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Are bodybuilding supplements necessary?

Though supplements aren't a magic pill, they can add a significant element of convenience to your eating plan.

Kris is one of the most well-known names in the international bodybuilding circuit as the editor-at-large and main spokesmodel of Bodybuilding.com. He is the creator of the Dramatic Transformation Principle (DTP), which has helped Hrithik Roshan transform his body for his upcoming movieKrrish 3and has been training other celebs like John Abraham and Mahesh Babu as well. Here s an excerpt from his book The Bodybuilding.com: Guide to Your Best Body which discusses the role supplements play in your workout.

Kris with Hrithik

Though supplements aren t a magic pill, they can add a significant element of convenience to your eating plan, which by now you know requires you to eat at frequent intervals. They can also provide a great sanctuary when cravings rear their ugly, uninvited heads. A favourite night-time treat of mine is to mix a thick, creamy protein pudding powder and enjoy it with a stalk of celery. Okay, it s not exactly decadent but it sure beats consuming a high-calorie cookie that would destroy all chances of a successful transformation.

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As the editor in chief of Bodybuilding.com, I am in the unique position to know my way around a supplement shelf, and I have tried and tested almost everything I can pronounce. With so many supplements available, I take only the very basic ones. When I present them to you here, the list may seem long, but that is because most of the time I prefer to purchase single ingredients instead of blends; that way I know exactly what specific supplement, and how much of it, works best for me. Next is the list of supplements that I take and also the ones I recommend to everyone else seeking a top-notch transformation. I ve spent more than a decade taking and refining my supplement list, and I have found this formula best fuels my workouts, helps me recover quickly, and also happens to satisfy my taste buds. These recommendations come from my own personal experience, and I m not paid to push a specific brand or product.

1. A multivitamin and multimineral formula

Soil today is much more cultivated than it was in years past, which has greatly depleted the minerals and vitamins you get from the foods that grow in the soil and the animals that live off the land. This is why I highly recommend taking a multivitamin and multimineral formula morning and night to be sure your body is provided with all the nutrients it needs for good health that you may not be getting from the foods on your eating plan. I personally take the Gaspari Nutrition multivitamin called Anavite because it is designed to enhance performance for the active individual.

2. A protein powder

A palm-sized portion of protein with every meal, as this will help your muscles rebuild and recover from the stress placed on them during workouts. Since eating protein six times per day can get a little inconvenient, you can try drinking it occasionally. If I know I m going to have a lot of meetings in a day, I always pack my cooler bag, but sometimes I have to eat during meetings, which is tough and especially difficult if I have to do most of the talking.

That s when I ll grab my shaker bottle that I ve already scooped protein powder into, add a little water, and drink. Sometimes there s just no other option, and these quick, nutrient-rich shakes can be a lifesaver!

There are many great-tasting protein powders available, but I like the Gaspari Probiotic Myofusion because it is very low in lactose, tastes great, and contains good bacteria and probiotics, including acidophilus and bifidus.

This shake can also be mixed thick in case I prefer a dessert like consistency. I recommend you consume your protein shake as a meal replacement when carbohydrates aren t required and as your post-workout shake, mixed with carbohydrate powder and creatine (more on those supplements later). These shakes should be mixed with water, not milk, to avoid additional sugar. Also, read how to select a protein powder.

3. A carbohydrate powder

Recent years have brought us a sense of paranoia about carbs; I truly don t understand the fuss. I love carbs, but I am educated enough to know which ones to eat and when. There are some that are digested very fast, such as those derived from white flour, and I do recommend you avoid these. However, there is a time and a place for fast-digesting carbs.

The good news is that there s a way to get those kinds of carbs without eating foods filled with sugar or white flour. The fastest of all is a powder called GENr8 Vitargo, which is a starch that contains no sugar but is digested by the body faster than a sugar. When your energy levels are at their most depleted, which is normally after a workout, it is essential to feed your body as soon as possible to ensure adequate restoration. That way, your muscles can perform at their best the following day and in later workouts. I personally have my protein shake with natural-flavored GENr8 Vitargo immediately post workout, and I recommend you do the same. If you ve trained hard, the carbohydrates will replenish your depleted energy stores and will not promote fat gain.

4. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)

Branched-chain amino acids are three of the essential amino acids that make up the skeletal muscle in our bodies. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which your body uses to create muscle and other tissues.

Because your body cannot produce these essential amino acids on its own meaning it gets them from your diet supplementing what you get from solid foods can help improve recovery, prevent muscle wastage, and promote protein synthesis.

If you don t supply your body with enough BCAAs, it will break down muscle and tissues to use for energy something you definitely want to avoid. While that s a significant part of the reason I take BCAAs, another reason is that it makes me drink more water. I recommend the Xtend powder formula made by Scivation because it tastes great when you add it to water. I add several scoops to my gallon jug of water, and the water s gone before I know it. The grape flavor prompts me to drink much more water throughout the day than I would if it were tasteless. Plus, I think the little bit of sweetness helps ward off cravings. The Xtend brand also contains glutamine, which further enhances recovery and promotes a healthy immune system.

5. Fat Burners

This is a controversial topic, as there is no such thing as a 'magic pill' that is going to help you lose those unwanted pounds. A good fat burner, however, can really help with all the aspects of a transformation that people tend to struggle with. The best I have found is called Grenade Thermo Detonator R ( Grenade Fat Burner ). The purpose of a fat burner is to help suppress appetite and control cravings, bolster mental focus, and perhaps most important increase energy to get the most out of each training session while on a diet of low carbs/calories. Grenade ticks all of these boxes without any jitters, anxiety, or crash that I have experienced with similar products in the past. I take 1 capsule before my cardio sessions.

6. Meal Replacement

Meals aren t considered supplements so much as real meals; however, they do have the convenience of supplements. These lean protein and slow release carbohydrate meals are perfect to eat on the go; all you need is boiling water and 8 minutes to allow it to cook. I like to take them with me while traveling, sitting at the office, driving in the car, or when I don t have time to grocery shop and prepare and cook a meal. They taste good in addition to being very satisfying. The chicken breast option is perfectly balanced for those aiming to build muscle and burn fat for a successful transformation. These meals have been created under my own strict guidance so they can be conveniently enjoyed specifically as part of this program.

7. A Preworkout Supplement

What you want from a good pre-workout product is a more intense and focused training session with increased blood flow for a better neuromuscular response. Right now I m using Grenade .50 Calibre. The first time I took it, I was around 15 percent body fat, yet my vascularity and increased muscularity were very apparent! It honestly felt like someone had pumped me up with two extra pints of blood!

A pre-workout supplement should substantially increase your intensity level, but without the mad rush, anxiety, and distraction that sometimes accompany it. When taking .50 Calibre you may find that you actually have to force yourself to take longer rests between sets, which is exactly what you want during the latter stages of the 12-week plan, when you enter the DTP phase.

Also read other excerpts from the book Tips to lose belly fat , How Hrithik transformed his body and Exercises for Toned Legs . The Bodybuilding.com: Guide to Your Best Body is authored by Kris Gethin and published by Simon & Schuster (2013). It can be purchased online on Flipkart. Watch this space for more excerpts from the book. Read about the launch of the Indian edition of the book here.

Image source: Getty Images


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