Over my fitness career, I have had the privilege talk to many people, just like you who research training information online, train hard and eat right, however because we are all human so we want results even faster. In a time where the general public expects instant results in everything from making mashed potatoes to watching a movie online, building muscle is likely to be the most time consuming process we go through, but what else can we do to hasten our efforts?
The answer my friend, is supplementation. Now I used that word for a very specific reason, you need to understand there is no magic pill that will give you instant results, it is best to consider supplements as just icing on the cake. After all a “supplement” is defined as a small something added to complete something larger, or reinforce or extend a whole. Nevertheless, that does not mean supplementation is not worthwhile, in fact you can get truly amazing results if you just are smart about it, which is why I created a list of supplements that have been proven to benefit trainees the most, in no particular order.
1. Protein: Protein as you probably know is found in many foods we eat in our day-to-day lives such as meats, eggs, cheese, nuts, beans, and seeds. Protein is what our body uses to actually construct the muscle we work so hard to achieve. Protein supplementation has been around for decades and is used by the majority of top bodybuilders around the world. The two main types of protein used are Whey and Casein, Whey Protein is considered a fast absorbing protein primarily taken around workouts as it gets to the muscles faster. Casein Protein on the other hand, is a slow digesting protein and normally taken before bed so it can be absorbed throughout the night. Your total protein consumption for optimal muscle building should at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight daily, so a 200-pound man should eat at least 200 grams of protein daily when training.
2. Creatine: Creatine is the top used supplement in athletes, and is found mostly in red meats and even some fish. However through normal eating alone, we cannot receive enough Creatine, this is why supplementation can be so useful. Creatine use has been shown in countless studies to be beneficial to short bouts of athletic performance by as much as 15%..Creatine supplementation has two main benefits; first, it increases your muscles water retention, which overtime is beneficial for hypertrophy (growth) of the actual muscle tissue. However, creatine is also used for energy by our bodies and supplementation has been proven to increase muscle Creatine levels. When considering how much creatine to take daily, many studies has shown it beneficial to perform a “loading phase” in which you take as much as 15- 20grams of creatine for the first 7 days. Then you can go to a maintenance level of 2-5 grams daily.
3. Beta Alanine: Beta Alanine is another field-tested supplement most trainers recommend, and is beginning to show up in various pre workout products. Prolonged studies of Beta Alanine supplementation have shown increased both aerobic and anaerobic endurance, which allows you to work harder and longer to build more muscle. A recent study done with groups of college athletes served Beta Alanine proved group A who received 4 grams of Beta-Alanine daily had performed significantly better after 8 weeks of training then group B who had not taken Beta-Alanine.
4. BCAAs: Branched Chain Amino Acids go hand in hand with protein, they are both very important to stay lean and support as much protein synthesis as possible. BCAA supplementation has been proven very beneficial in many functions in our bodies from creating an anabolic effect, promoting fat loss to improving mood, and decreasing depression. In fact, many leading brands in whey protein powders, like Optimum Nutrition now include BCAAs in their product as well. Which is convenient for us consumers, because like whey protein, BCAAs are best taken before, and after training.
In conclusion, if you want to avoid a lot of hype, and placebo effects in the supplement world, it is best to stick with time proven supplements like the ones I listed above . If you consider supplementation as leaving no stone unturned towards your goal, and use them intelligently, you will be very happy with the results.
Brad Kelly writes a weekly article every Monday. He is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, Performance Enhancement Specialist, and Corrective Exercise Specialist out of Panama City, Florida. Driven by a passion to help others he not only trains locals, but also performs online personal training and writes fitness articles to reach as many fellow fitness enthusiasts as possible.