In a perfect world, we would get all the vitamins and nutrients we need from the foods we eat.
And in a doubly perfect world, we could eat whatever we crave to fortify a healthy body.
But for those of us who live in a somewhat imperfect world, and are trying our best to follow a sensible bodybuilding meal plan, there are supplements.
Available in capsules, tablets, powders, and liquids, supplements play a vital role in filling in the gaps that often crop up in many adult diets. Though supplements generally are safe, it's always smart to consult a physician before taking a supplement. According to the National Institutes of Health: “Some supplements may have side effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other medicines. Supplements can also cause problems if you have certain health conditions.”
These extenuating circumstances notwithstanding, leading health experts agree that six supplements are essential to building a healthier, leaner body—and to augmenting a bodybuilding meal plan:
Calcium and vitamin D
These are often paired together because they work in tandem with each other so seamlessly. Calcium is best known for building strong bones, but it also keeps the heart, muscles and nerves in balance. Meanwhile, your body relies on vitamin D to help absorb calcium. The Institute of Medicine recommends that most adults take 1,000 milligrams of calcium and vitamin D a day to slow bone loss and help prevent osteoporosis. That's a full dose—and perhaps more than any adult can ingest in calcium-rich foods such as cheese, milk and yogurt, or in the very best source of vitamin D next to the sun: cod liver oil.
This naturally occurring, safe supplement improves “strength and lean muscle mass during high-intensity, short-duration exercises, such as weight lifting” according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Other studies show an increased growth of muscle-specific protein synthesis. Your body produces this natural amino acid in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. It also is found in meat and fish. When those dietary gaps come to your attention, creatine supplements can be found in liquid, tablet and capsule form. As many Olympian athletes know, it's wise to err on the side of taking small doses of creatine. So, stick to the standard safe dosage of 5-10g per day after a loading phase of 20g for 6 days.
Seems to be the supplement “everyone” is talking about for its ability to build cartilage. This is important because this rugged connective tissue cushions the joints. No major food groups provide a source of glucosamine, so a tablet, capsule or powder supplement is your only choice. Since it can cause heartburn, indigestion, nausea and stomach upset in some people, it's smart to try to counteract these consequences by taking a glucosamine supplement with food.
Is stored in the muscles and lungs and is essential to a bodybuilding meal plan for its ability to flush ammonia from the body and bolster brain function and digestion. It can be particularly useful after strenuous exercise or after a physical injury, when your body may not produce enough of this amino acid on its own, or you cannot consume enough from glutamine-rich food sources such as beef, pork, milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, cabbage, and raw spinach. Supplements are available in capsules, tablets, powders, and liquids.
Is necessary to fortify the heart, muscles, and kidneys, also activates enzymes and bolsters energy. It would be a rare bodybuilding meal plan that didn't teem with many sources of magnesium because it is so abundant in green, leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, oatmeal, bananas, and yes: even chocolate and cocoa powder. But here again: magnesium supplements are available for a reason, and can be found in many forms, including time-release varieties that can speed absorption.
Is considered a “complete” protein because it contains the nine most important amino acids and also registers low in lactose content. People who try to follow a smart bodybuilding meal plan turn to whey protein to build muscle and “promote the growth of lean tissue mass,” according to Medical News Today. “There are many benefits associated with the consumption of whey protein, and researchers are constantly finding new possible therapeutic properties.”
While supplements can play a vital role in any bodybuilding meal plan, remember that they're just that: supplements to the nutrients and vitamins your body needs and can glean so effortlessly through healthy food choices.
Fish Oil, omega-3 fatty acids
Fish oil supplementation may be one of the most all-around beneficial supplements one can take. Research supports that protein synthesis can be further augmented with fish oil supplementation for all ages. In addition, it can help prevent injuries and even aid in fat loss. It is important to note that fish oil supplements should be of high-quality, such as BiOmega by USANA, which is derived from wild sardines – with such short life spans, the amount of toxins they encounter is limited.
Above all, supplements should be an addition to a balance diet of real food! Nothing is better. For help in making the best choices, turn to Meal Plan Magic. This fresh meal planning tool can help you select ingredients at the grocery store and then create a bodybuilding meal plan to suit your goals and objectives—and perhaps carve out space in that “perfect world” after all.