Training, nutrition, and sleep are three main legs to build muscle. However, supplements can help you reach your goals when paired with a proper training program and well-rounded diet.
To build muscle fast and efficiently, there are three criteria one must meet: eating more calories than you burn, consuming more protein than you break down, and an exercise program that is challenging to your muscles.
Luckily, supplements can help you achieve those goals. In this post, we’ll dive into the best supplements to build muscle!
Creatine, the king of supplements, is one of the cheapest and most effective supplements to build muscle
Your body produces creatine in small amounts. Creatine forms part of the phosphocreatine levels, a very efficient short term energy system
Daily creatine supplementation can increase your creatine levels by 40% (1). This affects your muscle cells and exercise performance.
Creatine may help you build muscle by allowing you to perform better during exercise (2). Among other benefits, creatine can also help you lower the risk of muscle injury, promote muscle strength, and control your glucose levels.
Overall, creatine is a very safe, effective, and cheap supplement. Considered the king of supplements, creatine is the most recommended supplement to build muscle.
Protein is the most important macronutrient to build muscle. Athletes and fitnessgoers, due to their high muscle burden, require of larger amounts of protein than the general population.
Achieving such targets is often hard and tedious. In this cases, whey protein can come in handy.
Whey protein is one of the best protein sources available. With a very high quality, it contains all essential amino acids needed to build muscle (3).
Compared to other protein sources, whey protein shows a faster difgestion and absorption. This creates a higher spike of amino acids in your organism, which can help trigger muscle growth.
Supplementation of whey protein can favour muscle growth by providing the nutrients you need to repair, maintain, and build new muscle.
Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring amino acid, helping in the production of carnosine.
Carnosine, on its hand, is a compound with an important role in muscle endurance and high-intensity exercise (4)
Supplementing with beta-alanine may increase your carnosine levels in the muscle. This will allow the muscles to perform better for longer periods before they become fatigued.
Beta-alanine boosts the production of carnosine and sports performance. To optimize the results, aim for 2-5 g/day for at least 10 weeks.
Caffeine acts by blocking the adenosine receptors. When adenosine binds to these receptors, it triggers tiredness and sleepiness.
It also increases the levels of catecholamines, a class of molecules with high impact in your nervous system.
This supplement can help you build muscle by allowing to perform better during exercise, increase your focus and alertness, and avoid the sensation of tiredness.
Not only that, but caffeine is also one of the most effective supplements for weight loss
Ecdysterone is a novel supplement to build muscle. It is a naturally occurring hormone on insects, controlling the growth and metamorphosis.
In humans, the effect of ecdysterone is similar to that from other anabolic hormones. However, the reported side effects are much less severe and rare.
The recommended dose is 0.8 mg/kg divided in 2-3 doses per day.
It is important to leave 8h between doses to make sure the prior take is completely washed off your body.
Ashwagandha, also called Withania Somniferia or winter cherry, is an evergreen shrub that grows in India, the Middle East and Africa.
Although it has been mainly used as an adaptogen, it can also help you build muscle
Ashwagandha may boost your performance during exercise by decreasing neuro-inflammation (study), fighting the free radicals and oxidation (study), and boosting the testosterone levels (study)
The recommended dose is around 50 mg withanolides, although we need more research to determine the optimum dose.
Weight gainers are supplements based on fast carbohydrates with a high glycemic index.
When it comes to building muscle, carbohydrates are your friends. It gives you easy and fast energy, and triggers the production of insulin, favouring msucle growth (study
Weight gainers are a great option to use as an intra-workout, or in combination with whey protein.
To optimize muscle building it is recommended to consume 60g carbohydrates / hour.
Nitrates are natural chemicals found in the soil, air, and water. These chemicals derive into nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide plays important roles in your aerobic capacity. It boosts your training performance, improves muscle recovery, and increases the production of ATP (study)(study)
There are different forms of taking nitrates. However, the best and most recommended one is through green-leaf vegetables and/or beetroot.
These vegetables contain large amounts of nitrates. Making a beetroot juice 1h before the training session can provide you with the nitrates you need to feel the effects.
A well-done training program and balanced diet are the main criteria to build muscle fast and efficiently… but supplements can help you along the way.
Creatine, caffeine, beta-alanine, nitrates, weight gainers, whey protein, ecdysterone, and ashwagandha are some of the best supplements to build muscle.