If you are a guy who is trying to pack on some pounds you are likely taking one or more supplements in addition to your regular diet. If not, you are probably searching for supplements to help you gain muscle. You're probably also amazed at the mountain of supplements to choose from - along with their amazing claims of success.
We also should explain that these are called supplements for a reason. Supplements are something that is added to something else. That something else is a healthy diet. Real food is almost always healthier and better for you than anything you can swallow in a pill. But for most of us who want to add muscle it would be almost impossible to find and prepare all the necessary food.
To help you narrow down the search we've listed some tried-and-true supplements that we call Muscle-Building Essentials.
1) Creatine Monohydrate- Creatine is one of the most popular and effective supplements among strength or endurance athletes...mainly because it works. For a scientific explanation the phosphocreatine (PCr) within the muscle helps to maintain energy during high-intensity exercise such as weightlifting. It also seems to help in recovery which is essential for the muscles to repair and rebuild even bigger than before. Click here for a previous short article on creatine.
2) Branched Chain Amino Acids- Also know as BCAAs, consist of three individual amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are found in foods like meat, poultry, eggs, dairy and fish.
BCAAs make up about 14% of the amino acids in your muscles and are very important for muscle growth.
Studies have shown that BCAAs, especially leucine, help to regulate protein metabolism by promoting protein synthesis and suppressing protein degradation, which seems to improve recovery of muscles damaged during resistance training.
3) Whey Protein- Getting enough protein in your body is critically important for weight gain. The basic fundamental is that you need to ingest more protein than your body breaks down. And when you work out you increase your protein breakdowns to high levels. Like mentioned above, if you could find and eat enough of the right kind of healthy food that would be ideal. But that's not very likely in todays world.
We like whey protein because whey has been shown to promote muscle hypertrophy and improve body composition to a greater extent than soy-based proteins when consumed after resistance exercise.
4) Glutamine- Glutamine has been linked to protein synthesis. It prevents your muscle from being catabolized (eaten up) in order to provide Glutamine for other cells in the body.
After an intense workout, the levels of Glutamine in your body can decrease by 50%. Supplementing with Glutamine not only helps with muscle recovery, but also helps to promote muscle growth. Also, because it is an amino acid, it aids in muscle building and muscle strength increase.
5) Omega-3 Fish Oils- Fish oils which contain omega-3 fatty acids provide many benefits for the body. For bodybuilders they contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Intense resistance training can cause microscopic tears in your muscle fibers, leading to muscle damage and inflammation.
The bottom line seems to suggest that having higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the muscle cell enhances the muscle growth.
6) Multivitamins- Bodybuilders, and everyone for that matter, should take multivitamin tablets if they are not consuming through a balanced diet. A daily multivitamin encourages efficiency in your body for all of its various functions, including metabolism, muscle building, and athletic performance.
7) Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)- CLA refers to a group of omega-6 fatty acids that has gotten a lot attention as a fat burner and a food bioactive compound that prevents and attenuates obesity. Given that CLA not only reduces body fat, but also improves lean mass, there is great potential for the use of CLA to improve muscle metabolism, which would have a significant health impact.
Of the supplements listed above creatine and protein are probably the two where you are most likely to see more noticeable gains. But everyone is different and remember, supplements aren't going to give you a body like Arnold if you aren't already eating a healthy diet and working out regularly.