While protein is the classic muscle-building nutrient, let's face it - eating 2 pounds of meat, fish or eggs every day isn't always convenient. Plus, there are other substances not easily found in a typical diet that can really crank up your muscle growth to a new level. That's why supplements should play a part in your bodybuilding regimen.
Supplements allow you to get a high level of essential muscle-building nutrients in a quick, convenient package - whether it's a pill, a shake, or a bar. Even more importantly, they provide easily digested versions of nutrients that our bodies have trouble processing, or that are nearly impossible to get from food sources alone.
Here's a short list of supplements we recommend to help boost your workout energy, speed up muscle recovery and growth, and support your overall health for high-intensity athletic training.
L-ArginineIf you have only one supplement on your shelf, this should be it. L-Arginine is an amino acid that boosts Nitric Oxide levels in the blood. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, meaning it causes the blood vessels in your muscles to dilate to allow for increased blood flow.
When you work out, your body produces nitric oxide naturally, helping to fill muscles with blood. This is what causes the "pumped up" sensation you feel during intense training.
We all know that a wicked pump feels good, but what you may not realize is that it's also critical to muscle development because the increased blood flow also helps deliver oxygen and nutrients, resulting in more energy to help you blaze through intense workouts.
Nitric Oxide also helps to prolong your blood-engorged, pumped-up state long after your workout, which helps to improve nutrient delivery during the all-important post-workout repair phase. The result is faster recovery and muscle growth.
CreatineCreatine made a name for itself - and earned an undeserved bad reputation - during Major League Baseball's home run scandal during the 1990s. We're not saying you should take creatine to help hit the long-ball, but it's definitely a great supplement for anyone looking to build muscle.
After muscles absorb creatine, they convert it into Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which is the juice that gives muscles energy during a workout. So boosting creatine levels might help you push a few more reps than usual. The best type of creatine to take is creatine monohydrate.
Whey ProteinProtein is the building block of our whole body - muscles, bones, organs, etc. All body tissue is made up of protein. If you do not have enough protein in your body you cannot build muscle mass, no matter how much you work out.
As you work out, muscle tissue breaks down. Protein is essential for repairing and building muscle tissue. The timing of protein is the key to maintaining a positive nitrogen balance and staying in an anabolic state.
Our bodies don't store protein as they do fats, so if protein is not used, it is expelled as waste relatively quickly. As a result, you should provide your body with protein throughout the day. Again, this is one reason why protein supplements and shakes are a sensible part of your muscle-building regimen - simply put, they are a convenient way to get protein quickly, especially when you're on the go.
Of all the forms of protein available in supplements, Whey protein is both fast-absorbing and has the richest known source of naturally occurring branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine). These are important for athletes and anyone who wants to gain size and strength. The body requires higher amounts of branched chain amino acids during and following exercise as they are taken up directly by the skeletal muscles.
In its purest form, as whey protein isolate, whey contains little to no fat, lactose or cholesterol, so it provides all the muscle-building benefits of protein without any of the drawbacks common in food sources.