A good protein supplement is one of the most powerful weapons in any athlete’s arsenal. It provides a fast-digesting source of amino acids and calories that can help you to fill in nutritional gaps and aid the repair and recovery of your muscles, it also stimulates muscle protein synthesis, this is the process that allows your muscles to grow bigger and stronger.
Adding several other supplements to your diet on top of your protein intake may help improve your response to training which could lead to even better gains over time. To maximize response though, it is very important to tailor your supplement regimen to your own individual needs and focus on those supplements that are more likely to help you.
So after your protein, where would the extra supplement money best be spent to maximize progress?
1) Creatine – Set A New PR In The Gym
Any serious lifter knows that if they wish to take training to the next level, adding creatine to their supplement stack is a must, this muscle-building, power-enhancing supplement has mountains of evidence that suggests it is safe to use and effective.
When in the body, creatine is responsible for meeting lightning-fast increases in energy demand, like during high-intensity exercise and weight lifting. Taking creatine allows you to train longer before your stores of it are depleted and recover much quicker between sets.
Many athletes who compete in strength/power sports usually gain the most from supplementing with creatine. A recent study published in Nutrients reported significant improvements in back-squat strength when participants loaded with creatine (5g of creatine four times per days over six days). Creatine has also been shown to lead to a greater improvement in bench-press strength and overall weightlifting performance than resistance training alone.
Having creatine and protein in your supplement stack can lead to superior increases in training volume during your workouts while giving you the nutrients you need to recover. Together, this combo can help make your training program as effective as possible.
2) Beta-Alanine – Fighting Off Fatigue During Workouts
During high-intensity training sessions, your body accumulates hydrogen ions which lower your blood’s pH levels and contribute to fatigue. Beta-alanine helps to increase your intramuscular store of carnosine which acts as a pH buffer during any intense exercise and can reduce fatigue during high-intensity exercise.
Bodybuilders, sprinters or indeed anybody engaging in higher-volume training can benefit from this fatigue-busting supplement. Beta-alanine can help hold off those tired, achy feelings so that you can get through the last reps, sets or sprints of your workout. Add protein to the mix and you may minimize recovery time, meaning you will be ready to get back in the gym as soon as possible. This means more training days, more volume and better results.
3) Beta-Hydroxy Beta-Methylbutyrate (HMB)
Consuming enough protein during any caloric deficit goes a long way to making sure you maintain muscle mass but for extra insurance, consider adding HMB to the mix. HMB is a byproduct of leucine, the amino acid which is responsible for stimulating protein synthesis and yet the goal with HMB supplementation is not necessarily to stimulate muscle growth but to slow muscle protein breakdown.
Research has shown that during a reduced caloric intake, supplementing with HMB can aid the reduction of fat mass while maintaining muscle mass. Combine that with the muscle-building effects of your protein powder and you have the perfect combo for greater gains in muscle mass.
Also, taking a dose of HMB before any intense exercise will help reduce the immune response which may result in less muscle damage which then leads to a shorter recovery time.
4) Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’S) – Decrease That Recovery Time Between Workouts
BCAA’s, especially leucine are very heavily involved in the regulation of protein synthesis meaning that they help with the recovery and repair of your muscles. BCAA’s can also improve workout intensity while supporting your immune system which makes them beneficial as a supplement for anyone taking part in strenuous exercise.
Taking BCAA’s before intense exercise has been shown to reduce muscle soreness and several measures of muscle damage. Taking BCAA’s during activities of long duration like marathons has been shown to improve mental performance when compared with a placebo. Because they bypass the liver and gut and go directly into the bloodstream, BCAA’s can even be used as an immediate energy source during your workouts.
BCAA’s give you more energy, faster recovery and greater rates of protein synthesis, do you need any more reasons to take them?
After looking at all of these supplements, it is easy to see why the top athletes consume them to help them be the best, they will also help you in a big way at the gym when it comes to building muscle and improving fitness, for additional help in improving your overall body and health, take a look here.