There are lots of muscle builders on the market. Which ones work? Which ones should you stay away from? We have the info you need on the good and the not-so-good options.
Want to bulk up?
Thinking about taking muscle-building pills?
Well, there is a huge range of brands, claims, and even prices to choose from. Narrowing down any of the right supplements to take for growth can be very frustrating. You search. You ask questions. You may even try them out for yourself. But, before you go spending your hard-earned cash, you might want to know a little bit more about what you’re getting when you buy those pills.
We all know by now that protein is the main building block of muscle. We can get it from the foods that we eat, protein shakes, bars and so on.
But wouldn’t it be easier if we could all just take a pill and achieve the body we want?
That would be awesome. But, you know what they say (whoever they are): If it seems too good to be true, then it likely is and you are simply wasting your money (or something like that).
We’ll give you some details about a few of these so-called muscle building pills and let you make your own decision as to whether or not you might want to consider purchasing them.
Muscle Building Pills What Are They?
These are supplements you might find at your local nutrition store. Usually, they come in a big fancy bottle with shiny labels that have statements on them such as “natural muscle builder” and “enhance your gains by 200%.” There is a wide range of these so-called muscle-building pills.
How do you know which ones are legit and which are just a flush of your money?
It’s all in the science. It all comes down to what’s been proven to work versus what just claims to work.
You can read label after label on some of the bottles that have claims that state they are proven, guaranteed or better than your average supplement. But, those are just claims and most do not have any evidence to back those claims up.
This Is What To Steer Clear Of
There have been many fads over the years, even with supplements, that have left people in a hole. Muscle building pills seem to be one of those fads. What you need to know about these types of supplements is that most of them are pretty worthless. Let’s go over a few of the most common muscle building pills there are and let you know why you should save your money.
With testosterone levels on the decline in males over 30, testosterone supplements are on the rise. Testosterone is everywhere from supplement stores to TV commercials. It’s definitely a big topic of discussion in the fitness world. Claims are made that by taking these testosterone boosters your levels will rise, which will, in turn, allow you to boost your muscle growth.
Testosterone is a steroid hormone that is produced by both men and women. Of course, men produce it in larger amounts. Testosterone is the main hormone responsible for the development of secondary sex characteristics in men. These characteristics include the growth of body hair, muscle, bone mass and the deepening of the voice.
To be honest, there is no natural supplement that will allow you to boost your testosterone levels to a degree that will actually have some effect on your body. Some will increase the testosterone slightly, but nowhere near the high percentage required to impact on muscle growth.
This Is What To Do Instead
Many men have gone to see their doctor about low testosterone levels. They are usually prescribed a hormone therapy that comes in the form of pills, shots or even patches. The bad thing about most of these types of therapies is that they can have some pretty awful side effects. That includes such side effects as headaches, vomiting, shrinkage of the testicles and even prostate cancer. That’s why most men opt for other methods.
The safest way that we know of to boost your testosterone levels naturally is through some intense training, good sleep, vitamins/minerals and the consumption of healthy fats in the correct amounts. Fats are used by your body to manufacture hormones. Of course, testosterone is a hormone.
Dehydroepiandrosterone, also known as DHEA, is a precursor to male and female sex hormones including estrogen and testosterone.
A lot of men believe that by taking a DHEA supplement, they can increase muscle mass, improve sex drive and fight aging. The truth is, there is little evidence to support the effects that a DHEA supplement has on the effects of muscle growth or sex drive. Although one study has suggested that it showed improvements in the aging effect, many other studies showed otherwise.
Studies on DHEA have shown that there was no significant change in muscle mass while taking the supplement. With that said, they did show that the reduction of body fat was at an increase.
Consumption of DHEA supplements by men has many potential side effects. That includes such things as aggressive behavior (roid rage), mood swings, lowered sperm production, high blood pressure, and liver problems. Another negative side effect DHEA has on the body is the lowering of HDL (the good cholesterol).
The more physical side effects of DHEA includes male breast enlargement and shrunken testicles. Taking this supplement can also suppress your body’s natural production of DHEA.
This Is What To Do Instead
If your DHEA levels are shown to be on the low side, you can raise them to a safe level naturally and without potentially harmful supplements.
Since lack of activity and the dropping of DHEA levels go hand in hand, it would be wise to stay active. Lift weights. Go for a bike ride. Do whatever you have to do to keep moving throughout the day.
Stress is also known to lower DHEA levels. Make sure you take the time to de-stress once in a while. Meditate. Take a yoga class. Get a massage. You could even try relaxing in a hot bath while listening to your favorite slow jams.
Your diet also plays a big role in the production of DHEA. That’s why you should eat a balanced diet and be sure to consume omega-3s found in such foods as fish, eggs, and dairy. Omega-3s can increase the levels of DHEA significantly so eat up!
Also known as Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, HMB is a metabolite of leucine. This supplement claims that it will help improve your performance and boost muscle protein synthesis.
Is this true?
Not so much.
The most controversial thing about the studies done on the positive effects of HMB is the fact that the man who invented and patented it is the one who performed the studies. When you look at a more unbiased study that was not performed by the maker of the product, you’re left with a surprise.
The outcome wasn’t so good.
In fact, the true study on HMB had proven little effect on protein synthesis. It had also shown that subjects even failed to outperform the placebo. That’s why you should avoid HMB. As of yet, it’s not been proven to aid in muscle growth.
This Is What To Do Instead
You have two good options. Your best bet is to either get your nutrients through diet alone or to supplement with products that are scientifically proven to be useful to achieving your goal.
Throw Out Muscle Building Pills That Contain The Following
Synthetic HGH (Human Growth Hormone)
Though HGH can help your gains and recovery, the side effects far outweigh the benefits. It’s known to cause high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries and swelling in the arms and legs. HGH can also cause joint pain and hypoglycemia.
Many weightlifters reported having a more extreme muscle pump during use of Vanadyl. Also, they had increased training recovery. But, there is a concern about the toxicity levels in the body after taking large amounts of Vanadyl. Vanadyl selectively destroyed the insulin-making cells in the pancreas according to a study done on rats.
Though ephedrine can burn fat and aid in muscle replacement, you’ve likely heard that it is not a very safe substance. Why? It can have many dangerous side effects such as palpitations, vomiting, painful urination, insomnia, and, after a prolonged use, even schizophrenia.
Steroids have too many side effects to list. People use them because they want to get big right now. But they are not safe and should not be used, ever.
There are plenty more unsafe substances that go into muscle building pills, so it’s best to do your research on a product before you consider buying it. Read all the labels and ingredients. If it contains anything that seems fishy, steer clear.
What Are Some Safe and Effective Supplements?
Glad you asked! You have plenty of options that shouldn’t put your health at risk.
I’ve seen bodybuilders pack their gym bags with all sorts of bottles and pills and half of them have no idea what they are putting into their bodies because they were blinded by those great claims on the bottles. Don’t be like that. Know what you are getting and don’t waste your money on a product because it looks cool or because it is in style.
Protein Shakes And Powders
We all know that protein is the building block of everything in the human body. There are plenty of good protein supplements out there that will provide you with a sufficient amount of protein needed to meet your goals. Look for the ones with the least amount of ingredients and nothing artificial.
Becoming more and more popular, this powder is scientifically proven to increase muscle gains while aiding in a faster recovery. Containing branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), this powder supplement not only helps with your gains, it prevents muscle waste as well. Another great perk of BCAA powders is that they help you improve your workout intensity.
The science doesn’t lie when it comes to creatine. More than 500 studies support its safety and effectiveness. It’s shown to improve muscle performance, power, size, and strength. Creatine also has other health benefits. That includes such things as an increase in brain function and the lessening of fatigue.
Not exactly the supplement you were expecting, huh?
But when it comes to your health, taking a high potency multi-vitamin ensures the presence of essential nutrients that your body needs for literally thousands of metabolic reactions.
Essential Fatty Acids
There are two types of fatty acids that your body can’t make. Those are omega-3 and omega-6. Both types are vital to muscle growth. These types of fatty acids are proven to enhance stamina, improve muscular development and speed up recovery from training. Essential fatty acids also have benefits such as cardiovascular health improvement, sleep improvement, and many other things.
The bottom line is, even if some of them do work, most muscle-building pills do more harm than good. Don’t give up your health for something you want right now. Don’t take the quick and easy way. There’s no shame in supplementing when you are taking something that has proven benefits and no harmful side effects. But, when you start to get into the more risky supplements, then that can be a big problem.
Building muscle takes time. It also takes a lot of hard work. Take it day by day. Stay as natural as you can. There is no safe cheat when it comes to building muscle and no pill can ever do what hard work and proper nutrition can do.
By Heather Neff, CPT