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Bodybuilding supplements are popular with athletes and strength trainers alike. Taking certain supplements as part of a healthful diet may help build muscle, increase strength, and speed up recovery time.
In this article, we will discuss different supplements that may be beneficial for muscle growth, and provide a list of products for people to consider trying.
Bodybuilding supplements are any dietary supplement that may help build muscle mass, increase strength, or reduce recovery time. Some of the most common bodybuilding supplements backed by science include:
Protein is the building block of muscle tissue. Without adequate protein, it is very difficult to build or repair healthy muscles. People may be able to get sufficient protein from their diet. However, some may choose to use protein supplements.
Whey protein is the industry standard for protein supplementation. It can help contribute to an increase in muscle mass and strength.
A 2019 review found that high quality vegetable protein may be as effective. However, this is only when it includes additional amino acids from other sources.
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that consists of three amino acids: L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine. It helps supply energy to cells throughout the body, particularly muscle cells.
A 2017 review notes that creatine is known to help enhance both exercise performance and recovery from exercise.
Therefore, caffeine may help a person train harder. Over time, this could result in an increase in muscle gain.
Other potential ingredients
Manufacturers may also include other ingredients in their supplements. People should note, however, that many of these ingredients may have little or no research to support their role in effectively helping develop muscle. These may include:
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs are three of the 20 essential amino acids. The body cannot produce BCAAS, so people must get them from the diet. Supplementing with BCAAs can help ensure that the body has enough of these to build and repair muscle tissue. A 2019 study notes that BCAAs stimulate muscle protein synthesis after exercise.
However, while BCAA supplements are popular, people can get sufficient amounts of BCAA from eating high quality protein. Additionally, the other essential amino acids are also important for the process, which means that BCAAs alone are not enough.
HMB occurs naturally in the body during the process of breaking down the essential amino acid leucine. HMB may also help enhance recovery in some athletes.
According to a 2019 study, HMB may help reduce postexercise muscle damage and accelerate recovery. It may also help improve strength and aerobic capacity and promote lean body mass. However, a 2020 meta-analysis suggests that HMB does not improve body composition, including lean mass, in adults performing weight training.
Specific amino acids and byproducts
Some bodybuilding supplements will contain other specific amino acids, such as leucine, beta-alanine, or L-glutamine.
Electrolytes and minerals
Mineral salts and electrolytes may help replenish salts the body uses during intense workouts.
Antioxidants help prevent damage to cells in the body. They may prevent inflammation and oxidative damage.
Nitric oxide boosters
Some feel that nitric oxide boosters may help increase blood flow during a workout or reduce fatigue. Common forms include beet juice and pomegranate extract.
Simple carbohydrates, or sugars, may help muscles recover after a workout.
The effectiveness of each individual bodybuilding supplement can vary depending on a number of factors, such as ingredients, personal needs, and activity levels. A person will only be able to maximize the effectiveness of supplements if they combine them with adequate training and a healthful diet.
Generally speaking, bodybuilding supplements will contain ingredients such as proteins and creatine. These ingredients are known to help build muscle mass and repair damaged muscle tissue.
Most of the ingredients in bodybuilding supplements are well tolerated and not likely to cause side effects. However, people should follow the manufacturer’s instructions and not exceed the stated dosage.
Some supplements may contain ingredients to which people may not respond well. For example, some supplements may contain caffeine, so people who are sensitive to it may want to avoid these products.
It is advisable for a person to speak with their doctor before taking any supplements. If they begin to notice side effects after taking supplements, they should stop taking them.
People should follow the directions on the supplement packaging. Taking too much of any bodybuilding supplement is not likely to increase results, as the body can only use so much of any given supplement at once. Increasing intake may also make some side effects more likely.
Typically, the supplement will be available in either powder or capsule form. People can then mix the powder with water and drink it or simply take the capsule with a sip of water.
The best time to take a supplement may vary depending on the specific ingredients and product. People should check the label for instructions about when to take the supplement.
It would be difficult to list the vast number of effective bodybuilding supplements available on the market. That said, here is a list of some of the top supplements that contain key ingredients for muscle growth.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All product information is purely research-based.
Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Pre-workout Primer
This pre-workout primer delivers many helpful ingredients in one powder, including:
- amino acids
Optimum Nutrition Isolate Whey Protein Powder
This product contains whey protein isolate, which contains a higher protein content and lower fat and carbohydrate content per serving than whey protein concentrate powders. Each serving contains 25 grams (g) of protein, in addition to 11 g of essential amino acids, of which 5.5 g are BCAAs.
BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate (Micronized)
BulkSupplements offers a simple micronized creatine monohydrate powder. The creatine has undergone a micronization process, which makes it easier to dissolve. The product offers a pure, isolated form of creatine monohydrate, delivering 5 g of micronized creatine monohydrate powder per serving.
Legion Pulse Pre-workout
The formulation of this pre-workout supplement is research-based. The supplement comes in caffeine and caffeine-free variants, which may be useful for those training at different times of the day.
Dymatize ISO100 Hydrolyzed
The manufacturer of this protein powder states that it is very high quality and has undergone third-party testing. Each serving contains 25 g of protein and 5.6 g of BCAAs. It is also available in many flavors, which is likely to appeal to many customers.
No bodybuilding supplement can replace hard work and effort. The most effective way to attain muscle hypertrophy is through exercises such as strength and resistance training.
Diet is also an essential factor in muscle growth and development. Nutrition plays a critical role in muscle development and strength. While supplements can help, people should still ensure they eat a healthful diet that provides their body with sufficient nutrition.
It is also advisable for people to ensure they get adequate rest between exercises, as well as sufficient sleep. A 2020 study suggests that inadequate sleep may decrease muscle mass development.
Although it may take weeks or months to notice muscle growth, consistent workouts with resistance training, regular sleep, and a healthful diet should maximize results.
Bodybuilding supplements can help athletes and strength trainers provide their body with the necessary ingredients to build and maintain muscle and to recover from workouts easily.
While many marketing teams may oversell their products, there are some important ingredients to look out for that may help the body build mass and recover quickly. However, no supplement will replace the basics, such as eating a balanced diet and following healthful lifestyle practices.