Working Out With Supplements Vs Without Them

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Let’s go over how much of a difference it makes working out with supplements vs without them on gaining muscle/losing weight.

When I say supplements here I mean: Pre-Workouts, Protein Powder, BCAAs & stuff of that nature.

I’m not talking about steroids here.

Disclaimer: I’m not telling you to take any supplements. I’m mainly just telling you the difference I’ve noticed when taking them. Do your own research to see which supplements are right for you.

There is a dizzying array of bodybuilding supplements available in the market and it’s easy to misunderstand what they actually do. This segment will help clarify any misconceptions that you may have about common supplements.

How Much of A Difference Does A Pre-Workout Supplement Effect Your Workout

The difference between not having & having a pre workout supp can literally be a night/day difference on how well your workout goes or even if you work out at all.

It can be like how your morning goes with or without having your cup of coffee, (if you drink coffee that is).

First off the energy you get from it is usually what separates my going through the motions mentality on my workout or trying to at least hit the same weight/reps that I usually do.

Now this is just the energy side of a pre-workout, most of them these days have ingredients that focus on other things. I mentioned this under the pros/cons of a pre-workout supplement here.

A factor of this is are you taking anything before working out like coffee or an energy drink.

Obviously going from nothing to taking one is going to have a bigger effect on how much it impacts you. (Usually)

The crappy thing here is usually once someone sees how much a pre-workout supplement helps their workout, it becomes difficult to replicate that same motivation/energy without it.

Can You Still Make Muscle Gains Without A Whey Protein Shake Supplement

Absolutely, protein shakes are basically just that, protein.

So if you can get enough protein in from your meals then you should still be able to see muscle growth.

Timing consumption of protein also plays a part in muscle growth according to certain studies, so this is where you get a convenience factor of having a protein shake.

Also as much as we’re on the go nowadays it tends to be hard to be able to prepare your meals so that you can plan out to get enough protein in your diet.

This is also another major benefit of using protein powder.

So is a protein powder supplement required? No, but it definitely can help convenience wise.

Benefits:

  • Helps increase strength if consumed while performing exercises regularly.
  • May improve the growth of lean muscle mass
  • Due to its wide availability, is also an inexpensive source of high quality protein for building mass

To “build mass” is to reduce the body’s fat percentage while growing the muscles. In order to grow, muscles need food in the form of proteins and amino acids.

Whey protein can be taken before and after your workouts.

It’s a big no-no to starve yourself of protein when you’re attempting to build mass or even if you’re just trying to tone your body.

An increase in protein consumption is indicated for both males and females.

What About Other Supplements

Creatine – Creatine is an amino acid compound synthesized naturally by the body and is also present in beef, pork, poultry, veal and any other meat you can think of.

We can think of creatine as a catalyst of sorts, that improves the way the body transforms carbohydrates into energy.

Creatine interacts mainly with carbohydrates, which is just as essential as providing energy to the body.

The problem with creatine from the standpoint of medical science is that it seems to favor only the young and fit. It is less effective in aging bodybuilders.

People take creatine for two main reasons: to help build muscle mass and to improve the uptake of energy in the muscles.

What’s up with uptake?

Energy uptake determines the capacity of a muscle to perform a movement.

The higher and more effective the energy uptake, the more repetitions a muscle fiber can perform before it is worn down or has to rest for a period of time.

The bodybuilding industry promotes creatine as a supplement that helps increase the energy available to muscles.

The downside is that when you take too much of it, it can also mess with how your body generally utilizes carbohydrates, which can also be dangerous.

Beta-alanine – In order for a bodybuilder to become effective in what wants to do, he has to have not just strength but muscular endurance.

Endurance is measured by how much muscles can withstand the punishment of repeated movements with added resistance.

Beta-alanine is an amino acid that aids the body in the production of carnosine. Carnosine is a molecule formed when beta-alanine combines with another compound called histidine.

When carnosine levels in the body increase (especially in the muscles), the muscles supposedly gain strength and endurance, too.

How does beta-alanine accomplish this?

According to studies, beta-alanine helps with ‘strength and endurance’ by regulating the production of lactic acid in the muscles.

Lactic acid is a muscular byproduct and when there’s too much of it in the muscle tissues, fatigue, cramps and pain set in easily.

A closer look at beta-alanine has revealed that it doesn’t help much with long periods of exercise.

Rather, it simply improves a person’s muscular endurance by reducing lactic acid build-up during explosive, short rounds of movement.

Classical bodybuilding doesn’t require explosive movement, but other workout systems like P90X and CrossFit do.

Consider these factors when buying supplements as you may end up consuming supplements that aren’t indicated for the type of movements you regularly perform in the gym.

Glutamine – Glutamine is an amino acid that is conventionally used to aid digestive problems and reduce the effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients.

It is also commonly prescribed to individuals who have undergone surgery anywhere in the digestive tract as it helps in the healing process.

Take note that the body produces its own glutamine and is freely distributed to the various tissues day in and day out.

In the bodybuilding world, glutamine is hailed as a sort of wonder cure for muscle pain and fatigue as it is supposed to help with healing and recovery. 

Wrapping This Up

One way that you can get an indication of how well a supplement might work for you is just pay attention to other people in your gym.

If you notice someone lifting heavier than usual or really getting after it then you can say something like, “You’re really hitting it hard today”.

This opening up a conversation where they might tell you that started taking x,y,z pre-workout or if they don’t offer it freely then just ask.

This is a very common topic among gym goers.

I’ll wrap this up here for now & will look into to covering more supplements in the future here.

Image Credits: designer491

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