6 bodybuilding supplements for muscle gain

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If you’re into bodybuilding or strength training, you’ll need something extra to gain muscle. Check out the best supplements for bodybuilding.

What does it take to gain muscle? Ask any nutritionist and they will tell you that this will require you to consume more calories than you burn, add more protein to your diet, and practice muscle-strengthening exercises. Additionally, supplements can also help you make the most of your intense workout sessions. Do you want to know what are some of the best supplements for muscle gain? Read!

What are the best supplements for muscle gain?

When it comes to supplements for muscle growth in women who do bodybuilding or strength training, it’s important to focus on options that support muscle recovery, growth and overall performance, says nutritionist Haripriya.N.

Here are some of the supplements that may be beneficial:

1. Whey protein

Whey protein is a high-quality protein source that contains essential amino acids needed for muscle repair and growth. Whey protein supplementation may help enhance the increase in muscle mass induced by resistance exercise, according to a 2023 study published in Nutrients Daily. It also helps with overall muscle strength as well as endurance. Opt for a whey protein isolate or concentrate that meets your dietary preferences (e.g., lactose-free or low-carb) and has minimal added sugars or artificial ingredients.

2. Creatine

Creatine is a natural compound in the body that plays a key role in energy production, especially during brief periods of high-intensity exercise, says fitness coach and nutritionist. July Wagle. Helps increase muscle strength and performance during high-intensity workouts, leading to better muscle gain over time. During a 2012 study published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, creatine has been found to have positive effects on strength, power, and fat-free mass, as well as neurological function in people. Look for creatine monohydrate, which is an economical form of creatine.

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3. Branched-chain amino acids

Branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) promote muscle protein synthesis, reduce muscle breakdown, and support recovery, says Haripriya. Select a BCAA supplement with a higher proportion of leucine, isoleucine and valine, preferably in powder or capsule form.

4. Fish Oil (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, support joint health and aid muscle recovery. Looking for a fish oil supplement which provides a high concentration of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are active forms of omega-3, and is sourced from reliable, purified fish oil.

5. Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a role in muscle function and strength, and deficiency can impair athletic performance. Opt for a vitamin D3 supplement, especially if you have limited sun exposure or are vitamin D deficient.

6. Magnesium

Magnesium supports muscle relaxation, reduces cramps and assists in energy production. Choose a magnesium supplement that is well absorbed (for example, magnesium glycinate or magnesium citrate) and take it as recommended by your doctor.

How many muscle building supplements should you take?

Determining the appropriate dosage, frequency of use and duration of each bodybuilding supplement depends on individual factors such as age, body weight, training intensity and general health. Here are general guidelines for recommended supplements. But consume them only after consulting your health and fitness expert:

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1. Whey protein

The dosage is typically 20 to 25 grams per serving, ideally consumed post-workout or as a convenient source of protein throughout the day, says Haripriya. It can be taken daily, especially during training or when additional protein is needed in the diet. Whey protein Supplementation can be continued as long as needed to support protein intake, muscle recovery and growth goals.

2. Creatine

There is a loading phase of 20 grams per day (divided into 4 doses) for 5 to 7 days, followed by a maintenance phase of 3 to 5 grams per day to maintain the increase in creatinine stores, according to a 2012 study published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. It can be taken daily, preferably before or after training, for optimal absorption. Can be used continuously, with periodic breaks (e.g., 4-8 week intervals) to assess ongoing benefits.

3. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)

You can consume 5 to 10 grams of BCAAs per serving, preferably before or after training. It can be taken daily, especially during training sessions, to support muscle recovery and performance. BCAA supplementation can be continued as part of an exercise routine, adjusting the dosage based on individual needs.

4. Fish oil

Dosage varies depending on EPA and DHA content, typically 1 to 2 grams of EPA and DHA combined per day. Can be taken daily with meals to increase absorption. Fish oil can be used on an ongoing basis to support overall health and recovery by adjusting the dosage based on dietary intake, says Haripriya.

A woman holding fish oil supplement in her hand
Fish oil supplement can help with muscle growth. Image courtesy: Freepik

5. Vitamin D

The recommended daily intake typically ranges from 15 to 50 mcg for adults. It can be ideally combined with calcium for better absorption. It can be taken daily, especially if sun exposure is limited. Vitamin D supplementation can be continuous, with periodic assessments of blood levels to ensure adequacy.

6. Magnesium

You can consume 200 to 400 mg per day, depending on individual needs and tolerance. It can be taken daily, preferably with meals to increase absorption. Magnesium supplementation can be continued as needed to support muscle function and overall health.

It is crucial to start with lower doses and increase gradually while monitoring for any adverse effects.

When will you be able to see results from bodybuilding supplements?

Results from supplement use vary depending on individual factors such as genetics, diet, exercise regimen, and consistency of supplementation. Generally, visible improvements in muscular strength and endurance can be seen within a few weeks to a few months of consistent use, says Wagle. However, significant muscle growth typically requires several months to a year of dedicated training and supplementation. It is important to emphasize that the results do not depend solely on supplements. They are a combination of consistent workout routines, diet to support muscle growth and allowing the body adequate rest and recovery time between workouts.

What are the side effects of bodybuilding supplements?

Here are some common side effects to consider:

  • Whey protein: Some individuals may experience bloating, gas, or digestive discomfort, especially if they are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy, says Haripriya.
  • Creatine: Creatine supplementation can cause water retention, leading to temporary weight gain. High doses of creatine can cause stomach cramps, diarrhea, or nausea in some people.
  • Branched-chain amino acids: Excessive intake of BCAAs can interfere with serotonin production, causing fatigue, mood changes or neurological symptoms.
  • Fish oil: High doses of fish oil can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, or a fishy aftertaste.
  • Vitamin D: Excessive vitamin D supplementation can cause toxicity, characterized by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, weakness and kidney damage.
  • Magnesium: High doses of magnesium can cause diarrhea or abdominal cramps.

These supplements can support your muscle growth and fitness goals, but they must complement a balanced diet rich in whole foods. Consistency in training, adequate rest, and proper nutrition are key components to successful muscle building.

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