Strength Training And Eating For Muscle Weight Gain And Retention Building Muscle Supplements Without Going to the ER – Please Choose Wisely

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Building Muscle Supplements Without Going to the ER – Please Choose Wisely

Here are the good muscle-building supplements from the bad and the ugly.

Anabolic Steroids

Androstenedione

Caffeine

Clenbuterol

Creatine

DHEA

Ephedra/Ephedrine

GHB

hGH

HMB

L-carnitine

Protein

AnabolicSteroids

SOURCES: Hormone drugs available by prescription; also commonly obtained by bodybuilders through the black market.

CLAIMED BENEFITS

Used in conjunction with vigorous strength training, steroids can significantly increase lean muscle mass and create an “Arnold-Schwarzenegger” look.

Jean-Claude Van DAMMMM!, you’re looking good!!!

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES

Can cause breast development, acne, and serious health problems, such as heart disease, liver tumors, and infertility. Banned by the NFL, the NCAA, the International Olympic Committee as well as bodybuilding competition. But there are always loopholes in the system.

Androstenedione

SOURCES

Health-food stores, though there is growing pressure to reclassify andro from a “supplement” to a “medicinal drug”.

CLAIMED BENEFITS

The same muscle-building effects as anabolic steroids.

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES

Banned by the International Olympic Committee, NCAA, NFL, and men’s and women’s tennis tours. The limited studies to date have yielded mixed results – most show little, if any effect on muscle strength. Same potential health risks as steroids.

Caffeine

SOURCES

Coffee, tea, many carbonated beverages, and over-the-counter “stay-awake” pills.

CLAIMED BENEFITS

Stimulates the central nervous system; may cause your body to burn more fat during endurance exercise and in so doing spare energy for use in a final “kick”.

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES

Relatively safe and modestly effective if taken in reasonable doses; can cause heart irregularities, tremors, and other health problems if taken in high doses (equal to 10 cups of coffee). The NCAA and Olympics ban high-dose use.

Clenbuterol

SOURCES

Asthma medication available by prescription only.

CLAIMED BENEFITS

Studies on livestock indicate that these drugs may cut fat and increase lean muscle mass.

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES

Though the muscle-building effectiveness of these agents has not been proved in humans, many elite athletes seem to think these drugs work. Side effects have not been determined.

Creatine

SOURCES

A natural substance found in meat and sold in supplement form in health-food stores.

CLAIMED BENEFITS

Boosts strength by providing muscles with more fuel.

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES

Creatine causes weight gain because of fluid retention. No studies on side effects of long-term use by teenagers.

DHEA

SOURCES

Another so-called testosterone precursor available as an over-the-counter supplement.

CLAIMED BENEFITS

Taking DHEA will increase your body’s supply of testosterone, in effect doing what steroids do.

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES

Not a single study has shown that DHEA has any muscle-building effect. As a teen, you have more natural DHEA than you need, so supplements are a waste of money.

Ephedra/Ephedrine

SOURCES

A stimulant found in numerous over-the-counter products, from decongestant cold remedies to the herb ma huang.

CLAIMED BENEFITS

Like caffeine, ephedra stimulates the production of adrenaline, increases metabolism, and allegedly helps burn fat. Ephedra is sometimes packaged with caffeine and aspirin to create the so-called fat-burning stack.

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES

Ephedra has never been shown to have any substantial benefit in sports performance. Taking too much of it can trigger irregular heartbeats, convulsions, and seizures. The FDA has reported 17 deaths due to ephedrine overdose since its release on the market.

GHB

SOURCES

A drug developed as a potential treatment for uncontrolled sleeping, GHB has gained an unsavory reputation as both a recreational and a “date-rape” drug.

CLAIMED BENEFITS

Bodybuilders have long believed GHB can help build muscles by increasing levels of human growth hormone.

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES

Many athletes have suffered life-threatening complications or even death due to GHB. Last December, Phoenix Suns forward Tom Gugliotta took a GHB-style supplement, collapsed on the team bus, and almost died in the emergency room of a Portland hospital.

hGH

SOURCES

A prescription drug used to treat certain developmental problems; human growth hormone (hGH) can also be obtained on the black market.

CLAIMED BENEFITS

Injections of hGH, when taken in high doses costing upwards of $4,000 per month, can build muscle and strength. Indeed, hGH was the most popular illegal substance used by sprinters and strength athletes in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES

True hGH has a host of undesirable side effects that include, in teenagers, the premature fusion of growth plates, which can stunt growth permanently.

HMB

SOURCES

Derived from protein, HMB was originally developed to help grow leaner cattle; it’s now also being sold as a supplement.

CLAIMED BENEFITS

HMB supposedly builds muscle by sparing the breakdown of protein. Also may cut body fat.

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES

Numerous studies have failed to find any significant effects of taking this supplement.

L-carnitine

SOURCES

An amino acid sold in supplement form.

CLAIMED BENEFITS

Some marketers claim this helps you lose weight and build strength; others say it can cut down on lactic acid, a by-product of exercise that limits how much intense work your muscles can do.

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES

Your body can make all the L-carnitine it needs. Supplements are often contaminated with another form of carnitine, which actually lowers beneficial L-carnitine in the body.

Protein

SOURCES

Protein supplements come in powdered form.

CLAIMED BENEFITS

Supplements such as whey protein are touted as quick, easy sources of high-quality protein, necessary to help rebuild muscles depleted by strength training.

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDE

It’s expensive. You’re probably getting all the protein you need by eating a normal diet of chicken, fish, eggs, milk, and beef. No advantage to taking protein supplements, unless you use them in place of high-fat sources such as cheeseburgers.

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