Unlike steroids, supplements are very accessible and marketing in this field is just superb. Over the years, this business evolved into a multi-billion dollar and practically every professional bodybuilder promotes at least one line of supplements.
Some people may falsely assume that since these products are so heavily promoted, that they are a crap wrapped in pretty package and lies. I don’t think so.
No doubt there is a lot of inferior products out there, but the truth is, that any serious ectomorph bodybuilder will eventually need some supplements in his diet. The questions are when to start taking a supplement and which product to take.
When To Start Taking Supplements?
To answer the first question is not difficult. You start taking supplements when your diet alone cannot provide enough nutrition for your body. Bodybuilding is a journey, and supplements are one of the points on this journey. But it is not the starting point.
Taking supplements right from the start will not allow you to maximize your own potential. You will not be able to say what your body reacts to naturally. And you will create a dangerous minds set that supplements are the real answer to a big muscular body.
The only supplement you should take right from the start is multi-vitamin. This is to give your body the extra vitamins it needs when you workout hard in the gym. but the extra protein and carbohydrates it needs should come from your regular ectomorph diet.
Think of it this way – If you are learning to drive, would Ferrari be the car you start with? When you just learned to read, is Moby Dick the book you’d read? Just because it is available to you and you could even handle it, it does not make it the best choice.
So how do you know when you are ready to start taking the supplements? Of course, there is no exact timeline, but give it at least 18 months of hard workout with a proper diet. But I really mean hard ectomorph workout, with a good ectomorph diet plan. Otherwise, you are cheating yourself. If you are still making progress after that time, then wait some more.
Which Ones To Take?
Now to answer the harder question – what supplement to take?
As an ectomorph bodybuilder, you definitely want some weight-gain product. These are typically products that consists of about 80% of carbs and 20% of proteins. Many times, the manufacturer adds tons of other stuff to it, most of which you do not need and it only increases the price.
You may also want to try to combine the weight-gainer with some clean protein supplement. I personally would go with whey protein. But do not over-use it. Too much protein is a waste of your money and it is fairly hard work for your digestive system. To put it in plain English – your farts will smell horrible.
There’s one more product I’d recommend if you can afford it. Pre-workout supplement. These are designed to give you a boost of energy during your workout, resulting in a harder workout, higher weights and overall better performance (sorry guys, only in the gym).
What Not To Take?
Other than these three, you really do not need anything else. No aminoacids, no Creatine, no Acai Berry… Protein, carbs and workout booster will do just fine for you.
What brand to use is really up to you. Most products in these categories are similar but beware of manufactures driving the price up either by adding unnecessary stuff into the product. Also, you best calculate the cost/benefit ration by checking out the recommended use against the price. Some products may seem cheaper, but they may require a higher dosage to give you the same effect.
Steroids vs Supplements: What is The Difference?
You may be asking: “But isn’t the use of supplements creating an artificial body as steroids do”. Well, I don’t think so.
When it comes to protein and weight-gain supplements, they will simply provide your body nutrition. The same nutrition you give your body with regular food. The only difference is, that it (typically) comes concentrated in a glass of milkshake.
Yes, steroids typically increase the hormonal level of the hormones your body already produces itself, but unlike a protein shake, this is done in a complete unbalance towards other hormones. Put it simply – steroids are chemistry-based, protein shakes are nutrition-based.
Diet and Bodybuilding: What to Eat for a Good Physique
All the fitness training and bodybuilding in the world aren’t nearly enough to get the body you’re aiming for. You may be consistent with your workout program – perhaps even bordering on fanatical; however, without a proper nutrition plan, you’ll not only be compromising your results, but you may be hurting your body in the long run.
The fact is, while everyone needs a nutritious, properly balanced diet when you’re bodybuilding, you have to take it a step further. A well-planned muscle building diet will ensure that you are feeding your body what it needs to reach your desired results.
DO EAT: Proteins and Fats
When you’re bodybuilding, one of the main things your body needs is protein and fat. You’re putting a high level of demand on your body each time you work out, and your body needs help to repair and build muscle.
Protein can be found in meat, eggs, nuts dairy and legumes; however, you’ll want to source much of your protein from chicken and fish which are high in protein but low in fat. It’s also good to occasionally incorporate red meat into your diet, as it provides the body with essential amino acids.
Fats are a little trickier because it’s important to eat the right kinds. While you’ll definitely want to stay away from foods that are fried and greasy, your body will definitely benefit from plenty of Omega-3 fats, healthy oils, and naturally high-fat foods like avocados, nuts, and nut butter.
DO EAT: Whole Grains and Sweet Potatoes
These are a great addition to your diet – particularly when you eat them a few hours before a heavy bodybuilding or fitness training session. Carbohydrates are the fuel that your body will burn as you work out, and you want something that will sustain you throughout your bodybuilding session.
Complex carbs like whole grains and sweet potatoes will burn slowly and provide a steady stream of energy throughout your workout.
DO EAT: Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Of course, as in any diet, you should be eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Some fruits and veggies will actually contribute to building good lean muscle:
- Beets are a good source of betaine which increases muscle strength, as well as enhances liver and joint repair. Beets also provide an energy boost and help speed recovery after a workout.
- Oranges also help to boost muscle growth and will provide a boost of strength and enhance your endurance, making them a good pre-workout snack.
- Spinach is a great source of glutamine which promotes muscle growth and enhances strength and endurance.
- Apples contain specific polyphenols which not only increase muscle strength but also prevent fatigue, allowing you to train longer and harder (check this study from the US National Library of Medicine). Polyphenols are also great for fat burning, making apples another great pre-workout snack.
DON’T EAT: Fried and Refined Foods
This is just common sense for anyone. Refined sugars and starches provide a quick boost of energy that burns off quickly and leaves you feeling weak and listless. You may feel great for a short time, but you’ll soon crash – often in the middle of a tough bodybuilding session.
DON’T EAT: “Energy” Foods and Drinks
Despite the hype, so-called “energy” foods and drinks are a waste of money. They provide your body with a bunch of unnecessary sugars that will burn quickly and leave you weaker in the long run.