The number of different types of bodybuilding products available is numerous. Aside from staple protein powders and creatine supplements, there also are supplements that improve muscle recovery and increase testosterone production. These products serve one common goal: to make it easier to build muscle while reducing muscle recovery time. By combining both of these benefits into a simple, easy-to-take supplement, bodybuilders have a hands-off solution for maximizing their muscle gains.
The most common bodybuilding products include protein powders infused with creatine or whey protein, which reportedly improves muscle recovery. Whey protein is the most common type of protein used in protein powders because of its availability — the protein is easily extracted from milk — and its rich amino acid content. Amino acids provide the foundation for building muscle tissue, and protein makes it easier for the body to repair damaged muscle. Whey protein powders typically are consumed with liquid after a strength-building workout to facilitate recovery.
Creatine has a similar effect on muscle recovery, even though it isn't actually a protein. Creatine is a naturally occurring acid called a nitrogenous organic acid, which supplies energy to skeletal muscle tissue, making it a very sought-after ingredient within the bodybuilding community. Creatine isn't free of side effects, however, and men who took creatine powders have been shown to have a higher risk for liver malfunction.
Other bodybuilding products include supplements that boost testosterone production, growth hormones boosters and steroids. Testosterone boosters claim to contain ingredients that maximize testosterone production, such as androdiol, yohimbine and eurycoma longifolia. There is little proof that these ingredients can facilitate testosterone production, however.
Growth hormones boosters, such as the controversial drug human growth hormone (HGH), have been shown to increase protein synthesis and promote muscle growth by stimulating the pituitary gland, located under the base of the brain. Anabolic steroids increase muscle growth by mimicking the effects of testosterone, increasing protein synthesis and increasing the buildup of muscle tissue. Both HGH and steroids are considered highly controversial bodybuilding products because they might cause serious side effects and have been banned by some bodybuilding organizations.
Steroids can cause testicular shrinkage and promote gynecomastia, or breast tissue growth, in men. In women, steroids can increase facial hair and lengthen the clitoris. Regular use of HGH can cause joint swelling, an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and joint pain. There also is anecdotal evidence that it might increase the risk of prostate cancer.