Reliable bodybuilding nutrition information isn’t that easy to find. Too often, eager for the quick gain, the inexperienced bodybuilder gets caught in the traps of supplement hype and anecdotal evidence.
This empties his pockets (and lines those of the bodybuilding supplement manufacturers and distributors), drains his enthusiasm and accomplishes nothing.
Don’t mistake this to be an anti-supplement article.
There exist a few supplements that are extremely beneficial to those trying to gain weight and build muscle. For more on these, check the Bodybuilding Supplement Guide for suggested brands and other information.
This is instead an attempt to help the bodybuilder resist the urge to spend his money on the many worthless and over-hyped bodybuilding supplements on the market.
Visit any sports nutrition store, online or off, and you’ll be blasted with the latest, greatest breakthrough that will revolutionize the world of bodybuilding nutrition. Go back to that store a couple of months later and you’ll likely find a different stock of latest and greatest revolutionary bodybuilding supplements.
So what happened to the first product you saw??? What happened to that revolution???
It is easy to get caught up in the hype of bodybuilding supplements.
- “May increase testosterone by 50%”
- “Studies produced a 75% strength gain in those individuals taking product B”
- “Steroid-like gains are now safely possible”
- “Rats taking product B dropped 50% fat and gained 50% muscle”
Read these statements carefully and you’ll find they mean absolutely nothing.
- Eating cardboard may increase testosterone (to my knowledge, cardboard consumption has never been disproved as a testosterone enhancer).
- What were the controls in the studies they cite? Who funded the studies?
- No product other than actual steroids will produce steroid-like results.
- Results in animal testing do not always translate to human results.
Understand that the bodybuilding nutrition companies are out to make a profit. They spend a great deal of money on marketing. This includes paying writers to create copy that will lead you to buy the product while avoiding the facts (like, the product has never succeeded in showing gains beyond that of a placebo in an independent study).
This also includes advertising money. And if a bodybuilding nutrition company is paying big ad bucks to the muscle mags (or, if they themselves own the magazine), don’t expect those muscle magazines to turn around and bite the hand that feeds them. This is part of the reason that muscle magazines are more of a hindrance than a help to the average person seeking to build muscle.
Be very weary of the bodybuilding nutrition companies claims. Don’t let them sucker you out of your money.
Many people have a false sense of security that government is watching, that it has people in place ready to pounce on any half-truth a supplement company can dream up. This isn’t true.
Bodybuilding nutrition supplements in the United States are covered by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. Previous to this act, supplements were held to the same standards as food and the responsibility of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
DSHEA was passed in response to concerns that the FDA was unnecessarily restrictive in its regulation of dietary supplements. The act essentially created a special food category for dietary supplements that took the responsibilities for their labeling and manufacturing processes from the FDA and placed it with the manufacturers.
There are guidelines they must follow. While labels can’t suggest the supplement can prevent, treat or cure a disease, they can make claims that it has effects on the structure or function of the body (with a disclaimer that the statements haven’t been evaluated by the FDA). The guidelines go further to state that label claims must be truthful and not misleading, that all claims must be adequately substantiated.
This leaves some wiggle room for even the most conservative supplement advertisers (if such a species exists). Again, supplement companies hire writers not to educate their consumers but to move product.
The FDA polices the label claims made by supplement companies and gets help from the FTC for advertisements away from the point-of-purchase. Other federal agencies act in support roles and state-by-state laws can come into play.
In the end though, these regulations and their enforcement should provide little peace of mind for prospective supplement purchasers. It isn’t hard to find many products seemingly ignoring the guidelines and just hoping they don’t get caught.
With literally thousands of companies marketing tens of thousands of dietary supplements, the FDA simply doesn’t have enough resources to pursue all offenders and must concentrate its efforts on those it deems the most grievous.
I’m not anti-DSHEA. In my opinion, the protection we give up is well worth the freedom we gain to make educated and intelligent choices regarding those bodybuilding nutrition supplements we feel may be able to help our health and fitness goals. A little common sense is all that is needed to keep your money in your pocket.
The Danger of Anecdotal Evidence
This is the “hidden” hype of bodybuilding supplements.
Beware of anecdotal evidence. If Joe on a message board or John at the gym tells you that he experienced a five-week 10 pound muscle gain on the latest and greatest bodybuilding supplement, “Anabolic Stud Stuff (ASS),” this should not be enough for you to rush to the bodybuilding nutrition store and fork over a hundred bucks.
What Joe and John may not be telling you is that they also upped their protein intake and total calories while increasing their weight lifting intensity.
The above story is exactly how worthless supplements stick around. The supplement manufacturers advise that in addition to taking their bodybuilding supplements, you do the legitimate things that will build muscle. You’ll see statements like, “Results from supplementing with ASS will be dependent on your diet and exercise intensity.”
What they don’t to tell you is that if you eat right and work hard, chances are you are going to make the same gains without ASS (and save $100).
In the end, it is not the miracle supplement that caused the gains for Joe or John. What even they don’t realize is that they gained muscle in spite of ASS, not because of it. It was their increased emphasis on their diets and training that was responsible. They should be giving themselves the credit, not the supplements.
The miracle supplement only acted as an expensive placebo.
When people pay big money for the miracle supplements they are more likely to pay attention to their training and food intake because they have more at stake. Therefore, they are more likely to get results.
This is why legitimate studies always include a control group. Without a control group, there is no way to judge the effectiveness of a supplement.
The Real Miracle Supplement
If you’re determined to find a miracle supplement, imagine for a minute that someone has packaged good bodybuilding nutrition and intense weight lifting into a capsule and (most importantly) given it a cool but scientific-sounding name.
Legitimate studies would soon report the incredible results. Bodybuilding nutrition companies would be for the first time advertising steroid-like results and still be able to sleep at night. Every bodybuilder would be taking it and attaining results that dwarfed those from any other product on the market.
This product, obviously, DOES EXIST. Just not in powder or capsule form. It takes a little effort. How many of us do all we can do to get the most out of this miracle supplement of good bodybuilding nutrition and intense weight lifting? Stack those two and you really have something.
Now that you’re determined not to fall for the hype, how do you effectively supplement for weight and muscle gain?
The first thing you do is plan a diet with solid bodybuilding nutrition. With a diet plan in hand, use dietary supplements to plug the holes in your diet, those places where your diet is lacking. And then sprinkle in some muscle building supplements if you like. Learn more about how to best use weight gain and muscle supplements.
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Delmonte has caught some flak for this claim, find out some of the reasons for the skepticism and whether or not it was even possible.