Our Top 5 Muscle Building Supplements
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Before we get into the nitty gritty of our Top 5 Muscle Building Supplements, we want to make it clear that for the majority of people, supplements are only 5% of the journey. Manipulating calories, training smart and hard, adding in cardio and so on are all methods in which to achieve the physique you want.
Having made that clear, the following 5 muscle building supplements are recommended for anybody on a fitness journey simply because they will aid the likes of protein synthesis, digestion and training performance – all of which will tie over into enhanced fat loss and muscle gain.
#1 Powdered Protein
Number one on our list is simply powdered protein. Now, you’ll notice we didn’t just say “whey protein” straight off the bat and there’s a reason for this, but we will first look at whey as one of our top muscle building supplements.
Whey protein is a mixture of globular proteins isolated from whey, the liquid material created as a by-product of cheese production.
Whey (or any powdered protein for that matter) isn’t going to turn you into a muscle freak or give you instant results like half the labels out there claim. Its main benefit, in our opinion, is how convenient it is to take. We would always put whole foods ahead of any supplement, but sometimes, bringing Tupperware everywhere isn’t an enjoyable or sustainable approach to a healthy lifestyle. It’s ideal for your journey home, post workout or if you’re on the go during the day and can’t get a complete meal in. It is fast acting and thus is something we would introduce as a post-workout meal alongside a fast acting carbohydrate and a healthy fat source. For vegetarians or picky eaters who find it difficult to intake enough protein every day, powdered protein can be a god send.
Blend two scoops with some water, dextrose or a banana, peanut butter and cacao nibs for a great post-workout meal.
Now, it’s important not to eat whey every single day and the idea behind this is simple – you will develop an intolerance to it. While this intolerance might not manifest itself as explosive diarrhoea, it very well may have a silent but very negative effect. Intolerances can cause the likes of Leaky Gut Syndrome – while we all require a level of permeability in our gut to allow for the removal of waste products and the absorption of nutrients, those with a “leakier” gut may have an opposite flow, in that toxins are reabsorbed and nutrients are flushed out.
Instead of opting for whey everyday, purchase yourself some beef protein, collagen protein (the best in our opinion) or egg white protein and try to mix it up throughout the week!
#2 Digestive Enzymes
Number two on our list is digestive enzymes.
Digestive enzymes are enzymes that break down polymeric macromolecules into their smaller building blocks, in order to facilitate their absorption by the body, i.e. they help to break down the food you eat.
It’s probably one of the least talked about bodybuilding supplements because it’s not exactly the most glamorous product out there. Digestive enzymes are incredibly beneficial because they’ll help you absorb all of the nutrients you ingest by promoting the production of stomach acid. Obviously, by absorbing more nutrients, you’ll get better results in terms of health and body composition. This is especially true for anyone who is on either a fat loss or a muscle building journey – with reduced calories, you want to absorb as much micronutrients as possible to keep your health in shape, and with increased calories while in a bulk, you are usually necking huge quantities of food and thus something which helps you to digest it properly is crucial.
The problem you may encounter when buying them, though, is a lot do not have the true enzymes required. So ensure the digestive enzymes you invest in contain protease, lipase and amylase.
You may also want to look for Betaine hydrochloride, which is essentially hydrochloric acid. This is the acid found in the stomach, the main function of which is to break down protein and fats.
Bromelain and papain are both also excellent for protein digestion – found in pineapples and papaya respectively.
#3 Fish Oil & Krill Oil
Fish oil or Krill oil are both number three on our list for very good reasons.
Fish oil is oil derived from the tissues of oily fish. Fish oils contain the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA that are known to reduce inflammation in the body, and help improve body composition.
Research shows that fish oil will increase protein synthesis by as much as 30%. This will allow for a significant muscle building effect. Studies also show that recovery is accelerated when supplementing with fish oil, allowing you to train with more volume, making progress that much faster.
While it’s true that small doses of a high quality fish oil have a range of benefits (we’re talking reduced inflammation, improved brain function, and even increased muscle growth), a poor quality oil or high doses can cause a lot of problems. The majority of fish oils in your pharmacy or supermarket are low quality, contaminated and oxidised and to be very honest; if you cannot get access to a high quality fish oil, you are without a doubt better to not take any at all.
This is why Krill Oil is a fantastic option. While perhaps more expensive or maybe a little difficult to find locally, it is much more stable and contains omega-3s in a more absorbable form than in fish oil.
If you eat wild caught fish and grass-fed meat daily, it’s likely that your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is more or less fine. However, the majority of people don’t go for the more expensive seafood or meat options and in many cases are deficient in omega-3s and have too much omega-6s. And so, you really should be supplementing with Krill Oil every day – 1000mg to be exact.
Extra Advantages of Krill Oil:
– 48 times more potent than fish oil
– 300 times more antioxidant power than vitamin A and E
– 34 times the antioxidant power of Coenzyme Q10
– Much more sustainable and environmentally friendly than fish oil
– Krill is at the bottom of the food chain and thus doesn’t accumulate heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins and contaminants like fish oil does
We’re sure you’ve all heard of creatine before – it’s been in the media countless times for being some murder-inducing “steroid”. Couldn’t be further from the truth.
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that occurs naturally in vertebrates and helps to supply energy to all cells in the body, primarily muscle. This is achieved by increasing the formation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
It’s the most researched performance enhancement aid on the market, so you can be rest assured that it probably has more peer-reviewed research and backing behind it than the chocolate bar in your cupboard. It’s also your body’s main source of energy for explosive, high-intensity exercise and studies show a drastic increase in muscle gains when used, compared to any other supplement.
You’d want to be taking 0.15g per pound of bodyweight to reach optimum levels. Also take it when insulin is spiked (mainly post workout with a higher carb meal).
#5 Beta Alanine
Our final instalment in our top 5 bodybuilding supplements list is beta alanine.
Beta Alanine has been shown to delay muscular fatigue, improve muscular endurance, enhance overall muscle performance and increase muscle carnosine levels. By increasing carnosine concentration, you’ll improve power performance. So if you have beta alanine pre-workout, for example, you’re going to have an explosive session – do this day in, day out and you’re going to have a higher rate of muscle protein synthesis.
Studies also show that Beta Alanine will improve performance in strength and power athletes, so if you are a powerlifter or know anyone who is, taking beta alanine before a session is a great little hack.
From studying the research, taking Beta Alanine should be a no-brainer if you want to optimise your training. Some people suggest stacking it with creatine for even better results as they work synergistically pre-workout – but creatine pre-workout increases the likelihood of muscle cramps, and is also much better absorbed during an insulin spike in the presence of high carbohydrates in your post workout meal.
Take no more then 3-4g daily for 2 weeks then lower it to a cruising dose of around 1.5g daily. Don’t overdose this supplement as an excessive amount is linked to depression.