Body Building supplements and pills that work and the ones that waste your money, for men, women, and teenagers
November 5 2017 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

There are a number of supplements used for male and female bodybuilding. I am not an expert in this field but my limited knowledge indicates that several supplements are effective while others are a waste of money or potentially even harmful. Body building nutritional supplements are easily available in every health food store and most gyms. Do they work? Are they safe? Can serious illness occur from their use?

It's never too late to start bodybuilding. Older people who "pump iron" even as little as two hours a week can build muscle mass and strength while trimming fat.
Here is a bodybuilding supplement review: Strength training boosts levels of testosterone and growth hormone -- hormones associated with enhanced muscle mass and function.

Best bodybuilding Supplements with strong evidence that they work for men and women:
You need to consume adequate amounts of protein at each meal of the day to keep your muscles at their best.

Creatine has the most research to support its use in bodybuilding, including in teens. However the safety of creatine in teen bodybuilding has not been fully evaluated and there is a concern of stress on the kidneys and liver if too high a dose of creatine is used. Creatine does work for a woman. It works better with a regular weight lifting routine. It is an inexpensive body building supplement. You can purchase it in powder form as capsules. The dosage is about 1 to 5 grams daily and skipping a day or two a week is suggested.
Whey protein and soy protein are protein supplements effective for bodybuilding in men and women. Eating whey protein builds muscle mass even if the dairy substance is taken a day after a workout session.

Bodybuilding Supplements with moderate evidence of effectiveness:
Amino acids - individual amino acids may be helpful, but why not take a whole protein supplement with all the amino acids?
BCAA are branch chain amino acids.
Carnitine helps improve physical energy

Bodybuilding Supplements with little evidence that they work:
Boron is a mineral
Choline is a good mind booster and methyl donor, but little research is available regarding it's effectiveness in body buiding.
Chromium is often available as chromium picolinate
Ferulic acid
Gamma oryzanol
Medium chain triglycerides
Ribose is a form of sugar
Weight gain powders unless they contain protein
Smilax compounds

Bodybuilding Supplements with no evidence of effectiveness:
Ephedra is no longer available over the counter.
Yohimbine is an alkaloid extract from the herb yohimbe. This herb or herbal extract increases pulse rate and can cause heart rhythm problems in high dosages.

Q. Since you recommend LJ100 for erectile dysfunction and I am guessing Passion Rx with Yohimbe for the same thing, I am curious about your thoughts regarding using these products for building muscle?
   A. I do not believe tongkat ali or aphrodisiac herbal supplements, such as yohimbe, are effective for building muscle or athletics.

Packaging and labeling inaccuracies
Some herbal and dietary supplements analyzed by researchers in 2017 contained ingredients that differed from the list on their labels. Bodybuilding and weight-loss supplements, in particular, tend to contain ingredients not listed on their packaging. Some of the bodybuilding supplements have undeclared anabolic steroids which can cause substantial liver damage.

Illegal to sell over the counter, DMAA
In April 2013 the FDA no longer allowed dietary supplements that contain a stimulant called dimethylamylamine (DMAA) to be sold in the United States. DMAA -- which is most often used in supplements promising weight loss, muscle-building and improvement of athletic performance -- can increase blood pressure and may lead to heart attack, shortness of breath and tightening of the chest. The stimulant may be particularly dangerous when used with caffeine.

Bodybuilding Hormones
Androstenedione is no longer available as an over the counter supplement
DHEA is not likely to be helpful to any significant degree and the side effects, including hair loss, are undesirable.
Pregnenolone can cause heart rhythm abnormalities when used in excess
Testosterone is available by prescription.

Bodybuilding products that have steroids or steroid-like substances can cause serious health risks. Anabolic steroids can cause liver damage, acne, hair loss, mood changes, aggressiveness, and depression. They can cause kidney damage, heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs), and deep vein thrombosis (blood clots that occur in veins deep in the body).

I read in a bodybuilding magazine the DHEA is a bodybuilding steroid and is helpful for increase muscle. Is that a good tip?
   There is little evidence that DHEA supplements improve muscle mass, and even if they do, the side effects are quite unpleasant in the dosages that are required.

Bodybuilding Diet during off season - nutrition
During the off-season when no bodybuilding competition is planned, it is advantageous for a bodybuilder to be in positive energy balance so that extra energy is available for muscle anabolism. Additionally, during the off-season, adequate protein must be available to provide amino acids for protein synthesis. For 6-12 weeks prior to competition, body builders attempt to retain muscle mass and reduce body fat to very low levels. During the pre-contest phase, the bodybuilder should be in negative energy balance so that body fat can be oxidized. Furthermore, during the pre-contest phase, protein intake must be adequate to maintain muscle mass. A relatively high protein intake (approximately 30% of energy intake) reduces lean mass loss relative to a lower protein intake (approximately 15% of energy intake) during energy restriction. The higher protein intake will also provide a relatively large thermic effect that may aid in reducing body fat. In both the off-season and pre-contest phases, adequate dietary carbohydrate should be ingested (55-60% of total energy intake) so that training intensity can be maintained. Dietary fats should make up 15-20% of the body builders' off-season and pre-contest diets. Consumption of protein / amino acids and carbohydrate immediately before and after training sessions may augment protein synthesis, muscle glycogen resynthesis and reduce protein degradation.

Exercising before protein intake allows for greater use of dietary protein–derived amino acids for de novo muscle protein synthesis in both young and elderly men.

Bananas are as good, or better, than drinks sports drinks in terms of energy and performance.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2017. Consumption of whole eggs promotes greater stimulation of postexercise muscle protein synthesis than consumption of isonitrogenous amounts of egg whites in young men. Whole eggs are better than egg whites for making muscle after exercise. Researchers at the University of Illinois report that protein found in whole eggs (including the yolks) is better incorporated into muscle after exercise than just the egg white protein.

Resistance Training - Exercise
Skeletal muscle tissue is sensitive to the acute and chronic stresses associated with resistance training. These responses are influenced by the structure of resistance activity (i.e. frequency, load and recovery) as well as the training history of the individuals involved. There are histochemical and biochemical data which suggest that resistance training alters the expression of myosin heavy chains (MHCs). Specifically, chronic exposure to bodybuilding and power lifting type activity produces shifts towards the MHC I and IIb isoforms, respectively.
     Working out with heavy weights may cause pressure to build up in the eyes, especially if exercisers hold their breath as they exert. Though the potential consequences of the added pressure aren't clear, people with the glaucoma exercise with some caution.

Body building program
Although a body building program is important for those who are serious about building muscle, the average person does not need to stick to a particular schedule or routine. Three times a week at the gym for half an hour or so can be effective in many people.

Q. Does HGH improve bodybuilding in a woman? What body building suppliments do you recommend?
   A. It is possible that HGH, human growth hormone injections could temporarily improve bodybuilding muscle mass, but the risks can be serious and counterproductive in the long run. The most effective body building supplements that I am familiar with are creatine and protein supplements and they are the bodybuilding products I would use if I were interested in more bulk.

Q. Do you think saw palmetto, alpha lipoic acid and CoQ10 are helpful in bodybuilding?
   A. I doubt it. I still think creatine and protein supplements are the best options.

Which form of ginseng do you think is most useful for weight training and bodybuilding fitness, Chinese or Korean ginseng, or Eleuthero ("Siberian Ginseng"), for boosting energy and stamina, maintaining anabolic hormones, etc.?
   I don't think using ginseng is helpful for bodybuilding fitness. I would concentrate more on creatine, protein, and a more effective weight training method. It is possible that high doses of ginseng could actually be counterproductive since ginseng can increase body temperature, cause increased heart rate and possibly insomnia.

I am one of the world's leading authorities on natural bodybuilding for men over 40 (as well as being the best natural bodybuilder in the world over 50). I have a book out called, "Burke's Law," A New Fitness Paradigm for the Mature Male. I also have a CD of the same title.

I was wondering if there was a possibility of wanting to tap into the bodybuilding market. I have recently made some impressive gains weightlifting using only a multivitamin without those high-price supplements advertised in the body building magazines. I wanted to prove that you do not need to spend hundreds of dollars to get results. I wanted to contact you because I used MultiVit Rx in my 3 month build-up. I have all the bodybuilding measurements, the story, and photos of before & after. This can be a great way to increase exposure if you would be interested.

Re: natural estrogen blockers for male bodybuilders. I would just like to get your general opinion on the concept of bodybuilders using products that are said to be natural (supposedly) estrogen blockers; products such as chrysin, di-indolylmethane / Indole-3-carbinol, or a particular brand product called 6-oxo. I'm not just asking about whether you think that they work or don't work, but I want to know how you feel about the idea of inhibiting the male body's aromatization of testosterone to estrogen? Are there times when it is a valid thing to do or a good idea in the otherwise healthy relatively young male? (Except in older men or in bodybuilders who use steroids; those cases are a given I think). Just wondering how you feel about the idea -assuming the products work.
    I have not studied the topic of natural estrogen blockers for male bodybuilders in detail but, based on my limited review of studies, I do not think this approach is worthwhile.

What is your opinion on glycocyamine, it is supposed to be a creatine monohydrate precursor and good for muscle growth?
    I don't have a strong opinion on this nutrient yet, I am awaiting more research.