There is a lot of uncertainty and confusion surrounding bodybuilding, and rightfully so. A beginner who is just entering the world of gymming and bodybuilding might not know how deep-rooted it is. On the outside, it can all be summed up into a single word; fitness. However, if we take a deeper look on the inside, then “fitness” is at the center of a very large spider web. So, before we discuss the side effects of bodybuilding supplements, let us explore what exactly is bodybuilding and why it is so popular.
What is BodyBuilding?
Bodybuilding is the craft of muscle building by the use of progressive weight training and aerobic exercises to increase aesthetics. It is different from traditional strength training in the sense that bodybuilding focuses on overall physical appearance and not strength. A bodybuilder’s goal is to win in bodybuilding competitions that judge a builder’s appearance on the basis of size, symmetry, muscularity, posing, and presentation.
Bodybuilding is all about muscle hypertrophy which means that it focuses on growing the tissue size of the component cells of our muscles. Although bodybuilding is primarily for aesthetics, it also plays an important role in minimizing coronary heart disease by keeping the bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity under control.
If you google the term “bodybuilders”, you will find a list of people who became models after winning championships and articles about their secrets on how they managed it all. However, the term bodybuilding has evolved and people use it to mean something different than its actual dictionary definition. In an ordinary conversation between two ordinary people, bodybuilding is referred to as what the name suggests, that is, building the body. So, any type of exercise that stimulates muscle growth and induces fitness is often called bodybuilding exercise.
Dictionary definition or ordinary conversation, bodybuilding involves the process of muscle hypertrophy or muscle building, and this concept isn’t lost on the masses. So, many try to stimulate that growth with protein and other digestive supplements. But how effective is it? Are there any side effects? Let’s find out.
Bodybuilding supplements are beneficial. No doubt. There is not anything fundamentally wrong with supplements. In fact, it helps you reach the ideal level of nutrition that your body requires. However, supplements can result in serious side effects if you don’t know what or when to take them. Anything consumed without proper knowledge can have negative effects.
There are different types of bodybuilding supplements such as Whey protein powders, branched-chain amino acids, caffeine, creatine monohydrate, and Glutamine. All types of supplements increase your performance in some way or another, and all types can have certain side effects. It is not necessary that you will experience every side effect listed below because most of it also depends on genes, allergies, and overall health. However, here are some of the most common side effects
Most supplements contain large amounts of caffeine, especially pre-workout supplements. Bodybuilders use pre-workout supplements to enhance energy during the actual workout. Caffeine is a stimulant that reduces fatigue and increases stamina which helps you finish that extra rep during the workout.
However, caffeine supplements can have underlying side effects. Studies show that too much caffeine can result in insomnia, stress, anxiety, and increased heart rate. Now, guess what has the most amount of caffeine in it? Pre-workout supplements. They have a ratio of 5:1 when compared to the caffeine quantity of coffee.
The best way to reduce this side-effect is to avoid taking it in large quantities from the start. The consumption should progressively increase in quantity just like weight training. Also, avoiding workouts and supplements 6-7 hours before bed can minimize this side-effect.
Edema is also known as water retention which means that there is a fluid build-up in your body that can result in swelling of hands, feet, etc. There is one ingredient in these supplements that can cause this edema/water retention. It’s called creatine.
Creatine is used as a supplement to gain muscle mass, strength, and performance while doing high-intensity workouts. Scientists found the body’s ability to store creatine in muscles and thus came the idea of creating creatine supplements. It is a naturally occurring organic compound that is stored in the skeletal muscle, and more intake from external supplements can build onto that storage increasing the muscle size with it.
It is a power booster supplement that can also have side effects that can affect kidneys as it is synthesized there. One common side effect is bloating/edema. The only ways to avoid the side effects are to take proper guidance and consume it in small doses.
Another side-effect of a certain kind of supplement is mild reactions. These certain kinds of supplements are BCAAs and Vitamin B3. The beta-alanine from the branched-chain amino acids is known to reduce lactic acid buildup in the muscles after a high-intensity workout. Vitamin B3 supplements are an important organic compound that helps in every bodily function. However, high amounts of both these supplements can cause reactions.
The beta-alanine supplements can trigger paresthesia. It is a temporary sensation of burning or prickling on your palms, legs, etc. High doses of Vitamin B3 can cause skin rashes and irritation.
This side effect can be avoided with proper monitoring of doses.
The above-mentioned ingredients; creatine and caffeine along with other substances in the supplement such as sodium bicarbonate and magnesium can cause serious digestive issues. Huge amounts of whey protein can also cause diarrhoea.
One simple trick to avoid this side-effect is by mixing the supplements with a lot of water. However, some may still get the laxative effects because not everyone can handle supplements. Studies show that for many a sudden consumption of a large amount of a certain power-enhancing substance doesn’t suit their body.
Another side-effect of a BCAA supplement is headaches and migraines. There is a compound called Citrulline that causes the blood to rush toward strained muscles. It also increases nitric oxide levels in the blood. Naturally, the blood also reaches our brain in excess. Thus, resulting in headaches.
To avoid this side-effect one should consume BCAA supplements with stringent dose rules and guidance by an expert.
The bottom line is that if you are a beginner in bodybuilding then avoiding supplements altogether is recommended. However, after a few months of consistency, your body needs to be pushed a notch up. In this case, good supplements backed up by science and experts can help immensely. However, one should also be aware of the underlying side-effects of the same. Starting with small doses and testing out different ways to consume it can help avoid such side effects.