They’ll do anything to pump up their muscles. Weight lifters, especially professional ones, take an incredible assortment of dietary supplements each day with the hope of building big muscles. What are the supplements du jour? Do they work and can any cause harm? Professional bodybuilder Craig Licker consumes a daily cocktail of dietary supplements.
Craig Licker ,Professional Bodybuilder,1994 National Champion:
“I buy, let’s see, designer whey protein, which is a protein powder supplement… I buy vitamin C capsules. I buy HMB, I buy creatine monohydrate. I buy digestive enzymes… chromium fuel caps, I buy l-carnitine.”
The monthly price tag… About $650.
“If I didn’t take supplements, there’s no way that I would look as good as my competitors.”
Supplements are sexy with many promises of amazing results. One supplement company implies you can go from mushy muscles to bulging biceps in just 30 days.
Gary I. Wadler, M.D. Fellow, American College of Sports Medicine:
“Unfortunately, I think there’s a lot of money being spent on products for which there’s no science, no basis, not even very good anecdote but a lot of promotion.”
So which products do work? Mark Allen, who makes a living selling supplements near Boston, says there’s a clear winner among the pack.
Mark Allen, Manager, Doc Holidays:
“The biggest one, and probably the hottest ones out today would be actually creatine that they put out definitely for size and strength.”
Gary I. Wadler, M.D. Fellow:
“It allows you to have an instant burst of intense exercise like lifting weights. And in the course of lifting weights, you have burned up all that instant energy, you probably can get a few more reps if you take creatine.”
Besides creatine, two other popular supplements HMB, and the so-called fountain of youth hormone, DHEA, are flying off the shelves. People who use them swear they build muscle and burn fat. But Dr. Wadler says no long-term human studies have been done yet to prove their effectiveness or safety.
Gary I. Wadler, M.D. Fellow:
“Might we see down the road serious adverse affects? The answer is, we don’t know.”
For two years, Joe Spagnuolo took this product called Ripped Fuel to energize him before his workouts. He thought it was safe at first.
Joe Spagnuolo, Exercise Enthusiast:
“I felt as if I was almost going to pass out, so that’s enough to tell me that I’m not messing with it anymore.”
Ripped Fuel contains a natural herb called ma huang, also known as ephedrine, which has been linked to heart and nervous system problems in some people.
Susan M. Kleiner, Ph.D., R.D., Registered Dietitian, Author, High-Performance Nutrition:
“Unfortunately, there’s no regulation of the supplement industry, or little to no regulation, so that they can pretty much tell you anything.”
So buyer beware. Make sure you follow directions, stick with products that have been thoroughly tested like creatine, and choose supplements made by reputable labs. And although you may never be as ripped as Craig Licker, the best strategies for success still include eating right and sweating out on the floor. Experts also suggest you talk to your doctor or dietitian before taking any dietary supplements to make sure the products don’t interfere with your health in any way.
Serving Size: 1 stick pack (3.9g)
Amount per Packet %DV*
Total carbohydrates 2g 1%
Vitamin C 600mg 1000%
(as PolyC® – calcium, magnesium,
potassium, and zinc ascorbates –
sodium ascorbate, and ascorbic acid)
Zinc 10mg 66%
(as amino acid chelate)
Black elderberry extract 30mg †
(Sambucus nigra L.)
Echinacea extract 100mg †
* Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
† %DV not established.
Other Ingredients: Evaporated Cane Juice, Crystalline
Fructose, Xylitol, Natural Lemon Flavor, Stevia.
Laboratory tested, quality guaranteed. Meets
USP specifications for uniformity, potency, and
disintegration, where applicable.
USANA Booster C 600 provides a potent dose of immuneboosting
ingredients. Do not exceed recommended dose, and do not use longer than two weeks. Keep out of reach of children. Consult your physician if you are pregnant, nursing, taking a prescription drug, or have a medical condition.