Building muscle is no easy task. Adding even one pound of pure muscle to your frame takes repeated effort, sweat, and pain. It also takes time, more time than you may want to wait. But there are aids to help speed up this process, to help maximize your gym efforts, naturally, and those aids are supplements. For that reason, we searched the web to find the consensus five best muscle-building supplements most recommended by nutrition experts, and we’ve listed them here for you. Before getting to the list, let’s discuss exactly how supplements can help you.
While effort and genetics certainly play a role, some supplements will allow you to train both harder and longer. You’ll gain muscular strength and endurance by using them, and you’ll need both because going to the gym and doing only a few sets and reps will not get the job done. You’ll need to place your muscles under a lot of stress to force them to grow. Time under tension will lead to hypertrophy (muscle growth). But your work isn’t done when you leave the gym.
You don’t want your gym efforts to go to waste, so recovering from workouts must be a priority for anyone looking to build muscle, and this happens outside of the gym. While strength training, you’re introducing microtears to muscle fibers, and when those tears are repaired (as you rest after exercise) your muscles grow. Supplements are a great way to give your body what it needs to recover from hard workouts. If you do not recover you will not grow.
Now, we probably don’t need to say this, but we will: these supplements for muscle growth will work, but only in conjunction with repeated effort in the gym, proper nutrition, and proper recovery, which includes quality sleep. That said, whether you’re new to lifting or a veteran, these muscle building supplements will give you the edge you’re looking for. Of course, we want to hear from you. Comment below to let us know which supplement has helped you add mass to your frame!
The List: Best Muscle Building Supplements, According To Experts
1. Whey Protein
This supplement must become a staple if you’re looking to add muscle. It’s fast digesting, making it a perfect for post-workout nutrition when your body is looking to soak up nutrients to start the recovery process. But it’s also versatile, mix it with a meal or healthy fats to slow down digestion and use it as an MRP (meal replacement).
Muscle & Fitness certainly understands the importance of this supplement: “Whey takes the crown because it digests fast and gets to your muscles rapidly to start building muscle. Whey also contains peptides (small proteins) that increase blood flow to the muscles. This is why we always recommend consuming whey protein immediately after training.”
“When you’re talking about building blocks for muscle, it all starts with protein, the raw material your body needs to build bulk, per the National Institute of Health (NIH). When it’s digested, protein in food is broken down into amino acids. Your body then uses these amino acids to assist a ton of bodily functions, including repairing and building muscle tissue, according to the NIH,” writes Livestrong.
It’s always a good idea to get the bulk of your nutrients from whole foods, but anyone serious about adding muscle will undoubtedly need to add supplements, and this one is number one on many experts’ lists.
This supplement has been used to build muscle for many years now. The body does produce it, but not in large enough quantities to elicit the amount of muscle growth many gym-goers are looking for. Creatine is a proven muscle-builder and it’s backed by years of research.
NASM writes, “Creatine is one of the most widely studied supplements — namely for its ability to increase muscle mass! Research has shown that increases in muscle mass can occur in as little as 4 weeks by supplementing with creatine in the diet.” If you’re looking for quick results, you may want to consider adding this supplement to your stack.
And who can benefit from using this supplement? “When supplemented during a period of resistance training, creatine has been found to induce greater increases in muscle mass, strength, and functional performance in both older adults and younger adults. According to the Mayo Clinic, creatine is most beneficial to athletes who need short bursts of speed or muscle, like sprinters and weightlifters,” writes Insider.
Note that creatine will pull water into your muscles, which will allow them to work harder, but it also may cause you to gain water weight and/or bloat. Many of the newer products in capsule form seem to have alleviated this issue, though.
If you’ve ingested a pre-workout supplement that left your skin tingling, you’ve most likely had beta-alanine. Aside from that feeling, which some people crave and others dislike, this supplement can help you work harder and longer in the gym.
Men’s Health notes: “One 2018 study published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition provided subjects with 6.4 grams/day of beta-alanine (divided as 8 X 800 mg doses, 1.5 hours apart). After a specific exercise protocol, the researchers found that supplementation was effective at increase power output. More power output can ultimately lead to more gains.”
And Healthline writes, “Beta-alanine is an amino acid that reduces fatigue and may improve exercise performance.” This is a non-essential amino acid, meaning your body can produce it if you do not get it from food, but again, not in the amounts needed to see muscle-building benefits.
Because many people do not like the tingling sensation of the skin when taking this supplement, it’s best to start with low doses to assess tolerance.
4. BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids)
These are often referred to as the building blocks of protein. Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine comprise BCAAs, and they are essential amino acids, meaning the body cannot make them. Each of these amino acids plays important roles when it comes to strength training and muscle gain.
According to Naked Nutrition: “Leucine is an essential amino acid involved in protein synthesis, tissue regeneration, and metabolism. Isoleucine helps with wound healing, supports the immune system, and is involved in the production of many hormones. Valine has a special involvement in muscle protein synthesis, repairing tissues, and supporting energy levels.”
BCAAs have been a staple supplement in the fitness world for many years because of their benefits as Bodybuilding.com points out: “If you’re a strength athlete or bodybuilder, we can’t think of a single reason not to take BCAAs during your workout. Besides the fact that they taste delicious, sipping on BCAAs between sets may help speed up the recovery and repair processes after a tough workout.”
And if you need a little more convincing, from Active: “BCAAs play an important role in muscle growth. The amino acid leucine activates a bodily pathway that stimulates muscle protein synthesis. This supplement’s ability to aid in recovery helps your body get the most out of future workouts. Overall, BCAAs are a great low-cost supplement with massive muscle-building benefits.”
5. Casein Protein
People often rely on whey protein around workout time because it digests quickly, meaning your body can use it quickly after a workout, or if used before a workout, it won’t sit in the stomach long. But when it comes to times when you need protein to hold you over for longer, that’s where casein comes in handy with its slow-digesting properties.
Here’s a great tip from Legion Athletics on when to use this type of protein: “Unlike whey, which causes a large spike in blood levels of amino acids immediately after you consume it, casein is digested slowly, which means it provides a steady, gradual release of amino acids into the blood for several hours. This is why many people use casein to speed up muscle recovery by consuming it before they go to bed.”
The Fit Way writes, “it is mostly used as a recovery protein among post workout supplements rather than pre workout supplements. Where this is a heavier, slower-digesting protein, you may want to avoid using it close to workout time where it will sit in your stomach longer than whey protein.
If you’re looking to use protein as a snack or meal-replacement, consider casein. It’ll give you steady protein drip, which will keep you full longer than just whey protein alone.
You may also be interested in:
- Best Testosterone Boosters for 2023
- Best Whey Protein for 2023
- Bigger Muscles in Half the Time
- How to Build Bigger Biceps
- Best Foods for Protein
- Men’s Health
- Muscle & Fitness
- Legion Athletics
- The Fit Way
- Naked Nutrition
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.