5 Best Supplements to Build Muscle (FASTER)

Check out Christina’s transformation where she lost a whole bunch of fat.

christina-weight-loss-before-and-after-gravity-transformations

In the world of muscle building supplements, things can get very confusing very fast.

Between having to sort through claims like site-specific muscle growth, such as building more muscle specifically on your chest and arms.

false-information-supplement-companies

Not to mention other claims where testosterone boosters promise to be as effective as steroids without any side effects.

Therefore, it’s no wonder that it becomes complicated to sort out fact from fiction and get the right supplements that have been scientifically proven to be effective.

supplement-companies-make-false-claims

Today, I want to help clarify what supplements are worth your hard-earned money. However, just to help you ensure that I don’t have any bias, I won’t be promoting any specific brand.

So in this post, you won’t find any affiliate links. What this means is that I’m not making any money from supplement companies for sharing this information. There’s no incentive for me to not tell the truth.

Supplements that aren’t worth your money

With that said, let’s start with a couple supplements that aren’t going to be worth your money.

Mass Gainers

Firstly, we have mass gainers. Mass gainers are not going to be worth your money. Undoubtedly, they’ll provide you with a massive amount of calories. However, most of these calories are going to be coming from sugar.

better-off-making-your-own-muscle-gainer

So you really have to ask yourself, what is it that you’re gaining? Are you gaining muscle or body fat?

Overall, you’re better off making your own mass gainer. To do this, add 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter, a banana, oats, and whole milk, combined with protein powder and blend together.

Testosterone Supplements

Another waste of time supplement is pretty much every testosterone supplement on the market.

testosterone-supplements-only-raise-levels-by-20-to-40-percent

Despite their claims, even the best testosterone supplements usually only raise your testosterone levels by 20 to 40 percent. However, this is simply not high enough to notice any real changes in athletic performance.

While some testosterone booster ingredients will help improve libido, you shouldn’t expect any real muscle-building benefits from such an increase.

Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s)

As well as this, you’ll also want to avoid branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s).

On the whole, you don’t need BCAA’s while bulking. Since you’ll most likely be getting all of your amino acids from the food you eat, especially if you also take a protein shake.

bcaa-supplements-unnecessary-muscle-building

An argument can be made for the effectiveness of BCAA’s during a cut.

While you’re in a calorie surplus trying to build muscle, they’re not necessary. Not to mention, the same goes for L-Glutamine, L- Carnitine, and L- Arginine.

Supplements that are worth your money

HMB

The first, perhaps also most controversial supplement you may want to look into if you’re planning on training in a fasted state is HMB.

HMB is a by-product of leucine, and leucine breakdown is the most powerful amino acid for muscle growth.

results-from-study-about-hmb-supplements-and-protein-breakdown

HMB obtained from leucine can slow down protein breakdown rates [1]. And building muscle is all about decreasing protein breakdown rates while increasing protein synthesis rates.

Altogether, only about 5 percent of the leucine turns into HMB when leucine is broken down.

hmb-supplements-performance-markers-muscle-growth

What’s more, supplementing with about 3 to 5 grams, depending on the study, has been shown to increase the number of performance markers [2], including:

  • strength,
  • speed,
  • muscle size,
  • endurance, and
  • recovery rate.

The controversy lies in that other studies have shown that HMB is not that effective, so results are mixed [3].

hmb-supplements-studies-that-dont-support-efficacy

However, there is enough evidence for the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) to make a position statement on its effectiveness. This is something that the ISSN rarely does unless there’s a fair amount of research supporting a supplement like creatine.

How much HMB should I take?

Based on research, it’s recommended to have 38 milligrams of HMB for each kilogram you weigh to experience the benefits [4]. Generally, this works out to a daily dose of about 3 to 4 grams for most people.

hmb-supplement-3-4-grams-per-day

You can divide your daily dose in half or in three ways and spread it out evenly throughout the day, but make sure you take one of those doses directly before your workout.

Things you should consider…

But one thing to mention here is that HMB is not as necessary for those of you training in a fed state.

The anti-catabolic effect that it provides makes it ideal for those training in a fasted state who want something to reduce muscle breakdown rates.

The last thing to keep in mind is that it may take up to two weeks of consistently taking HMB to see the full benefits.

hmb-supplements-2-weeks-effective

Creatine

So let’s say you only have money for one supplement. In this case, give creatine a go.

According to a meta-analysis from the Journal of Physiology:

Creatine is the most effective natural muscle building supplement.

But this meta-analysis wasn’t a small study.

In the study, the researchers compared the effectiveness of 250 supplements for muscle growth. The findings indicate that, above all, creatine had the most significant impact on muscle mass [5].

creatine-supplements-increase-muscle

Creatine helps give you more energy and improves performance during your workouts, especially with higher intensity activities. It also helps increase strength, leads to a more favorable testosterone to cortisol ratio, and helps you recover faster.

creatine-supplements-beneficial-for-strength-recovery-testosterone-cortisol-ratio

According to the Center for Human Nutrition:

Weight lifters that supplement with creatine for three months tend to gain between 2 to 6.5 extra pounds of lean body mass than lifters that train without it [6].

Types of Creatine

Now, let’s move onto the types of creatine. The original and most studied form is creatine monohydrate.

Still, nowadays, there are a ton of new creatine products to choose from.

Kre-Alkalyn and creatine HCL dissolve better in water [7] and reduce bloating and cramping.

And there’s creatine ethyl ester and creatine nitrate, which are believed to absorb better than creatine monohydrate and require smaller doses.

creatine-monohydrate-supplements-benefits

Out of all of these, there’s no doubt that monohydrate is the most well researched, proven, and also the cheapest.

With that said, many people swear by these other forms of creatine.

So you may find some unique benefits by experimenting, especially if you find yourself getting bloated or an upset stomach from creatine use.

How much Creatine do I need?

As far as how much to take, you may choose to do a week-long loading phase, where you have 20 grams of creatine every day for 5 to 7 days. And then you transition to only having 5 grams per day.

creatine-supplements-dosage-loading-phase

While you can do that, it’s not absolutely necessary. If you just take 5 grams per day every day from the start instead of loading, you’ll still saturate your muscles with creatine. But just know that it may take a little longer.

Creatine Cycling

Some people also choose to cycle creatine. This is where they take it for 6 to 12 weeks and then stop for 4 weeks.

Be that as it may, there is no conclusive evidence in favor of cycling or not cycling. But you may want to do a loading phase at the beginning of each of your cycles if you choose to cycle.

creatine-cycling-loading-phase-cycle-1-cycle-2

However, suppose you consistently take it without stopping. In that case, you may want to drop to only 3 grams per day rather than a full 5 as that should be enough to keep your muscles saturate.

It’s important to note that about 20 to 30 percent of the population is considered non-responsive to creatine use. This means they won’t notice significant changes when taking this supplement [8].

Pre-Workout Supplements

Another supplement that you may want to consider is a good pre-workout.

An effective pre-workout supplement will help increase your strength and energy during your workouts and provide a better pump. Without a doubt, great pre-workouts contain ingredients like:

  • Beta-alanineDelays fatigue and increases muscular endurance.

beta-alanine-pre-workout-supplement-ingredient

  • Citrulline malate – Improves blood flow, increases performance, improves recovery, and even provides a slight boost in growth hormone during a workout.

citrulline-mallate-pre-workout-supplement-ingredient

  • Caffeine – Provides most of the boost in your energy levels.

caffeine-pre-workout-supplement

The problems with pre-workouts…

The problem with pre-workouts is that they can get a little tricky because if you take them too often, you’ll feel like you can’t workout without the boost they provide. You’ll often feel sluggish and tired in the gym on the days that you don’t take it.

So, to avoid this and get the maximum benefit out of a pre-workout, I recommend only taking it 2 to 3 times a week on the days that you’re going to really push yourself in the gym.

Use my Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool to get the perfect program designed for your body and goal

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Protein Powder

Next, let’s move on to protein powder.

Even though you don’t need protein powder to build muscle since you can get all the protein you need from food, protein powder can still make a couple of things easier for you.

Firstly, you can take it on the go, and it’s not always possible to prepare a high protein meal on the go. It can also help you meet your daily protein requirements without making you feel excessively full.

Generally, you want to get at least 0.7 to 0.8 grams of protein for each pound of body weight [9] to give you the maximum muscle-building benefits.

protein-powder-muscle-growth-protein-synthesis

And if you’re cutting, you may want to have a little more than that. Afterward, the protein is used in protein synthesis to repair and build muscle.

As long as protein synthesis rates are higher than protein breakdown rates, you’ll have a positive nitrogen balance. As a result, this puts your body in a more ideal state for growth. This is also why it may be a good idea to have a protein shake after your workout.

Use my Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool to get the perfect program designed for your body and goal

Use My Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool

When you workout, protein breakdown rates rise. You can slow this down and increase protein synthesis rates by having a protein shake soon after your workout.

If you workout in a fasted state, then having a protein shake sooner after a workout rather than later can really help with building muscle [10]. However, if you have some protein before your workout, you don’t have to worry so much about how soon you take down the protein shake, even if it’s hours later.

Choosing the right protein powder

When choosing the right type of protein, you have several options, including whey, casein, soy, rice, beef, bean, egg, pea, and hemp.

supplements-choosing-right-protein-powder

Studies show that animal-based protein powders lead to higher protein synthesis rates when compared to plant-based sources [11].

But this doesn’t mean that you can’t go with a plant-based protein powder like soy, rice, or pea.

As long as you have various plant-based protein sources throughout the day, you can achieve a more balanced amino acid profile.

Use my Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool to get the perfect program designed for your body and goal

Use My Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool

With that said, a dairy-based protein powder is generally better. As a matter of fact, studies show that they typically outperform soy for muscle building purposes [12].

With this in mind, the two main dairy-based protein powders are whey and casein.

On the one hand, whey protein has a faster digestion time, allowing it to quickly get into the bloodstream. On the other hand, casein takes longer to digest, sometimes up to 4 hours.

whey-protein-powder-benefits

In general, whey is better if you have it after a workout. This is because it’s absorbed faster and has a better amino acid profile for building muscles.

To be more specific, it’s one of the best leucine sources, which is the most crucial amino acid for muscle growth [13].

However, this doesn’t mean that casein doesn’t offer its own unique advantages that may make you want to consider getting it too.

Use my Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool to get the perfect program designed for your body and goal

Use My Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool

Taking casein before bed increases type 2 muscle fiber size and overall muscle strength [14]. This may be because you’ll be able to maintain a more positive protein balance when you sleep if you consume a slow-digesting source of protein beforehand.

However, if you’re only looking for a post-workout supplement or can only choose one of the two, I recommend whey over casein.

So, within the category of whey protein, you have to concentrate and isolate. While whey concentrate will probably be the cheaper of the two, it also contains less protein and more carbs and fats.

Besides concentrate and isolate, there is also hydrolyzed whey. It is believed to be even faster absorbing and more bioavailable, but it’s a lot more expensive.

Given that regular whey is over 96 percent bioavailable and no scientific data shows hydrolyzed whey protein absorbs faster than regular isolate, I recommend saving your money and sticking with isolate.

Use my Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool to get the perfect program designed for your body and goal

Use My Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool

If you’re lactose intolerant, I recommend egg protein powder because of its high bioavailability. But if you want a plant-based protein source, you should get one that includes multiple plant-based sources like a mix of pea and rice to get a more balanced amino acid profile.

Vitamin D

The last supplement you may want to look into is vitamin D, especially if you’re in a cold climate. Most people don’t get enough vitamin D, especially in cold climates.

supplements-vitamin-d

In general, your body typically gets vitamin D from the sun. Still, if you don’t get enough sun exposure, you probably don’t have optimal levels.

In light of that, if you’re deficient in vitamin D, your testosterone levels will be impacted in a very negative way. So if you don’t get much sunshine, you may want to consider adding this relatively cheap supplement into your plan.


That’s about it, guys.

Keep in mind that supplements like creatine can really help, but no supplement will replace hard work in the gym combined with a solid meal plan.

At the end of the day, supplements will make up less than 5 percent of your results. And the rest is up to your diet and training.


Concluding notes…

After all of this, if you feel like you need any extra help developing an effective workout or diet plan based on your goals, click the link below.

We have everything from workout plans designed to build muscle to recipe books that’ll help you burn fat and one-on-one coaching for those who need more help with your specific problems.

So if you want to skip all the trial and error and get fast, streamlined results without even thinking about it, click the link below.

Use my Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool to get the perfect program designed for your body and goal

Use My Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool

References

[1] HMB obtained from leucine can slow down protein breakdown rates.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11448573/

[2] Supplementing with HMB has been shown to increase the number of performance markers.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12433852/

[3] Meta analysis on HMB:

https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomed…

[4] ISSN Stance on HMB:

https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/track…

[5] Creatine and HMB, have data supporting their use to augment lean mass and strength gains with resistance training – see graph.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1…

[6] Athletes on creatine for a longer period of time (up to 3 months) have been shown to gain 2 to 6 1/2 pounds more lean mass.

https://www.usfsa.org/content/Creatin…

[7] Hydrochloride and mesylate being 38 and 30 times more soluble.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2…

[8] Physiologic profiles of nonresponders appear to be different and may limit their ability to uptake Creatine.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1…

[9] “Protein intakes at amounts greater than ~1.6 g/kg/day do not further contribute RET-induced gains in FFM.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2…

[10] Protein intake immediately after exercise may be more anabolic than when ingested at some later time.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9…

[11] Ingestion of the plant-based proteins soy and wheat results in a lower muscle protein synthetic response when compared with several animal-based proteins.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2…

[12] Dairy proteins have a superior effect on muscle protein synthesis after exercise compared with soy protein.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti…

[13] Leucine is one of the most important amino acids for muscle growth.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1…

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1…

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1…

[14] “Muscle strength increased to a significantly greater extent in the protein-supplemented (PRO) group.” “A greater increase in type II muscle fiber size in the PRO group.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2…


My passion for fitness began when I was 14 years old. I naturally fell in love with training and haven’t stopped since. At 18 years I acquired my first personal training certification from ACE after which I opened my first of 3 transformation studios in 2011. I love to share my knowledge through personal training, my online courses, and youtube channel now with over 3,000,000 subscribers! I can happily say that we've helped over 15,000 people get in great shape over the years. I'm always here for my customers so if you need help don't hesitate to send your questions to support@gravitychallenges.com

Founder // Gravity Transformation, Max Posternak