All bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness experts know that exercise, a healthy diet, and rest are the basics of achieving a healthy body and becoming stronger. However, you can always use some extra help from supplements to build muscle mass.
We start losing muscle mass as early as 25 years old. This mass not only makes us look in shape but also provides us many health benefits. Muscle helps to lower blood sugar levels, supports joints, provides physical strength, and gives us more energy. If you want to build lean muscle mass, you should take the following supplements into consideration.
Protein is an important macronutrient that forms the building blocks of muscle and tissue. When we exercise, our muscles are broken down with tiny tears in muscle fibers. Getting more protein than what you break down is crucial to building lean muscle mass. According to powerliftingbelts.org, you should consume 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight daily.
Protein powders can contain sources of protein from animals or plants. These supplements are usually available in 3 forms:
- Protein concentrates: Contain a huge amount of protein and a lower percentage of carbs and fat.
- Protein Isolate: It contains concentrated protein, with no percentage of carbs or fat.
- Protein Hydrolysates: They are absorbed faster and they can raise the insulin levels more than other forms.
People who don’t practice intense exercise can often get enough protein from their diet, but fitness enthusiasts and people looking to build muscle mass will build muscle faster and easier by consuming protein powders.
The most popular type of protein powder is whey protein, this one comes from milk. Protein isolate version contains little to no lactose, the sugar in milk. The body quickly digests whey protein which is rich in amino acids that stimulate muscle growth to help you to recover faster after an intense exercise. Whey protein also makes you feel fuller and is a great alternative to sugary foods.
People who are vegan or lactose intolerant can take other protein powders from sources like hemp.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAS) are essential amino acids. They cannot be produced by the body and so must be taken in from food or supplements.
They consist of leucine, valine, and isoleucine and form around 35% of your body’s protein. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein but BCAAS in particular are the best for building muscle. This is because they keep the body from breaking down protein and preserve glycogen storage, the main source of energy of the body. This way, you will have more energy to work out.
Leucine in particular enhances protein synthesis and reduces muscle damage and fatigue after a hard workout, you will have a better exercise performance as well as inhibit protein breakdown. You can get BCAAS naturally from eggs, chicken, and soy but getting them in supplements will be a plus for your workout.
Creatine is a common supplement for building muscle. It is a natural compound produced by our body from the amino acids glycine and arginine. Most of the creatine amount in our body is stored in our muscles as phosphocreatine while the rest is in our brain, liver, and kidneys.
Phosphocreatine helps the body to produce more ATP which is the main molecule of energy. Our body quickly runs out of ATP during exercise but creatine supplements can help to produce more ATP.
Creatine also boosts the production of IGF-1, a hormone that has an important role in muscle growth and leads to protein synthesis. This leads to an increase in lean muscle mass.
Creatine is a supplement that is backed by many scientific studies for building mass. It is also believed to be capable of reducing myostatin which is a protein that inhibits growth.
A pre-workout supplement is just as it sounds: a product that contains ingredients that you should take before working out to maximize your performance and help you achieve your fitness goals. They usually contain a blend of ingredients but almost all of them contain caffeine or guarana (a natural compound that contains more caffeine than coffee beans). Some contain additional creatine and amino acids such as betaine, taurine, arginine. Others contain vitamins and beet juice.
Pre-workout supplements don’t have a direct effect on your muscle mass but they will improve your energy levels and increase the blood flow to your muscles, allowing your body to work harder. Your muscles can recover faster and fatigue or soreness can be reduced.
There is no standard formula for pre-workout supplements, the ingredients differ from one brand to another so always verify that the one you get contains qualified ingredients that will help you get the best out of your gym sessions
Fish oil is extracted from fatty fish and is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential fats that our body can’t produce. Fish oils are usually recommended for people with heart disease or who want healthier skin, hair, and nails. But not many people know that they are a great supplement for aiding muscle mass.
EPA and DHA which are the main fatty acids in omega 3 stimulate synthesis. They increase the muscle-building response to insulin and amino acids. They also reduce damage and inflammation after exercise and reduce loss when on a caloric deficit to burn fat.
They also help people who are aging to reduce loss. Whenever you are weight training, your muscles suffer micro-tears but taking fish oil can improve your muscle recovery.
HMB is a metabolite of leucine and since only a small part of leucine is converted into HMB it is difficult to get a high enough amount of it from your diet so it’s a good idea to get it from a supplement. It helps to reduce breakdown and increases strength. It also increases mass synthesis, but it is less effective than leucine itself. Bodybuilders often take this supplement to improve their body composition.
Supplements can be a great addition to your diet if you are looking to build muscle mass and achieve a healthier body. But be aware, there are many scam supplements out there that make wild claims and will be a waste of money. But the ones we mentioned above are the most effective for fitness enthusiasts and provide real results.