What are the Best Bodybuilding Supplements for Beginners?

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Answered by: Greg, An Expert in the About Bodybuilding Supplements Category
If you're a bodybuilding beginner, chances are that it hasn't taken you long to be exposed to the vast world of bodybuilding supplements. Open up a muscle magazine and every other page is a lustrous, eye-catching supplement ad promising steroid-like gains without the nasty side-effects and legal risks. Eavesdrop on a conversation at your local gym and you're almost guaranteed to hear talk about the latest products to hit the shelves at the local health food store.

With so much information coming from so many different directions, how do you cut through the fluff and determine what the best bodybuilding supplements are for someone just starting out? Your best bet is to refer back to the old K.I.S.S. philosophy: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Ignore the shiny ads and the muscleheads at the gym -- many of them are using products that you can't purchase legally anyway, though they are loath to admit it. Stock up on the following basics and remember that "supplements" are exactly that: products designed to supplement healthy eating and hard work in the gym, not magic pills that will turn you into Mr. Universe overnight.

Protein: If you want to put on lean muscle mass, it is imperative that you take in enough protein every day. When you work out, your muscles actually break down before they subsequently repair and grow stronger. Without adequate protein, it takes them much longer to repair and rebuild, hampering your efforts in the gym. The two most important times to take protein are within an hour of finishing your workout and immediately after waking up in the morning. You want protein post-workout to kickstart the rebuilding process and in the morning because your muscles have just gone eight hours without being fed.

Branched Chain Amino Acids: Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are a total of twenty of them, half being non-essential (meaning they are produced by your body) and the other half being essential (meaning they must be obtained from outside sources such as food and supplements). Three essential amino acids that are especially important are valine, leucine, and isoleucine. They are called branched chain amino acids because of their molecular structure. The reason they are so beneficial is that unlike other amino acids, they do not have to be processed by your liver before going to your muscles to assist with growth and repair. This means they can be taken before and during a workout to keep your muscles from breaking down as much. You will be able to work out longer and harder than you would if you didn't take them, which will enable you to see gains much more quickly.

Multivitamins: If you eat a balanced diet, you should be getting most of the nutrients you need every day from your food. However, with the sheer number of essential vitamins and minerals, it can be difficult to impossible to determine with certainty if you are taking in enough of them all. That is why I take a basic multivitamin every day. There is no need for one of the expensive brains containing mega-quantities of everything. Most of it will just be eliminated in your urine, anyway. An inexpensive drugstore brand will suffice, so long as it contains at least 100% of the recommended daily value of each essential nutrient.

Water: You will never see an advertisement for it promising you'll put on 30 pounds of muscle in 30 days, but water is as beneficial as anything you can put in your body if you want to be successful in bodybuilding. Not only do you perform much better when you are well-hydrated, but all the other nutrients and supplements you consume get to your muscles much more quickly and efficiently. Start your day off with 8-16 ounces of water before breakfast, and make it your goal to take in at least a gallon (128 ounces) every day.

The best bodybuilding supplements for beginners are rarely the ones whose manufacturers spend the most money on advertising. There is no magic formula that will allow you to bypass the grueling gym work and dietary precision that are necessary for success in bodybuilding. However, supplementing smartly with basic, time-tested products can help you reach your goals faster, provided you are putting in the work in the weight room and in the kitchen.

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