Is growing muscle on your agenda? Check out the best supplements for muscle gain to accelerate your growth.
If you’re looking to build muscle, then you’ve probably considered supplementing your diet. There are a whole host of supplements to choose from, so we’ve narrowed down the absolute best supplements for muscle gain, so you don’t have to.
So, What’s the Best Way to Build Muscle?
The two fundamental steps when it comes to gaining muscle mass are to work out and eat right. So many people think simply hitting the gym will give results, but without an adequate nutrition plan, you could be wasting all of your hard work.
While you’re in the gym or in your favourite place to work out, you should remain focussed on training hard and going that extra mile to smash your personal best.
Once you’re outside the gym, your attention should move away from training and enter nutrition-mode. To get the best results possible, you should set up a solid nutrition plan to sustain your muscle growth.
When it comes to building muscle, protein is the number one macronutrient that primarily works within processes of muscle growth and development.
Meat, fish, eggs, milk, plus plant-based foods like legumes (like lentils, beans and peas), nuts and grains are all sources of protein that will feed your body and muscles with the nutrients they need in order to pack on some serious size.
Should I Just Eat Protein for Muscle Gain?
Just because protein is known to contribute to the growth and development of muscle mass, it doesn’t mean that other essential macronutrients 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.
Maltodextrin, Dextrose, and Palatinose are high-glycaemic index carbohydrates, which means they digest quickly, which are used to replete glycogen stores and aid muscle recovery. Add them to your post-workout shake for best results.
Read more on Carbohydrates
Nuts, seeds and fatty fish are essential for providing omega-3 fatty acids – a healthy fat that offers a range of benefits, from joint care to prevention of cardiovascular disease.
As well as having the right nutrition plan, those who are serious about maximising their muscle growth supplement their diet with sports supplements. There’s a wide range of supplements out there designed specifically to help you gain muscle, which provide the necessary nutrients to fuel you during your workouts, as well as pre- and post-workout.
Supplements shouldn’t replace real food, but should be used to aid your diet and 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
Here, we shed light on the 7 best supplements for muscle gain, so you can experience more explosive growth than ever before.
#1 Protein Powder
Proteins are molecules made up of amino acids. They’re the body’s bricks and mortar for rebuilding muscle, replicating DNA, and catalysing metabolic reactions. The human body is clever – it can biosynthesise some amino acids, but not all of them, so we need protein in our diets to get the rest.
Whey & Casein Protein
Whey protein differs from other protein supplements, as scientific studies have shown whey protein is the fastest absorbing protein available and the best protein source to help muscles recover.
Whey protein is separated during the cheese-making process. It has a low fat and carbohydrate content, and it 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 with anything.
Read more on Whey Protein
Casein protein, on the other hand, is a slow-absorbing milk protein that’s best to take before you go to sleep, to ensure your muscles are constantly fuelled with protein throughout the night, for optimum muscle growth.
Plant-Based Protein Powders
There are a fair few plant-based protein powders to choose from, but ultimately it’s down to personal choice as to which one you go for. The main types of plant-based protein powders come from peas, soy beans, hemp and brown rice – each with slightly different digestibility rates, amino acid profiles, fibre content, and essential fatty acid content.
Vegan Blend contains a blend of pea protein, brown rice protein, and hemp protein to provide a range of amino acids to support muscle growth and maintenance and a quick and delicious boost to your diet whenever you need it.
Proteins are made up from small chains of amino acids. ‘BCAA’ stands for branched-chain amino acid, which make up roughly 30% of muscle proteins. This number alone shows their importance for 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 repairs muscle fibres. Without an adequate supply of BCAAs, the body won’t be able to fully repair damaged fibres 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.
Read more on BCAAs
#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 as important in boosting performance in a wide range of sports. Creatine is most useful during short bursts of intense exercise like weight lifting and sprinting.
Creatine supplementation is a must for many gym-goers and athletes. It has been shown to increase the number of repetitions you’ll be able to complete, as well as the amount of weight lifted, which in turn can allow for bigger muscle growth. It’s natural, effective and, most importantly, completely safe.
Read more on Creatine
#4 ZMA – Zinc, Magnesium & Vitamin B6
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 on 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 shown to be an easy way to balance zinc and magnesium levels, thus helping gym-goers and athletes in general to perform better in 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 as 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 can directly impact muscle mass and sports performance. The cherry on the cake is that research shows that tribulus terrestris may also have aphrodisiac properties.
Make sure you buy a tribulus terrestris supplement containing at least 40% saponins, which are the active ingredient in this plant. The higher the saponin content, the greater the benefits can be.
#6 Citrulline Malate
Citrulline malate is, perhaps, one of the most underrated supplements available on the market. Although it doesn’t enjoy the popularity of supplements such as creatine or BCAAs, clinical trials have constantly shown 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, research shows that it can have a major impact on sports performance and even help you gain muscle.
Citrulline is a precursor of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide increases vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels), which favours oxygen delivery to the muscles, which means your muscles have an increased exercise endurance. From the perspective of muscle growth, this is positive, as the more you train, the more your muscles can grow.
Supplementation with citrulline malate can help increase oxygen uptake in the muscles, ATP synthesis (energy), and significantly reduce fatigue. These effects have been confirmed through several scientific studies conducted in athletes.
Read more on Citrulline Malate
#7 Weight Gainer
Gainers are excellent supplements for ‘hardgainers’, which are people who tend to struggle to gain weight because of their genetic composition, also known as ‘ectomorphs’.
Ectomorphs tend to burn calories at a higher rate, making it difficult to use those calories to gain muscle mass.
Gainers are supplements that 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’re an ectomorph, mass gainer supplements can help compensate for your natural high calorie expenditure and set you on the right path to muscle growth.
Check out our list of best mass gainers
Take Home Message
Supplements can be considered as part of a solid diet plan, but shouldn’t replace real food. Once you’ve structured all points in your diet plan (calorie and macronutrient intake, food sources, and number of meals) then you can supplement your diet for an affordable and convenient way to expedite your muscle growth.