An essential guide to some great muscle building supplements. Describing the benefits and characteristics of all the individual elements. Whether you wish to lose body fat, boost testosterone, build muscle or a quicker recovery.
This amino acid offers several benefits, taken before training it can support growth hormone release which stimulates fat cell break down, allowing the body builder to spare or “prevent” the loss of valuable glycogen. Preserving glycogen helps support muscle endurance and energy. Arginine also increases nitric oxide production which facilitates a muscle pump and it can independent of carbohydrates increase insulin secretion which exerts an anti-catabolic (muscle saving) effect.
BRANCHED- CHAIN AMINO ACIDS (BCAAs).
Theses are the most critical aminos for building muscle. Not only do they boost insulin but they turn on muscle protein synthesis, the process of building muscle. BCAAs provide your muscles with more energy and stall fatigue by tricking the brain into thinking your still fresh and strong, plus they blunt the catabolic hormone cortisol , which could increase muscle break down and limit both testosterone production and function.
In the body this amino acid forms carnosine by binding with the amino acid histidine. Research shows that athletes that supplement with beta-alanine have more strength and muscle endurance. That means you can lift more total weight and lift a given weight for more reps with regular supplementation.
Also known as trymethylglycine, betaine prevents the production of homocysteine ( an amino acid associated with heart disease) while stimulating the production of creatine in the body. Combining betaine with creatine signals the body to create more creatine. In addition, betaine enhances the repair of joints and the liver. Research shows subjects taking betaine for 12 weeks increased muscle strength by 25%.
This phytochemical is used by plants as protection from insects. For humans it can offer anabolic benefits by boosting protein synthesis for greater muscle growth.
This central nervous system stimulant is probably the most popular drug in the world. It should be the most popular bodybuilding supplement because it enhances fat loss, aids focus and drive and can immediately increase strength. That makes it a great morning pick- me- up or pre-workout boost to get you through a tough session.
In addition to its bone-boosting effects, calcium is also important for muscle contractions and it even aids fat loss. But calcium may boost testosterone too. One study found that subjects taking about 16 milligrams of calcium per pound of body weight(3000mg for a 200 pond guy) had higher testosterone levels during workouts than not taking supplemental calcium.
This amino acid like compound transports fat into the mitochondria of muscle cells to be burned for fuel. Research shows carnitine taken before exercise helps the body more fat and decreases fatigue, It has also been found to enhance blood flow to muscle, aid muscle recovery and increase the amount of androgen receptors in muscle( to which testosterone binds to stimulate growth).
This is a dipeptide ( two amino acids bound together) composed of beta-alanine
and histidine. There is mounting evidence of the benefits of carnosine. In the laboratory researchers have shown that muscles with higher levels of carnosine have more strength and endurance. Other recent studies suggest that this holds true in athletes. One study from the college of New Jersey showed that taking bete-alanine ( a precurser of carnosine) along with creatine had greater effects on increasing muscle mass and decreasing body fat compared to taking creatine alone.
Casien a fraction of milk protein provides a steady stream of amino acids over a long period(such as during sleep or between meals). The body digests and absorbs it more slowly than whey protein the fast digesting milk protein. Research shows that adding casein to a whey shake post workout can better enhance muscle growth than taking whey without casein. In addition casein has been shown to provide about 16% greater metabolic availability of key sulphur containing amino acids compared to soya . Look for protein powders that include casein in the form of micellar casein calcium caseinate sodium caseinate or potassium caseinate.
This protein is derived from chitin which provides structure to the shells of crustaceans. Chitosan is a charged protein that attracts fat, binding it and removing it from the digestive system before it can be absorbed by the body. A 2006 study found that subjects taking chitosan without dieting lost about 3 pounds more body fat than subjects taking a placebo.
Also known as 5.7 dihydroxy-flavone. Chrysin is a flavonoid compound found in many plants and in honey. It has been known for years to inhibit the aromatase enzyme and block the conversion of testosterone into oestrogen. More recent research from Texas Tech University finds that it can also directly increase testosterone production.
The active ingredient in cinnamon, hydroxychalene boosts insulin secretion from the pancreas. In addition, it mimicks the effects of insulin at muscle cells. This can lead to higher creatine uptake and therefore greater results from it.
This amino acid gets readily converted in the body to arginine which gets converted to nitric oxide. This may seem like a poor way to boost your body’s arginine levels. Research shows it may actually work better than taking arginine itself. When you consume arginine the intestines use some of it up, but citrulline does not get used by the intestines and passes right through to your bloodstream.
Composed of the amino acid citrulline bound to a molecule malic acid (malate) citrulline helps remove ammonia from the body, Ammonia a toxic compound that increases fatigue is produced when amino acids are metabolised which happens during exercise, By removing ammonia from the body citrulline helps to significantly delay fatigue. Malic acid may help the body convert latic acid produced during exercise to energy, thus further helping to delay muscle fatigue . Clinical studies show that patients taking citrulline malate reported a reduction in the sensation of fatigue and demonstrated an almost 35% increase in ATP(the major currency of all cells in the body production during exercise. In addition to a 20% increase in the rate of creatine phosphate ( the major form of quick energy used when lifting weights), recovery following exercise.
Commonly referred to as bitter orange, this plant contains the active ingredient synephrine. Synephrine is similar chemically to ephedrine, yet it does not raise heart rate and blood pressure as ephedrine can. Synephrine mimics thethetions of norepinephrine. This neurohormone works to increase metabolic rates. Synephrine also stimulates receptors on fat cells that increase lipolysis- the release of fat from the fat cells to be burned for fuel. In addition synephrine has even been found to decrease appetite.
CONJUGATED LINOLEIC ACID- CLA
This healthy fat can help you drop body fat, add muscle mass and boost strength- critical functions. When dieting since you always want to improve muscle and strength, whether your trying to gain mass or get lean . CLA encourages the burning of fat as fuel and spares muscle protein by inhibiting the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, which picks up fat from the bloodstream and stores it as body fat.
The undisputed champ of adding size and strength. It enhances muscle mass by increasing muscle cell volume and aiding molecular path ways that stimulate growth. It boosts strength by increasing the level of creatine phosphate in muscle cells. Which is used to supply a quick source of ATP( the energy source muscles use to contract).
This shrub has been used for centuries as a sex booster. University Mississippi researchers discovered that damiana leaf extract inhibited the aromatase enzyme which converts testosterone into oestrogen in the body.
Research has shown forskolin supplementation can enhance fat loss and testosterone levels, which leads to increased muscle mass. One study reported subjects taking forskolin lost more than 4% body fat, increased testosterone levels by almost 20% and more than doubled muscle gains as compared to those taking a placebo.
Known scientifically as zingiber officinate, ginger has been used for centuries to help relieve digestive disturbances including lack of appetite, nausea, digestive spasms and indigestion. These can all be problematic when force feeding yourself in an effort to gain size. Reducing these symptoms is one way that ginger can help you consume more quality calories. In addition ginger is also a gastric expander, which means that it can help to expand the space you have in your stomach and let you pack in more food.
This amino acid aids muscle by increasing levels of leucine in muscle fibres . It also helps decrease muscle break down and fatigue, boosts immune function and even helps to keep metabolism elevated. In addition research shows that glutamine supplementation significantly boosts GH levels. Researchers believe this may be due to the ability of glutamine to stimulate arginine production. That makes glutamine a good supplement to stack with arginine.
GREEN TEA EXTRACT
Green tea extract is the perfect fat burning supplement. It contains the active compound epigallocatechin gallate which inhibits this enzyme that normally breaks down norepinephrine ( a neurohormone that raises metabolic rate and enhances the release of fat from fat cells).
Combines with beta-alanine to form carnosine, which is how beta-alanine leads to gains in muscle strength, power and size. Histidine also forms histamine which boosts no levels.
A branch chained amino acid, leucine is now believed to be the single most important amino acid for boosting muscle protein synthesis. Consuming extra leucine around workout time, in addition to the amino acids provided by whey protein can further drive muscle protein synthesis’ Studies show that subjects taking protein plus leucine after weightlifting have 50% higher insulin like growth factor- 1 levels in their muscle fibres compared to when they just take dextrose ( a carbohydrate). Since IGF-1 is a critical factor in muscle growth, taking leucine with whey before and after workouts can lead to significant increases in muscle and strength.
This hormone controls the body’s internal clock, playing a critical role in falling asleep and waking up. Taking a melatonin supplement can reset your internal clock and prevent the depression associated with SAD (seasonal affective disorder). In addition to its hormonal actions. Melatonin also possesses strong anti-oxidant properties and enhances the immune system. More important to body builders, it regulates numerous hormones in the body. Including growth hormone. One study found that trained males who took 5mg of melatonin an hour before workouts experienced higher GH levels before and after a weight lifting workout than those taking a placebo.
NICOTINAMIDE ADENINE DINUCLEOTIDE (NADH)
Also known as co-enzyme 1. NADH is the co-enzyme form of vitamin B and its involved in the production or energy, in every cell found in the body. NADH helps maintain feelings of well being by supporting healthy neurotransmitter function and providing greater energy.
NITRIC OXIDE BOOSTER
Taking a nitric oxide (NO) booster pre-workout maximises blood flow to your muscles during exercise, thus increasing the amount of nutrients, oxygen and anabolic hormones they receive, NO will also kick up your energy levels and enhance post workout muscle recovery and growth. You’ll get a better pump too.
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega 3 fatty acids fight muscle inflammation which leads to better recovery. They help the body retain the amino acid glutamine which has been shown to play an important role in immune support. Generally when glutamine levels fall the immune system takes a hit, which can negatively impact on recovery. Omega 3s can make receptors located on muscle more sensitive to the effects of the hormone insulin. This can lower insulin levels in the body, lower insulin encourage the body to remain in fat burning mode.
PHASEOLUSVULGARIS( STARCH BLOCKERS)
Phaseolus Vulgaris( the white kidney bean) contains a substance that inhibits the activity of the enzyme responsible for breaking down starches from foods ( such as pasta, potatoes, bread and cereals into( their simple sugar components, preventing the carbs from being absorbed. Clinical studies show that when this extract is taken about 30 minutes before meals, it can prevent almost 70% of the carbs eaten from being absorbed.
Prunis Domestica or plum extract, stimulates the release the hunger boosting hormone ghrelin and tricks your body into thinking your hungry despite the fact that your well fed. This is important in packing on size.
This plant has a history of medicinal use dating back to the ancient greeks. Also known as artic root, it is considered an adaptogen- it increases the body’s resistance to a variety of chemical biological and physical stressors. Taking it will help you better deal with intense workouts which are essentially a stress on the body. This can in turn enhance the muscle growth that heavy training will impact. Rhodiola can also minimise negative effects of exertion on your immune system and hormones.
Soya protein contains all the essential amino acids, more than 4 times the arginine as whey and almost twice that of casein, making it a great pre-workout protein, Bodybuilders tend to avoid it because of it’s phytoestrogens, yet several studies now prove that soya protein promotes muscle growth just as well as whey and doesn’t alter levels of testosterone or oestrogen in males. Research also shows that soya’s antioxidant content helps improve muscle recovery following exercise. This fact not to mention that soya digests almost as fast as whey. Makes it a great choice for after workouts.
This amino acid is critical for both maintaining strength and endurance within muscle fibres, it enhances a muscle’s ability to contract which means more strength and it prevents fatigue so you can perform more repetitions with a given weight.
This herb increases testosterone by influencing the brain to release more luteinesing hormone (LH). LH travels in the bloodstream from the brain to the testicles where it influences the production of testosterone. Testosterone immediately increases strength by enhancing of motor nerves, so boosting it right before workouts can help you achieve maximal strength gains. Taking it only pre-workout means you don’t have to cycle it(as you would if you took it every day).
This amino acid directly affects the production of norepinephrine (NE). Within the body Greater NE levels are generally associated with a feeling of more energy and less fatigue .
This fat soluble vitamin, important for bone heath and mental well being also benefits muscle strength and fat loss and it may be critical for manufacturing high testosterone levels. Researchers at the medical university of Grass (Austria) reported that subjects with sufficient vitamin D levels had significantly higher testosterone levels than those with less vitamin D.
Getting protein into your body before and after workouts is critical to maximising muscle mass. One of the best protein sources pre and post workouts is whey protein. As a very fast digesting protein whey quickly delivers its amino acids to muscles. This results in a rapid boost in protein synthesis ( the biochemical process that leads to muscle growth) at the most critical time of day-immediately following workouts.
ZINC MAGNESIUM ASAPARTATE (ZMA)
This potent combination of zinc and magnesium asapartate plus vitamin B, is supported by strong clinical research. ZMA increases anabolic hormone levels including free testosterone and IGF-1 which could otherwise be suppressed in hard training athletes. ZMA also improves the quality of sleep. Enhanced recovery from workouts due to improved sleep efficiency increased anabolic hormone levels and greater gains in muscle strength and power are the ultimate benefits of ZMA.
Where one supplement can help burn fat, stacking it along with one or more can really ramp up the effects. With that in mind the following combinations may provide that extra edge….
CITRULLINE + HISTIDINE
Stack these 2 aminos and send your nitric oxide levels skyrocketing
2-3gram citrulline( L -citrulline, citrulline malate or citrulline ethyl ester).
1-2gram histidine ( L -histidine or histidine alpha-ketoglutarate).
3 times a day- before breakfast / 30-60mins before work-outs / before bed
CREATINE + BETAINE
Stack these 2 supplements for a strength boost
in shake 30 mins before work-outs / 30 mins after work-outs
WHEY + SOYA
Stack these 2 proteins for a perfect pre-workout
10-15gram whey protein
10-15gram soya protein
shake in water 30 mins before work-outs
CITRULLINE MALATE + TYROSINE
Stack these 2 supplements for high energy work-outs
2-3gram citrulline malate
30-60 mins before work-outs
CREATINE + CINNAMON EXTRACT
Stack these 2 supplements to help maximise creatine benefits
100-250mg cinnulin PF ( water soluble extract can be found alone or added to some creatine products).
Take the combination immediately before / after work-outs
Rest days 1 dose with low-fat meal
BETA-ECDYSTERONE + RHODIOLA
Stack these 2 supplements for lean muscle growth
2-3mg beta-ecdysterone per pound of body weight (400-600mg for 200 pound b.builder)
3-6 doses daily with food
100-300mg rhodiola rosa
2-3doses daily with food
WHEY PROTEIN + LEUCINE
Stack these 2 supplements to optimise the effects of whey protein with a leucine boost
20gram whey protein
consume immediately after work-outs
20-40gram whey protein
take other dose
CREATINE + CARNOSINE
Take these 2 supplements to maximise creatine with help of carnosine
1-1 ½ gram beta-alanine or carnosine
consume immediately after work-outs
FORSKOLIN + CARNITINE
Stack these 2 fat burners to boost testosterone and muscle growth
20-50mg colues forskolin
2-3 times a day with food
with breakfast/before and immediately after work-outs
Stack these 2 amino acids and grow
immediately after work-outs/30-60mins before bedtime
VITAMIN D+ CALCIUM
mineral and vitamin stack boost testosterone levels and bone strength
1000-2000 international units vitamin D
2-3 times a day with meals
2-5 times a day
CITRUS AURANTIUM + ARGININE
Stack these 2 supplements to get ripped and pumped
citrus aurantium extract to provide 10-20mg synephrine
3 times a day
morning/ afternoon / 30-60mins before work-outs
CARNITINE + CAFFEINE
Stack these 2 supplements to boost fat burning abilities
use 60 mins before work-outs( use caffeine anhydrous for best results)
PLUM EXTRACT + GINGER EXTRACT
Stack these 2 supplements to increase appetite and stomach space to eat more and get bigger
1-2gram plum extract
150-250mg ginger extract
use before meals
DAMIANA + CHRYSIN
Stack these 2 supplements to sky rocket nitric oxide levels
daily between meals
use with breakfast/ lunch and last meal of the day
CAFFEINE + GREEN TEA EXTRACT
Stack these 2 supplements for a potent fat combination
500-1000mg green tea extract
use in morning and 60mins before work-outs
(Reference MUSCLE & FITNESS Pty Ltd)