Bodybuilding supplements are dietary supplements commonly used by those involved in bodybuilding and athletics. They include protein (the most widely used such supplement), branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) , glutamine , essential fatty acids , meal replacement products, prohormones , creatine , thermogenic products and testosterone boosters. There is no scientific consensus in favor of the usefulness of many bodybuilding supplements, and some have potentially harmful side-effects.

Bodybuilding supplements are marketed in magazines, newspapers, gyms and via trainers, mostly supplied without prescription in stores or through the mail, and have helped push annual sales of sport nutrition products in the US to over $2.7 billion


Branched-chain amino acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein; the body breaks consumed protein into amino acids in the stomach and intestines . There are three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine , isoleucine , and valine . Each has numerous benefits on various biological processes in the body. Unlike other amino acids, BCAAs are metabolised in the muscle and have an anabolic /anti- catabolic effect on it. BCAAs account for 33% of muscle protein


Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid found in human muscle and is commonly found in supplements or as a micronized, instantly soluble powder because supplement manufacturers claim the body's natural glutamine stores are depleted during anaerobic exercise . Serum glutamine is used by the body to counteract the acidosis that results from exercise; in order to replenish the loss of glutamine from the bloodstream, the body catabolises glutamine from the muscle. Ingestion of supplemental glutamine may therefore help ensure a ready supply for the muscles. It is also argued that a deficiency may lead to a weakened immune system and wasting of muscle tissue. .

Some studies have shown there to be no significant effect of glutamine on bench press strength, knee-extension torque or lean muscle mass when compared to controls taking a placebo, though another study found that glutamine is beneficial in raising T-helper/suppressor cell ratio in long distance runners

Essential fatty acids

The essential fatty acids ( alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid ) may be especially important to supplement while bodybuilding; these cannot readily be made in the body, but are required for various functions within the body to take place. Bodybuilders often go on such low fat diets that they become fat-deficient.

Fatty fish, which are rich in essential fatty acids, include salmon , trout , and mackerel ; fish oils can also be taken in supplement form.

Polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower, and safflower oils, cannot provide linoleic acid. Soybean oil is the only commonly-consumed oil that contains linoleic acid. Flaxseed oil, often sold as a supplement on its own, is an ideal source of alpha-Linolenic acid, which can also be found in walnuts and pumpkin seeds.


Main article: Creatine supplements

Creatine is an organic acid naturally occurring in the body that supplies energy to muscle cells for short bursts of energy (as required in lifting weights) via creatine phosphate replenishment of ATP . A number of scientific studies have shown that creatine can improve strength, energy,] muscle mass, and recovery times. In addition, recent studies have also shown that creatine improves brain function and reduces mental fatigue. Unlike steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs, creatine can be found naturally in many common foods such as herring, tuna, salmon, and beef, making it difficult to ban it from sporting competitions.

Creatine increases what is known as cell volumization by drawing water into muscle cells, making them larger . This intracellular retention should not be confused with the common myth that creatine causes bloating (or intercellular water retention).

Creatine is sold in a variety of forms, including creatine monohydrate and creatine ethyl ester , amongst others. Though all types of creatine are sold for the same purposes, there are subtle differences between them, such as price and necessary dosage. Non-supplemental sources of creatine include various types of offal , red meat, and kidney meat.