Our expert says:
Definitely not steroids, that is for sure. Steroids are illegal and very harmful, and so hopefully that will not even enter into the picture. There are a number of other products that claim muscle growth, but I do not believe in the use of these substances, when it has been shown that exercise and good nutrition are the keys to improved performance. Furthermore, these supplements are never fully tested for side-effects or effectiveness, and so they are unknown in the long-term effects. The other problem that affects the muscle gain supplements is contamination, because there is no strict control of what gets put inside these products, and so there are cases of contamination. In the more well established brands, this is less of a problem but there are still risks associated. Basically, I would not recommend a product like this unless you are absolutely sure that you have exhausted all your options regarding training and diet first, which is very rarely the case.
The only time I would condone the use of supplements is when a person is sure that their diet is inadequate. Here, a vitamin supplement is usually adequate, because we in the western world are never deficient in nutrients like protein. So, someone wanting a protein shake just to be sure that they are eating enough protein is probably wasting their money, unless they are really eating very poorly/inadequately.
The other possible exception is someone who is trying to gain weight, and doesn't have the access to the food that is needed - again, here a protein shake may help to add to the protein stores in the body, and this is probably a safe practice. But, other mass builders, creatine, steroids, fat burners etc. I would not find any reason to recommend. So, if you are very sure and willing, then a protein shake is probably the best way to go. If you buy a reputable name, or a product from one of the established companies, the risk of contamination goes down as well.
You need to make sure that you are eating a well-balanced diet that contains enough carbohydrates, proteins and fats. You also need to plan your training carefully so that you get the most benefit out of the least volume of training.
You must make sure that for building mass and especially muscle mass, that you are eating enough proteins and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are important as the body's main source of energy during exercise. Feelings of fatigue, lack of energy, tiredness are all indications of a lack of carbohydrates in the diet. Foods that contain carbohydrates include rice, potatoes, pasta, bread etc. Any starchy food is a good bet.
Then, in terms of proteins, you must try to eat meats, fish, eggs etc. as good sources of proteins. Ideally, these types of foods should make up 30% of your diet, with carbohydrates about 60 to 70%. Fats should be kept to a minimum of about 10 to 20%.
Then finally, keep in mind that you must train properly to increase mass, and eating well is not enough on its own.
If your aim were to build muscle, the following guidelines will help you:
· Perform 6-10 reps at a high intensity - use a weight that you could lift 12 to 15 times
· Perform 3-4 sets
· Rest 30-60 seconds between reps
· Train each muscle group at least once or twice a week
· Allow 48 hours rest between each muscle’s workout
A really good website that you can go to to find out more about weight training is the following:
It contains good advice, explanations and assistance with the different types of exercises for different body parts, and even programmes for different types of people. Well worth a look
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