There is a lot of information out there about what supplements are best for body building. Sorting through the myriad of options can be daunting, and may still leave you unsure which supplements to choose. Different ones serve different purposes, so it’s important to know which ones are best for your personal fitness goals. Here’s a look at 7 of the most effective types of supplements for increasing muscle mass and body strength:
Probably the most popular form of supplement for muscle and body strength building, Creatine is a natural “Osmotically Active “substance, which means it increases the amount of water in muscles used to stimulate protein synthesis. Creatine phosphate in the body becomes adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which creates the energy muscles use during training, making it great for short energy spurts. This rapid energy increase lets you work out harder and more often, and improves overall muscle growth as a result. Creatine supplements, found in powders, tablets, energy bars and drinks, are a great pre-workout energy booster, enhancing training for rapid muscle growth.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids:
There are three branched-chain amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids can increase how fast and how much muscle the body builds. They also compete with tryptophan pathways, which trigger serotonin levels that increase feelings of fatigue. By replacing some of that tryptophan, branched-chain amino acids give you longer lasting energy during workouts. They also strengthen mental focus while helping create lean muscle mass. Because these amino acids are rapidly absorbed into the body, they become an immediate energy resource. Valine and isoleucine are also glycogenic amino acids, which are particularly effective in fighting fatigue during workouts. Branched-chain amino acids are great for prolonged workouts without fatigue, and for increasing the speed and intensity of muscle mass building.
Leucine Amino Acids:
Leucine amino acids deserve their own discussion as a muscle building supplement. In addition to their fatigue fighting attributes similar to other branched-chain amino acids, leucine amino acids are often considered the “switch” that turns on rapid muscle growth. Leucine amino acids activate mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) muscle pathways. Because mTOR pathways are so receptive to leucine amino acids, they are able to stimulate muscle growth much more effectively than other essential amino acids can. Leucine is best used not only during workouts but after training. It’s muscle growing abilities last anywhere from one hour to 24 hours after a workout, so consuming leucine amino acids directly after exercise will help prolong muscle growth. Taking leucine before bed also helps post workout muscle recovery, while still maximizing fat loss needed to achieve lean muscle mass.
This complete protein is a byproduct derived from milk while making cheese. Whey contains all 9 essential amino acids and is low in lactose. Since whey tends to be high in leucine and other branched chain amino acids, it is also particularly adept at building muscles quickly, while still decreasing muscle and body fat. Whey protein also reduces hunger, making it an even better option for those wanting to lose weight and increase lean muscles. Whey protein is generally a flavored powder added to protein shakes that keep you full for longer periods of time after exercising. For those looking to increase muscle mass while losing weight, this is a great protein supplement option.
Rich in essential amino acids, micellar casein proteins are a very effective muscle protein synthesis (MPS) supplement. Although nearly identical to whey protein, casein works differently in that it slows down the absorption rate of amino acids, creating prolonged MPS periods. This makes it a great supplement to take before bed or prior to extended periods of exercise without refueling. Due to its high calcium content, it is also a good choice for losing weight while building strong muscles. This high-quality protein source is good for vegetarian and low meat diets that still need to maintain high levels of daily protein intake.
Oats are considered a “good” carbohydrate, ideal for turning fat into muscle during training. Good carbohydrates are effective for weight loss and leave you feeling full longer than other proteins do. Oats increase energy during workouts and contain many of the essential vitamins needed for maintaining overall body health. Traditional steel-cut oats contain less sodium and retain more of the oat’s essential vitamins and nutrients than instant oatmeal does, making them the healthier choice. Oats should be fully digested before exercise to ensure their energy is used to build muscle, not digest food. If eaten alone, allow two hours to completely digest before exercising. If consumed with other foods, wait at least four hours before working out in order to maximize energy and protein synthesis. Oats are a great low-calorie protein source, helpful for people with high protein diets that need to stay within daily calorie limits.
Omega 3 Fish Oils:
Omega 3 fatty acids are usually found in fish, though many people prefer to take them in supplement form. This way they can avoid consuming the high levels of mercury often found in fish. While not specifically a muscle building supplement, omega 3 fish oils have other health benefits that contribute to strength building and overall muscle health. Omega 3 oils help to improve cholesterol and there is evidence they also stabilize the level of serotonin being created. This can boost your mood and overall sense of well-being while decreasing stress. Omega 3 fatty acids aid in maintaining strong bones as well. By decreasing osteoporosis, they help prolong bone density and maintain muscle and body strength that continues well into later life.
Knowing your muscle strength and body building goals will help determine which supplements are best for your workout needs. These 7 options give the most effective choices and still cover a variety of other health and wellness requirements as well. The right supplement can go a long way toward improving your efforts to reach those muscle strength and body building goals. Get started incorporating them into your daily health and fitness routines today.