Gaining muscle is a lot harder than it is made to seem, especially for women. It is a long and arduous process and you need a lot of patience, but after a while, your hard work will pay off. There are supplements that can help you along the way, which will aid your healthy weight gain in a sustainable way without eating a lot of junk food. We explore some of the best weight gain supplements on the market.
Whey protein is the biggest contender when it comes to protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the process needed to build new muscle, so when it comes to gaining weight, it's crucial. The reason whey is the best type of protein for this is because it is fast to digest and contains peptides which help to increase blood flow to the muscles.
When to take: Research has shown a high protein breakfast can help to maintain lean muscle. Combine a scoop of whey protein with your morning oats for a muscle building breakfast. Whey is best consumed post-workout as this is your ‘anabolic’ window, where the protein will be used to repair the muscles used in your workout. 1-2 servings of a clean protein shake should be taken within 30 minutes of training, but whey can also be used as a snack at any time throughout the day to keep your protein intake high.Try to buy a protein which is as organic as possible and always read the ingredients to check it has a high protein content rather than cheaper less effective mixes. Some whey protein supplements will also contain carbs and fat which will help you to gain weight faster, but always check to make sure you know what you are consuming.
Casein Protein is a slow digesting protein ideal for bedtime use. This type of protein takes up to 8 hours to be digested, so it is suggested that you take a casein shake before bed so that your body digests it as you sleep and you don't go catabolic overnight.
When to take: Casein is best taken as a shake about 30 minutes before you go to bed.
Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in meat and fish as well as being naturally produced by the body in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Creatine is converted to creatine phosphate, which we use for energy during high-intensity, short duration exercise, such as sprinting or heavy weight lifting. Creatine supplements can be bought in various forms, from flavoured powders to pills. They are taken in order to enhance the body's ability to create energy and increase muscle mass. The increased energy from creatine enables users to lift more in the gym and, therefore, create more muscle mass. Creatine also increases weight gain by drawing water into the muscles, giving the illusion of a fuller, swollen physique, this stretch on the cell encourages more long-term growth.
When to take: It is recommended you take 2-5g of creatine immediately before workouts. This helps keep your muscles saturated with creatine and provides extra energy to perform more explosive heavy lifts. Post-workout, consume another 2-5g as creatine will be rapidly taken up by muscle cells during this anabolic window. On rest days, it is recommended that a creatine cycle is maintained by taking 2-5g of creatine with a breakfast that contains carbohydrates.
BCAA stands for branched chain amino acids. These are composed of 3 of our 9 essential amino acids, essential because our bodies do not produce them naturally and, therefore, they have to be sourced through diet. BCAA supplements are made up of valine, leucine, and isoleucine. Leucine is the most important of the three, as research shows that it can stimulate muscle protein synthesis on its own. Despite this, it's still best to take all three, since they work together to provide muscle growth, increased energy during workouts and decreased DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness).
When to take: It is recommended that you take BCAAs either between meals, 30-45 minutes before or immediately after your workout.
Beta alanine is an amino acid which, when combined with histidine, forms carnosine. Carnosine has been shown to increase the muscle fibre's ability to contract with more force for longer and without tiring. However, supplementing with beta-alanine can take some getting used to. Around 15 minutes after ingestion, you may experience an extreme itch; typically a prickling/sensation is felt on the surface of the skin, which may be uncomfortable but is harmless.The beta alanine itch is the result of nerve endings underneath the skin being stimulated and firing at a higher than normal rate. It is not a cause for concern and is experienced by the majority of beta alanine users. Research found that 3.2 grams of beta alanine supplemented on a daily basis raised intramuscular carnosine levels by around 80%, leading to increases in muscle size and strength.
When to take: Take 1 serving prior to your workout and test your sensitivity, gradually increase to 2 servings.
Remember, food supplements are not to be used as a replacement for a varied, balanced, and healthy diet. Supplements should be taken in addition to a healthy diet and do not exceed the recommended dose.
Good luck gainers!
There are a lot of different training supplements on the market and it can be difficult to decide which is right for you. As a general rule, you should try to avoid relying too heavily on supplements and always get your nutrients from food first. However, if you feel like you want or need a little boost in your training, then supplements can be a great way to do this. We explore the top 5 training supplements for beginners who are just becoming more serious about their training and are hoping to see more results.
It is a fact our muscles need protein in order to repair and grow stronger. Whey protein is a complete protein source and contains all 9 essential amino acids. Protein is particularly useful when ingested just after a workout because it helps to stimulate protein synthesis and facilitate recovery. Many people worry that whey protein will make them bulky or that it is like taking steroids, but whey protein is just a dried isolated milk powder.
Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in meat and fish as well as being naturally produced by the body in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Creatine is converted to creatine phosphate, which we use for energy during high-intensity, short duration exercise, such as sprinting or heavy weight lifting. Creatine supplements can be bought in various forms, from flavoured powders to pills and are taken in order to enhance the body's ability to create energy and increase muscle mass. The increased energy from creatine enables users to lift more in the gym and, therefore, create more muscle mass. Creatine also gives the illusion of weight gain and larger muscles due to increased water retention, this is because water is drawn into the muscles along with creatine, causing the muscles to appear larger and creating a weight gain of anywhere up to 3lbs. Creatine could be used if you want more energy in your workouts and to gain an increase in muscle mass, although it is important to remember that creatine can be sourced from diet alone, and so as with whey protein, supplementation is more for convenience as an easier and faster acting source.
BCAA stands for branched chain amino acids. These are composed of 3 of our 9 essential amino acids, essential because our bodies do not produce them naturally and, therefore, they have to be sourced through diet. BCAAs are made up of Valine, Leucine and Isoleucine. The most popular usage for BCAA supplementation is to improve exercise performance and prevent going catabolic (muscle breakdown). This supplement is another way to increase your protein intake and therefore improve muscle repair and recovery.
Supplementing your training with caffeine is thought to increase energy, decrease fatigue and lower your perception of pain. When we are training, our bodies are constantly sourcing the energy to give the exercise our all. This energy comes in the form of glycogen, your body's stored form of carbohydrate. Caffeine slows down the speed at which we use up all our glycogen stores by promoting the use of fat as fuel. Fat is far more abundant than glycogen and what caffeine does is mobilise the body's fat stores to encourage working muscles to save glycogen and use fat as an alternative.
Read more about the effects of caffeine on training.
Fish oils are taken to boost your intake of Omega three fatty acids and are used as a treatment for a variety of health issues including heart disease, ADHD, anxiety, depression, high cholesterol, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. When it comes to training, this supplement has been found to be particularly useful for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant purposes. Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce DOMS and speed up the recovery process. There is also evidence to show that when combined with BCAAs and carbohydrates, fish oils can increase the rate of protein synthesis, leading to greater gains in muscle mass. As fish oils are such a widely used supplement, there is a lot of choice on the market and some tablets come in cheaper for a reason. Be sure to check the labels to look for impurities and check the dosage, you should be looking for at least 1000 mg.
Remember, training supplements should only be used in addition to a healthy and balanced diet and should not be used as a meal replacement.