Do you need to supplement for muscle gain?
Some common questions that I get asked and that I will address in the following article are:
– What kind of protein should I take?
– Will creatine help me gain muscle mass?
– Will I notice muscle gains without any supplementation?
– Should I consume BCAAs during my workout?
This article will help you understand the role
and importance of supplementation for muscle gain and will help answer the most common questions relating to the type(s) of supplements that you should consider investing in if your goal is to increase muscle mass.
First of all, emphasis must be placed on the fact that supplements are made to ‘supplement’ (aka enhance) your diet and they should in no way be a replacement for real food. The food that you eat provides your body with the energy, resources and nutrients that it needs in order to recover, regenerate and strengthen your muscles. Therefore, there is no doubt that you can add muscle simply by eating high protein foods and lifting weights at the gym.
Having said that, in order to truly maximize your growth potential investing in supplements can potentially be a good option. Supplements are an easy and convenient way to get the nutrients that are necessary to build muscle and they can increase the effectiveness of your workouts when combined with a good diet, training program and enough rest. For example, if you are struggling to consume enough protein throughout the day, a protein shake could be a helpful supplement and it will also help you consume the primary nutrient required to build and repair muscle tissues in a quick and convenient way.
There are hundreds of products available in the market to choose from, all of which claim to help you increase muscle mass. It is important to find the right types of products which suit your goals and body. The following are my top three preferred supplements that assist in muscle gain:
1) Creatine: At its very core, creatine is a molecule that is naturally produced within our bodies and provides energy to our muscles and other tissues. It also stimulates protein synthesis, which enables our bodies to build muscle mass faster. Taking creatine as a dietary supplement has shown to increase strength during workouts which in turn allows for better performance and leads to increases in muscle mass over time. This is due to the fact that supplementing increases your stores of phosphocreatine in your muscles which in turn helps your body produce more ATP. Energy can be measured using ATP as: more ATP = better performance during workouts. Creatine has also been extensively scrutinized and has been shown to have a very good safety profile, making it my #1 supplement for muscle gain.
2) Protein Supplements: Our body uses protein to build and repair tissues which makes it an important building block for muscles. Protein is a macronutrient (as is carbohydrates and fats) meaning that our body needs relatively large amounts of it. However, unlike carbs and fats, the body does not store protein, making it even more important to consume frequently, especially if your goal is to maximize muscle gain. Adding extra protein in your diet through supplementation has shown to increase muscle mass and the effects are largest for those who weren’t initially consuming enough protein, meaning that a lack of protein truly can affect your results. There are numerous protein supplements available, such as whey, casein, egg, beef, soy and hemp protein in powder form. All of the different types have their own pros and cons, but my personal recommendation is to use whey protein post workout to build muscle because of its fast digestion and essential range of amino acids.
3) Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): BCAA’s refer to leucine, isoleucine and valine and are found in most protein sources, especially those of animal origin such as meat, eggs, poultry and dairy. These three are the most important amino acids for repairing and building muscle tissue. Leucine is the most important out of the three since it can stimulate protein synthesis on its own and also suppresses the breakdown of muscle protein. Hence, it is recommended to consider the ratio 2 leucine:1 isoleucine:1 valine while selecting BCAAs. While you can get a sufficient amount of these amino acids if you eat adequate protein foods, pure BCAA supplements bypass the gut and go directly into your bloodstream. Therefore, majority of the pre-workout supplements available in the market contain BCAAs in it. When taken before or during a workout, apart from stimulating muscle growth, branched-chain amino acids can also improve endurance during a workout and reduce soreness post workout which in turn improves muscle recovery.
The bottom line is that supplements can help you in your quest to gain muscle, but only in combination with good nutrition and exercise, it may otherwise be a waste of money. For optimal results you will need to eat enough good quality calories and protein in your diet along with a well regimented training program and only once these are all in check, muscle building supplements should be considered.
If you wish to use supplements and you first need help getting your diet and training program in check please feel free to book a personal training and/or meal plan consultation with one of our highly qualified trainers:
Or if you have more questions about which supplements are right for you please contact us at 1(905)861-9999.