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

In the massive world of sports and nutrition supplements – there are a lot of claims as to what brands and what products are the best for bodybuilding and fitness. Most of this is just marketing and sadly, many substances in supplements are unnecessary additions to your diet for improved fitness. However, this does not mean that all supplements are a waste of money. That’s why Jerry Brainum has returned with the second part of his list for the most effective bodybuilding supplements. In this episode of Straight Facts, Jerry Brainum breaks down the best bodybuilding supplements proven by scientific studies.

The claims made by supplement companies need to be backed by some sort of study. Baseless claims cannot be used to market products. While this is great in theory, it’s relatively easy to manipulate studies to fit a business narrative. There are even rich enough businesses that invest in their own studies – likely bent towards making sure the outcome looks appealing to buyers. That’s why Jerry Brainum has spent his time looking at the most neutral and diverse collection of studies he could find that investigate nutrition supplements and their effects.

Last episode, Jerry Brainum broke down the most effective supplements backed by science – but he couldn’t fit the entire list in one episode. So we’re back this week to complete the list. What are the best supplement products that will actually work based on rigorous and peer reviewed studies? Let’s find out.

Sodium Bicarbonate

Sodium Bicarbonate is used as a blood buffer – often times in medical emergencies at the hospital. But its effects also have use in the fitness world. sodium Bicarbonate buffers the build up of acid produced by your muscles when you exercise. This makes the supplement a great addition to your stack if you perform high intensity exercise or athletic activity. By buffering the acid – it reduces soreness and fatigue as you train.

The big downside here is that Sodium Bicarbonate, true to its name, contains a lot of sodium. So it may be hard to dose this supplement depending on your nutrition needs outside of fitness. Typically, you will need to take 0.2 grams per kg of bodyweight in order to receive the effects of this supplement. It should be taken at least 60-150 minutes before physical activity.

If you find yourself having gastrointestinal issues caused by this supplement, try adding a small dose of carbs. It will help settle and prevent stomach issues.

L Carnitine

L carnitine is a supplement that is actually produced naturally in the body. It’s 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 in our body function. Due to this functionality, l carnitine gained a reputation as being a useful fat burning supplement.

A problem arose when using l carnitine as a supplement product in your diet. The substance would not make it’s way into the muscle – thus making it likely ineffective as a fat loss supplement.

This all changed when scientists determined that taking l carnitine alongside carbs raises the body’s ability to absorb the substance into your muscle. The downside here is that the carb amount suggested is no slight number – about 95 grams.

However, by adding carbs alongside an l carnitine supplement, absorption into the muscle increased by 15%. While this sounds like a small amount, it was enough to show proven improvement in muscle loss. The l carnitine in the muscle triggers your muscle to prioritize burning fat during a workout. Some studies show that even with the additional carbs – enough fat was burned to not only even out the carb intake but lead to additional fat loss.

Jerry Brainum believes 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 added amount of carbs, insulin levels might get thrown off which could lead to additional unintended weight gain despite the l carnitine in action.

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


Citrulline is a substance found in natural foods – particularly in larger amounts in watermelon. When consumed, citrulline travels directly to the kidneys where it is processed into arginine. The arginine then quickly helps to produce nitric oxide in your body. This, of course, can help enhanced exercise performance by widening blood vessels leading to more oxygen to working muscles.

So why not just take arginine as a supplement directly? Interestingly enough, when arginine is consumed, it actually processes into citrulline in the kidney. This will eventually lead to nitric oxide production – 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 is quicker acting.

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

Wrap Up

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

You can watch Jerry Brainum detail this best bodybuilding supplements proven by science part two in the video above. Make sure to check out new episodes of Straight Facts every Wednesday only on Generation Iron or where ever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.