Significance of Muscle Gaining Supplements
Generally, to build up muscle it is still better to achieve it via diet and exercise while supplementation should only be used for additive effects. Nonetheless, it should not be pushed aside as supplements are still generally used for health and building muscle. The Top 3 most used supplements are Creatine, Vitamin D and Omega – 3 Supplement from Fish Oil. You might wonder if Omega 3 fatty acids from flax/chia seeds should be considered as well, but the fact is flax/chia seeds do not provide sufficient supplement on its own. Flax/chia seeds are found in the form of Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA) which has to be converted by the body into a usable form and the ratio conversion is rather poor.
Diet Plan Tip: Foods are usually insufficient for anyone that is looking to gain muscles in the fastest manner, the best option is to take in the right supplements for your body needs.
Top 3 Muscle Gaining Supplements
Creatine / Creatine monohydrate
This is by far my top performance supplement for muscle gains.
Creatine monohydrate is by far the most tried and true, most affordable, and effective of all the creatine variants. It is original, and many subsequent variants of creatine are either inferior or cost more without giving any additional benefit. So creatine monohydrate is the specific type that I recommend, instead of those packed with additional glucose or unnecessary ‘proprietary blend’ (Most likely another marketing gimmick to inflate the price).
We get most of our creatine from animal products, mostly in meat, and it is more abundant in raw meat. When meat is cooked it degrades the creatine content, which is why it is difficult to get the performance-enhancing benefits without consuming this as a supplement.
To get creatine stores up to levels where they can benefit strength, power production, muscle fullness and ultimately your long-term ability to produce more muscle mass over time, I would recommend ingesting 0.018 g/lb of bodyweight per day (0.04 g/kg/ day).
It will take a couple weeks of ingesting this amount per day to reach supplemental creatine levels, but after that point, you can just maintain those levels by continuing to take the dose, like the topping of your gas tank.
And last but not least, it’s important to note that for long-term consumption, timing doesn’t matter. It doesn’t need to be taken with carbs, it doesn’t need to be loaded, it doesn’t need to be taken pre-workout, and it doesn’t need to be taken post workout.
All the benefits associated with creatine timing, whether it’s taken with carbs, or if creatine is loaded in large amounts, are strictly related to the first couple weeks of consumption where the goal is to get to supplemental levels. It has nothing to do with long-term use and whether it takes you 5 days or 21 days to reach supplemental levels of creatine has a less than negligible effect on long-term gains. So, just take the daily dose I recommend and you’ll be all set to reap its benefits.
Diet Plan Tip: It is best to consume Creatine after a workout but generally you can take it anytime. Moreover, it best not to take in Caffeine and Creatine at the same time as the effects may possibly counteract each other.
Vitamin D is primarily produced in our body as a result of direct contact with sunlight. Having insufficient levels of vitamin D in the body can compromise the immune system, which can be a disaster for someone who is training hard, dieting or attempting to perform any type of activity at a high level.
Vitamin D also affects our mood and hormonal level. Furthermore, it’s frequently linked to depression and psychological breakdown.
Vitamin D deficiency rates are a lot higher than we think, and being deficient in vitamin D can have negative impacts on muscular performance, immune function and hormonal status. Thus, it’s a good idea to supplement accordingly if you don’t get much direct sunlight, have dark skin or a combination thereof.
A basic dosing recommendation would be to take anywhere from 9-36 IU/lb/day (20-80 IU/kg/day) of vitamin D3 based on sunlight exposure. For those who find supplements that don’t list the amount of Vitamin D3 in IU’s, the equivalent dose in micrograms is 0.225 to 0.900 mcg/lbs/day (0.5 to 2 mcg/kg/day).
So if you work or train outdoors on a daily basis, you might not benefit from supplemental vitamin D3 at all. Perhaps taking 9 IU/lb (20 IU/kg) at most to be extra safe that you’re getting enough would be a good idea. If you are someone on the opposite extreme end of the sunlight exposure spectrum, it might be more appropriate to take the full 36 IU/lb (80 IU/kg).
So, you can regularly make sure to supplement the maximal effective dose throughout the winter, and in the summer months stop taking Vitamin D supplements.
If possible, the absolute best route would be to get your blood work checked to see where your levels are and to see if you’re deficient. Otherwise, just use your best estimate in the range provided based on lifestyle and exposure to sunlight.
Supplement Facts: Vitamin D deficiency is relatively common in athletes and is associated with muscle weakness and atrophy, specifically Type 2 muscle fiber atrophy. Skipping out on this vitamin is just as bad as skipping out on leg day.
Of the essential fatty acids (EFA’s), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which typically come from fish oil supplementation, have been found to have a host of potential health benefits. If you don’t eat fish or don’t like taking fish oil, you can also get EPA and DHA from an algae supplement, which is what the fish eat that gives them the EPA and DHA that we are looking for.
When appropriately dosed, EFA’s help with leptin signaling in the brain, reducing inflammation, enhancing mood and reducing disease factor risk. They can also aid in joint recovery and have shown potential for some metabolic benefits as well.
Both while cutting or lean gaining, I would recommend getting enough EPA and DHA (combined) to fall within the 2 to 3 gram range per day. To check this, look at the back of your fish oil (or algae oil) container, add together the EPA and DHA and look at the serving size.
Perhaps the label says that there is 400 mg per serving of EPA and DHA when combined. This would mean that you need 5 servings to get 2 grams (There is 1000 mg per gram).
Supplement Facts: Fish oil can reduce blood clotting and should be supplemented with caution if blood-thinning medications, aspirin, warfarin or clopidogrel are already present in the body. Rule of Thumb for a Good Diet
A good diet supposed to be simple and not to over-complicate things. Because the key to a sustainable fitness lifestyle is to have your diet simplified so that you’re able to stick to it long-term.
For those who seek to gain muscles, your priority is not food restrictions. Instead, you should be focusing on the number of calories you’re going to take throughout the day.
For starters, I recommend tracking your daily calories intake to have a clear picture of how your diet looks like and how you can manipulate it afterward.
Next is to determine what are your macronutrients percentage and finally the essential micronutrients (which can be easily covered with supplements).
Trust me, by becoming aware of your daily food intake, you will ultimately make better food choices in near future.
Diet Plan Tip: Preparation is the key to eating healthy. It may sound tricky and complex to prepare. Do not over-think it, instead choose foods that you enjoy eating and make a balanced meal.
Foods to avoid
Generally, you should be avoiding food that makes you feel ‘bloated’, ‘sick’ and ‘low-energy’. This includes processed, highly-toxic (with chemicals), junk food and sugary foods. Sugar is the main factor that you should really look out for as it is present in foods particularly that aren’t fresh, frozen or dried. Additionally, sauces such as pasta sauce, ketchupand chili sauce contain sugar as well. Moreover, fruit juices and fizzy drinks are things that you need to avoid as well.
Supplements To Avoid
Supplements today are expensive! And if you’re not careful, you’ll end up burning a hole in your wallet with supplements that do not work.
There are a lot of people these days sold to the craze of muscle enhancing supplements that promise jaw-dropping muscle mass development. But honestly, do they even work?
There are various supplements that that would improve muscle growth but only handful of it are actually scientifically proven to work if consume in the recommended method. Supplements that does not offer any muscle growth are considered placebo pills and powders which is merely an implication to your mind that it affects your body.
Supplements that develops placebo effect
They are supplements that increase testosterone levels in the blood, most of the compounds do boost testosterone levels and there are those which do not actually boost testosterone. It is recommended to cycle testosterone boosters as they do have side-effects that could be detrimental to your health if taken excessively.
Studies show that testosterone booster can actually cause testicles atrophy and lower HPTA stimulation if used excessively or with prolonged usage.
Also, it is shown that some even developed “adrenal fatigue” due to the chemical compounds in boosters.
There are 3 prime examples of compounds that have been scientifically proven that does not affect testosterone levels which are Tribulus Terrestris, ZMA, and D-aspartic acid.
• Tribulus Terrestris simply does not have any factors that would increase testosterone levels as well as body composition and improving exercise performance.
• ZMA is a combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 which is in the same line with Tribulus Terrestris. People who are deficient from zinc and magnesium would benefit their overall health but not for increasing testosterone level. The least ZMA could do is removing micronutrient deficiency that is suppressing testosterone production.
• D-aspartic acid could increase testosterone levels but the effects are short-lived and temporary, you could put into word it is unreliable.
There are various scientific studies that have been conducted to determine if increasing testosterone levels could help with boosting muscle gains. The results pretty much show that no matter how high you increase your testosterone levels, it would not help boost muscle building compared to consuming proper diet meals and viable supplements.
The key to building muscle is proper training and nutrition not reliance on supplements.
Protein Supplement Scams
We like protein powder. It’s a quick, convenient and cost-effective way to hit our daily protein targets. Whey protein is not the cheapest, but it is popular due to the high BCAA content, particularly leucine, which is critical to the muscle building process.
Now, with consumers becoming wiser there is a rising demand for products that claim to have been lab tested, but this comes at a time of overall rising global demand (and thus prices). With consumers becoming sensitive to these price increases and a lack of general education about what they should be looking for on the packet, the incentives for companies to cut costs by cheating the system are all there, and many do.
I’m talking about the rise of the phenomenon known as ‘protein spiking’.
The way it works is this: some labs test for the total amino acid content rather than the amounts of the individual amino acids themselves. This means that protein companies can dump cheap amino acids into the mix (mainly glycine and taurine), skimping on the actual whey content, which is expensive, and yet still pass some quality tests.
Here are some red flags to look out for when choosing a whey powder:
1. The cost per pound / kilo of claimed protein content is considerably cheaper than average. Whey is a commodity traded on the open market. You can be ripped off and pay way too much (You can even find places that sell 10x market price in luxury gyms!)
2.It has a proprietary blend (or doesn’t list leucine content).
3.Leucine content, when listed, is lower than 2.7 g per 25 g of protein content (the BCAA content of whey is 25%, leucine should be 11%).
If your protein powder doesn’t pass those checks, you’re rolling the dice with the quality of what you’re getting.
Protein supplement consumption is entirely optional and is based on personal preference. You can still opt for dieting instead of taking in protein powder.
Keeping in mind how adamant I am regarding the combined quality, validity and effectiveness of any substance, these are the supplements I highly recommend to everyone and especially useful for those of us interested in gaining muscle and strength.
Of course, there are other useful supplements worth mentioning such as Multivitamin, BCAA, HMB, Beta-alanine, glucosamine etc.
Now there’s always some subjectivity in deciding whether these supplements are worth being on this list or not and as with all of my advice, feel free to disagree with it based on your own judgment. Additionally, it is quite likely that this list will prove to be outdated in a few years as more research comes out.