Before I get into what supplements I think (and research tells us), are the most beneficial to naturally enhance muscle growth. It should be said that supplements should be ‘supplemental’ to your day to day nutrition and that good quality food will be by far the main source of any gains you get in and out of the gym.
It has often been said that ‘you can’t out train a bad diet,’ it’s also true that supplements won’t make up for a lax attitude to your eating.
Here are my top 5 supplements I personally use and recommend to clients to accelerate and support muscular growth. Trust me, a lot of the stuff you might be thinking about taking but isn’t included here can actually be a complete waste of money.
The most immediate energy source for our muscle comes from something called the Adenosine-triphosphate-Creatine system and is used for muscular movement lasting up to 10 seconds.
The chemical Adenosine is bonded to 3 phosphate molecules & when the chemical bond between one of the phosphate molecules and the adenosine is broken energy is released. What Creatine does is turn the waste product, (adenosine diphosphate) back into a useable product therefore speeding up recovery between sets.
Creatine is also an osmotically active substance, which means it pulls water into your muscle cells, which will not only increase their size but will also increase the amount of nutrients pulled in with it therefore increasing protein synthesis.
Creatine has also been shown to increase strength and power output in lifters so its definitely worth considering adding to your daily supplement regime.
When you train with weights your muscle fibres sustain microscopic damage. For growth and repair of these fibres you need protein and a protein shake is an extremely efficient & quickly digested source containing all the amino acids essential for growth.
Protein shakes are not a ‘magic bullet’ which will make you build pounds of lean muscle over night but they are a quick and easy way to hit your protein requirements for the day to support growth.
There are so many protein powders available on the market I made a quick reference guide HERE
BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS: BCAAs
Brach chained amino acids (BCAAs): Protein is made up of 22 amino acids, 13 of these are considered nonessential & 9 are considered essential, (which means they cannot be produced in the body & have to be obtained from the diet).
BCAA supplementation is not necessary for people already consuming their daily protein targets BUT if you are vegetarian, not consuming enough protein from day to day eating or train fasted here’s what you need to know…
When you train with weights your body will break down muscle protein to access its amino acids to use as a form of energy. Three of the essential amino acids are also known as branch chain amino acids, they are lysine, leucine and valine. Now what is unique about these three amino acids compared to the others is that they do not need to be broken down in the liver they can be broken down in the muscle to be used as energy.
Therefore supplementing with BCAAs during your workout will actually inhibit muscle breakdown and supply you with an energy source whilst training and also allow you to spare your hard earned muscle from previous workouts and get bigger even faster.
Also, serum levels of branched chain amino acids can fall during exercise which can cause an influx of tryptophan into your brain. Tryptophan in the brain leads to production of serotonin which promotes that sleepy feeling and fatigue. Supplementing with BCAAs during a long workout can prevent this occurring.
Zinc is the super hero when it comes to promoting natural testosterone production and if you strength train regularly and don’t take care of this little mineral chances are that after a while you will suffer with a poor libido, low energy levels, reduced immune function, reduced insulin sensitivity and slower recovery from training.
Did you know zinc is lost through sweat!?
Guys if you have no sex drive, you’re crying during films and you have no aggression in the gym & if you are storing excess body fat around your nipple area it’s worth thinking about adding zinc to your evening supplement stack.
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant and can turn a tired, not so motivated gym goer into a big lifting machine with a quick shot of coffee.
Caffeine acts on the adenosine receptors in the brain. When adenosine is inhibited it will influence the dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and adrenaline systems leading to positive effects like increased strength, increased blood flow, stimulation of mental drive and alertness whilst preventing tiredness, relaxation and fatigue.
Caffeine has other positive benefits like increased fat oxidation, increased aerobic capacity so although it doesn’t directly increase muscle gains. It will have huge benefits to your workouts so that you can build more muscle from them.
If there are supplements you are interested in, currently taking, or have heard promising stories about, like – ‘ I gained X pounds of muscle when I took X’ and you would like some guidance, you can always ask me a question on my Facebook page or send me an email.