Bodybuilding Supplement

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Bodybuilding supplements are dietary supplements commonly used by those involved in bodybuilding, weightlifting, mixed martial arts, and athletics for the purpose of facilitating an increase in lean body mass. Bodybuilding supplements may contain ingredients that are advertised to increase a person's muscle, body weight, athletic performance, and decrease a person's percent body fat for desired muscle definition.[1]

Among the most widely used are high protein drinks, pre-workout blends, branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), glutamine, arginine, essential fatty acids, creatine, HMB, whey protein, ZMA, and weight loss products.[2] Supplements are sold either as single ingredient preparations or in the form of "stacks" – proprietary blends of various supplements marketed as offering synergistic advantages.


In the 1910s, Eugen Sandow, widely considered to be the first modern bodybuilder in the West, advocated the use of dietary control to enhance muscle growth. Later, bodybuilder Earle Liederman advocated the use of "beef juice" or "beef extract" as a way to enhance muscle recovery. In the 1950s, with recreational and competitive bodybuilding becoming increasingly popular, Irvin P. Johnson began to popularize and market egg-based protein powders marketed specifically at bodybuilders and physical athletes.[3] The 1970s and 1980s marked a dramatic increase in the growth of the bodybuilding supplement industry, fueled by the widespread use of modern marketing techniques and a marked increase in recreational bodybuilding.


Bodybuilders may supplement their diets with protein for reasons of convenience, lower cost, ease of preparation, and to avoid the concurrent consumption of carbohydrates and fats. Additionally, some argue that bodybuilders, by virtue of their unique training and goals, require higher-than-average quantities of protein to support maximal muscle growth.[4] Protein supplements are sold in ready-to-drink shakes, bars, meal replacement products, bites, oats, gels, and powders. Protein powders are the most popular and may have flavoring added for palatability.


Prohormones are precursors to hormones and are most typically sold to bodybuilders as a precursor to the natural hormone testosterone. This conversion requires naturally occurring enzymes in the body.[5] Side effects are not uncommon, as prohormones can also convert further into DHT and estrogen. To deal with this, many supplements also have aromatase inhibitors and DHT blockers such as chrysin and 4-androstene-3,6,17-trione.[6] To date most prohormone products have not been thoroughly studied and the health effects of prolonged use are unknown.


Creatine is an organic acid naturally occurring in the body that supplies energy to muscle cells for short bursts of energy via creatine phosphate replenishment of ATP. Scientific studies have shown that creatine supplementation can increase the consumer's strength, energy during the performance, muscle mass, and recovery times after exercise. In addition, recent studies have also shown that creatine improves brain function and reduces mental fatigue.[7] Some studies have suggested that consumption of creatine with protein and carbohydrates can have a greater effect than creatine combined with either protein or carbohydrates alone.


  1. Beta-Hydroxy-Beta-Methyl Butyrate (HMB): From Experimental Data to Clinical Evidence in Sarcopenia - PubMed
  2. Beyond the Zone: Protein Needs of Active Individuals: Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Vol 19, No sup5
  3. Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to metabolic advantage
  4. TestRX Review – Ingredients, Side Effects, Results
  5. A Critical Examination of Dietary Protein Requirements, Benefits, and Excesses in Athletes
  6. Protein and amino acids for athletes: Journal of Sports Sciences: Vol 22, No 1
  7. Full article: Nutrition guidelines for strength sports: Sprinting, weightlifting, throwing events, and bodybuilding