The supplement industry is big business. Last year alone, Americans spent 57 billion dollars on dietary supplements.
Unfortunately, most of the available supplements do nothing other than rid you of hard-earned money.
But don’t despair. Some supplements are scientifically proven to help you build muscle, lose fat, and improve gym performance. And what follows are the seven most powerful ones.
When it comes to natural muscle-building supplements, creatine is king. That’s what a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Physiology found.(1)
The scientists evaluated 250 different studies and concluded that creatine had the most beneficial impact on muscle growth.
What’s more, another review of over 150 studies found that creatine supplementation led, on average, to a 3.2% decrease in body fat and a 2.2% increase in lean body mass.(2)
The primary reason creatine has such beneficial effects on muscle growth is that it supports energy production during high-intensity exercise. That means you can more effectively stimulate your muscles in the gym.
Besides, creatine enhances the cellular hydration status of muscles, speeds up muscle recovery after intense training, and boosts testosterone levels.
So, go ahead and enhance your gains with creatine. It’s a cheap, effective, and safe way to improve your figure and your gym performance. Just five grams of creatine monohydrate per day is all you need to reap the benefits.
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While vitamins and minerals don’t get a lot of attention in the fitness world, especially nowadays with the rise of If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM), they’re essential for every bodybuilder.
That’s because all vitamins and minerals are, in one way or another, involved in processes that are related to fat loss and muscle growth.
Another example is iron, a mineral that is essential for the production of energy. That’s why consuming enough iron helps you perform better in the gym, which means you can stimulate muscle growth to a greater extent.(5)
Now, in an ideal world, we would get all of our nutrients through our diet. Unfortunately, however, factors like soil depletion, over-filtration of water, chronic stress levels, and junk food consumption often put a halt to that.
Research shows, for instance, that over 50% of bodybuilders’ diets do not meet the recommended daily intakes of various vitamins and minerals.(6)
The good news?
You can ensure that you’ll get all the micronutrients you need by consuming a multivitamin. So, feel free to upgrade your nutrition plan by taking one such pill per day.
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3. Fish Oil
It’s well-known that omega-3 fatty acids benefit health. They support cognition, enhance joint health, aid immunity, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce the risk of depression.
The main reasons omega-3s boost your fitness results are that this nutrient:
- reduces chronic inflammation levels (10)(11)
- increases testosterone and reduces cortisol production (12)
- protects against excessive muscle damage (13)
- increases nutrient partitioning (14)(15)
- improves muscle anabolic signaling (16)
- enhances muscle protein synthesis after meals.(16)
As a rule of thumb, you’ll tend get all the muscle-building and fat-loss benefits of omega-3s if you eat at least 500 grams of fatty fish per week. If you don’t reach that quantity, however, fish oil offers the solution.
Depending on your fatty fish intake, supplement with between 1½ and 3 grams of combined EPA and DHA per day. The less fatty fish you eat, the higher you want to get on that spectrum.
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While there are countless different pre-workout supplements on the market, almost all of them rely on caffeine for their performance-enhancing benefits.
That’s why, instead of spending your hard-earned money on an overpriced tub of pre-workout, I’d advise you to consume caffeine instead. You’ll save money while reaping the same benefits.
It’s important to note, however, that caffeine only delivers those benefits if you aren’t immune to the compound. So, if you drink coffee every day, caffeine won’t help you kick more ass in the gym.
Fortunately, it’s easy to reverse such tolerance. Just abstain from all products that contain caffeine for two weeks. You’ll then enjoy the performance-enhancing benefits of caffeine again.
To use caffeine as a pre-workout aid, take between 4-6 mg/kg body weight thirty minutes before you hit the gym. So, if you weigh 75 kg, consume between 300 and 350 mg of caffeine.
While it’s best to get this amount through a pill or powdered caffeine supplement because you can then ensure the dose with accuracy, it’s also okay to consume your caffeine in the form of coffee.
L-citrulline is an amino acid that functions as a vasodilator, which means that it aids blood flow within your muscles. Because of this action, supplementing with this compound has three main benefits for bodybuilders:
- L-citrulline helps you obtain a more significant muscle pump during your workout, which not only feels good, but also aids muscle growth.(21)
- L-citrulline delays fatigue during your workouts, so you’ll be able to do more reps and thus place more potent muscle-building stimuli on your muscles.(22)(23)
- L-citrulline enhances nutrient delivery to your muscles, which means you’ll feel less sore after your workouts and you’ll recover faster between sessions.(24)
To supplement with L-citrulline, take 6,000 mg of the compound around thirty to sixty minutes before you hit the gym.
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When you lift weights for a relatively higher number of reps, your muscular environment becomes more acidic. That’s why such training causes a burning feeling in your muscles.
This acidity within your muscles, in turn, impairs the ability of your muscles to push out extra reps by diminishing their ability to contract.
So, if you do much high-rep work in your sessions, supplementing with beta-alanine will aid muscle growth by helping you push out a few extra reps.
To get this performance-enhancing boost, take three to four milligrams of beta-alanine between thirty to sixty minutes before your workout.
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7. Casein Protein Powder
To build muscle and shape an eye-catching figure, it’s crucial that you get enough protein. That means you should consume at least 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.(27)
While some lifters find it easy to consume that amount, others have a harder time ensuring that they get enough protein. If the latter is the case for you, a casein protein supplement can offer the solution.
In fact, casein is such a quality protein source that long-term studies conclude that it’s even more effective at aiding fat loss, strength development, and muscle growth than whey.(30)
To supplement with casein, use it whenever you don’t reach your protein target for the day.
So, let’s say you should get in 130 grams of protein per day, but only manage to reach 110 grams through your diet, then take 20 grams worth of protein in the form of casein.
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