The Truth about Bodybuilding Supplements: Health Benefits and Drawbacks

Supplement stores are everywhere. Each one sells “muscles in bottles”. Protein powders, testosterone boosters and muscle enhancers competing for shelf space is the norm. In all stores, you’ll find amino-acid packets, energy drinks, protein bars and muscle-building oatmeal. Such supplements are tempting. But do they really work? As an ardent athlete or bodybuilder, we have you covered. This guide dissects the most popular muscle builders. Read on to know what to pick (and ditch).

Testosterone Boosters

Steroids that boost testosterone – a muscle building sex hormone – aren’t that effective.  Lately, supplement makers have come up with natural products that spice things up for men. Tribulus Terrestris is a supplement that’s sold alone or as an ingredient in many testosterone boosters. Marketers claim that Tribulus improves testosterone production and, as a result, increases strength and muscle mass. However, as studies show, taking this herbal supplement causes breast enlargement and lowers good cholesterol.

Keep your cash.

Beta-Hydroxy Beta-Methylbutyric (HMB)

A derivative of the branch-chain amino acid Leucine, HMB – like creatine – boosts quick activities like sprinting and weightlifting. Certain companies make an effective HMB/creatine combination. When combined, creatine and HMB form an outstanding muscle builder. According to researchers, lean gain with (HMB + creatine) is two times that of placebos.

HMB is cool, but little is known about its safety.


Though DHEA isn’t safe, it’s making a comeback after a long ban. Secreted by adrenal glands, androstenolone is converted into estrogen and testosterone. Levels decline with age. That’s why DHEA appeals to middle-aged men. Supporters claim DHEA slows muscle loss and signs of ageing. While DHEA is a muscle booster, it reduces good cholesterol and causes side effects like extra estrogen and “man boobs”.

Skip it.


Arginine – an amino acid that increases nitric oxide – boosts blood flow to the skeletal muscle. Bodybuilders and athletes take supplements with L-arginine to improve performance. Medical experts suggest that high nitric oxide levels improve health. But not all results are positive. For men with heart disease, arginine supplements may cause heart attack and, in extreme cases, death.

Not worth the risk.


For high-intensity, short-duration workouts, creatine is the real deal. It’s one of the best dietary supplements used to fuel energy. Whether you’re sprinting or lifting weights, creatine helps you train harder and longer. To increase lean mass, use creatine in resistance training. Creatine’s ability to enhance athletic performance makes it a favourite among bodybuilders. Unfortunately, strain injuries and muscle cramps are likely.

We recommend it.

Protein Powders

Not all proteins are created equal. Some forms of protein, whey and casein, are better than others. These proteins contain essential amino acids that help you lose fat, gain muscle and increase strength. Since whey is absorbed quickly, it’s more effective than casein. However, whey, on its own, tastes bad. It’s normally flavoured with vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Beware of products with unhealthy additives like refined sugar. A repuatable protein we have heard great reviews from is ATP Science. If you need to buy some head over to Extreme Nutrition – ATP Science Collection, or visit their store –

Choose protein powders. They’re the best bodybuilding supplements.

Now you know what to use to gain muscle. Used the right way, all supplements are highly effective.

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