Supplements to gain muscle mass are a great way to complement a balanced diet. They help to improve performance during physical activity and promote quicker muscle recovery after exercise.
Whey protein, casein, and BCAA are some common protein supplements that can help with muscle growth when added to a healthy diet.
It is important to note that high doses of protein supplements can cause kidney failure, and therefore they should be taken as indicated by a registered dietitian.
The most common supplements that can be used to performance and gain muscle mass are:
1. Whey protein
Whey protein is a protein supplement that is made from cow or goat milk derivatives. It helps to increase strength and physical output when working-out.
In addition, this supplement promotes muscle recovery following exercise and increases muscle cell production.
There are different types of whey protein that vary in protein concentration, carbohydrates and fat:
- Whey protein concentrate: contains 89% protein, and more calories, carbohydrates and fat
- Whey protein isolate: contains a minimum of 90% protein, and less calories, carbohydrates and fat than the concentrate form.
- Hydrolized whey protein : contains a minimum of 90% protein and has low amounts of calories, carbohydrates and fats. The proteins are broken down into amino acids.
How to use: The quantity of whey protein to use will vary depending on your nutritional needs and overall daily consumption of protein. In general, you should dilute 20 to 30 g of the supplement in water, juice or a smoothie. You can take this 30 minutes before or after exercise.
Creatine is an amino acid that can be found in red meat, fish and seafood. This supplement contains higher concentrations of protein, and is recommended to increase performance during physical activity as well as to increase muscle mass.
Consuming creatine can also prevent muscle cramping and injuries when exercising, and helps with post-training muscle recovery.
There are several types of creatine available for purchase, however the best type of creatine monohydrate as it is easily absorbed and offers better results.
How to use: Creatine supplementation depends on the needs and goals of the individual. The recommended dose is 0.3 g per kilo of weight (or per 2.2 lb of weight) for 7 days, followed by a daily intake of 3 to 5 g per day.
BCAA is a supplement that contains essential amino acids, like leucine and valine. It is indicated for athletes and for those who exercise regularly. This supplement helps to boost performance and prevent fatigue during exercise.
Because is improves overall performance, BCAA can contribute to the formation and maintenance of muscle mass. Using this supplement throughout the day and after working out helps to reduce muscular damage from working out, which promote muscle growth.
How to use: Intake of BCAA will vary depending on the needs and goals of each person. Generally, you can take 2 capsules, 1 to 3 times per day between meals and after working out.
Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid, which means that the body is able to produce it on its own without having to ingest it in the diet. Glutamine supplements contain higher concentrations of amino acids, which makes is a great option for imporving performance during long and intense training sessions.
Glutamine also promotes muscle mass gain and helps with post-training muscle recovery.
How to use: Daily quantities of glutamine will depend on individual nutritional needs and physical activity level. Normally, athletes can take 8 to 15 g per day, divided into 2 or 3 doses throughout the day. It can be mixed in water or juice.
Casein is a protein derived from cow, goat or sheep milk that is naturally found in high quantities. It helps to boost muscle cell production, which contributes to overall muscle mass in athletes and people who exercise regularly.
How to use: The quantity to use will depend on the goals, health status and activity level of each individual. Generally, the recommendation is 0.8 to 2.2 g per kilo (or per 2.2 lb) of body weight per day. IT should be mixed in 200 ml of water or juice and taken about 30 minutes before going to bed.
L-carnitine is an amino acid that is naturally occurring in meat and fish. The supplement form will have higher concentrations, which helps to boost performance and post-workout recovery.
Because of its ability to increase physical capacity, this supplement is recommended for athletes and people who exercise for long periods of time, like cross-country runners.
How to use: The typical recommendation varies between 2 to 4 grams per day in powder or capsule form. It can be taken in one dose or divided into several doses throughout the day.
A L-arginine is an amino acid that stimulates the production of human growth hormone and creatine. It contains antioxidant properties that are fundamental for muscle mass gain.
L-arginine supplements are generally recommended for athletes who train at high intensities, as it improves strength, resistance and circulation. It helps helps to fight free radicals that can interfere with muscle cell production.
How to use: L-arginine can be found in capsule or powder form. The recommended dose is up to 3 g of powder L-arginine diluted in water, taken once per day, or 1 to 2 500mg capsules up two 3 times per day.
8. Vegetable-based protein
Vegetable-based protein, like pea, soy, rice of pumpkin seed protein powders, are supplements that are especially recommended for vegetarians or for people with an intolerance or food allergy.
These supplements are rich in high quality proteins that are similar to animal-based proteins. They can help to improve physical resistance and promote muscle mass growth in athletes and people who exercise regularly.
How to use: Vegetable proteins can be purchased in isolated to additive forms. The recommended dose is 30g of protein added to 250 ml of water, juice or smoothies, once per day.
Supplements will have optimal results when added to a healthy diet. Learn more about what to eat to gain muscle.
People with dairy allergies or intolerances should not take casein or whey protein.
Those with kidney or liver issues should consult their doctor before starting glutamine, BCAA, creatine, arginine and casein, as they can interfere with organ functioning.
L-arginine supplementation is not recommended for children under the age of 18. People with a history of viral infections, like herpes, should also avoid taking this supplement.
Prolonged use and high doses of supplements can cause renal failure, and therefore should only be taken as indicated by a registered dietitian.