They body can only put on muscle mass through exposure to high stress. The more the muscles are stimulated, the better they will grow.
The most popular way to grow muscle mass is through weight training, however, the weights need to be heavy. This breaks down the muscles so they can repair and adapt.
However, without the right nutrition, the muscles will not grow as effectively as they should. It can be difficult to get all the nutrients from food due to a number of circumstances, such as work or not enough time.
This makes supplementing important as part of your diet.
Here are the best natural supplements for building muscle mass.
This is probably the most popular muscle mass supplement on the list.
Originating from cow’s milk, whey protein is naturally produced protein that helps the body quicken up the anabolic state. According to the experts at Ghost Fitness, strength gains don’t happen during your workout but rather during recovery.
Whey protein can be taken either as a pre or post workout. Even though most people use whey protein after a workout, studies suggest that taking whey protein before a workout can be just as effective.
Here are some more benefits of whey protein supplements:
- Increased muscle mass
- Improved control of appetite
- Fast digestion and easily absorbed
In terms of how much to take, aim for between 20-30 grams of whey protein in each protein shake. Add it to water or milk for a better taste and the added nutrients.
Most people in the fitness industry know the importance of using branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) as part of a supplementing programme.
BCAAs are three individual amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine. They can be found in a variety of natural foods. Each amino acid plays a different role in protein synthesis.
Arguably the most important amino acid of the three is leucine. This is because it directly activates the enzyme responsible for muscle cell growth.
Whey protein includes a lot of leucine which makes them great supplements.
BCAAs are vital for producing muscle. Here are some more muscle building benefits of BCAAs:
- Improved muscle growth
- Decreased muscle soreness after the workout
- Reduced fatigue from exercise
Include BCAAs to both your pre and post workout shakes, roughly 5-10 grams per serving.
Creatine is produced naturally within the body, specifically in muscle cells. Creatine acts as one of the main sources of energy. There have been many studies around creatine and its effectiveness on muscle growth and they have been shown very good results.
Creatine can be found in a variety of forms. However, the most effective (and cheapest) is in the form of creatine monohydrate.
Here are some of the benefits of taking creatine supplements:
- Increased muscle mass
- Increased muscle strength
- Improved blood flow
- Decreased muscle soreness
For creatine to have the desired effects, you need to load up. This means taking a high amount as quickly as possible. Aim to take 25 grams of creatine for five successive days before decreasing the amount to normal serving sizes.
Of course, you can take creatine at lower amounts in the load up phases but it’ll take longer to gain muscle mass.
However, both routes have one thing in common: you must be taking creatine every day to get the benefits.
During high-intensity exercise, the body creates hydrogen ions. This causes the pH of the blood to change. As blood becomes more acidic, less oxygen can be carried around the body, leading to increased fatigue and decreased muscle performance.
This makes it important to include beta-alanine (BA) as part of your supplementing regime.
BA actually delays hydrogen ions building up in the first place, allowing for better and longer muscle performance. Some other benefits of BA supplements are:
- Improved training volume
- Increased muscle mass
- Better power generated during a workout
- Increased effectiveness of creatine
Take 4-6 grams of BA every day. However, don’t take it all in one go. Spread the amount throughout the day.
Muscle mass benefits aside, BA also stimulates increased production of carnosine in the body. This is great because carnosine is actively responsible for fighting against illness and disease, including Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
This supplement is best for those are new to exercising or looking to increase the intensity of their workouts.
Beta-hydroxy beta-methyl butyrate (HMB) is produced naturally through the breaking down of leucine amino acids. This means they work similarly to BCAAs but are a more concentrated form of the broken-down leucine.
The benefits of taking HMB supplements are:
- Active role in protein synthesis for improved muscle mass
- Anti-catabolic for reduced muscle break down
- Allows for training at a higher intensity for longer
In terms of how much to take, the optimal amount of HMB require is around 3-6 grams a day.
You can’t talk about muscle building without carbohydrates. Although protein is required for the reparation, carbohydrates are responsible for restoring glycogen to the muscles and feeding them with water.
In fact, research published in the December 2010 edition of “International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism” explains that carbohydrates are required for optimal workout recovery.
Carbohydrate supplements can also increase the effectiveness of absorption, getting the nutrients into the body. You should be supplementing carbohydrates alongside a whey protein shake.
Dextrose is one of the best carbohydrates to use. This is because the body doesn’t need to digest it. Instead, the body absorbs it directly into the bloodstream, which maximises muscle production.