- 6 Best Supplements to Build Muscle
- What is the Best Supplement to Build Muscle and Burn Fat?
- What is the Best Supplement to Build Muscle Over 40?
- Bottom Line
If you follow a certain bodybuilding training program, you definitely want to get the best out of it, which is possible once you know what the best supplements to build muscle are.
Muscle gain, muscle growth, and shredding fat are among the most important benefits for people who exercise regularly. People who have the right amount of muscle can perform better during their exercises and throughout their daily lives.
To obtain maximal muscle gain, you need to meet three main criteria, which are:
- Your calories intake should be more than what you burn.
- You must eat more protein than you break down.
- Your training program must challenge your muscles.
Some people can meet these criteria without taking any supplements. However, certain supplements may help you to reach your fitness goals faster. (1, 2, 3)
In this article, we will talk about the best 6 supplements to gain muscles. Notice that these supplements will work only when you follow a good diet plan and have a perfect training program.
6 Best Supplements to Build Muscle
Creatine is one of the best supplements to build muscles on the market. It is a natural molecule produced in our bodies providing energy for all our tissues, especially muscles.
When you take creatine supplements, you can increase the muscle creatine by about 40% above its normal values, which is great for building muscles. (4, 5, 6)
The more creatine content in your muscles is, the better the performance of your muscle cells and tissues will be, which leads to the promotion of your muscle gain.
Besides, many studies suggest that creatine also enhances muscle strength and power. (7, 8, 9) For people who are trying to gain more muscles, that is great news. The more strong your muscles are, the better your performance will be during exercises, which leads to more increases in your muscle mass. It is a cycle. (10)
Creatine supplements also increase the amount of water inside your muscular cells. When muscles swell, they send signals to the brain that they are ready for more growth. (11)
In addition, creatine supplements increase one of the most important hormones that participate in the process of muscle building which is IGF-1. (12)
Furthermore, some studies show that creatine can inhibit the breakdown of your muscle proteins, which enhance the muscle-building process significantly. (13)
In a nutshell, a lot of studies have been done on creatine supplements, and they all agree that they can enhance muscle growth. Also, creatine is safe and does not have any side effects that you should worry about. (14, 15)
Consuming an adequate amount of protein is essential for building your muscles. To gain more muscles, in particular, the amount of protein you consume must be more than the amount your body breaks down. (16)
Although you can get all the protein your body needs from foods that are rich in protein, some people find this difficult to achieve. If you cannot get enough protein via food sources, it is time to consider protein supplements. However, there are many types of protein supplements available on the market including whey, soy, and casein. Also, several protein supplements extract protein from sources such as eggs, beef, chicken, and other sources. (17)
The question now is, what is the best protein supplement to build muscle? Studies show that all the previous supplements help people to increase their protein intake, which leads to increasing muscle mass, especially in people who exercise regularly. In addition, adding more protein is better than adding more carbohydrates and may even help you to lose weight and burn fat fast. (18, 19, 20)
The effects of protein supplements are more obvious for people who do not get enough protein via food sources. Many studies say that people who already follow a protein-rich diet may not benefit at all from protein supplements even if they consumed very high amounts. (21, 22, 23, 24)
If you wonder about the amount of protein you should eat daily, here is the Recommended Daily Allowance (RCD) you should stick to. Active people who are trying to gain more muscles should take about 1.2 to 2 grams per kg of body weight. In other words, if your weight is 70 kilograms, you should take between 84 to 140 grams of protein daily. (25, 26, 27)
If you are looking for the best supplements to build lean muscle, the best supplements to build muscle quickly, or the best supplements to increase muscle size, weight gainers may be the right option for you.
The main concept of weight gainers is that they are designed to provide your body with both protein and more calories. They are ideal for people who find it difficult to gain weight.
In fact, studies show that certain bodies may struggle to gain muscle, even with increasing their calorie intake and lifting weights. (28)
Many types of weight gainers are available on the market and they vary in their calories. However, most of them contain more than 1,000 calories per serving.
One of the most common myths about gaining muscles is that protein provides the body with the necessary calories to build muscles. The truth is carbohydrates are what provide the body with its needs of calories.
Most weight gainer supplements contain about 300 grams of carbohydrates and 60 grams of proteins per serving.
These supplements will definitely help you to increase your caloric intake. However, they will not provide you with the results you want alone.
Studies on people who do not exercise regularly show that increasing the number of calories that consume can help them to build lean muscle mass as long as they consume enough protein.
However, studies on physically active adults show that weight gainers may not work for them in building more muscles. (29)
Overall, weight gainer supplements are highly recommended for people who find it difficult to consume enough calories.
Beta-alanine is one of the most important amino acids for our bodies. It is essential for reducing fatigue and increasing physical performance. (30, 31)
In addition, if you have a good training program, beta-alanine can help you to build more lean muscles.
A study was done for 8 weeks on wrestlers and footballers taking 4 grams of beta-alanine daily showed a significant increase in lean body mass, more than placebo pills. (32)
One more study showed that athletes who added beta-alanine to their exercise programs for 6 weeks experienced a significant increase in the lean body mass by about 0.5 kilograms more than placebo pills. (33) More research is needed on beta-alanine and its effects on muscle gains, but for now, it is one of the best supplements to build muscle.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) involve 3 amino acids; leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Most protein sources contain them, especially animal sources such as eggs, fish, meat, and poultry.
BCAAs are essential for the muscle-building process, and they consist of about 14% of the total amino acids content in our muscles. (34, 35)
Most people take BCAAs from food sources daily, but it is also common to take them from supplements. Many studies show that BCAAs inhibit the breakdown of muscles and enhance muscle gain, compared to placebo pills. (36, 37)
On the other hand, other studies show that BCAAS may not be effective in gaining muscles for people who have strict exercise programs. (38)
Overall, BCAA supplements may be great for people who do not consume enough proteins, especially high-quality proteins, via food sources.
Beta-Hydroxy Beta-Methyl-Butyrate (HMB)
HMB is one of the molecules produced when our bodies break down leucine. This molecule is the active compound that produces most of the benefits of proteins and leucine in your foods. (39)
HMB is also essential for inhibiting the breakdown process of muscle proteins. (40) Despite being produced naturally in our bodies, when you take HMB supplements, you increase their levels in your body, which subsequently enhances your muscle-building process. (41)
Many studies were done on inactive adults who took 3 to 6 grams of HMB daily showed that it can increase the muscle gains significantly in addition to the total lean body mass. (42, 43, 44)
On the other hand, several studies show that active people may not benefit from HMB supplements unless they increase the doses and mix the supplements with high-intensity training programs. (45, 46, 47)
In other words, HMB supplements may be perfect for people starting their fitness journey but at a certain point, they may have to look for another supplement to provide them with the benefits they want.
Other Supplements to Consider
Many other supplements may be helpful in increasing your muscle gains such as testosterone-boosting supplements, Conjugated linoleic acid, carnitine, and glutamine. However, more research is needed about them.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
CLA refers to a certain omega-6 fatty acids group that has many positive effects on our bodies. Studies on CLA show that it might be beneficial for some people but more research is required. (48, 49, 50, 51)
There are many testosterone-boosting supplements on the market including DHEA, ashwagandha, fenugreek, and D-aspartic acid. However, these supplements only work in people with low testosterone levels. (52, 53, 54, 55, 56)
Glutamine and Carnitine
Glutamine and carnitine supplements may not help young and middle-aged active people in the muscle-building process. However, many studies say that it can help increase muscle mass in people over 40. (57, 58, 59, 60)
What is the Best Supplement to Build Muscle and Burn Fat?
All the previous supplements are great for building muscles when taken properly. Yet, the best supplement to build muscle and burn fat is whey isolate protein. It will help you to provide your body with enough protein and, at the same time, starve the fat.
In addition to consuming protein-rich foods to provide your muscles with all the protein they need and restricting your total caloric intake to create a caloric deficit, whey isolate protein can help you increase the protein levels in your body.
The Recommended Daily Allowance is 20 to 40 grams, 1 or 2 times per day. You can use it either as a snack or meal replacement or after workouts.
What is the Best Supplement to Build Muscle Over 40?
People over 40 who want to build their bodies and increase their muscle mass usually get stuck at an impasse. Most of them try to push their bodies harder than usual in the gym, which increases the risk of injuries. When you are over 40, injuries are a serious issue and they may take a long time to recover from. To be honest, most people do not know how to build their muscles properly after 40, that is why they usually give up on their fitness goals.
The key is proper nutrition and adding the right supplements that help you to push harder at the gym. The most recommended supplement to build muscles over 40 is Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs).
BCAAs (Isoleucine, leucine, and valine) are little powerhouses that form about one-third of our skeletal muscle tissue. They are essential amino acids. However, some amino acid supplements do not include them in their blend of ingredients. Read the labels carefully to make sure that the supplement contains them.
Isoleucine, leucine, and valine are considered the building blocks of protein. They are responsible for producing new proteins, which play a role in repairing muscle tissues.
Isoleucine is also important in making hemoglobin, which provides the body tissues with oxygen and nutrients. Leucine protects muscle tissues and helps in enhancing the recovery of wounds in skin and bone fractures. Valine is essential for the proper balance of nitrogen in our bodies.
That is why BCAAs are the best supplements to build muscle over 40.
If you are looking for the best supplements to build muscle, the previous supplements are highly recommended. However, they will not provide you with the results you want unless you follow good diet and training programs.
Keep in mind that the only way to gain muscle is by consuming enough protein and calories in addition to exercising regularly, especially with weights.
You can also read our guide on the best supplements you should take in general to improve your overall health and wellbeing.