If you want to build muscle mass quickly, you may have considered taking muscle building supplements. If so, you are probably wondering if they’re worthwhile or a waste of money. And, even more importantly, are they safe?
There are many muscle building supplements on the market that promise to build muscle mass quickly.
But are these claims true, and will supplements really give you the body you want, or can you get as good a result without them?
In this article, we will look at whether or not muscle building supplements work, if you really need them, and if they are safe. We will also look at the role protein plays in building muscle, how much you should be ingesting every day, and more.
I will also provide a brief overview of some of the best protein supplements on the market today.
How to Maximize Muscle Growth
Some fitness experts recommend supplements that promote muscle growth as a means of reaching your goal faster. Others think that if you are getting enough protein through food, you don’t need supplements.
The main criteria to maximize muscle growth includes ingesting more calories than you expend and regularly undertaking exercise that challenges your muscles. You will also need to consume more protein than your body breaks down.
The best foods for promoting muscle growth include fish, lean ground beef, chicken, eggs, milk, soy, and nuts. All are high in easily digestible protein, as well as healthy fats and other nutrients that accelerate muscle growth. People who eat enough of these shouldn’t need to take supplements. If you are unsure as to whether you are getting enough protein from your diet, use a fitness app to find out.
If you aren’t getting enough protein from food and you can’t eat any more, muscle building supplements may help. These often come as a powder that is added to food during meal preparation or stirred into a beverage. Other popular options include protein bars, tablets, or capsules.
When choosing a supplement to gain muscle, look for one that is FDA approved. This is vital, as virtually anyone could throw some ingredients together and sell it as a protein supplement. While it would be unlikely that the components would be harmful, with no verification or government testing, you could be paying for something that is virtually useless.
How Much Protein Do I Need to Build Muscle?
The recommended protein intake to build muscle varies. Most fitness experts say that you should aim for between 0.6 grams and 1 gram per pound of bodyweight.
What is Protein?
Protein comprises a combination of amino acids. Amino acids are the muscles building blocks. Without adequate protein, your muscles will atrophy over time.
There are two types of amino acids; essential amino acids (EAA’s), and non-essential amino acids. Our bodies produce non-essential amino acids, but not EAA’s, so we must get these from either food or a supplement.
There are nine essential amino acids. These include isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, histidine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Most foods contain protein, but some contain more than others. There are seven primary types of protein supplement, these being whey, casein, soy, pea, hemp, brown rice, and egg. The composition and source of these vary, as does their cost and rate of absorption. Whey is the fastest acting protein supplement, and casein is the slowest.
There is no conclusive evidence that proteins which are absorbed into the bloodstream quickly are better for muscle gain. However, many bodybuilders say that the digestion rate of proteins influences how tissue, including muscle, skin, and nails, is broken down and rebuilt.
Next, we will look at some of the best protein supplements, and how and why they work.
Overview of the Different Types of Protein Muscle Building Supplements
Whey protein is among the best protein supplements to take if you want to build muscle and recover quickly after exercising.
An excellent source of both essential and non-essential amino acids, being sourced from dairy, it contains lactose. While the amount is very small and it doesn’t usually cause a problem, this is something to be aware of if you are lactose-intolerant.
One of the most popular and highly-rated whey protein supplements is Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans, it is gluten-free. Each serving contains 24 grams of whey protein, 5.5 grams of naturally occurring BCAAs, and 4 grams of naturally occurring glutamine.
It is available in 1 lb, 2 lb, 5 lb, and 10 lb packets, in twenty-five amazing flavors, or unflavored. The flavors include Birthday Cake, Blueberry Cheese Cake, Cake Batter, Cake Donut, French Vanilla Cream, Banana Cream, and Gingerbread. There’s Double Rich Chocolate, Extreme Rich Chocolate, Chocolate Coconut, Chocolate Malt, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Dipped Banana, White Chocolate, Coffee, Dulce De Leche, Key Lime Pie, and Mocha Cappuccino. Other options are Rocky Road, Salted Caramel, Strawberries & Cream, Strawberry, Strawberry Banana, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Peppermint Mocha.
To find out more about the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder or to purchase it on Amazon, click on the image below.
Casein protein is also derived from dairy, so it typically contains a small amount of lactose. It absorbs slowly and steadily, and it forms a gel upon reaching the stomach.
This attribute can help you to feel full for longer between meals. However, according to many in the fitness industry, whey protein with its quick absorption rate is the better choice for muscle building.
If you’d like to try a casein protein supplement, I recommend Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Micellar Casein Protein Powder. An excellent source of calcium, it contains 24 grams of protein per serve, around 5 grams of naturally occurring BCAAs, and almost 5 grams of naturally occurring glutamine and glutamic acid.
Available in 2 lb and 4 lb packs, flavors include Banana Cream, Creamy Vanilla, Cookies & Cream, Cookie Dough, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Supreme, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Strawberry.
For more information on Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Micellar Casein Protein Powder, click on the image below to visit Amazon.
Soy protein originates from plants, which makes it suitable for vegetarians and vegans. It is faster to digest than casein, but not as fast as whey. Containing almost zero fat and cholesterol, it is considered to be heart-healthy.
Now Sports Soy Protein Isolate is a popular choice for people who like soy-based supplements. Containing 20 grams of protein and zero carbs per serving, it doesn’t contain artificial sweetener, and the soya beans it is harvested from are non-GMO. Suitable for vegans and vegetarians, it comes in Creamy Vanilla, Creamy Chocolate, and there’s also an unflavored version. It comes in 1.2 lb and 2 lb containers.
To find out more about Now Sports Soy Protein Isolate, click on the link below to visit Amazon.
Being sourced from yellow split peas, pea protein is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. It is low in cysteine and methionine, and while it is slower to absorb than whey protein, some studies indicate that it is just as effective.
Anthony’s Pea Protein Powder is an excellent option when it comes to pea protein supplements. Manufactured in Canada from the preferred yellow peas, these are sourced from Germany, and packed in the USA. Each serving of the powder comprises 20% protein. It is 100% pure, gluten-free, and it hasn’t been genetically modified.
Being unflavored, it can be added to juice or smoothies without changing the flavor, and it is perfect to add to meals and use when baking. It comes in 2 lb packs.
Visit Amazon to find out more about Anthony’s Pea Protein Powder by clicking on the link below.
Hemp protein is another option for vegetarians and vegans. And don’t worry, it won’t get you high! It is easily digestible; however, it is not a complete protein as it lacks sufficient lysine and leucine.
Nutiva Hemp Protein Powder is the #1 bestselling supplement of this type on Amazon. Available in Chocolate, Just Hemp (non-flavored), and an unflavored high fiber version, it comes in 16 oz, 30 oz, and 48 oz containers.
The chocolate-flavored supplement, which can be made into a shake, contains 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per serving. The plain hemp supplement has 15 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fiber. The Hi-Fiber version has 11 grams of protein and 12 grams of protein. All are manufactured from sustainably grown hemp seeds that are organic and adhere to non-GMO guidelines.
The powders are vegetarian and vegan-friendly, and gluten-free.
If you’d like more info on Nutiva Hemp Protein Powder, click on the link below to visit Amazon.
Brown Rice Protein:
Brown rice protein absorbs faster than some protein supplements but slower than whey. It is low in lysine, which suggests it is not as effective as whey protein. However, interestingly, one study showed that leucine – the only amino acid known to promote muscle building on its own – sourced from rice protein reaches the bloodstream faster than leucine from whey protein, though brown rice protein contains less of it.
Organic Brown Rice Protein Powder from Zen Principle is among the most highly-rated offerings of its type. Made in the USA from fresh rice, it is non-GMO, and soy, dairy, and gluten-free. It is also hypo-allergenic and suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Each serving contains 26 grams of protein, and it is soy, gluten, and dairy-free. Being unflavored, it won’t interfere with the taste of the beverage you add it to.
To find out more about Organic Brown Rice Protein Powder from Zen Principle, visit Amazon by clicking on the image below.
Egg protein comprises pulverized and dehydrated egg whites or the yolks and the whites of eggs. Popular with people who have dairy or soy allergies, as with whey protein it contains almost zero lactose. The effectiveness of egg protein compared to whey protein for promoting muscle growth has not been widely studied.
Jay Robb Egg White Protein Powder is one of the most delicious and best protein supplements you will find. Containing 24 grams of protein per serving, it has zero fat, 4 grams of carbohydrate, and less than 1 gram of sugar per serving. Non-genetically modified, it doesn’t contain sugar, dairy, soy, gluten, lactose, or anything artificial. It is suitable for vegetarians.
The available flavors are Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry. It also comes in an unflavored version. Packet sizes include 12 oz, 24 oz, and 80 oz.
For more info on Jay Robb Egg White Protein Powder, click on the image below to visit Amazon.
Are there any Other Muscle Building Supplements I can Take?
Along with protein, some other vitamin and mineral supplements can promote muscle growth. As with protein, it is possible to get what you need from food, but many people are low in these supplements, which include calcium and iron.
Calcium is a bone-building mineral which plays a vital role in muscle function. If your diet is low in calcium, you may find it difficult to contract your muscles during workouts. Your recovery between workouts will also likely be slower.
Foods that are high in calcium include cheese, milk, and yogurt. There are also some excellent non-dairy sources. Among these are seafood, legumes, leafy green vegetables, tofu, dried fruits, and foods or beverages which are fortified with calcium.
Iron is a mineral that provides the energy to work out optimally, and it is essential for muscles to function well and grow. Good sources of iron include red meat and offal. Pork, chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs contain iron, as do broccoli and spinach. Nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, wholegrain foods, brown rice, fortified cereals, and dried fruit are other good iron sources.
When eaten at the same time as iron-rich meals, foods containing vitamin C will help your body to absorb the iron better. Examples of such foods include oranges, berries, kiwi fruit, tomatoes, and capsicum.
It can be hard to get sufficient iron from plant-based foods, so if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you may need to take iron supplements. Look for one that contains vitamin C. Alternatively, take a vitamin C supplement with your iron tablet, or wash it down with a glass of orange juice.
Foods that hinder iron absorption include those that are high in calcium and tinned salmon. Calcium supplements, coffee, tea, and wine also limit iron absorption, so take these a few hours before or after iron-rich meals, if possible.
Final Thoughts on Muscle Building Supplements
If you can’t get enough protein through food, by all means, give the appropriate vitamins, minerals, or muscle building supplements a try. If you buy from a reputable company, the supplement should be safe and effective for most people. And the benefits of protein supplements go beyond muscle building for people who aren’t getting enough protein through diet.
While whey is the protein supplement that many bodybuilders and professional sportspeople prefer, vegans and lactose-intolerant people may want to consider one of the other options discussed above.