Building muscles is a three-step process. The first step requires eating enough calories and proteins to give your body the energy excess it needs to gain muscle. Then, you must start lifting weights to challenge your muscles to strengthen and bulk up.
The final step, which has to do with eating supplements, will only help you maximize the gains of the previous two. This means if you are not eating right and aren’t lifting weights, you might not be able to build muscle quickly, regardless of how many supplements you stock up in your stomach.
In this article, we’ve compiled 5 of the best mass-gain supplements money can buy. We have listed them in order of priority. The first few are the absolute most critical for your muscle-building program. Then there are the can’t-do-without ones. The final few are optional (yet highly effective) supplements.
Whey Protein Powder
Why We Chose It: The Whey Protein Powder gets the crown for multiple reasons. This milk protein has a high concentration of branched-chain amino acids that help our body digest it super-fast. This allows it to get super-quickly to our muscles and enable them to begin building muscle.
That isn’t the only reason why it topped our list of mass-gain supplements. Whey protein powder also contains peptides (small proteins) that convince our body to increase blood flow to the muscles. As a result, once you start lifting weights, your muscles would be primed to respond.
Various studies back up these assertions. Researchers at Macmaster University (Canada) and the University of Nottingham (England) have found out that regardless of the type of exercise load, the rate of muscle building increases after eating whey protein.
Whey protein not only helps you build muscle. One study has found that regular consumption of whey protein helps keep the likelihood of age-related muscle loss at bay. The study gives credit to leucine, the branched-chain amino acid present in whey protein, for helping our body retain muscle.
How to make the most of it: Take 20 grams of Whey protein powder in the half-hour before working out, and take another 40 grams within the hour after training. To kick off muscle growth, you might also want to consider taking another 20 to 40 grams first thing in the morning.
Casein Protein Powder
Why We Chose It: The Casein Protein Powder has an incredibly slow digestion rate. This makes it a perfect choice as your pre-bedtime snack because, by preventing your body from digesting it quickly, it prevents catabolism. This will enable your muscles to get a consistent supply of nutrients while you sleep.
Casein also contains leucine and therefore helps boosts protein synthesis in your body. You can even count on this supplement to make you feel less full, an excellent benefit for anyone looking for a snack that could help them pick up muscle mass.
It aids in post-workout recovery, too. You might already know from experience that muscle fiber is damaged after you have hit the gym. Casein helps in the repair, maintenance and growth of the muscle fiber by keeping the body protein-positive for long periods.
Have doubts about these claims? We have the latest research to back them up. One study compared participants who consumed casein protein with those who didn’t and found that the former group experienced 2x the muscle growth compared to the placebo group. What more can you ask for!
How to make the most of it: Make sure your casein powder contains micellar casein (the slowest-digesting casein money can buy). Take 20 to 40 grams before bedtime and add an equal amount in the protein shakes you take between meals.
Why We Chose It: Creatine is a mixture of three amino acids: arginine, methionine, and glycine. All of them help this supplement’s users pick up body weight and increase their strength quickly. Another reason why it has made our list is because it injects your muscles with fast energy.
Fast energy is something your muscles need to perform reps during training. The more fast energy you have in your body, the more reps you’d be able to do in less time, and the easier it would be for you to get stronger (and bigger) in the long run.
Creatine also makes your muscles more stretchable by drawing in water, making them more amenable to the idea of long-term growth. Aside from that, recent research has also held creatine responsible for the growth of insulin-like growth-factor-1 (IGF-1) found in muscles.
Here’s why that’s a good thing. Research has shown that IGF-1 helps brings out the best of our growth hormone (GH), which is responsible for increasing the mass of our muscles. By aiding in the growth of IGF-1, creatine is, then, helping our muscles grow.
How to make the most of it: Take 2-5 grams of creatine in the form of creatine malate, creatine monohydrate, creatine alpha-ketoglutarate, or creatine ethyl ester with your protein shake in the few minutes before your workout. This will give your muscles the fast energy they need to do reps.
Consume an equal amount with your post-training shake(s). On days when you won’t be working out, take 2 to 5 grams with a breakfast meal rich in carbs.
Why We Chose It: Our body combines the beta-alanine amino acid with another amino acid, histidine, to create carnosine. Research has found that when our muscles have elevated levels of carnosine, they tend to have more endurance and strength. The good news continues.
Carnosine also enables us to do reps for extended periods. It does that by enabling our muscles to contract for longer periods without getting fatigued in the process. That’s precisely the reason why several athletes take beta-alanine to build muscle strength.
One recent study compared individuals who took beta-alanine alongside creatine with those who consumed only creatine. The results showed that the former group was able to lose more body fat and gain more muscle mass than those who only relied on creatine.
How to make the most of it: Add 1 to 2 grams of this supplement to your protein shakes. Take an equal amount before and after every training session. On the days that you aren’t working out, take 2 grams of carnosine with your breakfast, alongside creatine.
Nitric Oxide boosters
Why We Chose It: Nitric Oxide (NO) boosters like nitrates and L-citrulline deliver nutrients to muscles, preventing fatigue during workouts. Bodybuilders who take them also vouch for their ability to give them an excellent pump during workouts. Here’s why we believe their word.
NO boosters have the ability to dilate blood vessels. This allows more blood to flow to muscles, ensuring an increased delivery of nutrients, oxygen, water and anabolic hormones. This, in turn, provides your body with more energy during a workout, better recovery after it and an enhanced muscle pump.
Keep in mind that NO boosters won’t introduce nitric oxide directly to your bloodstream. Instead, you’ll be consuming amino acid arginine, which your body will then convert into NO. Research has found that an increased arginine intake results in better muscle strength and lower body fat.
How to make the most of it: Take 3-5 of arginine-containing NO booster at each of these times: immediately when you get up in the morning, half-an-hour to 60 minutes before workout, immediately after exercise, and half-an-hour to 60 minutes before bedtime.
Whenever possible, combine each dose with 500 to 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C, which will help your body retain elevated levels of NO for longer.
All the supplements listed above will help you in building muscle quickly. Make sure you’re combining them with a calorie- and protein-rich diet and a workout program that challenges your muscles to the extreme. Only then you’d be able to make the most out of these five muscle building supplements.