By Team PrettyFit
Plain and simple, the three most important aspects of building muscle are resistance training, proper nutrition and recovery. If you don’t put enough emphasis on any of these three, it will be extremely challenging and in some cases impossible to grow more muscle.
So where do supplements come in? Well for starters, it should be noted that they are called supplements for a reason. Supplements should come secondary to whole food nutrition and should be used as the “icing on the cake” for your muscle-building plan.
That being said, there are three supplements which have been well studied and proven time and time again as safe muscle-building supplements for women. Used correctly, protein powder, creatine and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) can help give you the extra push to hit your goals. Read on to discover how they can help you!
Related: The Lowdown on Fat-Loss Supplements
1. Protein Powder
• Promotes muscle growth
• Expedites muscle recovery
• Increases muscular energy
In order to build muscle, your body needs protein and carbohydrates. When on a muscle-building plan, the most common recommendation is to consume a gram of protein for every pound of your bodyweight daily. If you’re training regularly, it can be challenging to get enough protein. For this reason, you may want to consider taking a protein powder supplement.
What is protein powder?
There are a few different types of protein powders, but the most popular for building muscle are whey and casein protein. They both come from cow milk and are made during the cheese-making process. During this process, the whey is separated from the curds (casein) and both are then processed into dry powders and sold.
Whey protein is a fast digesting, rapidly absorbed protein that is perfect as a pre- or post-workout shake. It’s also great for baking and cooking and can be combined with many great recipes. Another positive benefit of whey protein is its high branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) content, another supplement on this list.
Casein protein is a slow-digesting protein that is best taken before sleep. This allows your body to slowly digest the protein while you sleep, increasing muscle growth and improving your muscle recovery.
Studies show that proper pre-workout nutrition is more important than post-workout nutrition in regards to building muscle. For this reason, we recommend drinking a whey protein shake containing 15-25 grams of protein and eating carbs 30 to 45 minutes before your workout and also within an hour of completing your workout. By having higher levels of essential amino acids from the protein and carbohydrates in your system during your workout, you will see better results than if you were to simply take a protein shake post workout.
For casein protein, we recommend taking 15-25 grams 30 minutes before bed to maximize its benefits.
Related: 10 Reasons Protein Is Even more Important For Women
• Increases muscular energy
• Improves muscular performance
Over the last few decades creatine has become one of the most popular muscle-building supplements on the market, and for good reason; studies show creatine is excellent for improving muscle performance and strength.
While most creatine products are marketed toward men, creatine is in fact an excellent supplement for women. By allowing stronger muscle contractions and increased muscular performance, you can improve the efficiency of your workouts and consequently build muscle faster.
Related: Creatine For Women: Misunderstood and Underused
What is creatine?
Creatine is an organic acid that helps supply energy to all cells in the body, including your muscle. It is produced naturally in your body and is commonly found in foods like meat and fish.
There are many different types of creatine on the market today, however creatine monohydrate is the most studied and commonly used form. We recommend taking 3-5 grams daily for eight- to 12-week periods.
Creatine has been shown to help with short-duration, high-intensity exercise so it is recommended to take as part of strength or power resistance training program and not used as part of an endurance program.
Potential side effects
Though no adverse side effects have been noted through its supplementation, creatine can cause slight stomach discomfort and bloating if taken in high dosages or at smaller dosages for those with sensitive stomachs.
• Promotes muscle growth
• Expedite muscle recovery
• Improves muscle energy
Another highly popular muscle-building supplement, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), are also called, “the building blocks of protein.” As their name hints, BCAAs are found naturally in protein and often times a balanced protein powder will have plenty of BCAAs in the formula.
What are BCAAs?
Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are the three amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are found naturally in foods containing protein.
BCAAs account for around 35 percent of the essential amino acids in muscle proteins, and they are critical for building muscle, repairing damaged muscle tissue and muscular energy.
During exercise, your muscles burn BCAAs for energy. For this reason, BCAA supplements are extremely popular as a pre-workout drink for fasted cardio or as a pre- or intra-workout drink for weight training.
Furthermore, BCAAs are also critical for building muscle through their help in promoting protein synthesis. Research shows that the BCAA leucine has a signaling effect on key enzymes promoting muscle growth. For this reason, we recommend finding a BCAA supplement with a high ratio of leucine.
Mix 3 to 5 grams of your favorite BCAA powder with water and sip before and throughout your workout.
Potential Side Effects
BCAA supplements are well studied and there have been minimal to no adverse side effects noted with their supplementation.
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There you have it! The top three muscle-building supplements that can help give you that extra push forward toward your goals. Just remember that although these supplements can help increase muscle growth, they should not be relied on as a dominant factor in your progress. It will take hard workouts, proper nutrition and plenty of rest and recovery to efficiently build muscle.
Although no adverse side effects have been noted with these three muscle-building supplements, always consult with your physician before starting any supplement routine.