There are hundreds of supplements out there for building muscle and losing weight and it’s hard to know as a consumer which of them offers genuine advantages and which ones you should ignore. The fact of the matter is that some of them genuinely do work, and in fact are really great at helping you build muscle, but unfortunately others do not and are just a scam. Meanwhile some others might work perfectly fine, but not be worth the money and not be necessary for most modest aims.
Here we will look at one of the main categories of supplements – protein shakes and amino acids, which are used to help give you the raw materials your body needs to build muscle mass.
For building muscle, protein shake is a very good supplement and is the only one that is close to being essential. While you can build muscle without protein shake, you won’t build half as much half as quickly because there are few other ways to get this much protein in your diet without eating an actual elephant. If you don’t have protein in your diet then you won’t be able to repair the micro-tears caused by lifting weights, and they won’t cause your muscles to grow. Simple as.
The best time of course to take protein shake is during your anabolic windows which means before bed and after workouts, and to keep it lean it’s better to take it with water (though it’s less healthy).
There are also different kinds of protein and this is worth noting. The best type of protein without a doubt here is whey protein, which is formed of (you guessed it) whey, which is a by-product of the cheese making process meaning it occurs naturally in milk. This is the most ‘bioavailable’ form of protein and the fastest acting, and it’s also relatively cheap.
Another option for those who don’t fancy whey is casein, which also comes from milk and makes up 80% of the protein in milk (as opposed to the 20% that’s whey). It’s unfortunately not as bio-available as whey meaning you won’t get as much benefit from it, and it is known to cause more ‘bloating’. What it’s good for though is a slower release of protein, which ensures that your body is gradually supplied with protein as opposed to getting it in one big go. This is handy for during sleep when your body will be quietly building your muscle over a long period and will appreciate that steady supply of building materials.
Another option is egg protein, which is all good and well and has the advantage of being lower in carbs than whey protein, but is also very expensive for what it is – especially considering the fact that it isn’t great in terms of bio-availability compared to either whey or eggs. So you’re better off just eating egg whites if you want to go this way (be careful of cholesterol and biotin deficiency though).
Finally there’s soy protein which comes from soy bean. This is a complete source of protein, but is much less bioavailable than whey and doesn’t have the same friendly branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) that you get from whey. In short soy protein won’t work as well, but if you’re a vegetarian (bad idea) or allergic to milk (not your fault) then this is a route you can go down.
Amino acids come in tablet form, and do a similar job to protein shakes providing you with the amino acids directly which make up protein. These are the carbon compounds that our bodies are made up of, and taking them in tablet form of course means that there’s no carbs or bloating. They’re also quite cheap this way, and though they’re less bioavailable, they often come in good combinations ensuring you get the right balance of BCAAs and essential amino acids.