BIKINI & MUSCLE: RISK VS. GAIN WITH SUPPLEMENTATION
By Jamie Foster
Most Bikini Fitness competitors (including myself) are no stranger to taking supplements to help with muscle growth and fat loss.
Throughout the years I have included protein powder, creatine, and caffeine in conjunction with my healthy diet and rigorous training program to build and maintain my curves and keep my body fat in check. Some people build muscle easier than others and some people metabolize fat faster than others.
As long as supplements are consumed within the guidelines and with the approval of your physician, they have the ability to impact your physique positively. Some supplements are common and “out in the open” and then there are those that are only talked about behind closed doors. I hope that you find this article insightful as I discuss a few of these. I write from my own personal experiences and in no way is my opinion the best or my input the most qualified.
I have been training for many years and have tried various combinations and measurements of macronutrients and supplements. Many people out there don’t think that Bikini competitors need and/or use supplements but this is very inaccurate! I have a difficult time maintaining muscle and as I get older, an even harder time losing fat. We benefit from supplementation just as much as bodybuilders do, just on a smaller scale.
The following are a few supplements that I take to assist me throughout the year in creating my physique:
Creatine: In my off-season, I typically use a post- workout supplement that contains creatine. For me, 2.5 to 3 grams daily is a good maintenance dose, although I know many women who use 5 grams. Creatine is naturally produced in our bodies from the amino acids glycine and arginine and aids in supplying “energy” to muscle cells by increasing the formation of ATP. It is found in red meat and because I consume mostly chicken, I find that supplementation of creatine is helpful to me in gaining strength and muscle mass.
“…however I do experience mild bloating when I take it (which is why I cease supplementing at least 8 weeks out from a competition).”
I can definitely feel a difference with my strength training while taking creatine, however I do experience mild bloating when I take it (which is why I cease supplementing at least 8 weeks out from a competition). I strive to drink a least a gallon of water daily, year-round. Water helps to decrease the bloating associated with creatine usage and is necessary for supporting body functions including digestion and metabolism.
Protein powder: For my protein intake, I consume approximately 1.5 grams/lb of bodyweight of protein, year-round. Like I stated previously, most of my protein is derived from chicken. With a chicken breast only supplying approximately 25 grams of protein, supplementation helps me greatly when I’m too busy at work to eat “real food.”
I will consume about 2 to 3 protein shakes per day (about 20-25 grams of protein each) to assist with achieving my protein intake goal. There are a lot of great protein powders on the market. I typically look for low sodium, low sugar with less than 15 grams of carbs. I follow a 40/30/30 macro nutrient balance approach to my diet, year-round, including adding complex carbs and healthy fats in conjunction with my protein sources.
Caffeine: When consumed within my tolerance level, caffeine has been a great tool for me during competition prep. I slightly increase my caffeine usage when I’m trying to lean out and lose excess water weight. Caffeine is a natural diuretic and aids in an increase of energy levels which helps rev up my workout. Keep in mind that the average cup of coffee has approximately 200 mg of caffeine so use with caution!
I like to sip on green tea throughout the day. It contains approximately 75 mg of caffeine (depending on the strength) per cup, not to mention the laundry list of health benefits that it is famous for. I like to be able to control my caffeine intake as needed so that I avoid feeling jittery or raising my heart rate uncomfortably or unsafely.
Now, the “other” supplements that I mentioned previously.
“There is another side to supplementation that unfortunately is becoming increasingly more popular in the Bikini Fitness world.”
There is another side to supplementation that unfortunately is becoming increasingly more popular in the Bikini Fitness world. Some of these supplements have been known to have adverse health affects on individuals they are not intended for. The use of steroids, prescription strength stimulants and diuretics such as Lasix are on the rise in the Bikini Fitness arena.
“I was shocked to hear that some Bikini competitors were consuming this potent medication without inhibition just to lose water weight prior to stepping on stage!”
For many years, as a Paramedic, I have administered Lasix out in the field to patients with Acute Congestive Heart Failure. It is a loop diuretic which prevents your body from absorbing too much salt which is then excreted in your urine. Lasix can cause severe dehydration and electrolyte loss, including hyponatremia (too low sodium) and hypokalemia (too low potassium), which can cause kidney and cardiac issues. I was shocked to hear that some bikini competitors were consuming this potent medication without inhibition just to lose water weight prior to stepping on stage!
I have also heard the names, Anavar and Clenbuteral being thrown out there as drugs that have made their way into bikini fitness as well. From what I understand, Anavar is a dihydrotestosterone (DHT) derived oral anabolic steroid used by some athletes for muscle growth and performance enhancing. Clenbuteral is a Beta 2 sympathomimetic similar to ephedrine which causes bronchodilation, thermogenesis and an increase in adrenaline.
I am not a physician and I realize that there are vast therapeutic benefits to MD prescribed medications such as these, but this article is not about that. Many younger, impressionable aspiring bikini athletes have decided to take these drugs because they believe that is the ONLY way you can win. This can’t be further from the truth!!!
I personally know several Professional Bikini competitors (myself included) that have won competitions and world titles and whom also grace the covers of many fitness magazines, that are natural athletes. The possible consequences of taking these (or similar) drugs outside of a medical necessity and physicians direction FAR outweighs a trophy and 5 minutes of social media fame!
“Please ask questions and do your research before you choose to take supplements!”
The negative long lasting effects of using these drugs when they are not prescribed to you by your doctor can be unsafe. Please ask questions and do your research before you choose to take supplements! Please, as always, consult your physician and personal dietitian prior to following any diet or training program or prior to taking any supplement or drug.
There are many options for supplements on the market. Stay informed and educate yourself! 🙂
***The contents of this article are based on the author’s opinions and personal experiences and are not to replace the direction and guidance of your own physician, dietitian and personal trainer. BIKINI
Jamie Foster | Contributing Editor
Jamie has been involved in the fitness industry for nearly 20 years and is accredited in Sports Nutrition and Personal Training. She is a Pro bikini and Pro Sportsmodel Competitor as well as a World Cup Champion. She has a passion for self improvement and progress, and her future goals include competing in the IPL (International Physique League) and continuing to motivate others to live healthy lifestyles and strive for fitness success. Jamie is a Fire Captain and a Paramedic, has a four year old daughter and enjoys spending time with her family, boxer dogs and horses.