydration and in some cases there have been reports of side effects that include seizures, irregular heartbeat and cramping. Like the benefits of creatine, these side effects have not specifically been proved to be a direct result of ingesting the supplement.

How to use it
Based on the unproved facts and potential for side effects, the use of creatine is often cautioned against. Those who do take it use pills or mix creatine powder into water, juice or shakes. The proper dosage is not known and dosage directions have been reported in a wide variety.


What is it?
Glutamine is the amino acid that is produced in the highest quantity by your body. It is a non-essential amino acid -- meaning it can be produced naturally by the body through other amino acids. Glutamine is responsible for the development of the glucose that provides the body with energy. In addition, glutamine can help maintain muscle mass and aids the recovery from athletic training. Since glutamine is naturally produced by skeletal muscles, intensive athletic training has been thought to deplete glutamine levels when muscles are being worked. For this reason glutamine supplements are thought to be an effective means of replenishing glutamine levels for athletes who train hard.

How to use it
The proper doses of glutamine vary depending on who you ask; however, studies have shown that 5 grams after an intense workout then 5 grams two hours later have shown positive results. Other studies have shown that the body will easily tolerate at least 20 grams per day.

Know Your Body
As you can see, the supplement industry is riddled with variety and opinion. You’re going to run into a boatload of claims and hype by manufacturers prompting you to choose their product. Unfortunately, these claims are enabled by the fact that the FDA does not regulate fitness supplements the same way that it does medications. The best way to ensure that you’re taking the right supplements for your specific workout goals is to consult your physician or pharmacist, particularly if you are taking medication. This isn’t just your physique, it’s your health.

Bryan Tomek

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Defently should be a front

arm88's picture

Defently should be a front page post. People have to know this stuff before taking them. Awesome post.

Hey lots of helpful info. I

danmanxr's picture

Hey lots of helpful info. I tried Creatine only because other guys on football team did. I didn't see any difference takin it tho other swore they's all swole because of it. Frankly they didn't look different to me. If it's a placebo effect then it's damn expensive placebo.

Do you have a preference for protein supplements?

I go by what's on sale. I did start noticin that some have lots of sat fat and cholesterol. Our family got into low sat low cholesterol eating that lowered mom's cholesterol along with exercise. I notice some whey protein supps are low in cholesterol and try to buy those when I can.

another thing. I see lots of guys in college don't eat veggies. I know one guy who boasts he never eats veggies. I also learn that scurvy is on the rise on college campuses. That surprised me but now I see why.

You should do an article on scurvy.

The thing about Creatine is

dylan's picture

The thing about Creatine is that it doesn't work for everyone. For example a friend told me they got great results with it. I tried it myself and didn't notice anything. I tried No Xplode and that worked for me though.
Its all about your body type and how it accepts and rejects different chemicals, there is only one way to find out Eye-wink.

Well Dan
I would say this. Take a whey complex protein in the morning... this digests over a long periods of time (4 hours +). After a workout take Whey Isolate, it digests into your bloodstream almost instantly fueling the muscles with what they need.

-Dylan Hickey

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Dylan I think you're right

danmanxr's picture

Dylan I think you're right on different bodies reacting to Creatine (and other supps) different.

That's is a most great explanation on protein. Now I've got to buy 2 kinds of protein. Thanks a lot.

I love to keep learning stuff that's helpful.

Back to the supplement page.

danmanxr's picture

Back to the supplement page. Anything in the way of taking after a major workout to promote and speed recovery? I spent last Saturday night in a major full body workout that really challenged every muscle in my body. I drove make to school after break and I could feel my entire body. I woke up today and just lay in bed and felt like a truck ran over me.

I'm wondering if there are things I can do to minimize the recover beyond aspirin.

My inner biceps, thighs and abs are the most sore today. My butt is up there too so to speak.

Does anyone know what the

joshfrueh's picture

Does anyone know what the best Protein supp, is? One that what Increase "fattness" and increase only muscle build? I'm considering No xplode but am not sure, does anyone have a suggestion?

Hi Josh, No-xplode isn't a

justin's picture

Hi Josh,

No-xplode isn't a protein supplement. It's a nitric oxide reactor.

If your looking for a good protein supplement to build lean muscle, grab one that has low carbs per serving.

It all depends on what time of the day ur taking the protein shake, your diet, your fitness goals.
I personally like this one:

Hope this helps,

Just To Clarify, I am taking

NoahBadger21's picture

Just To Clarify, I am taking protein now and Glutamine as well. But At what points should I take the protein ? should I take an amount in the morning then after workout ? thats what I can get out of what was said above, but I was still unsure?

Noah A.

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I afresh heard an account with a doctor who is a able adherent of Krill oil over angle oil, which states that the allowances are abundant bigger and advantageous ingredients weight loss programs. Do you apperceive annihilation about this and what would be best to take?

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Derlierprossy's picture

I think sticking to the basics is the best idea. Beyond that, if your diet is nearly perfect, that’s the time you can put forth some honest effort into making a plan for yourself. Cookie cutter list of supplements to take is like giving cookie cutter financial advice. Most people LOSE. It may or may not pertain to them. They end up frustrated and upset. Hence, I make these recommendations for ME and me only. Not you. Re-read that this is for informational purposes only.

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I often get asked, What

Stampoo's picture

I often get asked, What supplements should I take to build muscle? You probably weren’t expecting to read this, but one of the best things for building muscle is not a supplement at all. If you want to gain muscle you need to eat a lot of good quality food high in protein with a moderate amount of complex carbohydrates and unsaturated fats.

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I often get asked, What

Stampoo's picture

I often get asked, What supplements should I take to build muscle? You probably weren’t expecting to read this, but one of the best things for building muscle is not a supplement at all. If you want to gain muscle you need to eat a lot of good quality food high in protein with a moderate amount of complex carbohydrates and unsaturated fats.

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