On paper, it’s easy to gain muscle mass: you simply have to consume more calories than you expend (for this, it helps to know your basal metabolic rate). That said, it’s worth observing a few basic principles over and above merely upping your calorie intake if you want to optimise your increase in muscle mass. You need to:
Various dietary supplements can help you stick to these principles.
It’s no coincidence that this is the no. 1 choice among weight-training enthusiasts: whey is a significant source of protein which is quick and easy to take and digest.
Whey protein comes, naturally enough, from whey, a liquid by-product of the manufacture of cheese, fromage blanc and some types of yogurt. It contains a sizeable amount of protein and essential amino acids.
There are various kinds of whey protein, one of the best being whey protein isolate. This is because it undergoes a process of cross-flow microfiltration which allows for maximum protein extraction, and as the proteins remain unchanged, their amino acid profile is preserved (as is the case with Undenatured Whey protein Isolate) (2).
Taking powdered whey is therefore an easy way of achieving the recommended daily dose of 1g-2g per kilo of bodyweight needed to gain muscle mass. It can be consumed in between meals, as a morning and afternoon snack (3).
All proteins contain amino acids - they are their essential components. For example, animal proteins contain three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine, isoleucine and valine, in a ratio of 2:1:1.
Instead of being metabolised by the liver like the majority of nutrients, these amino acids are directly absorbed by the muscles as a source of energy. That’s why those who do strength-training sometimes take BCAAs (as found in the supplement BCAAs, in a 2:1:1 ratio) immediately before or during training sessions, in order to provide their muscles with more energy to maximise their exercise and thus their muscle-building results (4).
Creatine is also an amino acid present, in the form of phosphocreatine, in proteins, especially animal proteins.
It is one of the main sources of energy for the muscles. Phosphocreatine actually combines with adenosine diphosphate (ADP) to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and creatine.
It is thus used by the body to meet the demands of short but intense physical effort, such as that experienced during resistance training.
Many studies have shown that creatine increases physical performance during successive, short-duration, high-intensity exercise. In addition, daily supplementation with creatine has been shown to improve the effects of resistance training on muscle strength in those aged over 55 (5).
That’s why creatine (in powdered form, such as the supplement 3-Creatine) is one of the most popular supplements among those wishing to increase their muscle mass.
L-Glutamine is another non-essential amino acid (which means the body can produce it as required from the diet) which plays a crucial role in muscle function.
In fact, the body itself produces glutamine when engaged in regular physical activity such as weight-training. Conversely, our reserves of glutamine fall after intense exercise, and also when we’re subject to significant stress.
Consequently, many sports enthusiasts take it in the form of a dietary supplement (such as L-Glutamine): if you’re exposed to significant levels of stress on a daily basis, at work for example, and you engage in intense strength training more than four times a week, your body’s glutamine levels will be low (6).
Gaining muscle mass involves significant energy expenditure, intensive exercise, and as a result, fatigue, muscle aches, constant recovery, metabolic stress, etc. What’s more, the body loses a number of essential minerals and trace-elements through perspiration.
So when you’re trying to gain muscle mass, it’s also important to make sure you have a good intake of vitamins, minerals and trace-elements, especially:
To ensure a good intake of all these nutrients, many sports enthusiasts choose the ease and convenience of a comprehensive multivitamin supplement (such as Daily 3, which contains multiple vitamins, minerals and trace-elements).
Last but not least, gaining muscle involves regular consumption of significant amounts of food, placing the digestive system under constant stress: between meals and snacking, the body is in a constant state of digestion.
That’s why, for peace of mind and to prevent digestive discomfort, many of those who practise strength-training also choose to take probiotics (such as Probio Forte).
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