What you need to know about supplements

As you go about your diet and workout program, there's no question that you're going to start looking into all of the (many) supplements you could consider taking in order to push your results farther.

However, before you dive in and load up your pantry with the latest products you've seen advertised in your favorite fitness magazines, it's important to know the straight facts about certain supplements. If you fall for any of the following lies, you will only be draining your bank account rather than building up your body.

Creatine will cause muscle growth
A common belief is that by taking creatine, you're going to instantly begin putting on pounds of lean muscle mass. Unfortunately this is entirely incorrect. While creatine can help you build muscle, it's going to do so by providing the precursor for the high-energy molecule that fuels muscular contractions. Only if you use that added energy to work harder in the gym will you see enhanced muscle growth and development.

Those who simply take creatine and make no changes whatsoever to their program will not get the results they're looking for.

Casein powder is your best choice before bed
Another common supplement lie that you might be falling for is that casein is always best taken before bed. Night after night you down your shake, thinking you're giving your muscles the best protein source available. While it is true that casein is the slowest form of digestible protein, it's important to realize this supplement fact: Even better than protein powder is a form of casein that comes from real food. Try cottage cheese instead. It contains casein protein and will take longer to break down than a liquid form of protein.

BCAAs are necessary to prevent muscle loss
Another common misbelief is that if you want to prevent muscle mass loss, you should be adding numerous grams of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) each day. While these amino acids do help out with muscle development and repair, understand that your total protein intake is still going to be more important. If you're meeting your protein requirements for muscle retention, dietary supplementation really isn't necessary. There may be small benefits from adding these particular amino acids to the diet, but if you're eating a mixed diet, chances are you're getting them in sufficient volumes already.

Protein bars are a smart choice on the go
In a rush and think a protein bar is a smart choice to keep your diet on track? Think again. Just because protein bars contain protein doesn't mean they are the healthy choice to fuel your body with. The protein found in protein bars isn't of the highest quality, and you're going to consume a whole lot of simple sugar.

If you're in need of a quick snack, open a can of tuna and eat it with two slices of whole grain bread. This will supply you with a healthy dose of carbs and a solid source of quality protein. Or consider making your own protein bars with protein powder, oats and peanut butter. You'll be much better off than having any variety of premade protein bars.


More From AskMen.com:

Creatine Supplements

Best Powder Proteins 

Amino Acids 

5 Supplements Your Body Needs 

The Science of Recovery _______________________________________________________________________________________________

Fat burners will dramatically boost your metabolism
If you're looking to get ripped after a muscle-building period, you might consider using one of the popular fat burner products on the market. While these can help to provide added energy to get through your grueling workouts, you'll be in for some disappointment if you are hoping they'll dramatically boost your metabolism so that you don't have to diet. These fat burners may provide a slight boost to your metabolism, but it's not going to be anything to write home about. You're still going to have to follow a fat-loss diet, and you're still going to have to hit the gym. Expecting the fat burner to burn the fat for you is just a quick way to stalled progress.

Vitamins will provide all the dietary assurance you need
Finally, the last misbelief is that if you take a multivitamin each day, you won't need to worry about getting sufficient amounts of nutrients through your diet plan. While a multivitamin is a good thing to take for added assurance, the fact is that you're almost always better off getting the nutrients through real food, as it's absorbed better (and you'll also get other nutrients, such as fiber).

Take the multivitamin, but still try to meet your requirements through your diet. That will be your best approach to ensure you're covered.

Get the Facts Straight
Keep all these points in mind when you navigate through the supplement shop. While supplements will provide you with some benefits, it's important to realize the extent of those benefits and know how to use supplements properly for best results.