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BulkSupplements Nutrition Blog

BulkSupplements Nutrition

  • What is Creatine?

    It's the ultimate supplement superhero, a bodybuilder's secret weapon, and a critical tool in every athlete's arsenal. It can take your performance to the next level, skyrocket your endurance, and finally get you the results you've been looking for.

    But what exactly is creatine? And is it worth all the hype?

    The short answer: yes.

    The long answer: Creatine is one of the most researched nutritional supplements alongside whey protein. If your workout buddy is singing its praises, it's probably not the placebo effect--hundreds of studies show creatine could improve everything from athletic performance to energy and strength.

    The longer answer: Read on to find out why creatine is the go-to supplement of the fitness world.

    WHAT IS CREATINE?

    Contrary to popular belief, creatine is not an amino acid (although the amino acids glycine and arginine produce it). It's a compound found naturally in muscle cells that produces adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a substance that gives your body the energy it needs for fat-burning, explosive exercises like jumping and sprinting.

    Creatine is generally sold as a powder or in capsule form. Most people prefer to take it before they workout. Here's why:

    CREATINE IMPROVES ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE

    You can thank ATP for the energy boost you feel when you take creatine.

    High-intensity, explosive movements like jumping and sprinting are kryptonite for those pesky extra pounds, but they deplete your ATP levels after only about 10 seconds, making it difficult for you to keep going and potentially plateauing your progress. (You know...that "I literally cannot do another sprint because I will fall over and not get up for at least 24 hours" feeling.)  (x)

    This is where creatine comes in; research shows it can increase ATP concentration in your muscles by 15-32%, which will seriously improve your energy--and this means overall improved athletic performance. (x)

    If your weightlifting has plateaued, creatine could also help improve your strength. In one study, participants who took creatine improved their strength by up to 15%; in another, 19 men took either creatine or a placebo during a 12-week workout program. At the end of the program, those who supplemented with creatine increased their bench press weight by 24% and their squat weight by 32%--8% more for both exercises than those who took the placebo. (x)

    Yet another study found that participants who took creatine before they worked out increased bench press volume by a whopping 43%. (x)

    So if you're fatigued or just sluggish at the gym, your energy levels could benefit from creatine--and so could your muscles.

    CREATINE IMPROVES MUSCLE MASS

    Creatine doesn't just boost your energy; it may also build muscle. Researchers think this is because it may reduce levels of myostatin, a protein that can inhibit muscle growth. (x)

    As a result, adding this supplement to your preworkout could increase your muscle mass by up to 35% and your lean body mass by 6%. (x) One study found that athletes who took creatine over a 12-week period gained almost twice the amount of lean body mass than those who took a placebo. (x)

    By the way, don't listen to naysayers who insist creatine makes you gain weight--it may make you temporarily retain water, but that should dissipate, and forms of creatine like ethyl ester are designed to prevent bloating and water retention.

    DYNAMIC DUO

    Every great superhero needs a sidekick. Enter beta-alanine, a supplement superhero in its own right. When taken with creatine, it could skyrocket your endurance, improve body composition, and even alleviate post-workout muscle soreness. (x) Mix both into your preworkout drink for an extra performance boost.

    WHICH TYPE OF CREATINE SHOULD YOU TAKE?

    There are multiple types of creatine available. So which one should you take? As is true with most supplements, it depends on your fitness goals and what works best for your body. Here's the lowdown on the most common types:

    Creatine Monohydrate (Micronized) is one of the most popular forms of creatine as well as the most researched. "Micronized" means it's standardized to a finer powder, which allows it to dissolve easily in water. It may also reduce potential side effects like bloating or gastrointestinal discomfort.

    Creatine HCL contains hydrochloride to help it dissolve in water. Its HCL content also makes it easier for the body to absorb it and reap its benefits.

    Creatine Ethyl Ester HCL is less likely to cause cramping, bloating, or water retention than other forms of creatine. This form may be best for you if you have a sensitive stomach or are prone to indigestion.

    HOW TO TAKE CREATINE

    Creatine works best when taken about 30 minutes before exercise. Some forms of  powdered creatine may dissolve more easily than others, but they all should mix well in workout drinks or shakes. Dosing also depends on the type of creatine.

    Avoid taking creatine with caffeine, as it could cause unwanted side effects like anxiety, stomach upset, and dehydration. Some studies also suggest that caffeine and creatine may counteract each other, so skip using them at the same time. If you do want to use both in your preworkout, be safe and alternate days: add creatine to your shake one day, and caffeine the next.

    THE TAKEAWAY

    There's a reason athletes and fitness junkies swear by creatine--it's backed by science and proven to take your endurance and overall workout performance to the next level. Even better news? There are little to no side effects associated with its use, provided you stick to the recommended dose.

    So why add creatine to your preworkout? Maybe the better question is, why not?

     

  • The Best Supplements for Weight Loss

    So you've put on some fluff around the middle. You let your diet slide during the holidays, indulged a bit too much at Mom's house, or maybe you just can't shed those last few pounds. (Trust us, we get it.)

    Whatever your goal, these fat-burning supplements will help you slim down so you can level up.

    CONJUGATED LINOLEIC ACID (CLA)

    A fatty acid that burns fat? It may sound counter-intuitive, but conjugated linoleic acid (CLA for short) could help you torch extra jiggle, especially around your abdominal area. (x) Scientists aren't sure exactly how CLA helps you battle the bulge, but research suggests it has something to do with CLA's effect on energy metabolism. (x) It has also been shown to increase lean body mass when paired with creatine and a healthy exercise routine--good news if you're gearing up for shredding season. (x)

    WHEY PROTEIN

    Whey protein comes from milk and is rich in amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Protein is crucial to your overall health--it not only builds muscle, but may also help you lose fat. That's because whey protein curbs your appetite so you feel fuller longer. In one study, those who took whey protein lost significantly more weight and body fat than those who supplemented with soy protein. (x)

    In another series of studies, participants who took whey protein during a weight-lifting program lost eight pounds on average, decreased their body fat percentage, and increased lean body mass. (x)

    Whey also helps you build muscle, which on average burns more calories than fat--meaning every pound of fat you replace with muscle revs up your metabolism. No whey! (...sorry. We had to.)

    CAFFEINE

    You rely on it every morning (and afternoon...and evening...and always, let's be real) for energy, but caffeine does more than just put a pep in your step after your cup of joe. It has also been shown to effectively speed up metabolism and burn fat. (x)

    In one study, participants who took caffeine before exercise burned more calories during their workouts, ate less after, and reported enjoying their gym sessions more than those who did not supplement with caffeine. (x)

    If downing a cup of coffee isn't your thing, you can mix green tea extract, guarana, or green coffee bean into your preworkout drink before you hit the gym.

    A quick note: Be sure to limit your caffeine intake to under 400 mg a day. More than that could leave you feeling jittery and sick.

    GREEN TEA EXTRACT

    Studies have found that a phytochemical in green tea called epigallocachetin gallate (EGCG) may increase the rate of fat oxidation (the process by which your body converts fat to energy) by up to 33%. (x)  It not only helps you lose weight, but could help you keep the weight off, especially around your middle. (x)(x)

    Need another reason to go green? Green tea is packed with antioxidants that protect your cells from damaging free radicals.

    GARCINIA CAMBOGIA

    Garcinia cambogia, also known as gummi-gutta, is a small, pumpkin-shaped fruit native to India, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

    Modern research focuses on a particular component in garcinia: hydroxycitric acid, or HCA, which studies suggest may aid in weight management when paired with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

    So how does it work? Scientists believe HCA helps whittle your waistline by inhibiting a fat-producing enzyme in the body, and by increasing levels of a chemical called serotonin, which produces feelings of calmness and well-being and may also help curb cravings. (12)

    Another bonus? It could help lower your cholesterol for a healthier heart. (x)\

    RASPBERRY KETONES

    Raspberry ketones are compounds that give red raspberries their fresh fragrance and fruity taste.

    Research suggests they may improve your body's ability to break down fat by  increasing levels of a hormone called adiponectin, which is believed to regulate weight (especially excess fat on your abdomen). (x)(x)

    So if you're eager to burn away that spare tire around your waist, add some raspberry ketone powder to your preworkout shake for a metabolic boost and a fruity zing.

    Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any supplements, and keep in mind that when it comes to weight loss, there's no magic pill--all of these supplements should be paired with healthy diet and lifestyle choices.

    Check out our full catalog of weight loss supplements here.

    Want us to write about your supplement questions? Drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!

     

  • The Best Supplements for Pets

    You take your supplements every day to stay fit and healthy. But what about Fido and Fluffy?

    Here are our favorite supps to keep your fuzzy buds in optimal health for walks, cuddles, and endless rounds of fetch.**

    KEEP CALM

    If your furry friend is a nervous nelly, try these anxiety supplements for dogs and cats.

    Cats might love Valerian root even more than catnip! Its sweet scent can keep your kitty happy and relaxed in stressful environments.

    L-tryptophan has been shown to reduce anxiety and aggressive behavior in dogs by regulating serotonin and melatonin, the “feel-good” chemicals that keep them calm.

    ALPHA (DOG) & OMEGA

     

    Veterinarians cite skin disease as one of the most common issues they see in their furry patients. Despite what the name suggests, omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly beneficial to your pet’s health! They combat inflammation and environmental irritants like allergens, helping your critter maintain healthy fur and skin.

    HEART-HEALTHY

    Just like people, pets need coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) to stay healthy. This potent antioxidant supports cardiovascular and immune function, and could help maintain optimal digestion.

    PEP IN THEIR STEP

    No one wants to see their pet in pain. Vets recommend giving cats, dogs, and even horses glucosamine sulfate potassium and chondroitin sulfate to relieve hip and joint pain and inflammation. These supplements may also help repair and strengthen tissue, which is especially important for aging pets.

    **Always talk to your vet about dosing and safety before giving your pet supplements.

     

  • Best Supplements for Bulking

    Bulking season is here again! If you're prepping for your next competition, these supplements will help you build serious mass.

    BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) are the building blocks of protein, which your body needs to build lean, strong muscle--a must for bulking. Studies show that BCAAs help grow and maintain muscles both during and after exercise, so you'll make gains even after you leave the gym.

    Plus, if your muscles are too sore after working out, BCAAs may be able to help: they've been shown to reduce blood levels of lactic acid, a substance that causes muscle burn and fatigue.

    The math is simple: No lactic acid buildup = more frequent workouts = bigger gains, faster.

    Like whey protein, casein is derived from milk and contains amino acids to help you build serious muscle. Casein is also known as milk protein, and for a good reason: about 80% of protein in milk comes from casein. (x)

    So why take casein instead of whey? It depends on your fitness goals. Casein takes longer than whey for the body to absorb, allowing amino acids to build muscle tissue for several hours--which could mean greater muscle growth in a shorter period of time.

    A substance found naturally in muscle cells, creatine is a bodybuilder's secret weapon and a key tool in your bulking arsenal. It's similar to amino acids (the amino acids glycine and arginine actually produce creatine), and improves your athletic endurance by producing ATP-- a substance that gives you the explosive energy you need for high-intensity workouts.

    Studies have shown that creatine lowers levels of myostatin, a protein that can inhibit muscle growth, which means taking creatine could also help you build muscle mass and boost strength.

    Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body. Studies show that it may boost energy levels over long periods of time so you don't burn out while bulking. It may also improve your tolerance to lactic acid buildup in your muscles--meaning reduced muscle burn, more reps, and greater gains.

    Protein isn't the only ingredient you need in your bulking toolkit; your body also needs carbs to build muscle quickly. Carbs stimulate the release of insulin, which transports nutrients to muscle tissue so it can repair itself and grow after strength training.

    Maltodextrin is a simple carb that your body breaks down quickly and easily, fueling your muscles for an instant boost.

    Whey protein digests quickly and easily, and its complete amino acid profile makes it the most effective protein for building and maintaining new muscle. It works best when consumed within 30 minutes of completing your workout, although studies have shown that it may be just as effective when taken as a preworkout.

    THE TAKEAWAY

    Bulking supplements that work for others may not be the best for you or your training goals. Talk to your trainer and experiment with different supplements that cater to your body's needs. Once you find the formula that's right for you, you'll be in peak shape for shredding season.

     

  • Benefits of Pumpkin Seed Extract

    Ah, fall. The season of pumpkin spice--pumpkin lattes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin scones....pumpkin seed extract?

    It may not give you the same caffeine boost as a pumpkin spice latte, but pumpkin seed extract packs a mean nutritional punch. Here's why you should add it to your next meal (which, let's face it, is probably going to be pumpkin-themed).

    POWERFUL ANTIOXIDANT & ANTI-INFLAMMATORY

    Pumpkin seeds contain beta-carotene and vitamin E, natural antioxidants that shield the body from harmful free radicals. (x)

    Free radicals are atoms with unpaired electrons, making them highly reactive. When they come into contact with nearby cells, they can seriously damage cell function and DNA reproduction, leading to signs of disease and aging.

    But antioxidants like pumpkin seed extract protect cells from free radical damage, potentially reducing the risk of disease and benefiting overall health.

    HEART HEALTHY 

    Pumpkin seed extract is rich in magnesium, zinc, and fatty acids, all of which have been shown to maintain healthy heart function and keep cardiac tissue strong. (x)(x)

    In one study, participants who took pumpkin seed supplements reduced their blood pressure by 7% and increased their good cholesterol levels by 16% over the course of 12 weeks. (x) It may also maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and  contains nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels and improves circulation. (x) (x)

    IMMUNE SUPPORT

    If cold and flu season is your worst enemy, add some pumpkin seed extract powder to your morning smoothie--it's an excellent source of zinc, which has been shown to boost immune function.

    Zinc helps activate leukocytes and neutrophils, white blood cells that fight off infection. (x)(x) This means it could reduce the number of times you come down with a cold and how long the cold lasts. One study found that zinc supplementation reduced the duration of the common cold by almost 50%. (x)

    RICH SOURCE OF IRON

    Iron is one of the most important minerals in the body. It regulates energy levels, oxygen flow, immune function, and muscle health. If you're iron deficient, you may experience shortness of breath or dizziness, feel chronically fatigued and sick, and have difficulty concentrating. Over time, iron deficiency could lead to serious conditions like anemia.

    But pumpkin seed extract is an excellent source of iron and could relieve symptoms of a deficiency, boosting your energy levels and overall wellness.

    The Takeaway

    Pumpkin seeds may be small, but they're full of nutrients that improve your energy, heart health, and your body's ability to fight off nasty colds. This extract mixes easily into the smoothie or recipe  of your choice, so you can go full-on fall pumpkin mode without sacrificing your health.

  • Supplement Superheroes: Citrulline

    L-citrulline is a non-essential amino acid and a precursor of arginine, another amino acid that plays an important role in maintaining healthy circulation, muscles, and joints. Found in foods like watermelon, cucumbers, and legumes, it's a supplement superhero and a must-have for any preworkout stack.

    IMPROVED ATHLETIC ENDURANCE

    You're on your last set at the gym. One more rep,  you tell yourself, gritting your teeth. Just one more--

    Cue muscle burn. You know: that stinging, intense, I-couldn't-do-one-more-bicep-curl-even-if-I-had-the-power-of-Thor feeling? That burn is actually good news--it means you're working your muscles to their max, which leads to increased strength and growth. But sometimes, it can stop your workout in its tracks, curbing your progress and making it harder to get those gains.

    Blame two culprits for muscle burn: lactic acid and ammonia, substances that build up in working muscles and cause fatigue and burnout.

    But citrulline may be able to help: research suggests it reduces ammonia and lactic acid buildup in muscles during exercise. In one study,  citrulline supplementation increased the length of time athletes were able to exercise until exhaustion; in another, it significantly improved aerobic energy and overall athletic endurance and performance.  (x) (x)

    Taking citrulline two hours before you hit the gym could also help your body use amino acids more effectively, which is ideal for building, strengthening, and maintaining muscle. (x)

    PROMOTES HEALTHY CIRCULATION

    Your body needs citrulline to make arginine, which in turn boosts levels of nitric oxide, a chemical that keeps your heart and arteries healthy by relaxing blood vessels. When your arteries are relaxed, it's easier for blood and nutrients to flow throughout your body, which may help prevent or reduce inflammation and symptoms of other disorders. (x)

    Research also indicates that citrulline could help lower high blood pressure, especially in those with existing cardiac conditions or prehypertension. (x)

    An added bonus? Nitric oxide promotes post-workout muscle pump, so you can flex and show off those gains.

    IMMUNE SUPPORT

    If you've ever hit the weights a little too hard, you might have felt a little off, even flu-ish. This is because excessive exercise (or prolonged illness) can seriously impair immune function.

    But citrulline has been found to increase levels of neutrophils, white blood cells that the immune system releases to fight off infection. (x) Supplementing with citrulline--along with arginine, which increases its effectiveness-- could give your immune system the boost it needs to stay strong during intense training sessions or cold and flu season. (x)

    WHAT IS CITRULLINE MALATE? 

    There are two types of citrulline supplements: pure citrulline and citrulline malate, which contains an added compound called malic acid. Found in many fruits and vegetables, malic acid may increase energy during exercise.

    In one study, participants who took citrulline malate increased the number of their bench press reps by more than 50% and decreased post-workout muscle soreness by 40%. (x)

    Citrulline 1:1 malate contains a 1:1 ratio of citrulline to malate; our 2:1 powder contains a 2:1 ratio of citrulline to malate.

    So which form should you take? It depends on what works best for you. If you need added energy in the gym, citrulline malate may be the way to go; otherwise, regular citrulline will give you the boost you need.

    Always consult with your doctor before starting any supplement routine, and never exceed the recommended dosage.

    Happy mixing!

     

  • Supplement Superheroes: Glutamine

    Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body. It plays a crucial role in everything from immune health to workout recovery. Here's why you should add it to your supplement stack (if you haven't already):

    IMPROVES IMMUNE FUNCTION

    If you've ever hit the gym non-stop for several days (or weeks) in a row, you may have noticed you started to feel a bit off: sluggish, fatigued, and..is that a cold coming on?

    Wait, what gives? Isn't working out supposed to boost your immune function?

    Yes--but only if you don't overdo it. Excessive prolonged exercise can actually weaken your immune system, and significantly depletes your body's glutamine stores. (x)

    Low glutamine levels don't just negatively impact your athletic performance (more on that later), but could also make it harder for your body to fight off infections. Glutamine helps your immune system function properly by improving the activity of neutrophils, white blood cells that activate the body's defense system. (x) Inadequate glutamine levels-- due to over-exercising or an existing health condition--could make you more susceptible to those nasty fall and winter colds.

    The good news is that glutamine supplementation has been shown to improve immune activity and may even accelerate wound healing, especially when paired with a protein-rich diet (x). So add some glutamine powder to your morning smoothie; your health will thank you.

    BOOSTS ENERGY AND ENDURANCE

    Glutamine is a go-to workout supplement with good reason: research indicates that it gives you an energy boost so you can train longer and harder.

    In a study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine, subjects underwent a series of rigorous physical endurance tests. After each workout, they took either glutamine or a placebo. Those who supplemented with glutamine maintained their energy levels from the beginning of the trial to the end, while those who took a placebo noticed a significant decrease in their energy over the course of the study.

    Glutamine may also help you fight that characteristic muscle burn you feel when you're on your last few reps. That burn is caused by lactic acid buildup in the muscles, and while it's good news--it means you're working your muscles to their max--it can also lead to fatigue. Taking glutamine, however, may build up the body's tolerance to lactic acid, allowing you to skirt muscle burn and bang out more reps for greater muscle growth. (x)

    BENEFITS WORKOUT RECOVERY

    Glutamine's benefits don't end when you leave the gym. Studies suggest it maintains protein synthesis, which grows and strengthens the muscles even after a workout. (x)

    Muscles also need glycogen to recover from a tough physical activity. Glycogen is a molecule used to store glucose, an important source of energy. Research indicates that glutamine may promote glycogen synthesis, which speeds up the recovery process and reduces muscle soreness associated with weight lifting and strength training. (x)

    CURBS CRAVINGS AND BURNS FAT

    Cookies and chips constantly on the brain? Glutamine may be able to help. Studies indicate it stabilizes blood glucose levels, which could curb those nagging cravings for sugar and carbs. (x) And if you feel like you're losing the battle of the bulge, glutamine also increases the metabolic rate at rest, meaning your body will continue to torch fat hours after you step off the treadmill. (x)

    PROMOTES A HEALTHY GUT

    No, not a beer gut--we're talking about your small intestine, which uses glutamine as one of its main fuel sources to absorb nutrients from the food you eat. (x) Healthy nutrient absorption in the intestine equals fewer digestive issues and improved overall wellness.

    ACETYL L-GLUTAMINE VS L-GLUTAMINE

    There are two types of glutamine supplements: l-glutamine (its standard form), and n-acetyl l-glutamine, which has undergone acetylation, a process that makes it easier for the body to absorb and utilize organic compounds like glutamine. Acetyl l-glutamine is also more stable in water than l-glutamine. Both, however, are shown to be effective in improving health. Experiment to see which form works best for your body.

    HOW TO TAKE GLUTAMINE

    Our Powder: As a dietary supplement, take 500mg (scant 1/4 tsp) to 1000mg (just over 1/3 tsp) up to three times daily, preferable immediately after exercise, or as directed by a physician. Do not heat this powder.

    Our glutamine powder dissolves easily in water and has no discernible taste. Mix it into your favorite workout shake, juice, or water.

    Our Capsules: As a dietary supplement, take 1 to 2 capsules up to three times daily, preferably immediately after workout, or as directed by a physician.

    Got an idea for a blog post you'd like to see or a supplement question you'd like us to answer? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

     

  • Benefits of CLA

    1. Benjamin, S., Prakasan, P., Sreedharan, S., Wright, A.-D. G., & Spener, F. (2015). Pros and cons of CLA consumption: an insight from clinical evidences. Nutrition & Metabolism12, 4. http://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-12-4

    2. Kennedy, A., Martinez, K., Schmidt, S., Mandrup, S., LaPoint, K., & McIntosh, M. (2010). Antiobesity Mechanisms of Action of Conjugated Linoleic Acid. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry21(3), 171–179. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2009.08.003

    3. Tarnopolsky M, Zimmer A, Paikin J, Safdar A, Aboud A, Pearce E, et al. (2007) Creatine Monohydrate and Conjugated Linoleic Acid Improve Strength and Body Composition Following Resistance Exercise in Older Adults. PLoS ONE 2(10): e991. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0000991

    4. Gallagher, E. (2017). What Are the Benefits of CLA? http://www.livestrong.com/article/113124-benefits-cla/

    5. Ibid.

    6. Ibid.

    7. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2005) 59, 508–517. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602102 Published online 12 January 2005

  • Creatine: A Bodybuilder's Best Friend

    There's a reason why athletes rely on creatine to stay on top of their game. A substance found in muscle cells, creatine is one of the most widely-researched and effective supplements for boosting energy and improving athletic performance. Add it to your nutritional arsenal to kick your workouts up a notch (or twenty).

  • Benefits of Beet Root

    From improving athletic performance  to promoting heart health, beet root boasts some impressive health benefits.

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