The old school, no supplements necessary mentality is completely out the window at this point. Out the window, down four stories, and straight into the dumpster. With the wide array of supplements available either online or at your local nutrition store these days, it would be rather unwise to avoid them. I’m sure some of the die hard supplement junkies out there would probably even consider it a crime not to take advantage of so many high quality supplement sources.
But where should you begin? That’s a tough one. While in some ways the amount of supplement companies pumping out new products is a beautiful thing, there is a downside. Which ones are worth buying? Money is too hard to come by to throw it away on useless supplements. Because there are so many out there to talk about, let’s narrow it down to the three most important supplements involved in building muscle.
1) Protein Powder. This is a given. At this point in time, how many avid gym goers out there have never heard of protein supplements? Very few! Protein powder has been around for years. It may be found in one of two forms. Whey protein is a combination of proteins isolated from whey. It is the most commonly used protein supplement. Casein protein, on the other hand, is the predominant protein found in cow’s milk. While whey is attributed more to muscle-building itself, casein functions better in preventing the breakdown of muscle that has already been acquired. In addition, it is a much slower digesting isolate than whey.
Moving away from the basics…when should each of these proteins be consumed? Whey may be taken whenever, wherever, and however. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with whey. However, remember that protein powder is only a supplement and should be taken as such. Try to limit yourself to two servings of whey per day. The majority of your calories and macronutrients should come from solid meals. Two ideal times to take in whey protein are bright and early in the morning with breakfast and immediately post-workout. It is not necessary to stick to those times every single day, though. The important part is that enough protein gets into the body throughout the day.
Although casein is not necessary for most people, adding it definitely won’t hurt. Because casein is slow-digesting, the ideal time to consume it is before bed. The body won’t get the chance to take in anymore protein until morning, so this is the perfect time for casein. Optimum Nutrition provides a very solid protein powder that won’t disappoint.
2) Creatine. Don’t worry, it’s not a steroid! Creatine is a natural organic acid produced by your body. It serves to supply energy to the muscles. But if it’s produced by the body, why supplement it? Unfortunately, it is only found in very small amounts. Luckily, it may also be obtained from various meat sources. Controlled Labs Green Magnitude is a creatine product from a well-known and highly respected company that not only yields great results, but has an even greater taste.
3) Branched Chain Amino Acids, also known as BCAA’s. BCAA’s are specific amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) that are essential to the body. These amino acids play an extremely important role in protein synthesis. More efficient protein synthesis will likely lead to increased muscle gain. SciVation Xtend is one of the leading BCAA supplements on the market and is a great starter.
Sticking with these three important muscle building supplements probably won’t ensure your weight room dominance, but definitely will send you on the right road!