Muscle building aids might have been a thing for bodybuilders only when they entered the market. Nowadays, inexperienced people who hit the gym seem to be aware of their power and want to make good use of them as well. About a decade ago, lifting weights and squatting were enough to gain strong lean muscles, but all these seem to be outdated. The supplements are the new IT thing for those who want to experience explosive growth and reach full potential as fast as possible. Even so, are these products actually beneficial?

Their manufacturers make big claims without necessarily being backed by clinic evidence or much study. Moreover, the United States Food and Drug Administration do not regulate supplements, so they are not thoroughly tested as to state their real efficacy. Despite these aspects, many users have confessed that supplementation indeed accelerates muscle growth. Also, while the supplements themselves require some additional research, much of their ingredients have proven health benefits. While these facts might be conflicting, one thing is for sure: proteins are essential if one wants to gain muscles. [1]

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Not only nutritionists can tell you that, but the regular individual also. We were taught ever since childhood that eating meat is necessary if we want to grow tall and vigorous. And what is meat other than the most appreciated protein source? The products designed to help people build muscles are packed with proteins and vitamins that accelerate various metabolic processes in a practical way. Long story short, if you want to bulk up a bit and be the toughest version of yourself, try some of the supplements listed below. They might help you, judging by the multitude of positive customer reviews found on various websites.

Best Supplements for Muscle Growth

  1. Whey Protein

Every respected bodybuilder includes it in his arsenal. People going for the first time to a professional gym will most likely hear about it at least once. Many of them might be surprised that this powerful supplement is also found in the common milk products found at the supermarket. We are talking about whey protein, one of the most important supplements for muscle growth and a standard in the bodybuilding industry. Aside from being very well-documented, whey protein is at the present moment probably the most popular protein designed for people who want to enjoy stronger muscles. But why is it so appreciated?

Proteins are one of the three macro-nutrients people must integrate into their diets to enjoy good health. They are composed of smaller units called amino acids. Science tells us there are about five hundred amino acids known until this date of which twenty are found in the human body. While it synthesizes eleven of them, the remaining nine cannot be obtained under such conditions; therefore the body must acquire them from food. These amino acids are found in all animal products and two plants, namely quinoa and soy. All the other food products can contain up to eight but never more. Whey is a complete protein, with all nine essential amino acids in its chemical structure. Aside from these, whey protein is also rich in branch-chained amino acids that have been proven to provide relief from muscle pain after an intense training session. Probably the most important aspect about whey is the ease with which the body digests and absorbs it. Unlike other proteins, whey does not take more than twenty minutes to be broken down by the digestive enzymes, reach the intestines and be released into the blood stream.

The obtained compounds then increase the rate of various metabolic processes, protein synthesis included. Research suggests that whey protein might possess satiety-inducing properties in emotional eaters. Some studies show it can even interfere with ghrelin’s mechanism of action (the hormone that increases appetite) while some of its amino acids are involved in the control of pancreatic secretion. Whey protein is believed to have antioxidant properties too since it increases the glutathione levels. Glutathione is a tri-peptide found in various living organisms that protects them from oxidative stress. The compound acts in a similar manner when inside the human body so by enhancing its function, whey protein is even more valuable for the overall body health.

Why do muscle builders use it shortly after they ended the training session? Firstly, because it is quickly digested so it can signal the body to synthesize proteins rather fast. Secondly, because it contains branch-chained amino acids that prevent muscle cell damage. Thirdly, whey is one of the few proteins that lead to a sudden and drastic increase in the leucine levels, an amino acid linked to the protein synthesis process. Whey protein is best when taken thirty minutes before the training and then again twenty minutes after.

  1. Casein Protein

Casein is the other major milk protein found in more generous amounts than whey. Aside from the essential and branch-chained amino acids, it contains non-essential amino acids also. While both of them are found in milk, the proteins have different mechanisms of action. Specialists state that whey is an active compound while casein is its more passive counterpart. The protein is far from being an easily digestible one. With its fiber-like structure and ability to turn into a clog once it reaches the stomach, casein takes longer to be broken down. This means a slower amino-acid release which makes it less efficient when it comes to protein synthesis. Although it plays a minor role in this process, casein is reliable in reducing protein breakdown because its amino acids are released into the blood stream slower and for longer. This might be the reason why bodybuilders avoid consuming it after a workout. Still, many of them use it before going to bed at night, when the muscles are relaxed and the tissues can be more easily repaired.[2]

To have a better understanding of how those two proteins work on your body please refer to this article where we have discussed the benefits and disadvantages of whey vs. casein protein.

  1. L-Glutamine

The most common amino acid synthesized by the human body, L-Glutamine makes up for about sixty percent of the amino-acids present in the muscle tissues. Manufacturers of L-Glutamine supplements claim it increases the leucine levels while enhancing the immune system function. Some studies suggest the amino-acid might reduce symptoms of moodiness or even depression and can considerably decrease stress levels. Despite this fact, there is little proof in regards to its effect on the nervous system. Moreover, there is no scientific evidence that L-Glutamine supplements build up muscles although the amino-acid in its natural state is present in such large quantities. Even so, there are many bodybuilders who have used them and claim to have enjoyed its benefits.

  1. Creatine

Creatine is, together with whey protein, one of the most popular bodybuilding supplements currently in use. Released on the marked in the early 90’, creatine is backed by enough clinic evidence as to assert its high efficacy rate.  It contains three amino acids, namely arginine, glycine and methionine, and naturally occurs in the human body. Similarly to whey protein, creatine enhances the protein synthesis process and offers the user extra energy during the training session. How does it do that? By being turned into creatine phosphate from which adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is created. ATP transports energy from one cell to the other. While the compound is present in sufficient amounts to support the cells’ natural function, the quantity of creatine present inside the human body is not enough for significant muscle growth. By using creatine supplements, the body is supplied with extra energy so the user can train for extended periods without feeling the need to rest.

Also, some studies suggest creatine leads to water retention which in turn causes the muscle cells to grow faster. Also, recent research shows creatine can increase insulin-like growth factor-1 levels in muscle tissues which stimulate the cells and improve the muscle growth process. Body builders use two variations of the nitrogenous organic acid variations: creatine monohydrate and creatine ethyl ester.

  1. Protein Powder

For many people, proteins go hand in hand with muscle growth. And what supplement could be more appropriate for this process than protein powder? The product helps when food can no longer compensate for the proteins lost during the training session. Unlike the first produced powders that tasted like chalk, today’s products are enriched with delicious flavors so the customer can enjoy them. They are efficient, rather cheap when compared with similar muscle growth aids and offer the body an extra protein supply. The protein milkshakes or bars can come in handy when one skipped a meal and needed energy before heading to the gym.

  1. Beta-alanine

Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring beta amino acid. Studies suggest beta-alanine improves athletic performance and stimulates tissue growth, leading to robust and lean muscles. It can also increase muscular endurance. Body builders state to have experienced better mobility and resistance during a high-intensity training session after using beta-alanine supplements. Although the body can produce it in various ways, if one want to take full advantage of it should try beta-alanine supplements. After ingestion, it enters the bloodstream and reaches the skeletal muscle cell. There, it binds to L-histidine, another amino acid, and forms the dipeptide carnosine. The majority of beta alanine’s muscle growth properties are enhanced after this process.

Beta-alanine is most effective for people who consume meat although it works for vegetarian bodybuilders as well. One study showed lower levels of the carnosine-producing enzyme after five weeks of following a vegetarian diet. Also, the supplement might work better for athletes that favor longer training sessions since carnosine increases endurance and delays muscle fatigue.

  1. Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids

If you believe that all fat is bad, you might want to think twice. Not all fats are saturated and meant to make one gain pounds. There are some healthy ones also. They are called Omega-3 fatty acids, are found in fish or seafood and many scientific studies prove their efficacy.

Although fish is regarded as a valuable Omega-3 fatty acid source, supplements might be a more practical choice as the amount of fatty acids is higher due to the product’s concentrated form. Also, one Omega-6 fatty acid, namely the conjugated linoleic acid is believed to reduce body weight by increasing the metabolic rate and decreasing the LDL cholesterol levels. One 1987 study conducted by researchers from the University of Wisconsin showed that aside from being able to reduce the cancer cell number, conjugated linoleic acid helped the participants lose fat and preserve muscle tissues more efficiently. At the end of the research, each member lost an average of six pounds which is a lot, considering that they have consumed fats and not proteins.

Conjugated linoleic acid enhances the pancreas’ function and increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin. This way it impedes saturated fats and glucose from turning into fat deposits. What they do is pass through the muscle cell membranes instead, and the body converts them into energy soon afterward.

It is important to correctly use each of the supplements listed above as they are different regarding the chemical structure and manner of action. Also, it is good to take into consideration that some might work and some might prove to be rather inefficient, but this depends on each’s lifestyle. Simple choices like what one eats, how long he sleeps or how often he heads to the gym contribute to the supplements’ overall efficacy. Supplements cannot replace the everyday meals in spite of being regarded as nutritious. There are little disadvantages to using them as many if not all of their compounds are safe for most people.[3]

muscle_growth_450x248One negative aspect linked to the muscle growth aids is the existence of illegal supplements that some customers might prefer due to their low price. Even so, the dangers they expose themselves to are numerous. Many unapproved products contain harmful ingredients such as steroids or stimulants that might lead to seizures or heart problems.

People interested in muscle building supplements should not take risks. They should stay on the safe side and always buy the products from their official websites or drug stores. Also, it’s nice to talk to a doctor or a pharmacist before using them as some persons could be under treatment in which case the compounds might interfere with each other and cause side effects.((https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2222798))

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