So there are gene two camps when it comes the importance of supplements when trying to bulk up and add mass. These are essentially the supplement fanboys and the supplement haters.
Camp 1: The Naturalists
“F*ck supplements. Supplement companies are probably illuminati and you’re wasting your money by buying protein powder and creatine. Eat healthy like me and you’ll make all the gains you want” -Naturalist Ned
Camp 2: The Supplement Sycophants
“Bro, I you got to stack your stack with this pre-stack. Need some of that wild bull semen extract, yeah that’s new, some guy who wore a white coat once that looks kind of like a doctor said it may one shot in a million increase testosterone levels by 12% in 3-legged albino rats” -Supplement Seth
(Technically there could be a third camp that says hey, want to be the biggest you can possibly be? Eat a ton of food like the naturalist, stack your supplements like the bro, and inject these steroids and growth hormones)
So who’s Right? Whole Food or Supplements?
Well, the answer, like many things in life, is a combination. It’s hard as hell to be eating high quality protein-packed meals all day if you hold down a regular office 9-5 or busy school life. Conversely, eating crap all day then drowning in supplements pre and post workout isn’t going to produce results either.
The best way to add mass, especially for ectomorphs and people with high metabolisms is a combination of healthy eating and supplementation.
A killer diet would be something like:
Breakfast: Some whole grain cereal with fruit and a cup of yogurt. Conversely, if you can’t get the yogurt just make sure you get some whole grains, some form of fruit and a protein shake. Add a multivitamin and fish oil.
- Natural: grains, milk, yogurt
- Supplement: Protein shake, multivitamin, fish oil
Lunch: A serving of complex carbs (brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole grain bread) some vegetables (for vitamins) + another vitamin
IT would be nice to have this everyday..
- Natural: everything
- Supplement: multivitamin
Afternoon snack: Protein bar, Granola Bar, Fruit
- All natural
Dinner: Huge serving of complex carbs, slab of meat, vegetables.
- All natural
Pre-Workout: Pre-workout supplement/stack of choice including beta-alanine, citruline malate, creatine, aminos.
- All Supplements
Post-Workout: Protein shake/gainer shake, maybe glucosamine supplement, more creatine
- All Supplements
Before bed meal: Cottage cheese or peanut butter sandwiches OR casein protein shake
- Natural or Supplements or both
Life Sometimes Requires A Combination of Tools
Depending on the day, your schedule and what food is available you are not always able to follow a diet that provides 100% of your protein, caloric and nutritional needs.
This is where supplements like multivitamins and protein shakes come into play because of their CONVENIENCE.
I’d love to eat a fresh box of mixed fruit everyday, but sometimes I live in the midwest and we have a thing called winter.
Furthermore, there are compounds like creatine where studies have shown that dosing what is above a normal persons consumption has positive impacts on strength and endurance when lifting.
To get creatine supplement dosages from whole foods you’ll have to be eating a whole bucket load of red meats daily. Talk about pricey. Talk about fatty!
Eating natural when the opportunity presents itself and supplementing with.. supplements.. when the right foods aren’t within reach is key to continued gains.
Supplements Can Actually Save You Money
People who talk all day about meeting 100% of your dietary requirements (more like 150% if you’re bodybuilding, requiring more than the average sedentary person of most vitamins, minerals, protein and calories) like it’s the easiest thing in the world.
Problem is, this can become quite expensive. Sure some things like oatmeal, brown rice, broccoli and the like can be cheap but meat is not always that cheap, especially lean chicken breasts, non-frozen fish cuts, nutrient rich fruits like blueberries/raspberries etc.
Sometimes it’s actually cheaper to get your nutrients from supplements. The one and only Furious Pete did a great video on how sometimes supplements are just more cost effective than eating whole foods.