Lift weights and eat right.
These are two fundamental steps when it comes to putting on muscle mass. So many people think just hitting the gym will give results, but without an adequate nutrition, you’re pretty much throwing your hard work down the pan.
While at the gym you must focus on training hard and think about nothing but those barbells and dumbbells that you’re about to lift and getting in those extra reps.
Once you’re outside the gym, your attention should move away from training and enter nutrition mode. To get the best results possible you must set up a solid nutrition plan to sustain your muscle growth.
When it comes to building muscle protein is the number one macro nutrient thought off, and the only nutrient that primarily works within processes of growth and development.
Meat, fish, eggs, nuts, oats, milk, etc, are all sources of protein that will feed your body and muscles with the nutrients they need in order to gain serious size!
Should I Just Eat Protein?
Protein, protein… protein!
Just because protein is known to contribute to the growth and development of muscle mass, it does not mean that other essential macro nutrients should be forgotten about.
These play an essential role in providing energy and replenishing the muscles glycogen stores – both of which are vital if you want to continue hitting it hard in the gym and growing your muscles.
Nuts, seeds and fatty fish are essential for providing omega 3, which offers a range of benefits from joint care and weight loss to normal functioning of hormones.
However. if you’re determined to maximise your muscle growth, your shopping list should contain sports supplements.
Supplements should not replace real food, but they can aid food and your training goals. Sports supplements are most useful in situations such as:
✓ When you’re struggling to eat enough protein/calories
✓ Every time you need to recover quickly
✓ To keep you going between meals if you’re running on a tight schedule
Below is the information you need to discover the top 7 muscle building supplements that will give you the helping-hand you need to experience muscle gains like you’ve never seen before.
#1 Whey protein
Proteins are needed to build muscle mass the same way bricks are needed to build a house.
Whey protein differs from your usual protein sources, whereby scientific studies have shown whey protein is the fastest absorbing protein available and the best protein source to help muscles recover and thereby support muscle growth.
Whey protein is separated during the cheese-making process. Think about the cheese without its less interesting parts (lactose and fat). Besides having a low fat and carbohydrate content, whey protein contains high concentrations of essential amino acids, especially BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), which are known to play an essential role in muscle growth.
Studies show that people who have whey protein before and/or right after workout are able to put on muscle mass faster than those who don’t supplement. So, next time you go to the gym remember to bring a whey protein shake with you.
Proteins are made up from small chains of amino acids. BCAAs stands for branched-chain amino acids and they made up roughly 20% of muscle proteins. This number alone shows their importance to muscle growth.
BCAAs are composed of leucine, isoleucine and valine. Together they are responsible for activating muscle protein synthesis, which is the process by which the body makes new proteins and so repairs muscle fibres. Without an adequate supply of BCAAs, the body won’t be able to fully repair damaged fibers, which in turn will impair muscle growth.
Furthermore, research shows that having BCAAs before and after workout can delay muscle fatigue and speed up recovery.
#3 Creatine – Performance
Creatine can either be obtained through food sources such as meat and fish or produced by the body.
It’s stored in skeletal muscle as phosphocreatine to be used to generate ATP, the body’s source of energy.
Much research has been conducted on creatine and it has repeatedly proven itself very helpful in boosting sports performance on a wide range of sports. Although creatine’s benefits can be felt on any kind of exercise, it’s more useful in short-term activities requiring great amounts of energy.
Creatine supplementation is a must for gym goers. It will increase the number of repetitions you’ll be able to complete as well as the weight lifted, which in turn will allow for bigger muscle growth. Natural, effective and, the most important, completely safe.
#4 ZMA – Sweet Dreams
ZMA is a powerful combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. Zinc and magnesium are known to have crucial roles on hormone regulation. Studies conducted with people with zinc and magnesium deficiency have shown that ZMA can have a major impact on muscle-building hormones such as testosterone and IGF-1.
Due to its science-based formulation, ZMA has been proven to be an easy way to balance zinc and magnesium levels and so help gym goers and athletes in general to do better at their workouts.
Zinc and magnesium also play a role in regulating sleep patterns. If your zinc and magnesium levels are below adequate, your sleep quality will be poor, which in turn will affect muscle recovery as the body’s recovery process happens mainly during rest. ZMA eases your mind and helps you get a decent sleep night.
#5 Tribulus – Hormone Booster
Tribulus Terrestris is considered by many the number one natural hormone booster.
Tribulus Terrestris grows in some tropical and temperate regions of southern Europe and Asia and has long been a part of traditional Chinese and Indian medicine.
Research shows that the extract of this plant can help regulate hormone levels, which will directly impact muscle mass and sports performance. To top it off, it was also been shown to have aphrodisiac activity.
Make sure you buy a tribulus terrestris supplement containing at least 40% of saponins, which are the active ingredient in this plant. The higher the saponin content, the greater the benefits will be.
#6 Citrulline Malate
Citrulline malate is, perhaps, one of the most underrated supplements available in the market. Although it doesn’t enjoy the popularity of supplements such as creatine or BCAAs, clinical trials have been constantly proven it to be a powerful resource for athletes undergoing intensive preparation.
At a glance, it seems to be a modest ingredient – a mere combination of a non-essential amino acid (citrulline) and a compound found in apples (malate). However, it can have a major impact on sports performance and even help build muscle.
Citrulline is a precursor of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide increases vasodilation which favours oxygen delivery. An increased oxygen delivery means that your muscles will be able to exercise for longer. This is a very good thing from a muscle growth perspective. The more you train, the more your muscles will grow.
Supplementation with citrulline malate can help increase muscle’s oxygen uptake, ATP synthesis and significantly reduce fatigue. These effects have been confirmed through several scientific studies conducted in athletes.
#7 Weight Gainer
Gainers are excellent supplements for hardgainers, who tend to struggle to gain weight due to having fast metabolisms.
People with fast metabolisms burn calories at a higher rate, making it difficult to have spare calories to put on muscle mass.
Gainers are designed to help people achieve the calorie surplus necessary to gain muscle mass and weight. They are composed of high biological value proteins, essential amino acids, simple and complex carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals.
If you were blessed with a fast metabolism by genetics, mass gainers can help compensate for your natural high calorie expenditure and set you on the right path to muscle growth.
Take Home Message
Supplements can be considered as part of a solid diet plan but should not replace real food. Once you’ve structured all points in your diet plan (calorie and macronutrients intake, food sources and number of meals) turn to supplements.
Supplements will fill any eventual gap in your nutrition plan and speed up muscle gains. See what supplements better fit your goals and add them to your list.