Muscle and Fitness Supplements:
The Advice You Need

All right, you want to know what the best muscle and fitness supplements are. And you came to the right place! Choose one from the list below to build muscle and boost your performance - and they're totally legitimate.

Weight training is one of the best methods of strength training! If you want to start weight training safely and effectively, with the best info, diet, and routines, check out the 5 Day Beginner Weight Training Course!

So, take a look and choose which supplements you want to use.


Why Are The Supplements Below The Best?

Find out what the best muscle and fitness supplements are. Build your muscles much faster with them!

I did some, OK, a lot of research on different sports supplements. And the ones I put on the table below are the most effective. I didn't include many others because...

First off, most muscle and fitness supplements don't do squat and are just a waste of your money.[1] You don't want to take those.

Also, some really awesome supplements that give you huge benefits (synthetic hormones, steroids, blood doping, etc.) are banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and/or have dangerous side effects. Not good.

If you want those, do your own research. I won't help you cheat, get disqualified from your sports, or irreversibly muck up your body.

The supplements on the table below are only those that are legal and have clearly and scientifically demonstrated performance benefits. The only ones you should spend your time on.


Muscle And Fitness Supplements
With Clearly Demonstrated Benefits[2]



Substance
Benefits
Side Effects
Caffeine Increases muscle contractility; improves aerobic endurance; improves fat metabolism Mild
Carbohydrates Improves performance; lowers fatigue Mild
Creatine Improves repeated high-intensity activity endurance Short Term: None
Long Term: Unknown
Fluids Increased endurance Some danger of Hyponatremia (Abnormally low levels of sodium in the blood)


◆ Caffeine

You're probably very familiar with this stimulant. It occurs naturally in coffee, tea, cola, chocolate, and a host of other foods. It also happens to be a slight muscle relaxant.[3]

Taken at a dosage of 3 - 9 milligrams per kilogram of your bodyweight, caffeine helps endurance activities and may also provide some benefit for brief, intense exercise.[4] This is best taken as caffeine pills or powder in a small glass of water, rather than by drinking tens of cups of coffee.

It also speeds up your metabolism, helping you burn fat. And of course, it keeps you awake.

However, your body will naturally adapt to taking caffeine. If you take it regularly you will need to take more and more to see any effect.[5]

Think of the coffee addicts you know: they drink more and more to get the same feeling that they used to get from only a single cup.

Also, if you take it for a while it can make you irritable and anxious. Still, pretty mild as far as side effects go.

Use caffeine sparingly to see the greatest benefits when you need it. And it just came off the IOC's list of banned substances, so professional athletes will probably start integrating it into their routines.


◆ Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are typically what your body burns during exercise.[6] Thus, making sure you have eaten enough of them is essential for keeping your energy up during a sporting event.

'Carbohydrate Loading' is the techniques of eating a lot of carbs before an event (e.g. lots of pasta and rice an hour or so before your game). This gives you an edge, so you have more energy at the end of the game - when the other team is getting tired.


◆ Creatine

Creatine is the best, and only proven, muscle building supplement out there. Simply, where all the others fail, creatine works.

Check out how creatine works to find out how, on a cellular and chemical level, creatine works. It literally helps your muscle cells produce more power for brief, intense efforts (e.g. powerlifting, sprinting, etc.).

But, just like caffeine, there are both pros and cons of creatine consumption. There aren't any major drawbacks, but you'll want to evaluate if it's right for you.

And finally, if it is right for you, learn how to take creatine the right way. This will help you see benefits as fast as possible, usually in about a week.


◆ Fluids

Proper hydration is vitally important in athletics. And even though you may not think of water as one of the essential muscle and fitness supplements, it is.

Evidence shows that being even a little dehydrated can have a dramatic impact on your performance.[7] And it can take up to 24 hours to get back to a fully hydrated state, so simply taking a drink of water before your workout won't cut it.[8]

And don't forget about sports drinks. They are great for keeping your energy level up while exercising.

Keeping a glass of water or water bottle handy for drinking throughout the day is the best solution. Because once you've noticed you're thirsty, you're already pretty dehydrated.[9]


What About Other Muscle And Fitness Supplements?

There are some other muscle and fitness supplements that might help you. This is just an exhaustive list of those that will help you the most.

Glucosamine looks promising for enhancing muscle recovery, and Vitamin E appears to mildly enhance aerobic capacity. However, the beneficial effects of these supplements (and a few others) are mild compared to the four above.

I'm a big believer in the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. Spending a huge amount of time searching for the one magic pill that will increase your performance isn't the best way to spend your time and energy.

It's better to use the few supplements that you know will work, and then just focus on your training. Since, ultimately, it's your training that will have the greatest bearing on how much better you get.

Oh, and be sure to sign up for the e-zine Starting Strong to get monthly strength training, exercise, and diet tips e-mailed to you - and access to the free e-book Train Smart, Eat Smart: Exercise Nutrition Hacks!

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Muscle and Fitness Supplements: The Advice You Need
References:

1. Benardot, Dan, and Dan Benardot. 2006. Advanced Sports Nutrition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Pp. 102.
2. Ibid. Pp. 116-118.
3. Ibid. Pp. 111.
4. Ibid. Pp. 112.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid. Pp. 104.
7. Ibid. Pp. 92.
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid. Pp. 94.

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