Bodybuilding supplements are dietary supplements commonly used by those involved in bodybuilding and athletics. Bodybuilding supplements may be used to replace meals, enhance weight gain, promote weight loss or improve athletic performance. Among the most widely used are vitamin supplements, protein, branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), glutamine, essential fatty acids, meal replacement products, creatine, weight loss products and testosterone boosters. Supplements are sold either as single ingredient preparations or in the form of "stacks" - proprietary blends of various supplements marketed as offering synergistic advantages. While many bodybuilding supplements are also consumed by the general public their salience and frequency of use may differ when used specifically by bodybuilders.
Annual sales of sport nutrition products in the US is over $2.7 billion (US) according to Consumer Reports.
Athletes in ancient Greece were advised to consume large quantities of meat and wine. A number of herbal concoctions and tonics have been used by strongmen and athletes since ancient times across cultures for the enhancement of strength, vigour, prowess and stamina. In the 1910s, Eugen Sandow, widely considered to be the first modern bodybuilder in the West, advocated the use of dietary control to enhance muscle growth. Later, bodybuilder Earle Liederman advocated the use of "beef juice" or "beef extract" (basically, consomme) as a way to enhance muscle recovery. In 1950s with recreational and competitive bodybuilding becoming increasingly popular Irvin P. Johnson began to popularize and market egg-based protein powders marketed specifically at bodybuilders and physical athletes. The 1970s and 1980s marked an explosion in the growth of the bodybuilding supplement industry fueled by an unprecedented increase in mainstream recreational bodybuilding and the widespread use of modern marketing techniques.
In the USA, in October 1994, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) was signed into law. Under DSHEA, a supplement manufacturer alone is responsible for determining that the dietary supplements it manufactures or distributes are safe. Dietary supplements did not henceforth need approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they were marketed. Except in the case of a new dietary ingredient, a firm did not have to provide FDA with the evidence to substantiate safety or effectiveness. It is widely believed that the 1994 DSHEA further consolidated the position of the supplement industry and lead to unprecedented growth and sales figures.
The US FDA reports 50,000 health problems a year due to dietary supplements. These often involve bodybuilding supplements.
For example, the "natural" best-seller Craze, 2012's "New Supplement of the Year" by bodybuilding.com, sold in Walmart, Amazon etc., was found to contain undisclosed amphetamine-like compounds. Also other products by Matt Cahill have contained dangerous substances causing blindness or liver damages, and experts say that Cahill is emblematic for the whole industry.
The incidence of liver damage from dietary supplements has tripled in a decade. Most of the supplements involved were bodybuilding supplements. Some of the patients require liver transplants and some die. One third of the supplements involved contained unlisted steroids. Dr. Victor Navarro, the chairman of the hepatology division at Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia, said that "while liver injuries linked to supplements were alarming, he believed that a majority of supplements were generally safe. Most of the liver injuries tracked by a network of medical officials are caused by prescription drugs used to treat things like cancer, diabetes and heart disease"
Modern bodybuilding supplements are often marketed as promoting various desirable processes related to improving nutrition, enhancing body composition or improving lifting performance. Supplements are often categorized accordingly. While many of these categories are based on scientifically based physiological or biochemical processes, their use in bodybuilding parlance is often heavily colored by bodybuilding lore and industry marketing and as such may deviate considerably from traditional scientific usages of these terms.
Bodybuilders often supplement their diets with a powdered form of protein. The powder is mixed with water, milk or juice. Protein powder is generally consumed immediately before and after exercising, or in place of a meal. Some types of protein are to be taken directly before and after a workout (whey protein), while others are to be taken before going to bed (casein protein). The theory behind this supplementation is that bodybuilders, by virtue of their unique training methods and end-goals, require higher-than-average quantities of protein to support maximal muscle growth.
"The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for both men and women is 0.80 g of good quality protein/kg body weight/d and is based on careful analyses of available nitrogen balance studies.". "In view of the lack of compelling evidence to the contrary, no additional dietary protein is suggested for healthy adults undertaking resistance or endurance exercise."
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