There are a wide variety of supplements available that are meant to help restore the body after a hard workout and aid in the building of lean muscle. Most of these are effective, but not all supplements work well for all people. Each person has a unique physiology that will react differently to different supplements, so it is important to be sure that you are using the best supplement for you. With that in mind, here is a guide to the 5 major supplements used by athletes for muscle growth.
You can also see our best weight gainer supplements ratings here.
Creatine occurs naturally inside human muscle cells, mostly around skeletal muscle tissue where the vast majority of the natural supply of creatine in the body is found.
Creatine monohydrate is the manufactured version that is used as a dietary supplement. It is meant to be used for the production and modulation of energy.
Benefits of creatine:
- Promotes lean muscle
- Increases cell volume of muscles
- Faster recovery from workouts
- Increases storage of glycogen
- Increases intense muscle performance
Creatine is ideal for bodybuilding and weight training because of how rapidly it helps build muscle mass. Also, since it is naturally produced by the body, it is easy to stop using and the body will return to normal levels in around 3 weeks.
Recommended dose: 5 to 10 grams. Consume half of the daily serving during your pre-workout meal and the other half in a post-workout shake.
This is a non-essential amino acid that you get from consuming high protein foods like poultry. Its performance enhancement comes from the increase of intra-muscular canosine levels. Beta-alanine supplementation aims to increase carsonine levels by over 40%.
During exercise the body accumulates a lot of hydrogen, which causes acidification. Acidification will lead to fatigue, lowered muscle performance, and muscle failure. Increased levels of carsonine allow athletes to slow the accumulation of hydrogen and the resulting acidification, which will delay muscle fatigue and failure.
Benefits of Beta-Alanine:
- Elevates endurance
- Improves output of force
- Delays fatigue
- Improves repetitive sprinting
- Synergy with creatine
Recommended dose: 2 to 6 grams each day. Take in small doses throughout the day.
Whey protein is a scientifically proven protein supplement that improves performance and helps build muscle mass. It is usually consumed both before and after workouts, and improves protein synthesis while increasing muscle recovery and restoration. Whether you are trying to drop body fat or increase lean muscle mass, whey protein will speed the gain or loss process.
Benefits of whey protein:
- Easy to digest
- Lactose free
- Improves muscle repair
- Natural appetite suppression
- Contains critical amino acids
- Improves metabolism
Recommended dose: Use 20 to 30 grams each time. It is most effective when used before and after workouts. However, it can be consumed at any point during the day, just do not use it as a replacement for proper meals.
Branch-Chained Amino Acid
Leucine, valine and isoleucine are the three branch-chained amino acids. They are critical in the regulation of protein metabolism and in the stimulation of protein synthesis. Your body uses these acids to boost muscle recovery. They drive nutrients to your muscle tissue, so it is most effective at restoring the nutrients that are lost during exercise. It can also reduce muscle fatigue and pain, and help boost metabolic recovery.
There also exists some evidence that they help boost endurance by ensuring adequate fuel for muscles, which is an enormous benefit for endurance exercises like swimming and marathons.
Recommended dose: 3 to 5 grams first thing in the morning, and then another 3 to 5 grams before and after your workout.
Glutamine is known for the ability to slow the breakdown of muscle-tissue during intensive exercise, which will elevate endurance and improve strength thresholds. This means that people will find that they can lift heavier weights for longer periods and train more often. Pushing muscles to their limits will create more lean muscle mass to compensate.
Benefits of glutamine:
- The added boost to muscle mass creation will help burn fat and counteract the muscle mass loss associated with weight loss
- Boosts the immune system and allows for rapid recovery
- Enhances plasma growth, which helps build muscle
Recommended dose: 5 grams first thing in the morning, another 5 grams after your workout, and a final 5 grams before sleeping.
It is possible to achieve great results without using any supplements, but your gains will always be slower. Get your diet in order first, as this is the key to having the energy and endurance for productive workouts. Then, once you have achieved a good balance, start to look around at what supplements will be right for you to fill out your routine.
The results from supplements will vary from person to person depending on their unique physiology, diet, and workout routine. However, everyone who has their workout and diet in order can benefit from the smart use of these major supplements.