More Science Proven Effective Bodybuilding Supplements

Jerry Brainum returns with the second part of his list of the most effective bodybuilding supplements based on scientific studies.

In the huge world of sports and nutritional supplements, there are many claims as to which brands and products are best for bodybuilding and fitness. Most of this is just marketing and unfortunately many substances in supplements are unnecessary additions to your diet for better fitness. However, that doesn’t mean that all supplements are a waste of money. That’s why Jerry Brainum came back with the second part of his list of the most effective bodybuilding supplements. In this episode of Straight Facts, Jerry Brainum breaks down the best bodybuilding supplements proven by scientific studies.

Claims made by supplement companies must be backed up by some sort of study. Unsubstantiated claims cannot be used to market products. While great in theory, it’s relatively easy to manipulate studies to fit into a business narrative. There are even some pretty wealthy companies investing in their own research – probably bent on making sure the result looks appealing to buyers. That’s why Jerry Brainum spent his time reviewing the most neutral and diverse collection of studies he could find on nutritional supplements and their effects.

In the latest episode, Jerry Brainum broke down the most effective science-backed supplements — but he couldn’t fit the whole list in one episode. So we meet again this week to complete the list. What are the best supplement products that will actually work based on rigorous, peer-reviewed studies? Let’s find out.

Sodium bicarbonate

Sodium bicarbonate is used as a blood buffer – often during medical emergencies in the hospital. But its effects are also useful in the world of fitness. Sodium bicarbonate buffers the acid buildup produced by your muscles when you exercise. This makes the supplement a great addition to your stack if you perform high-intensity exercise or sports activities. By buffering the acid, it reduces pain and fatigue during training.

The big downside here is that baking soda, true to its name, contains a lot of sodium. It can therefore be difficult to dose this supplement according to your nutritional needs outside of fitness. Typically, you will need to take 0.2 grams per kg of body weight to benefit from the effects of this supplement. It should be taken at least 60-150 minutes before physical activity.

If you experience gastrointestinal issues caused by this supplement, try adding a small dose of carbohydrates. This will help settle and prevent stomach problems.


L-carnitine is a supplement that is actually produced naturally in the body. It is a very vital substance that is needed to transport small chain fatty acids into the mitochondria of our cells. This is where fat is oxidized, making it essential for the functioning of our body. Because of this feature, carnitine has gained a reputation as a useful fat burning supplement.

A problem has arisen when using carnitine as a supplement in your diet. The substance would not penetrate muscle, which would likely render it ineffective as a fat loss supplement.

That all changed when scientists determined that taking l-carnitine with carbohydrates increased the body’s ability to absorb the substance into your muscles. The downside here is that the amount of carbs suggested is not negligible – around 95 grams.

However, by adding carbs alongside a carnitine supplement, uptake into muscle increased by 15%. Although this seems like a small amount, it was enough to show a proven improvement in muscle loss. The l-carnitine in muscle tricks your muscle into prioritizing fat burning during a workout. Some studies show that even with the extra carbs, enough fat was burned to not only equalize carb intake, but also to cause additional fat loss.

Jerry Brainum thinks this is a double-edged sword and might not work for everyone. Especially in bodybuilding, needing to add extra carbs may not be the best option for you. With the extra amount of carbs, insulin levels could be rattled, which could lead to unintended extra weight gain despite the action of carnitine.

However, other studies have shown that even if you take carnitine without carbs, it can lead to increased fat loss. Currently, these studies are at odds with others that have shown no increase in fat loss. So it’s not fully confirmed.


Citrulline is a substance present in natural foods, in particular in greater quantities in watermelon. When consumed, citrulline travels directly to the kidneys where it is transformed into arginine. Arginine then quickly helps produce nitric oxide in your body. This, of course, can help improve physical performance by widening blood vessels, which leads to more oxygen for working muscles.

So why not just take arginine directly as a supplement? Interestingly enough, when arginine is consumed, it converts to citrulline in the kidney. This will eventually lead to the production of nitric oxide – but at a much slower rate, with up to 60% of the original supplement not being absorbed by the body. Citrulline, on the other hand, absorbs much better and acts faster.

The best time to take citrulline is usually an hour before exercise to receive the effect. With a dose of 6-8 grams.


Jerry Brainum admits that this list is not entirely exhaustive of all supplements that have a positive effect on bodybuilding and fitness. However, these are the best supplements that have been rigorously proven by science. There are many other supplements that certainly work based on anacdotal evidence over decades in the industry. That being said, they haven’t been as deeply studied. For the purposes of Jerry Brainum’s list – he wanted to include only supplements directly proven by science.

You can watch Jerry Brainum detailing these best science-backed bodybuilding supplements in part two of the video above. Be sure to check out new episodes of Straight Facts every Wednesday only on Generation Iron or wherever podcasts are uploaded.

Teresa E. Burton