6 Essential Supplements for Total Body Muscle Growth

You're here because you value proactivity and prioritize your health. You're on the hunt for that extra edge to build a body that doesn't just look great but also feels and works great.

While a nutritious diet and consistent exercise form the bedrock, supplements offer that extra push to help you build total body muscle growth.

In this guide, we’re unveiling the 6 essential supplements that could be your game-changers for muscle growth and overall body vitality.

🤔 Why Supplements Are Essential for Muscle Growth in Today's Age

There's a common question we often hear: “If our ancestors thrived without supplements, why do we need them today, especially for something as natural as building muscles?” It’s a valid query and deserves an insightful response.

  • ​Changes in food quality: Over the decades, the nutritional content of our food has seen a decline. Modern agricultural practices prioritize volume over nutrient density. While our fruits might look bigger and our veggies might seem more vibrant, they often don't pack the same nutritional punch they once did.
  • Age and nutrient absorption: As we age, our body's ability to absorb nutrients can diminish. That means even if you're eating nutrient-rich foods, your body might not be getting all the benefits. Supplements can offer a more direct and efficient way for our bodies to get what they need.
  • Targeted nutritional support: While aiming for muscle growth, specific nutrients can boost results. Achieving the right proportion of these nutrients purely through diet can be tough. Supplements ensure that you’re giving your muscles exactly what they need to grow and recover efficiently.
  • Enhanced recovery: As we age, recovery post-exercise can take longer. Supplements can help speed up recovery, ensuring that you’re ready for your next workout sooner.
  • Convenience: Realistically, in today’s world, not everyone has the time to plan, prep, and consume multiple meals tailored to muscle growth daily. Supplements offer a convenient way to ensure your muscles get the fuel they need, even on a tight schedule.

While a well-balanced diet is the foundation, supplements have become almost essential in today's context to ensure we fill in any nutritional gaps. They provide an unfair advantage to support our body's muscle-building needs.

TL;DR

For busy professionals who're in a hurry to know the list of supplements to build muscles, here's a quick overview.

Supplement

Benefits

How to take

Protein powder

Muscle repair and growth

Post-workout, 1.2-2gm per Kg of body weight

Creatine Monohydrate

Injury prevention, denser muscles

Anytime, 3-5gm per day

Beta-Alanine

Delays muscle fatigue

1.6 grams daily, preferably after food

BCAAs

Muscle synthesis

5-10 grams daily

Glutamine

Muscle recovery, nutrition absorption

5-10 grams daily

Vitamin D

Muscle strength

600 to 1,000 IU each day.

But don't just screenshot this table & file it away.

Do take the next step — choose a multivitamin system that offers you the necessary supplements aligned to your current body and your future goals.

One of the best options is Complete 365. It's a multivitamin system for men & women over 40s.

To know more about each of the supplements in detail, keep reading.

Protein Powder (Whey, Casein, or Plant-Based)

Protein powder is a concentrated source of protein derived from animal or plant sources. It accelerates muscle repair after workouts & hence boosts workout performance over time.

The most common types include:

  • Whey: Derived from milk and is quickly absorbed by the body.
  • Casein: Also from milk but is absorbed more slowly than whey.
  • Soy: Plant-based and contains all essential amino acids.
  • Pea, Hemp, and Rice: Other plant-based options, often combined to ensure a full amino acid profile.

Benefits of protein powder

  • Muscle repair and growth: Exercise, especially resistance training, causes microscopic tears in muscle fibers. Protein provides the essential amino acids necessary for repairing and building these muscles.
  • Convenience: For those with busy lifestyles or those who find it challenging to consume enough protein through whole foods, protein shakes can be a quick and efficient solution.Muscle repair and growth: Exercise, especially resistance training, causes microscopic tears in muscle fibers. Protein provides the essential amino acids necessary for repairing and building these muscles.
  • Weight management: Protein can increase feelings of fullness, potentially leading to reduced calorie intake, and you will be able to lose weight easily.
  • Preservation of muscle mass: As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass. Increased protein intake can help counteract this effect.

How should you take protein powder

  • Timing: While there's a popular belief in the 'anabolic window' (a period, typically post-workout, where the body is believed to absorb protein more effectively), as long as you're consuming enough protein throughout the day, exact timing might not be as critical.
  • Amount: For those aiming for muscle growth, you should take 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, depending on your activity levels. All of it doesn't have to come from powder, it can come from your meals as well.
  • Mixing: Protein powders can be mixed with water, milk, or any beverage of choice. They can also be added to foods like oatmeal or baked goods.

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine Monohydrate is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in certain foods and is also synthesized in the body from amino acids. In supplement form, it's a white, powdery substance that looks a bit like granulated sugar.

It is in foods like beef, chicken, and milk. But you'd need to eat a lot of meat daily — 2 to 3 pounds — to get what you'd find in just one teaspoon of the powdered version.

Benefits of Creatine Monohydrate

  • ​Creatine plays a fundamental role in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body's primary energy currency. More ATP means more energy available for short-duration, high-intensity activities like weightlifting or sprinting.
  • It helps in reducing muscular issues, such as cramps, and or athletic injuries like pulls.
  • Regular supplementation of creatine helps create stronger, denser muscles.

How to take creatine monohydrate

  • Loading vs. Maintenance: You can opt for a "loading phase" where they take around 20g of creatine daily (split into 4 doses) for 5-7 days, followed by a maintenance dose of 3-5g daily. Or you can skip the loading phase and stick to the 3-5g daily dosage.
  • Timing: While the timing isn't as crucial with creatine as with some other supplements, some individuals prefer to take it post-workout, believing it aids with uptake into muscle cells when combined with a carbohydrate source.
  • Mixing: Creatine is usually tasteless, and odorless. You can mix it with water, or juice, or even add to a post-workout protein shake.

Beta-Alanine

​​Beta-alanine is an amino acid. But unlike other amino acids, you don’t get it directly from foods. Instead, our body makes beta-alanine when it breaks down other amino acids from the proteins we eat.

To produce a good amount of beta-alanine, you'd have to eat a LOT of protein-rich foods daily. This means more calories and possibly too much of other nutrients. So, relying on just food might not be the best idea.

Benefit of Beta-alanine

Beta-alanine helps to delay muscle fatigue, allowing for longer periods of high-intensity exercise.

It raises the carnosine concentrations in muscles, which can buffer the acid that builds up during strenuous activity.

This means you can sustain a high-intensity workout for a slightly longer duration before you feel the burn or need to stop.

How to take beta-alanine

  • Dosage: A good amount to start with is around 1.6-3 grams daily. But remember, don’t go over 6 grams in a day.
  • Timing: The best time to take beta-alanine is normally 15 to 20 minutes before a workout.
  • Empty stomach or with food: If you consume beta-alanine without eating anything, it'll get into your bloodstream quicker. But this also raises the chances of feeling the tingling side effects.

BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids)

BCAAs refer to three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are termed "branched chains" due to their molecular structure.

Unlike some other amino acids, your body can't produce BCAAs, so you have to get them from your diet. Foods rich in protein like meat(chicken, beef, salmon), dairy, and legumes provide BCAAs.

Taking BCAAs in supplement form ensures a quick and concentrated dose, especially beneficial around workout times.

Benefit of BCAAs

BCAAs, especially leucine, stimulate muscle protein synthesis – the process where your body makes new proteins to replace the old ones. This synthesis is how muscle growth occurs.

How to take BCAAs

  • ​Dosage: Common recommendations range from 5-10 grams per dose. Specific amounts can vary based on body weight and activity level.
  • ​Consistency: For best results, it's crucial to take BCAAs consistently, especially on training days.
  • With other amino acids: While BCAAs can stimulate muscle growth, they can't work alone. For optimal muscle protein synthesis, all the essential amino acids (not just the branched-chain ones) are required. These can be either through a complete protein source or a comprehensive amino acid supplement.

Glutamine

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. While it’s classified as non-essential (meaning our bodies can produce it), there are situations where the body's demand exceeds its production capacity, like during intense workouts.

And that's why you need to take it as a supplement.

Benefits of Glutamine

  • Glycogen synthesis: Glutamine promotes the formation of glycogen in our muscles. Glycogen acts like a reserve tank of energy, helping muscles recover and prepare for the next workout session.
  • Reduced ammonia accumulation: After a workout, ammonia can accumulate in our system, which might contribute to fatigue. Glutamine can help in reducing this buildup, aiding faster recovery.
  • Gut health: Glutamine is beneficial for the intestines, ensuring nutrient absorption is efficient. Good gut health indirectly supports muscle growth by ensuring muscles get all the nutrients they need.

​​Even though glutamine has these potential benefits, studies have indicated it doesn't directly boost exercise performance. In simpler terms, while it can help your muscles recover post-workout, it might not give you that extra push during your actual exercise routine.

How to take Glutamine

  • Timing: Considering its recovery benefits, glutamine seems most effective as a supplement taken after exercising. For complete workout recovery, don't forget the essentials: stretching to maintain flexibility, staying hydrated, and ensuring you get enough rest between sessions.
  • ​Dosage: Typically, a dosage of 5 to 10 grams daily is recommended for muscle growth and recovery. It can be split into multiple servings throughout the day.
  • Combining with other supplements: Glutamine can be stacked with other amino acids or protein shakes to enhance its benefits.

Vitamin D

Your body produces Vitamin D naturally when it's directly exposed to sunlight. This is why it's often dubbed the "sunshine" vitamin.

But many factors, including where you live, time of year, cloud coverage, and even sunscreen, can affect how much sunlight you actually absorb. So it's necessary to supplement it.

Benefits of Vitamin D

A lack of this vitamin is directly linked to a reduction in muscle size, especially prominent in the major muscles of the lower limbs - those vital for mobility.

This deficiency can lead to decreased muscle strength, a factor that significantly contributes to reduced physical agility and an increased risk of falls, particularly among the elderly.

All these issues can be addressed and often reversed with appropriate vitamin D supplementation.

How to take Vitamin D

  • Dosage: When it comes to vitamin D, we measure it in something called "IU" which stands for "International Units". Think of IU like a measuring cup for vitamins. Experts suggest adults take between 600 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D each day.
  • Method: Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so it's best taken with a meal that contains fats to increase absorption. It comes in two primary forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D3 is the more potent form and is the one most commonly recommended for supplementation.
  • Time: There isn't a strict "best time" to take vitamin D. But since it's fat-soluble, it's best if you take it with your largest meal of the day to optimize absorption.

The best & simplest way to check dosage for your body is through blood tests.

5 Things to Consider When Buying Muscle-Building Supplements

Not all supplements are created equal & not everyone's needs are equal. So picking up a bottle from the grocery aisle just because it's on sale might not be the best choice.

Here are things you should care about when buying supplements for building muscles:

  • Freshness: Always consider the freshness of the ingredients. If a supplement has been sitting on a shelf for years, its potency and efficacy can be compromised. Prioritize products that use freshly sourced ingredients for maximum benefit.
  • ​​Whole food vs synthetic: There's a vast difference between supplements made from whole foods and those made synthetically in labs. Whole food-based supplements retain the complexity and full spectrum of nutrients present in their natural sources, offering a more holistic and effective nutritional profile.
  • Personalization: No two bodies are the same. Therefore, one-size-fits-all supplements might not be the answer to everyone’s nutritional needs. The ideal supplement considers your unique body, its specific needs, and potential deficiencies. The most precise way to determine this is through blood work, which reveals the exact vitamins and minerals your body requires.

When choosing Unfair Advantage Complete 365, not only do you receive a top-quality product, but the package also covers the cost of blood work. This means you get a supplement tailored to your unique needs, ensuring optimal effectiveness.

Final Thoughts

In an age where health is the true wealth, you have the privilege and resources to elevate not just your muscle game but your entire well-being.

Here's a challenge — Don't just sit on this information and use it as a launching pad to work toward your fitness goals.

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