Updated: Jun 14, 2019
Alongside exercising, nutrition, recovery, psychical preparation and planning it is also a good thing to use supplementation which can positively benefit your muscle growth. It is not a requirement to use supplements in your training process if you follow a precise meal plan, BUT, using them will save your time, money and will bring results faster.
In this article, you will find out which fitness supplements help you to grow muscles the best. All of them are known and used by fitness professionals and athletes for years.
1. Whey protein (concentrates, isolates, hydrolyzates)
Proteins are number 1 in the fitness world. It is a building material of muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, hair, skin, nails, organs, enzymes, hormones etc.
The protein itself consists mainly of amino acids. Scientists know about the existence of hundreds and maybe thousands of amino acids, but in the "Health and Fitness world" is important 22 amino acids (AAs). 13 AAs are non-essential - the body can create them themselves and 9 AAs are called Essential - The body needs to be supplied with these AAs from a diet or supplements.
When you finish your workout, your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibres and form new muscle protein strands or myofibrils. These repaired myofibrils increase in thickness and number which is also called the muscle hypertrophy.
When is the right time to supply your body with protein?
a) right after your workout (rebuilding muscle tissues)
b) before you go to sleep (recovery process while you sleep)
Anytime during the day - between your meals (snacks)
How much protein to take?
a) Recommended daily intake (RDI) of proteins for people who do not exercise is between 0,6 - 1,1 g per 1 kg of body weight (70 kgs * 0,8 = 56g of protein per day)
b) RDI of proteins for active people is between 1,1 - 1,6 g per 1 kg of body weight (70 kgs * 1,3 = 91g of protein per day)
c) RDI for high PA performance training, athletes, strength training range between 1,7-2,4 g per 1 kg of body weight (70 kgs * 2 = 140g of protein per day)
These numbers include all protein sources coming to the body. Food, supplements, drinks.
Please be advised that the human body is not able to utilize more than 2,4g per kilo of body weight. Too much protein results in increased nitrogen waste products in your blood which stresses your kidneys. You should always discuss your protein intake with a fitness professional or health practitioner especially when increasing intake over 2g per kg.
Creatine is important and constant in the field of muscle building. It is the most popular food supplement (from the specific substance category) that is on the market. It is one of 8 naturally occurring guanidine-derived substances. It is synthesized from 3 amino acids - arginine, glycine and methionine. In the human body, about 95% of creatine is contained in the muscles (creatine phosphate, CP), the rest is creatine free and phosphorylated.
Creatine extracts water from the intercellular space and directs it through the cell membrane into the muscle cell. This magnifies and infuses it. This is one of the reasons why you can use creatine to increase your weight by 3-5 kg in just a few weeks. Furthermore, creatine works to increase strength and perhaps promotes regeneration (not sufficiently verified though).
Creatine helps your muscles to produce energy during heavy lifting and high-intensity exercising. When you supplement creatin, you are increasing levels of creatine phosphate (CP) in your muscles. This is a form of energy stored in your cells which helps your body to produce more high-energy molecules called ATP.
Benefits of Creatine
- the intake of creatine leads to increased strength
- Intake of creatine leads to increased active muscle mass
- creatine delays muscle exhaustion of about 10-20%
- reduces the number of sets necessary to optimize muscle stimulation (more benefit for less work)
- reducing the amount of lactic acid by up to 70%
- reduction of oxygen debt (after exercise oxygen)
How much of Creatine to take?
It is a bit more complicated as there are many kinds of Creatine with different ways of production. Each of them has slightly different dosage and use. But I am more than happy to help you with that in our customer service chat. Basically, you need to normalize (saturate) your levels of creatine in your muscles which can be done during a longer healthier process (2-5g per day) or shorter process, which is used when you need to make Creatine to be effective in a short period of time (10-20g per day). After normalising (saturation) the levels of Creatine in your muscles it is enough to maintain its levels with 2 - 5 g per day)
You also use Creatine supplements in cycles 4-6 weeks on Creatine and 2-4 weeks without using it. This will increase your body response on Creatine. Your performance will remain the same even in off period.
When is the right time to supply your body with Creatine?
a) 30 mins before your workout (2-5g)
b) right after your workout (2-5g)
Gainers or carbohydrate-protein supplements are very important for muscle growth. These are supplements that provide energy and nutrients to the body. This increased delivery generates an anabolic response and results in a faster growth of muscle mass and muscle volumes.
The term gainer refers to products which include 30% of protein. More concentrated products are already referred to as proteins. The main ingredient of the gainers is carbohydrates. It is advised to take this supplement immediately after training. At this time, the body is literally "hungry" after the energy and carbs supply, and gainers provide us with nutrients which are needed to supply the glycogen reserves in the muscles and the liver. They are the first to turn away the catabolism of the muscles.
When is the right time to supply your body with a gainer?
a) 30 minutes before your training session
b) right after your workout
How much of Gainer to take:
This really depends on your diet as you need to control your protein, carbs and fats intake. Commonly is used 70 - 150g after your workout. It also depends on protein vs. carbs ratio in your gainer.
Glutamine is the most common amino acid in our body. In skeletal muscles, glutamine takes part of up to 60 % of all amino acids. It helps to build and repair muscles.
Glutamine is an important part of protein synthesis, nitrogen metabolism, urea production in the kidney, and glucose resynthesis in the liver. It also plays a very important role in ammonia detoxification. It is most important for a regular trainee to increase amino acid concentration in tissues, glucose biosynthesis, protein synthesis, and prevent catabolism. All of these factors have a positive effect on muscle mass and volume growth.
How much of glutamine to take and when is the right time to supply your body with a glutamine?
In most cases, you take around 20 grams of glutamine per day. It is divided into 3-4 stages.
a) when you wake up (7g)
b) after your workout (7g)
c) before you go to sleep (7g)
Some people take glutamine even before their workout but there is a risk of your body producing too much of ammonia especially when training hard. In this scenario, you would split the glutamine intake into 4 phases and lower the scoop to 5g (4 x 5g)
5. Stimulants releasing Growth hormones (L-arginine, L-ornithine and L-leucine)
Growth hormone occurs naturally in the human body and is very important for the growth of pure muscle mass and volumes. Boys and men between the eighteenth and thirtieth year of age have high levels of growth hormone. Since the thirtieth year, this level is decreasing and we can see a gradual degradation of muscle mass. Here are suitable growth hormone stimulators. Of course, even for younger athletes (18 years of age), preparations for growth hormone production are allowed to be used. It will have a significant impact on the growth of their muscle mass. The most important substance that supports growth hormone production is L-arginine, L-ornithine and L-leucine.
And how much?
L-arginine - 500-5000mg
L- ornithine - 500-2000mg
L-leucine - 2000-20000mg
6. Omega 3 Fish Oil
Conclusions of a Canadian Institute study at the Université Laval, studying the metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids, have shown that fish oil is very suitable for strengthening muscles. Omega-3 fatty acids are rich in it and greatly enhance the build-up of muscle mass. It brings a positive effect on regeneration, anti-inflammatory effects, improved insulin sensitivity, improved fat loss and also a proven support for muscle growth.
Omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids include alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Alpha-linolenic acid is one of the essential fatty acids, which means that the body can not self-create it, so we have to take it in the diet. From alpha-linolenic acid, the other two above-mentioned EPA and DHA are formed in the body. EPA and DHA can be found mainly in fish and some crustaceans. Well known and healthy fish oil.
Taking fish oil with 30% DHA and EPA, where they occur in a natural ratio of about 1: 2, more exactly 1.2: 1.8 will improve the overall balance of the fatty acid ratio in your diet. It will improve regeneration, reduce inflammation, and improve insulin sensitivity.
When and how much fish oil to use?
The first rule is to always enjoy them with food that is ideally rich in amino acids and carbohydrates. A good time to use is a post-workout period, but also in the morning to help optimally start anabolic events. In terms of a single dose, it can range from 1-3g. It is better to divide the daily dose, which prevents possible digestive problems.
Beta-alanine is one of the best supplements in terms of increasing carnosine concentration in muscles, reducing fatigue in athletic training, and increasing overall muscle output.
As far as carnosine supplementation is concerned, its exact role in human health is not yet known. However, carnosine appears to be a promising nutrient with great potential and has also been called an antioxidant that slows aging. Overcoming the burning feeling in any series depends on the concentration of carnosine in the muscles.
So how to increase the level of carnosine? It's just taking beta-alanine, which can increase carnosine levels. The level of carnosine can not be increased by diet or training. Supplementing beta-alanine is the only way to increase its level in your muscles.
One of the promising effects of beta-alanine is the ability to increase the amount of work done in one workout. Researchers looked at its effects at four and 10-week supplementing periods in cycling. At the end of the week, the level of muscle carnosine was significantly increased, resulting in a noticeable 13 percent increase in work done in a cycling test. The next six weeks added an additional 20 percent increase of carnosine, followed by a 6.2 percent increase in workload compared to pre-supplementation.
These results clearly show the effect of beta-alanine supplementation, which, although have not increased strength but brought a 20 percent increase of overall workload in strength training of trained athletes. These data suggest that beta-alanine supplementation is capable of improving performance in multiple series of high-intensity short exercises, in a series of high-intensity exercises and in individual series where fatigue is already present.
When and how much of beta-alanine to take?
It is recommended to use 4-6g of beta-alanine per day spread into 4 cycles (1-1,5g every 3 hours). The most important cycle is the one before you start your training.
Attention please! Take beta-alanine in combination with creatine. It is the only clinically explored combination that improves stamina, increases strength, increases workout volume, and reduces recovery time. So if you want to increase the intensity of your workouts with "metabolic training," you should be armed with the right supplements: beta-alanine and creatine.
Please do not try to take pure carnosine instead. Carnosine itself would be wasted in your digestive tract.
8. Citrulline Malate and Nitric Oxide
Research shows that the use of citrulline for bodybuilding increases the level of L-arginine in the blood. It does more than if the arginine supplement is used directly.
L-arginine is an amino acid that is creating the NO. Nitric oxide is a powerful vasodilator, it supports and improves the circulation throughout the body thanks to its vessel-widening abilities. NO also affects the release of hormones and adrenalin.
Citrulline can also help protect cardiovascular health. Research continues on L-citrulline capacities to improve blood flow, regulate blood pressure, and balance cholesterol in the blood.
When and how much of Citrulline to take?
It is recommended to take Citrulline Malate 20-40 minutes before you start your workout. The best dose to take in a 24 hour period is 6-18 grams.
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