Trying to gain muscle? These are the best 5 supplements to take
Prior to supplementation, your nutrition must be in order or supplements are worthless. So, it's important Nutrition is about 60% of the equation, supplementation might be 15-20%, so the primary focus should be nutrition first.
This is oversimplified, but there are at least 3 critical elements to building muscle:
- Get LOTS of protein each day: At least 1.5 Gms per lb of lean body mass per day, minimum.
- Overfeeding: It is not necessary to eat Weight Gainer 1000, but eating a few hundred extra calories is important. Roughly speaking, get 1.5 gms protein, .5 gms fat (blend of poly/mono/saturated), and 1-2 gms carbs per pound of body weight.
- Recovery: Get at least 8 hours sleep per night and give each muscle group at least 48 hours to recover before training them again.
Now, here are the key supplements that will help amplify your workout. Take these together about 20-30 minutes prior to your workout.
It's safe, healthy, cheap, and for most people, it just works. Take 10 gms per day, split into 2 doses. It is possibly the most well researched supplement ever (I am aware of 432 studies), supporting it's ability to increase strength & power, aerobic capacity, hydration and even prevent Alzheimer's disease.
Caution: Some people experience indigestion or bloating. If so, try 2 gms of Creatine Hydochloride, instead. It is more expensive, but also much easier on the digestive system, due to it's easier absorption by the body.
Beta-Alanine in your body combines with the amino acid Histidine, to form Carnosine. It is most well studied for increasing endurance. Take 1.5 - 2 gms in a single dose.
Note: Most people (myself included), experience a "prickly pear" sensation after taking Beta-Alanine. It feels a bit like when a bodypart fall to sleep then wakes up and you get that tingly feeling.
It's safe, but unsettling if you're not use to it. I like it, because it tells me when my pre-workout supplements have been absorbed and are working. It's like a green light to go hit the weights! ;)
Prior to prolonged exercise, it increases nitrite (indicative of nitric oxide), even more effectively than L-Arginine. This improves blood flow, helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to muscles more effectively. There is also research which demonstrates that it increases Growth Hormone after exercise.
Associated with improvements in prolonged anaerobic exercise, such as 5km runs or circuit training.
A precursor to catecholamines (e.g. adrenaline) and while it isn't really capable of spiking them to higher than normal levels, tyrosine in your body can prevent their depletion that occurs during stress.
Note: Some studies suggest that up to 100mg/kg of weight can provide a greater benefit, but this may pose digestive problems.
There are other supplements which may provide synergistic benefits (primarily, by improving absorption of the above compounds), such as Bioperine & Naringin (it's the flavonoid that makes grapefruit juice taste bitter), but the research is less rigorous. Also, a word of caution - grapefruit juice can interact negatively with many medications, raising them to dangerous levels in your body, so please check with your doctor before taking them.