Are you one of those bodybuilders who find it very challenging to see the results that you’ve always dreamed of? Are you always wary when someone in your gym tries to entice you to take those synthetically manufactured steroids? Well, it is time for you to sit and read about a very essential vitamin that will surely help you unlock your true potential as a bodybuilder.
Niacin is one of the best kept secrets of bodybuilders. Let’s have a better look at why niacin is an essential vitamin for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. In this blog post, you will have a better understanding on what is niacin, what its benefits are for the body, why it is essential for bodybuilders, how and when to take niacin properly, and of course a special FAQ section.
What is niacin?
Niacin is an essential vitamin for bone and muscle growth and development. It is also called as vitamin B3. It has an essential role in the synthesis of coenzymes, NADP, and NAD. This vitamin also plays a key role in converting your food into usable energy. When you have poor metabolism, it means that you have a niacin deficiency, since it is also essential to having a healthy metabolism and bowel movement.
This important vitamin is mostly found in eggs, green leafy vegetables, cereal, grains, lean meat, beans, food with yeast, and milk. Of course you can also purchase it as a supplement.
Why is niacin vital for fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders?
1. Niacin helps increase strength and muscle mass
Niacin helps build muscle mass faster by increasing your body’s energy levels. As mentioned earlier, it is a key component for the body to convert food into energy. So, how does niacin process food into energy? It converts carbohydrates into glucose, which in turn metabolizes fats and proteins. This process increases the blood flow and helps the nervous system to function better. It results in a boost of the body’s growth hormones.
This entire function requires an adequate amount of niacin in your body. The most rewarding result is increased strength during intensive workouts and faster recovery time after workout.
2. Niacin improves the levels of cholesterol and glucose
This is mostly true when your intake of niacin is from food. Niacin supplements can also do this function. Your glucose and cholesterol levels improve because the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) triglyceride and levels of your body drops, resulting to an increase of the HDL (high-density lipoprotein).
Moreover, when your body has adequate levels of niacin, your cells become healthier, and it creates more insulin in your pancreas. It aids in diabetes prevention, especially type 2 diabetes.
3. Niacin blocks unhealthy fats in the body
This could be the first time you’ll read on how niacin can effectively help you maintain a healthy weight by blocking the release of ffee fatty acids from the body’s fat tissues. This is why athletes eat lots of niacin rich foods, to keep them lean and more energetic without taking the harmful, chemically manufactured steroids. Fitness enthusiasts, athletes and bodybuilders require a higher dose of niacin in their bodies that average people.
4. Niacin improves vascularity and blood circulation
Niacin enhances vascularity and blood circulation in different ways. First, it aids in the healthy production of histamine. Histamine is a chemical compound that dilates blood vessels. When the blood vessels dilate, blood circulations gets better all throughout the body. You’ll have lesser spasms and cramps, even when you do rigorous exercise routines. Your ligaments are the ones that benefits the most.
Secondly, niacin lowers the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Thus, keeping your heart healthy. Physically active people must have a high dose of niacin intake because it keeps the muscles and bones strong by reducing the bad cholesterol in the body.
5. Niacin decreases fatigue, stress, and anxiety
B vitamins are known for keeping the neurological functions in good condition. This is why people who are overworked are always advised to take vitamin B complex on a daily basis. For athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and bodybuilders who most probably encounter other stress when they are not exercising, niacin greatly aids the nervous system by greatly reducing the possibilities of having inflammation.
While it is good to have a niacin only supplement, it is better to also take vitamin B complex supplements to fight all forms of stress, not just the ones induced by your physical activities. It is generally advisable for physically active people to have a dose of 1,500 to 1,800 mg of niacin daily. Remember, less stress means better sleep.
6. Niacin increases testosterone levels naturally
This could also be your first time to read about how niacin can boost the testosterone level naturally. If you have read our other blog posts about foods that can help boost testosterone levels naturally, you will realize that most of these foods are rich in niacin and other B-vitamins.
So, how does niacin increase testosterone levels?
Earlier, you’ve read about how niacin stimulates the release of more growth hormones. Along with this, more leptin is also released in the body by niacin. Leptin and growth hormones are primarily responsible for the production of more testosterone in the body. When you exercise more regularly, the blood flow of your body gets better. Thus, more testosterone will be naturally produced by your body. It might take longer, but this organic means of boosting the testosterone levels of the body is totally safe compared to taking testosterone supplements.
Tips on taking niacin supplements for bodybuilding
Choose the best niacin supplement
There will surely be so many choices out there. This is when you have to be wiser in choosing which niacin supplement you should take. There are essentially 2 main kinds of niacin supplements manufactured for bodybuilding: traditional and ‘flush free’ supplements.
What’s the difference then?
Traditional niacin supplements is like the heightened version of the regular niacin supplements taken by non bodybuilders. It has a full range of niacin and so far, nobody has reported to experience negative effects from taking them. The ‘flush free’ niacin supplements are easily flushed by your body. Thus, it will take a longer time before you feel the effects of this kind of niacin supplement in your body.
Take the correct amount of niacin
The first step is to have more niacin rich foods in your daily meals. Animal proteins, seeds, nuts, dairy products, and green vegetables are the best food sources of niacin. Then, you need to consult a medical expert, your physician, nutritionist or a pharmacist on how much niacin you need to take on a daily basis. Your niacin intake will depend on your sex, age, height, weight, and physical activities. Generally, adults should get at least 20 mg of niacin a day. But men need 10 to 15% more niacin than women.
If you are a professional athlete or bodybuilder, you need to gradually increase your niacin intake, with the guidance of a physician. It is advised to begin with 150 mg of niacin a day, and end up with 1,500 mg a day. This gradual increase of niacin intake is crucial for your body to adjust properly. Anything sudden is never healthy, not even if it is an essential vitamin or mineral for the body.
Alter your diet
If you used to have one or 2 cheat days in a week, consider still eating niacin rich foods on your cheat days. One meal of niacin rich foods on your cheat days will benefit you greatly. Also, it is vital to drink at least 3 to 4 liters of water in a day. Drinking this much water will flush out the excess niacin and other toxin in your system. Not only will you remain hydrated, but your skin and hair will look better.
Protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun
Niacin helps your body produce more vitamin D, so you don’t need too much sunlight. When you are outside, you need to wear sunglasses and sunblock for your eyes and skin to be protected from getting damaged. When you have too much vitamin D, your skin will be irritated. It leads to feeling uncomfortable when doing intense physical activities.
Track your progress by keeping a journal
It might seem very basic, but it is generally helpful to keep a journal. You have to be consistent in writing on your journal. Read your journal at the end of the week to remind yourself of the good job you have done. Your journal will also show you what activities you need to do more or less.
Now, let’s take a look at the possible discomforts that you might experience while taking niacin
The dreaded niacin flush
“Niacin flush” – this is the most probable discomfort that you will experience when you increase your niacin intake to enhance your physical looks. This will give you a tingling sensation on different parts of your body, particularly on your face and neck. You will also feel warmer, as a result of elevated body temperature. It can be irritating, but it really depends on your pain tolerance. This discomfort actually means that the niacin is working in your body.
Can I avoid the niacin flush?
Yes you can. There is an alternative to taking real niacin. It is called niacin amide. However, it is not as effective as niacin. The effects of the niacin flush is perfectly normal and temporary. It really won’t affect your internal and external organs negatively and is a temporary discomfort. When you are used to taking a higher dose of niacin, it goes away.
What are the other possible risks of taking niacin?
- Upset stomach and diarrhea – this usually comes along when you experience the niacin flush. If you are experiencing these symptoms for 3-4 days, then go to a physician and ask how much niacin you should take on a daily basis.
- Liver problems – this risk will only be experienced by someone who drastically increases his niacin dosage without the guidance of a health professional. The real problem is that not only does a drastic increase of niacin affect your liver, but your kidney and stomach as well. It can result to hypertension.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the best form of niacin for bodybuilders?
The best niacin for bodybuilders, according to reviews, is the one with a slow release mechanism. This is because you won’t feel the niacin flush that much. As much as you can, try to avoid the ‘flush free’ niacin supplement. It will take much longer before you feel the effects of niacin on your strength, agility, muscle growth and post-workout recovery. Be mindful when you purchase niacin supplement, especially if it is your first time. Always go to a physical store, or better yet, visit your physician before you begin increasing your niacin dosage.
2. What foods have the highest levels of niacin?
Niacin, just like all of the other B vitamins, can be found in many foods. However, the best food sources for niacin are lean meat, nuts, beans, green leafy vegetables, legumes, mushrooms, milk, cereals, whole wheats, potatoes, dairy products, poultry, and deep sea fish.
When it comes to cooked food, then grilled chicken breast, dry roasted peanuts, cooked brown rice, medium baked potatoes, roasted turkey breast, and grilled or steamed tuna are on top of the list. These cooked food have 40 to 65% of niacin.
For vegans with active lifestyle, then asparagus, tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, and nuts are the best food sources for niacin.
3. How should bodybuilders increase their niacin intake?
As mentioned earlier, all adults need at least 20 mg of niacin a day. So it is best to begin with this level. Then increase at least 10 mg of niacin every week until you reach 1,000 mg of niacin a day. If you feel an intense niacin flush when you take 300 mg of niacin a day, consult your physician and have a complete physical checkup to avoid other complications.
4. Will a higher niacin intake interact with other bodybuilding supplements and medication?
Yes, it definitely will. If you are taking medication, then it is best to consult your physician first. Normally, niacin will interfere with vitamins B6, B12 and folate. It is best to take niacin separately. Your health expert might recommend taking some supplements on a different schedule.
5. How does niacin supplements affect a bodybuilder’s endurance performance?
Niacin has been proven to be a gem for bodybuilders. Most bodybuilders will feel the effects of niacin in their daily workout a month after they increase their niacin intake. Sure, it does take some time…unlike the almost instantaneous effects of the steroids. But the effects of niacin to a bodybuilder’s endurance performance is permanent. On your 4th month of taking more niacin, your human growth hormone release will increase by 400 to 500%.