What Are The Best Supplements To Build Muscle?

March 3rd, 2015
best supplement to build mass

Scroll through the internet and you will find dozens of articles listing the best muscle building supplements.  Some are backed by facts.  Some are backed by half truths.  Some are backed by opinion.  Some are backed by endorsements from supplement manufacturers.  Who has time to weed out what is fact and what is fiction?  Below are the absolute top five supplements you can take to build muscle.  This list is compiled based on proven research, side effects, case studies, and real results.

Whey Protein

What it is:

Milk whey liquid is the fluid left over from the process of cheese making. During the manufacture of cheese, milk proteins are coagulated using either an enzyme called rennet or an acid, such as citric acid. The coagulated protein forms the basis of cheese, while the remaining liquid contains soluble whey protein. The liquid whey is sent through filters to remove all non-whey ingredients. It is then purified. The final step is removing the water from the whey at a drying tower. It is a 100% pure, natural protein.

What makes it awesome:

It is a complete protein boasting an amazing 9 amino acids.  Whey protein is high in leucine. Leucine lowers elevated blood sugar levels and stimulates the healing of bones, skin, and muscle tissue.  Leucine helps you maintain muscle mass.  It also works to increase endurance and enhance energy.  Glutamine is found in VERY high concentration in whey protein.  Glutamine is a naturally occurring amino acid in dietary protein.  Glutamine is not effective in building muscle in healthy individuals but has been proven to help those recovering from trauma or physical ailments where muscle loss is common.  It also helps your immune system greatly – which keeps you healthy and able to continue working out. Whey protein also contains those much sought after branch chain amino acids.  Branch Chain Amino Acids or BCAA, promotes muscle growth and muscle protein synthesis over time. It is also a “fast” protein – easily absorbed, broken down and digested quickly.

Side effects:

Unless you are lactose intolerant, there are no side effects.  Even then, there have only been very scattered cases of reactions by lactose intolerant people.  Whey protein does not make you fat.  It is 100% natural.  It is safe enough to give to children and is found in powdered baby formula.  The only other side effects would be increased lean muscle mass and fat loss – two excellent side effects.

 

Casein Protein

What it is:

Casein also comes from Milk.  Whey is made from the liquid, while the casein is a thick by-product.  Casein is the most abundant protein in milk. During the processing of milk, which usually involves heat or acid, the casein is disturbed and as a result, a gelatinous material is formed.  It is dried in a similar process to whey to create the powder form.  Casein also contains the amino acids that whey does, except it is not so easily digested and metabolized.  It is a 100% natural protein.

What makes it awesome:

It is made up of the same amino acids as whey protein.  High in Leucine, high in Glutamine, contains BCAA’s, etc.  The biggest difference is that it is a “slow” protein.  It is not as easily digested, so it’s effects take longer to be felt.  It basically turns to a gel like material in the stomach that is much harder for your body to break down, and so it is slower to be dispersed.

Side effects:

Though casein and whey protein are very similar, casein has not been cleared for use in children and has had many positive reactions for those who are lactose intolerant.  Definitely should be cleared by a doctor if someone who’s lactose intolerant wants to take it.  Children with true autism have also shown a reaction to casein.

 

Creatine

What it is:

Creatine is a molecule in an energy system (creatine phosphate) that can rapidly produce energy (ATP) to support cellular function. (10)  It is an amazingly safe supplement.

What makes it awesome:

Creatine = quick energy.  It is a natural substance made by your body but by adding a supplement, the energy increase is faster.  It also is a water magnet.  Creatine pulls water into the muscle tissue.  This causes them to increase in size and smoothness.  This increase is not lost after discontinuing creatine powder.  Over time the muscle tissue increase, due to continued training, stays.  The energy burst from creatine is exceptional and can add many reps and sets to your workout.  Muscle fatigue is brought on with the production of lactic acid in the muscle tissue.  Creatine decreases the production of lactic acid.  This provides longer workouts and better results from those work outs.  The lactic acid causes the athlete to feel a burning sensation.  Since creatine delays this, greater workout productivity results.

Side Effects:

Creatine has been tested in over 1300 trials.  It has been proven safe.  There are claims, occasionally, of side effects that usually stem from other sources.  Dehydration is one of the first.  Creatine is a water magnet, remember?  You must increase your water consumption to compensate this.  It is those who do not, that end up dehydrated.  Another claim is bloating.  There is “bloating” in the muscle tissue – which is good, and bloating in the gut – which is bad.  Again, a lot of this has to do with dietary issues and not drinking enough water.  Most of these claims are temporary and there have been no long term side effects or issues with creatine. (10)

Beta-Alanine

What it is:

Beta-alanine is the building block of carnosine, a molecule that helps to buffer acid in muscles, increasing physical performance.  It also increases lean muscle.  (11)

What makes it awesome:

Beta-alanine enhances muscular fortitude. Beta-alanine supplementation improves cardiovascular exercise enactment. When taking beta-alanine, it turns into carnosine, which is an acid buffer. Carnosine is stored in cells and released when the PH drops and offer protection from lactic acid production caused by exercise.

Side Effects:

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, in 2013, conducted a study of Beta-Alanine.  These results have led to a definite need to continue testing as they pointed to possible damage to certain sections of the brain.  There were several areas affected.  So far, no serious side effects, other than numbness and tingling, have been reported but the long term effect has yet to be seriously studied.  It is of the utmost importance that the correct dosage be used and not taken on an empty stomach.  One has to consider that the estimated 2.8% increase in lean muscle may not be worth possible side effects.  These have not been proven 100% yet, so it is relatively safe to continue use in the prescribed amounts.  It is not recommended that the dosage be increased beyond this amount.

These four are the tops.  They are well researched and the results speak for themselves.  Amazingly, Whey and Casein contain two other popular supplements in them already – leucine and glutamine – which eliminates the need to take an added supplement.  Nitric Oxide and/or L-arginine are better used for weight loss than muscle building.  ZMA (Zinc, Magnesium, Aspartate w/B6) is only helpful to your health if you are lacking in those vitamins and minerals but show no link to muscle mass.  Fish Oil is great for joint health but again, shows no muscle mass increase at all.

Whey, Casein, Creatine and Beta-Alanine are the best supplementation options for Muscle Mass.