While specific nutritional needs vary from person to person, there are several supplements that research suggests can help promote muscle growth and performance. Below are five science-backed, expert-recommended supplements worth considering if your fitness goals prioritize building muscle.
Whey protein powder
Whey protein powder is one of the most popular types of protein powder and is highly recommended by nutrition experts for muscle growth. It’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids, and many consumers find it easily digestible, making it an ideal fuel source for muscle growth, says Dr. Anastasius.
Research supports the use of whey protein to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and reduce muscle protein breakdown, resulting in a positive increase in muscle mass when consumed in adequate amounts.
“The recommendation is to consume 0.36 grams of protein per kilo of body weight per day. However, if you are a regular strength trainer, up to 0.45 grams per pound of body weight per day is recommended,” she says. Adding a scoop of whey protein powder to your smoothies or shakes it can help you meet your body’s daily protein requirement for muscle growth.
Research suggests that creatine monohydrate supplementation may help increase muscle performance and strength in people performing short-duration, high-intensity resistance exercise.
Although creatine is naturally produced by the body in small amounts and can be found in some foods, such as red meat and fish, it’s typically only available in small amounts, which is why creatine supplementation is common, explains Dr. Anastasius. Creatine is usually available in powder form that dissolves easily in any beverage, such as coffee, juice or water, she adds.
Creatine supplementation typically begins with a loading phase in which a person consumes a larger amount in a short period of time to saturate muscles more quickly. The loading phase is followed by maintenance dosing. Experts recommend supplementing with 0.3 grams of creatine per kilogram of body weight each day of the loading phase, which typically lasts five to seven days, followed by 0.03 grams of creatine per kilogram of body weight each day of the loading phase. maintenance phase, which can last anywhere from four to 10 weeks.
When used in conjunction with exercise, beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) may help increase skeletal muscle growth, strength and power, reports the International Society of Sports Nutrition. It is especially helpful for people new to exercise and older adults.
“HMB is a metabolite of leucine, which means we get it in small amounts through foods that are high in leucine (such as eggs, legumes, oats, and seeds),” explains Abbie E. Smith-Ryan, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and scientific advisor for Create Wellness, an all-natural creatine monohydrate supplement company.Typical diets usually include 0.5 grams to 1 gram of HMB per day, but the most adequate dose of HMB is 3 grams per day.
Eating more meat products can help increase HMB in the body, although the conversion rate from whole foods to HMB is low. HMB supplements, available in both capsule and powder form, tend to be a more effective delivery system, he adds.
Essential Amino Acids (EAA)
“Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, explains Dr. Anastasius. When you eat protein, your body breaks down protein into the amino acids that make up that protein. These amino acids are then used as building blocks to repair and grow muscle tissue.
There are 22 amino acids in total, nine of which are considered essential because the body cannot make them itself. As a result, essential amino acids (EAAs) must be obtained through dietary sources such as chicken, beef, dairy products and eggs or supplementation, explains Dr. Smith-Ryan.
THE International Society of Sports Nutrition reports that consuming 6 to 12 grams of EAA before and/or after resistance training can stimulate muscle protein synthesis, although doses of 10 to 12 grams of EAA may be more effective. EAA supplements are most commonly available in capsule form or as flavored powders to mix with water or other liquids.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that promotes muscle performance by increasing the amount of carnosine, a helpful antioxidant, in the body. Carnosine not only aids muscle contraction, but also helps delay the onset of muscle fatigue during exercise, ultimately improving exercise capacity and performance during workouts.
Studies suggest that supplementation [of beta-alanine] it can increase power output during the one-rep max lift, says Dr. Anastasius. Other studies also show an association between beta-alanine and increased lean muscle composition. While not a classic weight gain supplement, beta-alanine can help a person train harder and, in turn, improve their lean body mass.
Although beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid (meaning the body can make it itself), research suggests that supplementing with 4-6 grams per day may be beneficial for those looking to enhance their workouts. It is commonly sold in tablet and powder form.
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