Bodybuilding Supplements Demystified

Simple supplementation is the cornerstone of effective bodybuilding if done correctly.


[Q] Mark, is there a best time to add a fat burner to your get-lean training and dieting? Does it make sense to use one from the get-go, or just in the last few weeks?

[A] I typically will go for as long as possible without fat burners. To me, they’re like a bullet in the war to obtaining a low bodyfat percentage ⎯ and I don’t want to fire it too soon. I think long-term use can be counterproductive. I’ll typically begin fat burners about eight weeks out and structure them in such a way that I have one day off per week. I also like to rotate fat burners. I’m a huge fan of the Nutrex Lipo-6 products, so I’ll run Lipo-6X one week and then Lipo-6 Black the next.

[Q] I remember when creatine first came out, you were supposed to try to take it with grape juice to spike insulin. Why is that important? Does it matter if I take it without juice?

[A] I’m not a fan of grape juice because of its high level of fructose. Fructose is one of the worst carbohydrate sources for bodybuilders, especially in things like fruit juices. I’m a believer in Dr. Mauro DiPasquale’s theories on how our bodies use carbohydrates. Specifically, spiking insulin post-workout can actually be detrimental. Post-workout, starving muscles are wide open to receiving nutrients for repair and growth, and when we flood our bodies with simple carbohydrates the muscles quickly slam the door shut. So I think consuming BCAAs, protein and some fat is preferential immediately following a workout. I prefer to prime my system with carbs, protein and creatine pre- and intra-workout. Therefore, I’ll use Volu-Gro by Nutrex before and during workouts. Post-workout, I’ll go with a Pro-Gram protein shake by Nutrex, usually with some almonds or walnuts.

[Q] I know that protein shakes are beneficial post-workout. Is it as good to have them at other times of the day?

[A] I personally drink at least two shakes throughout the day and between whole-food meals to supplement my protein intake. I often recommend consuming a protein shake before going to bed if you are struggling to make gains. A supplement with multiple protein sources such as fast-digesting whey and slower-digesting casein, is ideal.

[Q] As a bodybuilder-in-training, I have a very diverse diet and a consume a ton of calories every day. Is it still necessary to take a multivitamin?

[A] For some people, multivitamins are a waste of money. Since hard-training athletes often need additional supplementation, I’d stick to food-based multivitamins. Because of the high protein intake of bodybuilders, and subsequent acidity, I recommend a “greens” supplement to alkalize the body. I take a product called Vitamineral Greens twice per day. I also tend to focus on consuming specific vitamins and minerals that athletes are notoriously deficient in such as zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, fish oil and curcumin, which are beneficial for performance and overall health.