October 25, 2022 10 min read
The key to building muscle mass is resistance training and eating right. Three main criteria to meet for maximum muscle gain are eating more calories than you burn, consuming more protein than you digest, and an exercise program that challenges your muscles.
While it’s possible to meet all these criteria without taking dietary supplements, certain supplements may help you meet your goals.
It is crucial never to see supplements as replacements for nutrition you get from food.
Supplements are precisely that—they don’t replace lifting weights and healthy meals. Instead, muscle-building supplements are boosters that can impact your strength training and maximize your gains.
However, the massive amount of available muscle-building supplements can be overwhelming for most strength trainers who are first-time buyers of supplements.
In this article, we will list the best bodybuilding supplements for building mass in certain muscle groups, and explain why and how they can help you reach your ideal muscle mass that will make heads turn.
Whey protein powder takes the crown when it comes to bodybuilding supplements, and for good reasons.
Whey is the liquid material created as a by-product of cheese production. Whey protein is a mixture of proteins isolated from whey.
Whey is rich in leucine, an amino acid that plays a vital role in stimulating rapid muscle protein synthesis and absorption of protein by the body.
In other words, the muscle-building process is kicked off immediately, then provides everything the body needs to get the strength-building job done quickly and easily.
Whey also contains peptides, small proteins that increase blood flow to the muscles.
A post-workout supplement of 30 to 40 grams of protein powder is just what you need immediately after your weight training session. Add 80 grams of simple carbs to get a potent growth-producing shake.
Make no mistake, you still need to get the majority of your protein intake from food.
High protein sources include chicken, salmon, Greek yogurt, skim milk, and beans are some of the best foods to help you gain muscle.
But if you want to quickly increase your protein intake, you can get all the muscle-building benefits you are seeking in one delicious scoop with Whey-Pro. It contains all 9-essentail amino acids and comes in 10 delicious flavors, so you are sure to find one that you love!
In comparison, casein has always played second fiddle to whey, due to its very slow digestion rate.
Like whey protein, casein is also derived from milk. Casein protein is what gives milk its white color. Cow's milk consists of around 80% casein protein.
Casein and whey differ in digestion times — while whey digests quickly and is ideal for workouts and muscle growth, casein is digested slowly, which means it provides a steady, gradual release of amino acids into the blood for several hours.
This is why many people use casein to speed up muscle recovery by consuming it before they go to bed.
In comparison, casein protein powder has always played second fiddle to whey, due to its very slow digestion rate.
However, this makes it ideal as a pre-bedtime snack because it assures the process that dissolves and breaks it down into simple nutrients happens slowly and steadily.
Casein makes a great snack if you want to pack muscle mass because it makes you feel less full.
You can also include casein in your diet. In addition to milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products are high in casein. It also contains bioactive compounds that may boost your immune system.
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Pro-Pudding is casein-based, and has an extremely long digestive time, making it an excellent tool to be used as a snack in-between meals or right before bed to maintain an anabolic environment,
Top-quality plant protein powder is typically gently produced at low temperatures, without any added fillers or carriers, ensuring the preservation of its amino acid integrity.
Plant protein is simply a meaningful food source of protein which is from plants. This group can include quinoa, tofu, soy, tempeh, seitan, nuts, seeds, certain grains, and pulses.
Pulses are a large group of plants, which include chickpeas, lentils, beans such as black, kidney and adzuki beans, and split peas.
Plant-based protein supplements generally do not contain the same levels of certain nutrients like vitamin B-12 and iron. Animal proteins contain all essential amino acids. Plant-based protein powders can contain these essential amino acids but do not always contain them.
However, some plant products, such as soybeans and quinoa, are complete proteins, which means that they contain all nine essential amino acids that humans need. Quinoa is also naturally gluten-free.
In addition to providing the full amino-acid profile, including valine, leucine, and isoleucine, needed to build thick and dense muscles, well-crafted plant-based proteins help with weight management and fat loss because they tend to be lower in calories and fat, but higher in fiber and other essential nutrients needed to help maintain a healthy digestive balance.
Plant-based proteins have also been shown to improve athletes’ performance, energy levels, and recovery.
In fact, researchers found that body composition, muscle thickness, force production, and overall performance were the same between pea protein and whey protein groups.
When selecting plant protein powder for building muscle mass, seek a product that is dairy-free, gluten-free, and non-GMO.
VEG-PRO is a fantastic option for those who are sensitive to lactose. It is a Non-GMO Verified Pure Vegan Protein powder that contains all 9-essential amino acids without any added fillers or carriers, ensuring the preservation of its complete amino acid integrity. It comes in Hot Cocoa, Peanut butter & Jelly, Snickerdoodle, Cookies & Crème, and seven more delicious flavors!
In their quest to build mass fast, many strength trainers have turned to a variety of performance-enhancing drugs and supplements. Creatine is the most popular of these substances, believed to enhance muscle mass and help bodybuilders achieve bursts of strength.
Creatine is a natural substance that turns into creatine phosphate in the body. Creatine phosphate assists in manufacturing a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides the energy for muscle contractions.
Although the body produces some of the creatine it uses, it is not enough to provide the levels necessary for strength training and building muscle mass.
Protein-rich foods like fish and meat contain some levels of creatine.
Creatine monohydrate supplements are manufactured outside the body from sarcosine and cyanamide. Cyanamide is an organic compound not to be confused with cyanide, and sarcosine is a type of salt. They are generally combined in a reactor with other catalyst compounds. Once in the reactor, it's heated and pressurized to form creatine crystals.
Creatine is thought to improve strength and increase lean muscle mass.
It also helps the muscle cells recover more quickly during exercise. This muscular boost may help athletes achieve bursts of speed and energy, especially during short bouts of high-intensity activities such as weight lifting or sprinting.
When supplemented during a period of resistance training, creatine has been found to induce greater increases in muscle mass, strength, and functional performance.
It is crucial to take creatine supplements as directed because too much can be harmful. The recommended daily dose is only 5 grams. Bodybuilders should take creatine as a pre-workout supplement immediately before their training programs. This will help keep their muscles saturated with creatine, producing the rapid energy they need to perform more reps.
Creatine can be mixed with milk while retaining all the benefits of creatine. It's also possible that creatine can be absorbed quicker into the body by mixing creatine with milk. By combining creatine and milk, you get extra calories, macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat), and calcium.
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As well as getting you revved up for whatever your day holds, it can boost strength training and your metabolism. Research shows that caffeine boosts metabolism, promotes muscle endurance, improves strength, and enhances anaerobic performance.
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant of the methylxanthine class. It is used as a cognitive enhancer, increasing alertness and attentional performance. Research has also shown caffeine increases physical performance.
As a muscle-building supplement, don’t expect caffeine to help you lift heavier weights and bring you instant muscle mass. Instead, caffeine can significantly increase muscular endurance and the number of reps you can perform.
Here's what a 2019 paper had to say about caffeine’s benefits in resistance exercises.
Caffeine can acutely increase total volume load. Over time, the performance increases might also impact resistance-training adaptations like skeletal muscle hypertrophy and increased strength, and ultimately, augment increased volume.
Furthermore, pre-exercise caffeine ingestion may delay exercise-induced fatigue. Therefore, you may be able to train for longer periods with a higher exercise quality. Subsequently, this may enhance long-term training adaptations.
Until future long-term studies are conducted, these ideas remain speculative, and future work is evidently needed.
Strength builders who habitually take caffeine supplements might find that the benefits dwindle over time. Caffeine’s ergogenic aid—it's stimulating effect on the central nervous system could become somewhat blunted.
Therefore, you are advised to avoid making caffeine a part of their daily supplement intake. They could avoid developing a caffeine tolerance if they take these supplements only for specific workouts or reasons.
It has been found that caffeine supplements are most beneficial for early morning workouts and lower body workouts. So, reserving caffeine for those days, and maybe the occasional day when they need an extra kick to get going, can ensure ongoing benefits
Amped-AF allows you to train faster, longer, and more intensely than ever before. It comes in flavors to die for, including Black Cherry Sherbet, Miami Lights, Blue Raspberry, Berry Burst, and Blueberry Kiwi.
Beta-alanine supplements are thought to boost the production of carnosine and, in turn, boost sports performance.
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is produced naturally in the body and has a lot to do with how many reps you can do. What’s more, research also shows beta-alanine improves anaerobic exercise capacity and reduces feelings of fatigue during exercise.
In the body, carnosine is formed when the amino acid beta-alanine combines with another amino acid, histidine. Research shows that higher levels of carnosine in muscles provide more endurance and strength.
Carnosine reduces muscle acidity, thereby increasing the amount of work that your muscles can do before becoming fatigued. That’s why research shows that beta-alanine supplements reduce exercise-induced fatigue and increase the amount of work you can do in your workouts.
For example, in a study conducted at The College of New Jersey, researchers found that taking beta-alanine allowed participants to lift 18% more total weight and do an average of 22% more reps in each workout than they could when they took a placebo. Research also indicates that beta-alanine improves anaerobic exercise capacity and reduces feelings of fatigue during exercise.
Carnosine appears to give muscle fibers increased contraction force, and to do so longer without fatiguing. Several studies reported increased muscle strength and power in athletes who took beta-alanine.
One study found that gym goers who took creatine along with beta-alanine lost more body fat, but showed weight gain due to more muscle mass than others who took only creatine.
Charged-AF is a pre-workout supplement for high-intensity and focused training sessions. It is designed to amplify energy, alertness, strength, stamina, and pumps while providing you with essential nutrients to optimize anaerobic and aerobic capacity. It comes in a range of flavors, including Candy Bliss, Strawberry Watermelon, and Blueberry Kiwi.
Glutamine is made by the body, and it makes enough for most people to function. However, those working to build muscle mass, but lean mass, might need to supplement the natural glutamine production.
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid, or building block of protein, in the body. The body can make enough glutamine for its regular needs. Deficiency is very rare and not caused by inadequate intake but by a genetic disorder.
However, research suggests that supplementing with glutamine may offer some benefits for bodybuilders and athletes.
Glutamine is necessary for the production of muscle protein. It rose in popularity as a fitness supplement promoted for muscle gain and fat burn. Scientists continue to study these claims, and while studies don’t confirm any muscle-building effects, glutamine may help reduce fatigue and improve recovery after exercise.
Studies show athletes who took glutamine supplements experienced less strength loss and muscle soreness.
Furthermore, it may reduce muscle damage and boost exercise performance. Research is ongoing.
Although glutamine has various benefits and functions, little evidence exists of glutamine supplements’ direct responsibility for increased muscle mass or strength, or reduced body fat in normal, healthy people.
However, given the amount of stress intense training causes on the human body, bodybuilders may see certain benefits from supplementing with significant levels of glutamine, or from stacking it with other supplements.
One study found that when athletes suffered from mild dehydration, supplemental glutamine increased exercise performance and enhanced fluid and electrolyte uptake when combined with a glucose and electrolyte beverage.
Your body makes glutamine, but we also consume it in foods like wheat, peanuts, corn, and milk.
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Building muscle mass imposes a lot of stress on the body, and supplements can help ensure your body gets all the fuel it needs.
While supplements can be an effective way to support your weightlifting goals, don’t rely on them to do the magic.
The hard work remains up to you. Again, supplements are not replacements, nor are they shortcuts. Most importantly, ensure your diet includes plenty of complex carbohydrates such as potatoes, wheat pasta, rice, and wheat bread.
If you’re new to supplements to help you gain muscles, keep in mind that what works for your friends might not work for you.
You might have to try different supplements to learn what suits your overall health, body weight, and metabolism best, without any side effects.
It’s best to start with one or more of the best supplements as discussed in this article. Hopefully, you’ll find some that will help you to reach your goal, and get heads turning!