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Supplement guide to building muscle

What exactly does it take to build muscle mass? We’ve put together a supplement guide to building muscle in a safe and sustainable way.

WHAT DOES THE BODY NEED TO BUILD MUSCLE?

Most people know that the body needs protein to build muscle. But that’s far from the complete picture. To gain muscle mass and strength, you need to consistently nourish your body with water, nutrients and calories. Our supplement guide to building muscle can support you in deciding which supplements work for you and your goals.

Water: Staying hydrated helps your body train harder, recover faster, and actually absorb the nutrients from the food and supplements you need it.

Carbohydrates: Protein isn’t the only macronutrient which helps build muscle. Carbohydrates are a useful source of glycogen (the body’s favourite fuel source), so eating enough of the right kind of carbs will power up your workouts and boost your recovery.

Amino acids: Protein is made of amino acids, and they are all important for muscle growth. The essential amino acids are the ones your body can not produce itself, so you need to get them from your diet. Protein and amino acids help build and repair muscle, and support all of the body’s systems including bones, hormones, and enzymes.

Beta-alanine: This non-essential amino acid can help buffer the cramps and soreness you get from tough strength training sessions, meaning you can train more effectively and frequency.

Magnesium: Your body needs a number of micronutrients to build muscle, but magnesium is one of the most important. Magnesium helps your muscles relax (which is why it’s often a feature of recovery formulas).

Vitamin D3: The “sunshine vitamin” is fundamental to your skeletal system, but it’s also important for building muscle because of its link to anabolic hormones like testosterone.

THE PYRAMID OF MUSCLE GAIN

Before we talk about the best supplements for muscle growth, let’s revisit the pyramid of muscle gain.

Training: Weight training is the stimulus that forces your body into an adaptive state, prompting new or stronger muscle tissue.

Nutrition: What you eat and drink (including supplements) will support your body as it trains and recovers.

Recovery: Rest and recovery are key elements of the pyramid, giving your body the opportunity to repair and build muscle.

SUPPORTING MUSCLE GAIN WITH SUPPLEMENTS

Your journey to better muscle gain should start with your meals and snacks – make sure you eat a serving of protein with every meal, and focus on lean wholefood sources like poultry, seafood, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy and vegan protein sources. But good quality, well-researched supplements can make a huge difference.

3 KEY REASONS TO USE MUSCLE GAIN SUPPLEMENTS

#1 Convenience: protein shakes, BCAA drinks, and all-in-one recovery formulas are very convenient, especially if you need to go from the gym to the office or have a busy schedule.

#2 Cost-effective: protein supplements are a very cost-effective way of consuming quality protein, they keep for ages, and don’t need extra food prep.

#3 Completeness: protein supplements are designed for athletic goals, and have been engineered to contain complete amino acid profiles, precise amounts of carbohydrates, and extra nutrients.

YOUR TOP 5 MUSCLE GAIN SUPPLEMENTS

#1 Creatine

Creatine Monohydrate is one of the best-researched sports supplements in the world. It supports the body in bursts of intense effort during training (like lifting weights) and can help you gain strength and mass. Micronised Pharmaceutical Creatine Powder is pure and high-quality, making it very easy for you to take creatine every day. Or you could try PhD’s Creapure, creatine in a capsule format – so you never forget to take it!

#2 Whey protein

Find a good quality protein powder that you enjoy the taste of, and it will revolutionise your approach to getting enough protein and balanced amino acids in your daily diet. A good protein powder should have 25g+ protein per serving, with minimal extras. Check out PhD’s full range of protein powders.

#3 All-in-one protein shake

If you are looking for a protein powder with carbs and healthy fats, use an all-in-one protein product like Synergy which combines protein, carbohydrates, creatine, leucine, and zinc – everything you need for a post-training recovery boost.

#4 Beta-alanine

This amino acid buffers lactic acid and helps extend your muscular endurance during workouts. Beta-Alanine is available in capsules or as a powder, in an optimal 11:1 ratio of Beta Alanine to L-Histidine.

#5 BCAA

The three branch chain amino acids are crucial for building muscle, and we advise you take a BCAA drink (like Intra BCAA+) or BCAA capsules before, during, or after training.

Nicola Joyce

Nicola is a specialist freelance copywriter for the fitness industry @thefitwriter