I believe, from the vast selection of supplements on the market today there aren’t many I’d consider to be the best muscle supplements. In general, supplements are just hyped to the n-th degree by money crazed supplement companies.
Personally, I’ve been foolishly convinced too many times to part with my money on some “nano-fusion-hydroxo muscle enhancing” muscle building supplements that I have grown very sceptical on what I spend my money on.
While saying this I do believe there are some muscle gain supplements that can help you to build muscle, However, like I’ve said before these are just supplements and supplements should never take the place of a good diet and a ferocious intensity in the weight room.
These days it seems everyone is a bit strapped for cash and as a result luxury goods are usually dismissed in place of basic day-to-day necessities. From my experience with regular gym goers supplements share the same boat. That means that most people are just buying what will get them by.
As we all know there are literally hundreds of supplements on the markets today from creatine to nitric oxide and from testosterone boosters to zma. While they all sounds great and beneficial unfortunately most people don’t have the money to fork out 200+ bucks on supplements each month.
Personally, I get buy on 3 supplements every month which continue to help me build muscle. These are a whey protein which I take 3 times a day, a multivitamin and fish oils which I take before bed. These last roughly a month and come to the sum total of £70 (~$90) per month.
To be honest, I really do think that this is all the muscle supplements anyone needs. I would agree with throwing in the odd tub of creatine mono hydrate and dextrose but that is as far as I would go simply because the improvements aren’t that dramatic from taking most other supplements!
We all know how important Protein is to maintain a positive nitrogen balance and thus keep in an anabolic state all day long. This should be done using a good muscle building diet high in protein.
However, it may be difficult to prepare, cook and even eat 5-7 meals every day. This is where protein can help alleviate these problems by acting as a meal replacement shake, a post work shake and even a night cap to help retain muscle through the night when your body is starving!
Protein supplements can be a great addition to your muscle building diet as it is excellent means of getting vital nutrients into your body whether it be prepost work out routines, first thing in the morning, last thing before bed or even during the day as a meal replacement.
However, for your shakes to work productively toward your fitness goals it is essential that you understand what to take and when to take it!
These days, there is a vast selection of protein supplements available on our shop shelves. The majority with varying goals in mind such as, gain weight and muscle, Fat loss and muscle gain, Power and Speed improvers, Strength gainers etc.
For those new to protein supplements, the notion of walking in to your local supplement store and attempting to chose a product to suit your needs can seem daunting.
Don’t worry though, hopefully by the end of this article you will have a sound knowledge of protein supplements from whey protein isolates to meal replacement shakes!
Protein Powder Supplements Tips
The information regarding the effectiveness of the product is sourced from the Nutritional information and ingredients label which all supplements have.
You should not be impressed by the label and the many false claims often made by supplement companies. We have all seen the “gain 20 lbs of muscle mass in week!” labels which unfortunately are untrue.
Best Protein Supplement
“So, how do I know which protein is best suited to my needs?!”
Overall you should look for a product with everything in it whether your trying to gain weight and muscle or lose fat and build muscle. For instance, a product with;
5-10 grams of glutamine
A good isolate protein for fast absorption
All 20 Amino acids to rebuild muscle
High dose of the 3 BCAAs (leucine, iso-leucine, Valine)
MaltodextrinWaxy Maize Starch as a means of replenish your depleted carbohydrate stores
With this in mind it’s now time to gauge how many Calories, Carbs, Protein and Fats you require from your protein shakes. This all depends on your goals.
If your trying to add weight and gain muscle mass you should aim for 500-900 calories as a post work out and meal replacement shake. This should include the above ‘requirement’ ingredients.
If you wish to gain muscle mass and lose/maintain body fat you should go for a 200-400 Calorie shake for post work out and a meal replacement.
For both goals I would recommend a Low Calorie Whey isolate first thing in the morning to prevent your muscle cell breaking down (catabolism) due to the long fast when you sleep.
Also, 3-5 whole eggs or casein protein before bed to prevent muscle breakdown also know as catabolism.
Typical Muscle Gain Diet
Meal 1 – Whey protein drinks w/glutamine then your Breakfast
Meal 2 – (post workout) – High Calorie Shake 500 Cals
Meal 3 – lunch
Meal 4 – Dinner
Meal 5 – Meal replacement or Weight Gainer Shake w/banana
Meal 6 – Supper
Meal 7 – Eggs or Casein Shake
Types of Whey protein supplements
Whey protein is a protein derived from casein, the protein found in cows milk. There Are Two Kinds Of Whey Protein – whey concentrates and isolates.
Whey Protein Concentrates – are about 80% pure protein. They are cheaper, and may not have as smooth a taste as isolates.
Whey Protein Isolates – Isolates are at least about 90% pure protein. They are more expensive, and may have a better taste. This form of whey can be produced in 3 ways:
Ion-exchanged – this is the standard WPI. Impurities are removed, but so are beneficial peptides that are included in WPCs.
Micro-filtered – this is kicked up a notch. The whey is filtered to an isolate, but the peptides that are in concentrates remain in tact.
Hydrolyzed – this is micro-filtered whey kicked up a notch. It goes through another filtration process that breaks it down more and makes it quicker digesting.
Casein Protein Supplements
Casein is a slower digested protein which can maintain elevated amino acid levels for up to 6-7 hours as oppose to Whey protein which usually keeps levels up for 3-4 hours.
It is for this reason that this product is suitable before bed as it releases protein slowly into the night which prevents muscle breakdown.
Creatine Powder Supplement
Creatine is an excellent muscle enhancing supplements for seeking out that extra 5-10% in strength and speed. It’s a tried and tested product that has been scientifically proven to increase ATP (the primary energy source the muscles of the body use for explosive power) availability so that you can perform more reps and sets and lift more weight, as a result gain muscle mass.
Typically, creatine is taken on periods of about 4-10 weeks which is known as a cycle. After this time a break of 2-4 weeks is taken as it loses its effectiveness if taken for too long.
There are many types of creatine available such as creatine mono hydrate creatine ethyl ester, micronized creatine etc. A micronized creatine such as high powered micronized creatine taken with grape juice wouldn’t be a bad choice. Take creatine post-workout.
ZMA (Zinc monomethionine aspartate and Magnesium Aspartate) is one of the strength supplements often used by bodybuilders and athletes. ZMA Benefits include raised strength levels.
ZMA is a combination of two minerals, zinc and magnesium, and Vitamin B-6, all of which are important in biological processes.
The proportion of ingredients generally used in products is 20-30 mg Zinc, 400-500 mg Magnesium and 10mg B6.
Most strength based athletes such as bodybuilders, football players, rugby players, sprinters etc. Have diets high in protein to assist their muscles to recuperate and become stronger.
However, a lack of vitamin B6 in the body can result in ineffective processing of the amino acids from protein. Amino acids which are essential to build muscle.
The effect of zinc depletion on muscle function was tested on eight male subjects. This study suggested that muscle endurance, or total work capacity, declines rapidly with acute zinc depletion. Many other studies suggest that after participating in regular intense exercise athletes’ levels of zinc and magnesium decreases deeply.
Vitamin B6 — Brain, Heart, Immune System and protein metabolism
Vitamin B6 is used mainly in the body for the processing of amino acids from protein. It acts as a catalyst in absorbing amino acids. Amino acids which are essential to build muscle.
Vitamin B6 deficiency can be prevented with consumption of a mixed diet that includes poultry, fish, eggs, meat, vegetables, and grains.
Magnesium — Blood pressure, nerve and muscle function
Magnesium is necessary for the formation and functioning of healthy bones, teeth, muscles, and nerves. It converts food into energy, builds proteins, and is instrumental in maintaining adequate levels of calcium in the blood.
Magnesium deficiency can be prevented with consumption of a mixed diet that includes nuts, spinach, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, seafood, dairy products, baked potatoes, broccoli and bananas.
Zinc — Immune system and healing of wounds
A wide variety of foods contain zinc. Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food, but red meat and poultry provide the majority of zinc in the average diet.
Other good food sources include beans, nuts, seafood such as crab and lobster, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products
Insufficient hormone production in men Slow growth rate
ZMA should be taken before bed on an empty stomach and not be taken with calcium (cheese,milk,etc.), as calcium is known to block the absorption of zinc.
One study substantial study carried out by a sports performance researcher at Washington University known as Lorrie Brilla, PhD. He reported that ZMA significantly increase free testosterone levels and muscle strength in NCAA football players.
Specifically, Brilla reported that “a group of competitive NCAA football players who took ZMA nightly during an eight-week spring training program had approximately 250% greater muscle strength gains than a placebo group”.
Another benefit is better sleep. ZMA taken 30 minutes before bed can make you fall asleep deeper and then sleep more deeply.
Someone with the aim of building muscle mass can benefit by taking 10 grams of L-glutamine before bed to prevent catabolism that often occurs during the long hours we fast from sleeping.
The Glutamine Benefits to gain muscle mass but can often be essential for maintaining good health. Frequently, even a Varied, healthy diet plan cannot replenished lost vitamins, minerals, essential fats and so forth from arduous muscle building routines.
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is the most common amino acid in the skeletal muscles making up approximately two thirds of all the free-form amino acids.
The function of primary importance for those undergoing a fitness regime, particularly those doing weightlifting routines, is that glutamine deters muscle catabolism (breaking down of the muscles) as it increases protein synthesis.
Catabolism (A muscle builders biggest enemy!) can happen if the body is not producing or consuming enough protein and L-glutamine from foods. Intense exercise can very quickly burn the body’s free glutamine. Glutamine can also help to speed up muscle recovery. This is one of the main glutamine benefits.
When to take glutamine
Glutamine is generally taken in powder form and can be mixed with your protein shake.
Most health food or supplement stores should stock this product. Be sure to check the ingredients and consult with the sales clerk to ensure that it contains only glutamine.
A great L-Glutamine product is optimium nutrition’s L-glutamine. 200 servings per tub for $25 can’t go wrong here!
People focused around building lean muscle mass can benefit by taking ten grams of L glutamine powder before bed to prevent catabolism that often occurs during the long hours we fast from sleeping.
There are no side effects associated with L-glutamine, because it is a nutrient naturally occurring in the body. Reports of an upset stomach are associated with ingesting a great deal of glutamine, using smaller doses is recommended if this occurs.
Over depletion of the muscle cells which -require specific vitamins to facilitate their actions- can effect the biochemical reactions of cells for proper metabolism and growth of muscles.
It’s not hard to to see why it is so difficult to establish what daily vitamin supplements we require. This is especially true if you’re someone who does work out routines or is highly active on an almost daily basis as vitamins and minerals get depleted from our bodies.
What do I need?
Why do I need it?
How much do I take? And when do I take it?
Frequently asked questions when it come to daily vitamin supplements.
Unfortunately, none of these questions posed will ever be 100% correct as it’s almost impossible to establish how much vitamins and minerals you require for you body on a daily basis due to the vast amount of variables to consider.
For example, the amount of vitamins and minerals utilize by your body which is unique to you doing whatever it is you do day-to-day.
It is, however, known what vitamin and minerals are depleted during period physical and mental activity. This can provide you with the knowledge of what your body requires.
Over depletion of the muscle cells which -require specific vitamins to facilitate their actions- can effect the biochemical reactions of cells for proper metabolism and growth.
Generally you should have a good balanced, nutritious and whole Diet equipped with your five-a-day fruit and veg. Also, plenty of water to replace minerals. You should still after this have a good multivitamin containing all of the following:
Vitamin A, C, D & E
A – synthesis of protein, production of Glycogen, the body’s storage form of energy for high intensity performanceVitaminC
C – protecting muscle cells from free radical damage, thus enhancing recovery and growth, connective tissue is not as healthy and strong, absorption of Iron, assists testosterone production
D – absorption of Calcium and Phosphorus which are necessary for muscular contraction and for the synthesis of ATP provide quick, powerful muscular contractions respectively
E – protects the cell’s membranes which ensures recuperation and growth of muscle cells
Vitamin B 1, 2, 3, 6, & 12
1 – Thiamine – required for protein metabolism, growth and formation of haemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body.
2 – Riboflavin – protein metabolism
3 – Niacin – Completes a whole host of metabolic processes related to energy production, vital in providing training fuel.
6 – Pyridoxine – Protein metabolism, growth and carbohydrate utilization.
12 – Cobalamin – carbohydrate metabolism and maintenance of nervous system tissue critical for the contraction, coordination and growth of muscles
Biotin – amino acid metabolism and the production of energy
Every time you do a couple sets of curls and you feel that expanding feeling in your bicep, it means that nitric oxide was released into the smooth muscle, causing an extra surge in blood to your muscles. It gives your muscles that full feeling and that “puffy” look.
Do nitric oxide supplements actually work? Or are they just a load of over hyped Super supplements! What do they do exactly? And how will they benefit me building muscle mass? What products are the best in the market?
I first found out about nitric oxide supplements a few years back. I wasn’t much into supplements at the time because quite simply I didn’t have a clue about them!
However, when I bought my first few tubs of protein I inquisitively began checking out other supplements online until I eventually stumbled upon a popular Nitric Oxide supplement with a well known man by the name of Ronnie Coleman on the cover.
I was shocked at his muscularity and how his thick veins ran through his body. I never saw anything like it before and I thought to myself “Jeez how does he do it?!” Of course, there he was, posing and flexing and holding those 100lbs dumbbells on the cover of this supplement product and I thought “Nitric Oxide!” that’s how he does it!
Obviously, this nitric oxide supplement didn’t live up to my expectations. I didn’t get ‘roadmap’ veins and I didn’t get huge big chest muscles either!
So, was Nitric oxide a complete waste of money?
No. It wasn’t I didn’t live up to my expectation at the time but I later went back to use the exact same product years later and I actually found it quite good.
I understood that 20lbs increase in bench press was significant and that 5lbs of muscle mass is a great gain.
Nitric oxide supplement Information
When a muscles contracts and it’s blood vessels are dilated, a “puff” of gas appears for a brief instant and than disappears.
This gas settles into the underlying smooth muscle cells causing them to relax which allows a surge of blood to pass through more easily.This gas is called nitric oxide.
You see, every time you do a couple sets of curls and you feel that expanding feeling in your bicep, it means that nitric oxide was released into the smooth muscle, causing an extra surge in blood to your muscles. It gives your muscles that full feeling and that “puffy” look.
However, once you finish your workout, your muscles slowly lose the blood that it accumulated during the workout and it slowly goes back to normal. Certainly, the pump is one of the best feelings you can get and too lose it, well, sucks.
In terms of strength, I gained a little bit in some of my compound movements but not as nearly as much as I would have if I would have taken creatine.
For endurance, I can’t say I noticed anything at all. In terms of overall power, I would say that it has increased… But not 300% or even 20%.
Over-Hyped Super Supplements
Scouring the internet or browsing around your local supplement store you are bound to find literally hundreds of these “super supplements” for almost every requirement from building muscle to losing fat and from a libido booster to a skin improver. However, we are concerned whether these are just over hyped super supplements or if things that actually work for our benefit.
Truth about so called “Super Supplements”
If you’ve ever flicked through a health and fitness magazine nearly every second page has someone promoting some type of supplement.
Personally, as someone who appreciates good marketing, I find these adverts to be extremely convincing which is what marketing is all about, to persuade you target market that this is what you actually want and need because if you buy it you’ll look like this person with the perfect size zero body or with this beautiful, wavy flowing hair.
But do these supplements actually work? Will I lose weight with these fat loss supplements and get beautiful hair with this hair care product? Well, for the most part, the answer is a big fat NO! I mean I wish it were YES, I really do, but from my experience of using fat burners they actually do very little.
Facts about Super Supplements
In actual fact the leading fat loss supplement on the market today claims that you will lose 10% more body fat than what you would if you didn’t use this particular fat.
Now let’s put that into perspective. This is the leading fat burner on the market that claims this and 10% is probably the highest percentage of extra fat loss they have come across in the group they tested it in before they decided to retail the product.
So, in a group which may have 200 people the range of extra fat loss could have been from 2% to 10% so they obviously quoted the 10% figure even when the average might have been 4% extra fat loss.
Now even if it did provide 10% extra fat loss that would be only 1 pound extra weight loss if you have lost 10lbs over a period of a few weeks. 1 measly pound!
What’s more is that this leading fat burner (which will remain nameless but is manufacture by one of leading supplement manufactures) cost $50 for one month’s supply! So, ask yourself if you were to lose 10 pounds in a month which is decent enough would that extra $50 been worth that extra 1 pound?!
On top of this, the principal behind this particular fat burner is to just increase your heart rate thus getting your body to work harder which in turn results in a few more calories burnt per day.
Natural Supplements for Weight Loss
I’ll give you a tip for nothing… 3 cup of black’s coffee with no sugar, milk or creme will achieve similar results! Also include 2-3 liters of water per day and sugar free chewing gum as both of these act as potent appetite suppressants!
The take home message from this is to not get caught up in over-priced and over-hyped super supplements. I couldn’t name one that lives up to its expectations. I know it sounds boring but just get a great diet with low fat foods (or Foods that Build Muscle if you’re trying to build muscle) and exercise for 30 minutes every day and you’re guaranteed to see dramatic results as oppose to using the best weight loss supplement!
Your opinion is very important to us we would love to know your thoughts and experience with supplements of any kind, are your experiences good or bad, do you have any tips you could share with all our readers.
Use the comments box below
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