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If you’re embarking on a journey to gaining more muscle mass, you’ll be glad to know there are plenty of tools and methods at your disposal. Of course, there’s always the physical route — weightlifting is a great way to build muscle whether it’s through building your own power rack, grabbing a set of adjustable dumbbells or developing a consistent ab routine. Lifting heavy things and putting them back down every day can be enormously beneficial for your health, and can lead to growth in the muscle areas you’re targeting. Pairing weightlifting with a healthy diet and supplements can also help. Protein powders, vegan protein powders and mass gainer supplements are all helpful additions to the diet of a muscle builder, but they’re not the only options. There are a handful of key supplements for muscle growth that you can add to your diet that may help you reach your goals. I’ve highlighted them all below and included my product picks for you to check out as well.
Tips for Gaining Muscle
Gaining muscle requires doing more than lifting heavy things and putting them back down, followed by lifting even heavier things. It involves things like entering a calorie surplus where you’re eating more than you’re burning during daily life and your workouts, so you don’t lose weight. It also involves a regimented exercise program that works with your lifestyle and is something you can stay consistent with.
However, you can do all of this and still not put on the pounds you need to max out your deadlift, which is where supplements come in. Supplements are a great way to maximize the benefits of your other activity, add on extra calories you may not be able to get through food and give your muscles the fuel they need to level up.
I’ve researched and found six key supplements for muscle growth that may help you reach your weightlifting goals. I’m going to walk you through each of them and highlight some products that can add them to your diet. Here are some excellent supplements for muscle growth you can start taking today.
Supplement 1: Creatine
Creatine is probably one of the most discussed and popular supplements for muscle growth taken by weightlifters and gym rats alike. It’s a supplement designed to provide extra energy for your muscles and tissues so they can do more during the workout, and recover faster afterwards as well. It helps with performance and may also increase water concentration in your muscular cells, causing them to swell and look bigger as well.
1. Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder
This brand makes great supplements that I’ve personally used and felt benefits from. This creatine powder contains five grams of creatine monohydrate per serving and is designed to support your energy, recovery and endurance during and after workouts. It’s maximum potency and is micronized to make it as absorbent within your body as possible. It’s also unflavored, so you can mix it in with other flavors easily.
2. Thorne Research Creatine Powder
Thorne makes excellent supplements, and this creatine powder is NSF-certified for sports. This brand does clinical research on all of their supplements, and this specific supplement is a highly-researched form of it called creapure. It’s easy to mix and is made from pure ingredients without gluten, eggs, peanuts and other allergens.
3. Six Star Store Creatine Pills
This creatine supplement for muscle growth comes in the form of a pill, rather than a powder, and each serving contains an 8,000mg dose. The blend contains creatine monohydrate as well as creatine HCI. This supplement also contains 2,500mg of BCAAs (more on those later) and taurine in every serving. This supplement is made for all athletes — men, women, strength trainers and casual fitness enthusiasts.
Supplement 2: Protein
This is an obvious supplement for muscle growth, but it’s worth emphasizing that you’re going to need some protein in your diet in order to put on muscle mass. You could get a ton of it from meats and veggies, and you can also add it as a supplement to your diet to help maximize your consumption.
It’s possible to hit the amount of protein you need to gain muscle through diet alone, but it can be tricky depending on your metabolism. Supplements that isolate protein from eggs, meat and even vegan sources can be enormously helpful in getting you to the levels you need. We’ve got a whole piece on protein powders that’s worth checking out if you want to go more in-depth about this specific supplement.
Two of the most important ones for your diet are whey protein powder and casein protein powder, so if you’re not sure which one to pick rest assured knowing that if you go with one of those you’ll be good to go.
4. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder
This whey protein powder from Optimum Nutrition is a 100% whey blend with 24 grams of blended protein in each serving. The protein is a blend of whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate and whey peptides that’ll help you gain lean muscle mass. Each serving also contains five grams of BCAAs. The blend has been instantized to maximize mixability and prevent clumps in your shake and it’s been banned-substance-tested.
5. Levels Nutrition 100% Whey Protein
This protein powder from Levels Nutrition contains 100% non-GMO protein with no added sugars in sight. It’s got 24 grams of protein in every scoop as well as 5.4 grams of BCAAs. There are no hormones, no soy, no gluten, no fillers and no artificial flavors in this blend. It’s made simple and as clean as possible, and is super high quality.
6. Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder
This protein powder from Orgain is plant-based and contains 21 grams of protein in every serving. The protein comes entirely from peas, brown rice and chia seeds, and contains five grams of dietary fiber as well. The protein powder is USDA organic and free from many allergens including gluten, dairy, lactose and zero added sugar. You can mix it easily with water, milk or throw it into a smoothie or shake.
Supplement 3: Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Branched-chain amino acids, otherwise known as BCAAs, are an essential supplement for muscle growth, and very useful if you’re trying to push beyond your limits and lift super heavy weight. As you saw above, many protein powders include them already so adding another supplement to your diet might not be necessary. There are three different BCAAs — leucine, isoleucine and valine, and it’s best to take all three together before or after your workout. They might help increase your energy levels or lower your chances of delayed-onset soreness in your muscles, helping you recover faster.
7. XTEND Original BCAA Powder
This supplement powder is flavored watermelon explosion, so you know it’s delicious. It’s been commonplace on the market since 2004 and contains seven grams of BCAAs in each serving with a 2:1:1 ratio. It’s sugar free and contains zero calories and no carbs in each serving as well. It’s also got added electrolytes to help you stay hydrated during and after your workout.
8. Optimum Nutrition Instantized BCAA Capsules
This formula from Optimum Nutrition comes in a capsule form so you can take it along with your other vitamins as opposed to mixing it like a powder. It’s made with super high-quality ingredients and is unflavored. It contains 1,000mg of BCAAs in the 2-capsule serving and contains a 2:1:1 ratio of l-leucine, l-isoleucine and l-valine.
Supplement 4: Mass Gainers/ Weight Gainer Supplements
Mass gainer supplements/ weight gainer supplements help you do just that — gain weight! They’re made of highly concentrated protein for the most part that can help you keep weight on and gain more muscle mass when combined with a rigorous weightlifting routine. Some people, depending on their metabolism, might find it hard to gain weight continuously, especially during a rigorous workout regimen. Mass gainers may help with that, and are recommended if you struggle to eat enough food or prefer consuming your calories in a shake.
9. Transparent Labs Mass Gainer Supplement
This mass gainer supplement from Transparent Labs is clean as they come, with no artificial coloring, no artificial sweeteners and no artificial preservatives. It’s packed with a bunch for building lean muscle mass including 53 grams of protein in every serving, 750 calories and 109 grams of carbohydrates. It’s made from 100% grass-fed whey protein concentrate and is sweetened with stevia and monk fruit.
10. Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass Weight Gainer
This premium mass weight gainer contains vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin E and ingredients for immune support as well. It contains 1,250 calories per 2-scoop serving, so if you’re looking to put on some serious weight this is a great way to go. It’s got 50 grams of protein for fueling workouts and over 250 grams of carbs. It also contains 25 different vitamins and minerals as well as creatine and glutamine.
11. Dymatize Super Mass Gainer Protein Powder
This mass gainer from Dymatize contains 1310 calories per serving as well as 245 grams of carbs. It contains 52 grams of protein that’s a blend of fast, medium and slow-digesting so you stay full throughout your workout and get the energy you need at the beginning to power through. It contains 10.7 grams of BCAA as well as 5.1 grams of leucine for building muscle protein synthesis. The blend also contains 17 vitamins and minerals designed to support muscle recovery and healthy tissue growth.
Supplement 5: Beta-Alanine
This is an amino acid that produces carnosine when combined with another amino acid, histidine. Higher levels of carnosine in muscles may be correlated with higher levels of strength and endurance in muscles. It might increase muscles’ ability to contract with force and suffer less fatigue as a consequence. Beta-Alanine is also known as “pre workout” in some fitness circles, as it’s commonly taken before a workout
12. BulkSupplements Beta Alanine
This Beta Alanine supplement is formulated to increase lean muscle mass through carnosine levels, and may enable muscles to work harder for longer during workouts. It’s made without added sugar, soy, dairy, bluten or other additives, and may support the brain and nervous system as well.
13. NOW Sports Nutrition Beta-Alanine
This Beta-Alanine supplement comes in a capsule form and contains 750mg of Beta-Alanine in each capsule. The suggested use is three times per day with water or your favorite sports drink. The supplement is GMP quality-assured and the jar comes with 120 capsules.
14. Nutricost Beta-Alanine Capsules
This Beta-Alanine supplement from Nutricost is highly potent and high-quality, and contains 3,400mg per serving, about 850mg per capsule. It’s been third-party tested for efficacy, is non-GMO and gluten free as well.
Supplement Four: Carnitine
This is a popular fat loss supplement that also might enhance muscular growth through increasing blood flow to muscles during a workout. It also may increase testosterone levels as well as the number of T receptors in muscle cells that may help with muscle growth.
15. NaturaLife Labs Acetyl L-Carnitine Supplement
This Acetyl L-Carnitine supplement contains 1,500mg per serving and each jar contains 100 vegetarian capsules. It’s made with 100% Acetyl L-Carnitine and contains no fillers or binders. The supplement is made from plant cellulose and is made in the USA.
16. Vitamorph Labs Carnitine 1500 Supplement
This supplement from Vitamorph Labs contains 1500mg of Acetyl L-Carnitine per serving and is stimulant-free, so it can be easily paired with things like green tea extract or pre workout. This supplement contains a high-potency Acetyl L-Carnitine within vegetarian capsules, and can be taken any time of day with or without a meal.