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Female Bodybuilding Supplements

By Jill Corleone, RDN, LD

As a woman, you have a harder time building muscle than a man does. While your weightlifting routine is an important part of building muscle, what you eat is equally important. Supplements may help you meet your carb and protein needs, but in most cases supplements aren't necessary. Consult with a dietitian to help you design a diet to help your bodybuilding.

Nutritional Needs

It's important for a bodybuilder to get enough calories and eat the right mix of carbs, protein and fat to promote muscle growth. Your calorie needs may range from 2,000 calories to 2,400 calories a day. Protein is essential for building muscle, but you don't want to overdo it and risk not getting enough carbs, which are important for energy and muscle sparing. Aim for 1.5 grams to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 82 grams to 109 grams, or 328 calories to 436 calories, for a 120-pound woman.

The rest of your calories should come from carbs and fat, with 45 percent to 65 percent from carbs and 20 percent to 35 percent from fat.

Macronutrient Supplements

If you're having a hard time meeting your protein needs from food, adding a protein-only supplement may help you control calories while helping you get the protein you need. Look for a high-quality protein that provides all of the essential amino acids, such as a whey- or soy-based protein.

However, a carb and protein supplement may work better if you're taking the supplement as your post-workout snack. You should consume a carb and protein snack within 30 minutes of completing your workout to promote muscle growth and replenish energy stores.

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Vitamins and Minerals

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that it's not necessary for you to take a vitamin and mineral supplement if you're eating a healthy, balanced diet. If you feel that your diet is inadequate, however, you can add a supplement to it. Look for one that provides about 100 percent of the daily value for each nutrient. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements that contain nutrients in high amounts, or megadoses, is not recommended, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, and may be harmful.

Special Supplements

A number of dietary supplements are available that make claims that they can help you burn fat, build muscle or improve energy levels. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that you stay away from these types of supplements. The supplement industry is not well-regulated, and companies can make claims about their products without the need for scientific proof, which means you may be wasting your money. Plus, there are concerns about safety when taking these types of supplements.

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