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6 Supplements for Increasing Strength and Muscle Mass

Posted Nov 05 2010 10:41am

Jarret Morrow, M.D., writes today’s guest post. Dr. Jarret is is a published author and researcher who used to work as a product formulator in the dietary supplement industry. You can read more from Dr. Jarret at his dietary supplement blog , Supplement Updates, or find him at the Hive Health Media blog network .

For those who workout endlessly in the gym looking to increase their strength along with their muscle mass, starting with the right workout routine and proper diet is the first step. After a while, even with the best conceived diet and exercise plans, many do find that they hit plateaus which is when they start to look towards dietary supplements.

As a starting point, most bodybuilders and power lifters who’re looking to get Swole, supplement with whey protein. Several research studies suggest that supplementing with doses of 1.5 g/kg of body weight with whey protein will help to increase lean mass and decrease fat mass [1]. Some products have gained unwanted attention recently due to containing high levels of heavy metals. Two popular brands named included Muscle Milk as well as EAS Myoplex [2].

Here are some of Steve’s great recipes for protein shakes .

Creatine monohydrate is probably the best-researched dietary supplement currently available for increasing muscle mass [3]. Among other mechanisms, creatine has been shown to increase insulin-like growth factor-1 which is well-known to have an anabolic effect [4]. At lower doses of just 2-3 g/day, creatine monohydrate is not effective at promoting gains in strength or lean tissue mass [5]. At doses of 9 g/day when combined with 36 g/day of whey protein and 6 g/day of conjugated linoleic acid, creatine has been shown to increase both strength and mass over a 5 week time period [6].

Leucine, an essential amino acid, can’t be synthesized by humans, so it must be obtained from dietary sources. Leucine itself has been gaining attention by researchers lately–both for its anabolic effects, but also for how it regulates protein metabolism in terms of preventing muscle wasting during weight loss. In particular, leucine supplementation seems to be a good option for those who’re seeking to maintain muscle mass while dieting. For anabolic effects, it’s difficult to get adequate amounts of leucine from dietary sources. Typically, doses of 2.5 mg of leucine, taken three times per day with meals is recommended to stimulate protein synthesis [7].

Amino acid supplementation was popular back in 1994. New research on the importance of supplementation with branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) for preventing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) as well as promoting recovery from exercise is bringing it back.

A recent study, in particular, found that supplementation with BCAA for three weeks promoted an anabolic hormone profile with subsequent resistance training [8]. Specifically, this study demonstrated significantly higher levels of serum testosterone in response to resistance training with lower levels of cortisol and creatine kinase.

Creatine kinase is a marker of muscle breakdown. For this particular study, they used Nutri-Build II supplement and participants consumed 12 capsules of this product per day which contains a mixture of l-glutamine, l-leucine, l-isoleucine, and l-valine.

Betaine, not to be confused with beta-alanine, is a nutrient which functions as a methyl donor in various processes in your body. Though it’s found naturally in food sources such as broccoli, beets, and shellfish, it’s unrealistic to ingest the same doses as can be obtained with betaine supplements. For those who believe that the measure of a man (in the gym) is how much they can bench, some research suggests that betaine supplementation is effective at increasing upper body strength, and bench press, in particular. For this study, test subjects were randomized to placebo or 1.25 g of betaine dissolved in Gatorade for 2 weeks[9].

The last supplement for this article will probably face some criticism. HMB showed promising results in studies for increasing lean muscle mass and strength in studies earlier this decade [10]. HMB is a leucine-derived metabolite which consequently depends on your dietary intake of the amino acid, leucine. However, to achieve the recommended 3g/day of HMB which has been used in studies, it’s nearly impossible to consume enough dietary leucine. Though there has been some heterogeneity in the literature regarding studies on the effectiveness of HMB, a recent review pointed to a few different reasons [11].

To start with, this recent review study found that the optimal dosing of HMB is 3.0 g/day while the 1.5 g/day dosing used in some studies is less effective. As well, studies on the effectiveness of HMB typically find better results when this supplement is consumed for 12 weeks instead of the shorter 10-day studies.

Overall, there continues to be ongoing research on dietary supplements that improve athletic performance. I imagine that most of Steve’s regular readers have tried supplementation with creatine as well as whey protein. For the others on this list, what have been your experiences with these supplements?


LOSE FAT FAST with the Project Swole Three Step Full Body Weight Loss Plan . Combine the supplement plan with a full body fat loss exercise routine for record breaking fat loss results!

Step #1 Acai Berry Detox or
Step #2 Colon Cleanse or
Step #3 Fat Loss Routine: full body fat loss for men or full body fat loss for women

BUILD MUSCLE FAST with the Project Swole Three Step Muscle Gain Plan . Max out your muscle gain potential with two great supplements and the ground-breaking Werewolf Training routines!

Step #1 Xtreme NO (Nitric Oxide) or
Step #2 Muscle Advance or
Step #3 Werewolf Training Routine: for building muscle or for building strength

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