Brewer's yeast used by bodybuilders is the "one-celled fungus called Saccharaomyces cerevisiae," used by breweries to make beer. The only difference is that the brewers yeast used by bodybuilders is grown specifically as a nutritional supplement under different standards as a food and "on nutrient rich sugar beets" to "obtain maximum nutritional content." According to the University of Maryland, brewer's yeast has "been used for years as a nutritional supplement" and for good reason. Aside from a bitter flavor, it is filled with very good things: most B-complex vitamins (B1/thiamine, B2/riboflavin, B3/niacin, B5/pantothenic acid, B6/pyridoxine, B7/biotin and B9/folic acid), and the trace minerals chromium and selenium. Lacking only B12, it's a natural nutritional supplement as opposed to synthetic ones developed by the fitness industry.
What It Does
Brewer's yeast helps the body process the fuel of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy. B-complex vitamins contained in the supplement are also necessary to maintain the nervous system, muscles of the digestive system, liver health and keep skin, hair, and eyes functioning well. Additional studies suggest that chromium may aid in reducing high blood sugar levels, thus, help avoid diabetes. Other benefits include a reduction in the levels of "bad" cholesterol and a small reduction in body fat.
Discovered by Bodybuilders
Before the fitness industry's explosive-development of nutritional supplements, bodybuilders in the 1950s and 1960s relied almost solely on their diet to provide increased protein needs. Brewer's yeast was a natural and available supplement known for its increased nutritional value and eventually crossed the radar of European bodybuilders. Combined with exercise and diet, the enhanced metabolism of essential nutrients, amino acids and proteins allowed by brewer's yeast, all contributed to real gains in bodybuilders' muscle mass, muscle definition and body weight.
Weight Gain Benefits
The weight gain experienced by bodybuilders when taking brewer's yeast is not simply an increase in body weight. Rather, it represents a decrease in body fat and an ongoing increase in muscle mass. Comparatively, muscle mass weighs more than fat mass, so a bodybuilder usually experiences a weight gain. However, just a before-and-after pound comparison is misleading and fails to represent changes in body muscle and fat composition.
How to Consume
Natural brewer's yeast is slightly bitter in taste, although some brands offer un-bittered versions. Both are available in powder, flakes, tablet, and liquid forms. Various references report an adult daily dose as 1 to 2 tbsp., while General Nutrition Center recommends 8 to 16 tablets daily for their 500 mg tablets.