As a natural bodybuilding titleholder, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to succeed in the bodybuilding world. One of the most important things I have learned is the importance of using the right supplements at the right time.
Supplements can help you reach your fitness goals faster and easier. They can help you to build muscle, lose fat, and improve your overall health in a variety of ways. However, not all supplements are created equal, and it’s important to choose supplements that are high quality and are right for your individual needs.
In this article, I will share my top picks for the best supplements, particularly for women. These are the supplements that I have used, and which have helped me to reach my fitness goals.
Fasted cardio is a great way to burn fat and improve your cardiovascular health. It involves working out on an empty stomach, which in turn helps to boost your metabolism and burn more calories. However, it’s important to stay hydrated and fuel your body properly before and after your workout.
There are a number of supplements that can help you to get the most out of your fasted cardio workouts. These are some of them, what they do to help you on your fitness journey, and my recommended brands.
EAAs (Essential Amino Acids) are acids that the body cannot produce on its own, therefore must be obtained through the food you ingest. Most people do get enough EAAs from their diet, but as a bodybuilder you will need an increased intake of them to optimise your fitness journey and reach your goals.
There are nine EAAs, which are:
Between them, Essential Amino Acids help to build your muscle and are anti-catabolic, which means they prevent the breakdown of your muscle tissue, effectively optimising your muscle retention as you work your way to your goals.
Tryptophan is an EAA that helps to create melatonin and serotonin, which regulate your mood and appetite. It also promotes deep sleep and helps to regulate sleep/wake cycles effectively, which can massively benefit your motivation.
I have found that Reflex Nutrition EAAS are most effective and I would have no hesitation in recommending them to anybody.
N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an amino acid that’s a derivative of the amino acid cysteine, which is one of the 20 amino acids that make up proteins. It’s a powerful antioxidant and has been proven to have a number of health benefits.
It massively helps to detoxify your body, whilst boosting your immune system and improve functions of some vital organs, including the liver and lungs.
NAC is also integral to your nervous system, and is proven to improve cognitive brain functions and maintain your brain health.
My recommendation for NAC would have to be that of Nova Nutrition NAC.
The most abundant amino acid in the human body is glutamine, which can be found in both your muscle and blood plasma. It’s a non-essential amino acid, which means your body can produce its own, but its benefits are amazing for muscle growth and repair, therefore for you as a bodybuilder, it is pretty essential. It can help you to recover from workouts and build muscle.
Glutamine plays a role in a number of important functions, including:
- Supports healthy gut microbiome, which is important for digestion, absorption and immunity
- Improved recovery, helping to speed up recovery from workouts by reducing inflammation and muscle soreness
- Helps prevent breakdown of cell membranes during fasted cardio which means less risk of muscle loss
To get more vital glutamine into your bodybuilding regime, I would always recommend Reflex Glutamine.
The best supplements before bed
Taking supplements before bed is a great way to support your goals. It’s not all about before and after workouts. While you sleep, your body is working to repair and rebuild its tissues. By taking the right supplements before bed, you can give your body the nutrients that can promote and assist with that recovery.
Magnesium is a vital supplement for before bed, as it is proven to improve your sleep, helping you to wake up feeling refreshed and energised.
In terms of your physical recovery, Magnesium has a few great benefits for your muscles and bones. For example, it improves muscle contraction and prevents cramping, as well as improving the mineralisation of your bones.
If you’re needing magnesium supplements for your dietary regime then you need look no further than Barefoot Nutrition’s amazing Magnesium range.
Zinc is an essential mineral that can be beneficial in several ways for bodybuilders. First off, it helps to increase muscle mass and supports the growth and repair of your muscle cells. It will also speed up your overnight recovery by reducing inflammation and muscle soreness.
As with magnesium, zinc will also improve your sleep, which will help you to wake up feeling energised and ready to go again.
My recommendation here would be ZENements Zinc supplements.
KSM-66 Ashwagandha is an extract of the ashwagandha root. It is known for its adaptogenic properties, which means it helps the body to adapt to stress and stressful situations.
It can increase your energy and help to clear brain fog, and will boost testosterone in males (and to some extent females).
My recommendation would be the Super Botanic range of Ashwaghanda KSM-66.
Supplements to preserve muscle around weight training
As you will no doubt know, when you train with weights, you are regularly breaking down your muscle tissue with a view to allowing them to grow back even stronger.
However, if you fail to give those muscles the nutrients they need to recover, they will continue to break down instead of building up, which can be frustrating and discouraging. Here are some great, important supplements to help you.
An Amino Acid that your body can produce naturally, but one which you would benefit from supplementing during a bodybuilding regime, L-Arginine helps to increase muscle growth by increasing nitric oxide production. Nitric Oxide helps to relax your blood vessels and improve flow to the muscles. This allows more oxygen and nutrients to reach them, which in turn will help them to grow larger and stronger.
I recommend Nova Nutritions’ L-Arginine, 100%.
Green Tea Extract
A very popular supplement among bodybuilders and athletes, Green Tea Extract is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and has several benefits.
One key benefit is that it increases thermogenesis, which is the body’s production of heat that can lead to increased calorie burning and weight loss. Added to this, it can also reduce the damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are produced by the body as a standard part of metabolism, and increased numbers of them can cause damage to your DNA and proteins. By using green tea extract in your supplement regime, you can help to actively reduce the damage caused.
I highly recommend the premium, high strength Green Tea Extract by British Supplements.
A hugely popular supplement on the bodybuilding scene, Creatine helps to increase muscle mass and strength.
It works by increasing the amount of phosphocreatine in your muscles. Phosphocreatine is a high-energy compound that is used to create ATP, which is the body’s main source of energy. By increasing the amount of it in your muscles, creatine helps them to grow. On top of this, the anti-catabolic properties mean that Creatine actively helps to prevent any counterproductive muscle breakdown.
Because it is protein sparing, it helps to give you a better contraction when lifting weights.
Reflex Nutrition supply a fantastic Creatine Supplement, which I strongly recommend.
Lighter than the more traditional whey protein shakes, Whey Isolate or the new version of Clear Whey has been developed to enable faster and easier protein absorption by the body.
They tend to be low in fat and carbs and lactose, and they aid faster tissue repair and so a straight forward whey isolate is better straight after weight training.
A good option pre workout would be a peptide as it contains a mix of different proteins that contain slower and faster release rates.
Supplements and vitamins for general health
Bodybuilding and the regimes that come with it can and do cause heavy stresses on your body, so it is vitally important that you look after your general health and wellbeing with a series of vitamins and minerals. The list below are my recommendations, with some great benefits for each.
- Vitamin C is the building block of all proteins
- Strong antioxidant
- Anti carcinogen
- Big anti inflammatory
- Mediator in other chemical interactions
Recommended: British Supplements Vitamin C
- Immune system booster
- Anti carcinogen
- Anti inflammatory
- Heart health protector
- Skin protection from sun burn
- Catalyst for absorption and transport of other nutrients eg calcium
Recommended: Barefoot Nutrition’s Vitamin D3
- Naturally free releases testosterone (Up to 20% in men)
- Can be taken by both men & women
- Adaptogenic properties when combined with Ashwaganda
Recommended: Super Botanic’s Tongkat Ali
- Reduction of bloat & water retention, menstrual cramps & flow during period for females
- Enhances energy production
- Aids skin health
- Rich in Vitamin C (there’s more in Moringa than in oranges!)
Recommended: Super Botanic’s Moringa
- Anti inflammatory
- Reduces joint inflammation after training
- Reduces brain inflammation resulting from reduced sleep
- Reduces gut inflammation resulting from inflammatory diet or foods
Recommended: SuperBotanic’s Super Curcumin
- Anti inflammatory
- Heart support
- Cardiovascular support
Recommended: Barefoot Nutrition’s Omega 3
Vitamin B12 Complete
- Promotes energy production/ reduction of fatigue
- Helps promote fat metabolism
Recommended: Barefoot Nutrition’s Vitamin B12 complete
As a champion natural female bodybuilder and qualified nutritionist, I have tried many different supplements over the years. Some have worked for me, others not so much, but with the benefit of my experience and expertise, hopefully this guide is something you will find great value in as you embark upon your own bodybuilding journey.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to supplements, and if you are totally new to bodybuilding then I recommend talking to a certified PT or nutritionist before starting a supplement regime. They will help to create a plan that will be effective for you. Personally I work with Action4Health for full guidance and support.
And remember, supplements are just one part of your equation. You will need to eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and train hard. Push yourself hard, and these supplements can help you to take your bodybuilding to the next level.
I am a British Natural Women’s Bodybuilding title-holder, with many 1st place trophies for competitive bodybuilding. I achieved a 3rd placed position in a UK International competition and have been a finalist at numerous bodybuilding competitions.
I believe that efficient training, correct nutrition, recovery, and quality supplementation are key to gaining optimum results, and I uphold high standards by paying attention to my health and nutritional demands whether I’m prepping to compete or not.
More recently, I have merged my love for fitness and bodybuilding with my professional photography work. I have carved out a solid reputation in the fitness industry as a photographer that understands the dedication and effort required to achieve success.
It’s not only brands and their products that I love to connect with, I have forged great working relationships with countless professional PTs, independent Gyms, and online coaches.