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What are Weight Lifting Supplements?

By Nick Doniger
Updated Feb 02, 2024
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For those who wish to build muscle mass fast, many weight lifting supplements are available on the market. These supplements prove convenient and advantageous to those who may not have the ability to eat five to six meals a day, as is often recommended for bodybuilders. Such products, however, are not recommended to replace a balanced diet. Most of these supplements are high in protein, such as whey protein mixes, and some are additionally high in carbohydrates, such as weight gain powders. Other weight lifting supplements include creatine, which builds energy, and common vitamin and mineral pills.

Whey protein is among the most popular weight lifting supplements and is therefore recommended by many bodybuilders and fitness experts as a primary protein supplement. Often available in powders, shakes, and protein bars, whey protein is originally sourced as a by-product of cheese production. The body breaks this protein down quickly and efficiently, as it has the highest "biological value" of any of the other available protein supplements. This refers to whey protein's ability to provide the body with the highest amount of branched chain amino acids.

In addition to normal protein supplements such as whey or soy, meal replacement powders are also available to those who wish to put on muscle mass. These, unlike most supplements, actually are intended to replace meals rather than simply supplement them. They are high in protein and low in fats, and they contain other nutrients as well. Meal replacement powders may be mixed with water, milk, or juice, and are then consumed two to three times a day by serious bodybuilders. Such powders are popular due to relative inexpensiveness.

Certain weight lifting supplements are available for those who have difficulty putting on weight as well. Weight-gain powders are high in protein like most supplements, and are additionally high in carbohydrates from sugar. Due to this high sugar content and ineffectiveness in directly building quality muscle mass, most people are advised to avoid them. Weight-gain powders may, however, be used in moderation by those who have a fast metabolism and a fairly low body fat percentage.

For serious bodybuilders and weight lifters, creatine may be taken as an energy building supplement. When creatine monohydrate is ingested, the body converts it into creatine phosphate, which is stored as energy for later use. A creatine regimen begins with a loading phase, in which a high amount of the substance is consumed, and then tapers off into a maintenance phase, in which the dose diminishes by about half. Experts recommend that such a regimen begins after at least 12 weeks of rigorous weight lifting, due to the supplement's potency. It is also recommended that poor grades of creatine are avoided as they may cause gastro-intestinal discomfort.

Vitamins and minerals are highly recommended as weight lifting supplements as well. Multi-vitamins may not be necessary for the average person, particularly one who practices a balanced diet and only performs light fitness routines but may be necessary for serious weight lifters and bodybuilders. The body produces free radicals during weight lifting, making vitamins such as C and E essential due to antioxidant effects. Calcium supplements, or multi-vitamins containing calcium, may additionally aid in weight lifting, as calcium is often expelled through urine by those who commit to a high-protein diet.

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