So you want to build muscle? Here’s a list of the basic supplements that every serious lifter should be taking. Take away the pre-workouts, the fat burners and the intra-workout BCAA’s. This is the bare bones list of supplements that you need to work in to your diet as a way of life if you want to be successful. Once you get the basics down then you can worry about the specifics. Basic and consistent nutrition and supplementation is just as important is working out consistently:
Protein is made up of amino acids, the essential building blocks of your muscles. Without protein it would be impossible to build, repair and maintain muscle. Protein consists of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. Having a sufficient amount of protein will put you in a positive nitrogen balance, or an anabolic state. Being in an anabolic state allows you to build muscle. In contrast, if you are in a catabolic state your body will actually start breaking down your muscle in order to provide the body with energy. Getting your protein from solid food is always the best option, but supplementing in 1-3 protein shakes per day can make a massive difference in your muscle gain and help you to reach your protein and calorie goals for the day. Below I’ve supplied a calculator to help you figure out your recommended daily protein intake. Ideally you should aim to intake 1-1.5x your body weight in protein for maintenance-muscle building, respectively. Also, it should be noted that there are BCAA’s in your protein shakes.
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance within our bodies. Creatine monohydrate is the most used and well known creatine supplement that athletes use for energy production and modulation. There have been extensive studies on creatine supplementation and it has been shown to promote the growth of lean muscle tissue, increase muscle cell volume, increase post-workout recovery and increase high-intensity muscle performance. The recommended dose is 5-10g of creatine a day, although during loading phases some people will take up to 15g. It’s very important that you drink a lot of water and stay hydrated while using creatine, or any supplement for that matter.
Making sure you’re getting your daily micronutrients is extremely important. Becoming deficient in any of the essential vitamins and minerals can cause breakdown in the metabolic process. The easiest way to make sure that you’re getting your daily essential micronutrients is to be taking a multivitamin. Most multivitamins also help with the absorption rate and the body’s abilities to process and transport nutrients throughout the body. The saying goes ‘only supplement it if you can’t get it in your regular diet,’ but with all of the vitamin and mineral benefits from a multivitamin, there’s no way you could possibly intake all of those nutrients every single day in a normal diet.
Antioxidants help to defend cell damage caused by free radicals, which are known to contribute to inflammation, arthritis, joint and tendon pain and aging. Specifically, vitamin C, E, selenium and green tea can help reduce inflammation and fatigue. Some of the most important antioxidants that you should be looking for in your food are vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, calcium, chromium and potassium. Studies have also shown that supplementing vitamin C with caffeine and other supplements may enhance their effects by helping the body to better process them. Most foods that contain antioxidants are going to be part of your bodybuilding diet anyway.