As mentioned, protein is essential for building muscle. If you are unable to consume the recommended amount of protein through diet alone, add protein powder for building muscle as a supplement. This applies to nearly anyone hoping to gain muscle mass since it’s not easy to pack in nearly 100 grams of protein a day through chicken, eggs and legumes alone.
2. What's your training like? Are you crushing 25 sets for chest like the average juiced out bodybuilder? If so, there's a pretty good chance you might be working above your MRV (maximal recoverable volume) and as such any physiological adaptation which could have taken place is going to be minimal given the cellular environment which occurs in a state of functional overreaching.
In addition to adequate protein, you need more calories (your protein intake contributes to your total caloric intake, so these two go hand in hand). Use the following formula to calculate the number you need to take in daily to gain one pound a week, and break down your diet using the macro guidelines listed above. (Give yourself two weeks for results to show up on the scale. If you haven't gained by then, increase your calories by 500 a day.)
A typical creatine supplementation protocol of either a loading phase of 20 to 25 g CM/d or 0.3 g CM/kg/d split into 4 to 5 daily intakes of 5 g each have been recommended to quickly saturate creatine stores in the skeletal muscle. However a more moderate protocol where several smaller doses of creatine are ingested along the day (20 intakes of 1 g every 30 min) could be a better approach to get a maximal saturation of the intramuscular creatine store. In order to keep the maximal saturation of body creatine, the loading phase must be followed by a maintenance period of 3-5 g CM/d or 0.03 g CM/kg/d. These strategies appear to be the most efficient way of saturating the muscles and benefitting from CM supplementation. However more recent research has shown CM supplementation at doses of 0.1 g/kg body weight combined with resistance training improves training adaptations at a cellular and sub-cellular level. Creatine retention by the body from supplementation appears to be promoted by about 25% from the simultaneous ingestion of carbohydrate and/or protein mediated through an increase in insulin secretion. This combination would produce a faster saturation rate but has not been shown to have a greater effect on performance.
While it'’s okay to chow down on the occasional fast-food choice for convenience, a mass-gain program isn'’t an excuse to gorge on pizza and chocolate sundaes. “"Rebuilding muscle tissue broken down by training requires energy -— in other words, calories,"” says bodybuilding nutritional guru Chris Aceto. "“But many people, including many nutritionists, overestimate the energy needs for gaining mass, encouraging extreme high-calorie intakes. This often leads to an increase in bodyfat, making you bigger, for sure, but also leaving you fat." In general, aim for 300-500 more calories every day than your body burns through exercise and normal functioning (multiply bodyweight by 17). And that'’s divided among six meals a day.

Over time, we naturally lose muscle mass in a process called sarcopenia. On average, men lose about 30% of their muscle mass during their lives. Usually, this begins in your 30s and progresses slowly as you age. But, don’t despair. You can rebuild and maintain muscle mass even as you age. Often, diet and exercise are enough. But, sometimes, if the above hormones play a role, your doctor may recommend medications and additional treatments (4).
A typical creatine supplementation protocol consists of a loading phase of 20 g CM/d or 0.3 g CM/kg/d split into 4 daily intakes of 5 g each, followed by a maintenance phase of 3-5 g CM/d or 0.03 g CM/kg/d for the duration of the supplementation period [5]. Other supplementation protocols are also used such as a daily single dose of around 3 – 6 g or between 0.03 to 0.1 g/kg/d [15,55] however this method takes longer (between 21 to 28 days) to produce ergogenic effects [5]. Sale et al [56] found that a moderate protocol consisting of 20 g CM taken in 1g doses (evenly ingested at 30-min intervals) for 5 days resulted in reduced urinary creatine and methylamine excretion, leading to an estimated increase in whole body retention of creatine (+13%) when compared with a typical loading supplementation protocol of 4 x 5 g/d during 5 days (evenly ingested at 3 hour intervals). This enhancement in creatine retention would lead to a significantly higher weight gain when people follow a moderate protocol ingestion of several doses of small amounts of CM evenly spread along the day.
Although creatine is a natural component of food, the amount of food required to supersaturate the muscle with PCr may not be feasible. For example, it could require 22 pounds of meat daily [8]. If creatine monohydrate is proven to be a safe and effective ergogenic aid, creatine supplementation may be the simplest way to increasing muscle stores. It may be beneficial to avoid caffeine if taking creatine supplements. One study showed that caffeine diminished strength gains seen with creatine use [9].
This is another thing I am very tired of hearing. 'No matter what I do or what I eat, I can't gain weight'. I have heard this countless times and I am here to tell you that you are dead wrong. That's OK, because I actually said the same thing until I realized the truth. Most people think they are eating a lot and you just may be. But no matter what you are eating, if you are not gaining, you are not eating enough. Most times, you should re-evaluate your diet as well and focus on more calorie dense foods. But you need to eat more if you are not gaining. 

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The concentration in healthy controls (57+/-8 years) without supplementation of creatine appears to be around 1.24+/-0.26µM per gram of hemoglobin[292] and appears to decrease in concentration during the aging process of the erythrocyte.[294][295][296] Otherwise healthy subjects who take a loading phase of creatine (5g four times daily for five days) can experience a 129.6% increase in erythrocytic creatine concentrations from an average value of 418µM (per liter) up to 961µM with a large range (increases in the range of 144.4-1004.8µM),[297] and this effect appears to correlate somewhat with muscular creatine stores.[297]
There you have it — our five favorite creatine products on the market. But when you’ve tried as many creatines as we have, there were a lot of others that we loved but didn’t make the very top of our list for the previous categories. That’s why we’ve also come up with a list of the best creatines for men, best creatines for women, best creatines for muscle growth, for bulking, for the brain, and the best micronized creatine. Keep reading for our favorite picks!
One study on 27 otherwise healthy men supplementing creatine (0.3g/kg loading for a week, 0.05g/kg thereafter for 8 weeks) with a thrice weekly exercise regiment noted that alongside greater increase in lean mass and power relative to placebo at 4 and 8 weeks, myostatin in serum decreased to a greater extent with creatine (around 17% at 8 weeks, derived from graph) than it did with placebo (approximately 7%).[356] Increases in GASP-1, a serum protein that inhibits the actions of myostatin by directly binding to it,[357] were not different between groups.[356]
You don’t have to, but you can. The typical creatine dose is 5 grams once or twice per day, but it’s sometimes suggested that one should “load” creatine by taking 20 to 25 grams per day for the first week of usage. This is then followed with 3 to 4 weeks of 5 grams per day, then a break for a week or two, then repeat. This may bring about more acute increases in strength and muscle size — creatine will “work” more quickly, in other words — but it’s not necessary. 

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At the same time, this also doesn’t mean that primary compound exercises can never be done for more than 8 reps, or that secondary compound exercise can’t be done for 5-8 or 10-15 reps, or that isolation exercises can’t be done for less than 10 reps. Everything can be done in every rep range. However, these are the rep ranges that each type of exercise is best suited for, and where it should ideally be done most of the time.
Finally, starvation (nutrient deprivation for four days) appears to increase activity of the creatine transporter secondary to decreasing serine phosphorylation (SGK target)[173] with no influence on tyrosine phosphorylation (c-Src target).[173] Starvation-induced increases in creatine influx do not necessarily mean more phosphocreatine, however, due to a depleted cellular energy state.[173]
The creatine transporter is a sodium[139][140] and chloride[141][142] dependent membrane-associated transporter that belongs to the Na+/Cl-dependent family of neurotransmitter transporters.[143] In muscle cells and most other cell types,[131][141] the isomer of the creatine transporter is known as SLC6A8 (solute carrier family 6, member 8). SLC6A8 is encoded by the gene present on the Xq28 region of the human X-chromosome and is expressed in most tissues.[144] A related gene encoding a creatine transporter variant has also been identified at 16p11.1 that is expressed exclusively in the testes.[145] These two transporters share 98% homology.[144][145]
It is prudent to note that creatine supplementation has been shown to reduce the body’s endogenous production of creatine, however levels return to normal after a brief period of time when supplementation ceases [1,6]. Despite this creatine supplementation has not been studied/supplemented with for a relatively long period. Due to this, long term effects are unknown, therefore safety cannot be guaranteed. Whilst the long term effects of creatine supplementation remain unclear, no definitive certainty of either a negative or a positive effect upon the body has been determined for many health professionals and national agencies [19,78]. For example the French Sanitary Agency has banned the buying of creatine due to the unproven allegation that a potential effect of creatine supplementation could be that of mutagenicity and carcinogenicity from the production of heterocyclic amines [78]. Long term and epidemiological data should continue to be produced and collected to determine the safety of creatine in all healthy individuals under all conditions [78].

In the United States, the manufacturers of dietary supplements do not need to provide the Food and Drug Administration with evidence of product safety prior to marketing.[8] As a result, the incidence of products adulterated with illegal ingredients has continued to rise.[8] In 2013, one-third of the supplements tested were adulterated with unlisted steroids.[9] More recently, the prevalence of designer steroids with unknown safety and pharmacological effects has increased.[10][11]
MET-Rx Advanced Creatine Blast also contains a lot of ingredients that work synergistically with creatine. There’s the 33 grams of carbohydrates, which may help to drive creatine to the muscles, plus there’s some taurine to help with recovery and two grams of branched chain amino acids, which may help with muscle retention. However, it contains creatine ethyl ester, which is probably less effective than monohydrate.
However, not all proteins are created equal in the muscle building stakes. Always remember the better the quality (biological value) of protein consumed, the more of it will be used for muscle building. To maximise muscle growth, stick to high-quality proteins, such as whey, milk, eggs, fish or lean meats. However, combining lower quality or incomplete protein from plant-based sources, such as nuts and beans, can still be a valuable protein source for muscle building.
A meta-analysis found that creatine treatment increased muscle strength in muscular dystrophies, and potentially improved functional performance.[57] Creatine treatment does not appear to improve muscle strength in people who have metabolic myopathies.[57] High doses of creatine lead to increased muscle pain and an impairment in activities of daily living when taken by people who have McArdle disease.[57]
Earlier during your workout, you might have thought you were starting to see some muscle definition. "Called transient hypertrophy, or a muscle pump, this physiological phenomenon occurs when blood rushes to your muscles to supply them with workout-powering fuel and even jump-start the recovery process," explains certified strength and conditioning specialist Samuel Simpson, co-owner and vice president of B-Fit Training Studio in Miami. He notes that this muscle pump often starts mid-workout and subsides within a few hours after leaving the gym. And as the muscle pump deflates, it's easy to lose determination.
K. Aleisha Fetters, M.S., C.S.C.S., is a Chicago-based personal and online trainer. She has a graduate degree in health and science reporting from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and regularly contributes to Men's Health, Women's Health,, TIME, and SHAPE. When she's not lifting something heavy, she's usually guzzling coffee and writing about the health benefits of doing so.
Creatine has been noted to increase the amplitude (0.5-5mM) and frequency (25mM only) of NMDA receptors, although concentrations of 0.5-25mM also reduced signaling intensity. This was credited to creatine causing an increase in ligand binding of glutamate with an EC50 of 67µM and maximal activity at 1mM creatine (158±16% of baseline).[214] Creatine appears to modulate the polyamine binding site of the NMDA receptor, as it is abolished by arcaine and potentiated by spermidine.[215] This binding site is known to modify NMDA receptor affinity.[216][217]
Mercimek-Mahmutoglu, S., Stoeckler-Ipsiroglu, S., Adami, A., Appleton, R., Araujo, H. C., Duran, M., Ensenauer, R., Fernandez-Alvarez, E., Garcia, P., Grolik, C., Item, C. B., Leuzzi, V., Marquardt, I., Muhl, A., Saelke-Kellermann, R. A., Salomons, G. S., Schulze, A., Surtees, R., van der Knaap, M. S., Vasconcelos, R., Verhoeven, N. M., Vilarinho, L., Wilichowski, E., and Jakobs, C. GAMT deficiency: features, treatment, and outcome in an inborn error of creatine synthesis. Neurology 8-8-2006;67(3):480-484. View abstract.

D-aspartic acid can also help to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the “stress” hormone because its production increases during stressful situations. High cortisol levels can have many negative side effects, such as weight gain, muscle tissue breakdown, or increased blood sugar. Taking a supplement that includes cortisol can reduce stress and prevent excess fat storage or muscle loss.
1-3 Minutes Rest: Ideal for “tension and fatigue exercises,” which include most secondary compound exercises. This range is sort of the midpoint between being ideal for strength and being ideal for generating fatigue. So while it’s not entirely what’s best for either, it is what’s perfect for achieving an equal combination of the two… which is exactly what we want from these exercises.
Although creatine is a natural component of food, the amount of food required to supersaturate the muscle with PCr may not be feasible. For example, it could require 22 pounds of meat daily [8]. If creatine monohydrate is proven to be a safe and effective ergogenic aid, creatine supplementation may be the simplest way to increasing muscle stores. It may be beneficial to avoid caffeine if taking creatine supplements. One study showed that caffeine diminished strength gains seen with creatine use [9].