If you’ve decided to compete in a bodybuilding competition next year or you’re looking to achieve that desirable ‘toned’ look that your favorite fitness model has, you need to be building muscle!
If you want to increase your muscle size and tone, you need to focus on a great resistance training program and a diet that is full of nutrition. Your workouts need to be effective so they stimulate the right adaptations in your body, but in order for growth to occur, you must fuel your body with the right foods.
Alongside nutrient-dense foods, you can also use supplements to support your body along its muscle-building journey. There are a variety of great supplements from companies like this one to consider including in your diet, and here are some of the best ones to maximize muscle growth.
When you lift heavy weights and complete challenging workouts, you cause small amounts of damage to your skeletal muscle that sends a stress signal to the body. This stress comes in the form of tiny tears called microtears in the muscle fibers.
During the 24-48 hours after this damage occurs, your body uses energy to repair it. In order to protect itself from further damage (ie when you head back to the gym to lift heavy weights again), it stimulates the growth of the existing muscle fibers so that it can cope with this stress again in the future.
This muscle fiber growth requires protein. Protein contains amino acids, which are the building blocks of every cell in the body. When protein is taken in through the diet, your body breaks it down into amino acids and uses them to support the growth and repair of the muscle fibers.
Active individuals require 0.5-1 grams of protein per pound of body weight. If you lack sufficient dietary protein, or if you just want to give your body a boost, you can supplement with protein powder.
One scoop of protein contains anywhere between 20-30 grams of protein, and there are a number of different formulations available from whey or whey isolate to hemp or soy if you prefer plant-based options. Popular flavors include chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, but you can get lots of other funky flavors too!
If you choose to supplement with protein powder, aim to consume it within two hours after working out to maximize its muscle-building effects.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Branched-chain amino acids, more commonly known as BCAAs, is the umbrella term for three essential amino acids called leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAAs account for around 15% of the total amino acids found in your skeletal muscles, and they are essential for protein synthesis. They aid muscle recovery and reduce soreness after a challenging workout by providing your muscles with the essential building blocks for growth and enhancing the circulation of blood into the area.
You can take in sufficient BCAAs through your diet, but if you want to optimize muscle growth and decrease DOMS, you will benefit from supplementing with BCAAs. Usually, they come in powder form and are best mixed with water. Whether you love strawberry, watermelon, or peach, BCAAs are found in a range of different flavors.
Creatine occurs naturally within the body and is produced from the dephosphorylation of the phosphocreatine during an intense workout. It provides an energy boost for the muscles to enhance your performance, helping you to squeeze out those extra few reps or run that extra half a mile.
Creatine has these effects because the body can convert it into phosphocreatine, which can be used to produce ATP for rapid energy. Usually, one scoop of creatine is enough for you to experience these amazing effects. Many professionals recommend taking it alongside a fast-releasing carbohydrate source for extra energy and increased muscle creatine stores. A great way to obtain this mix is by combining your creatine powder with a sugar-rich juice.
There are countless supplements on the market, many of which would make great additions to your diet if your goal is to maximize muscle growth and gain strength. However, it can get pretty expensive when you’re stocking up on every possible supplement. To save as much money as possible while still seeing the muscle growth you desire, it’s best to stick to the basics like those mentioned above. Alongside this, make sure you are pushing yourself in every workout and eating a nutrient-dense diet that is full of every essential macronutrient and micronutrient.
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