Most people require around 20 calories per pound (or 44 kcal / kg) of bodyweight to gain muscle mass. Using a 180-pound (82kg) male as an example, the required daily calorie intake is 3600 calories (20 kcal x 180 lb = 3600 kcal). When it comes to gaining weight, it is likely that you may put on a few pounds of fat along the way, but if you do find your body fat increasing, either increase the amount of aerobic exercise (moderate intensity) you are doing or slightly reduce the total number of calories you are consuming. Remember you can’t force feed muscle gain!
Spillane M, Schoch R, Cooke M, Harvey T, Greenwood M, Kreider R, Willoughby DS. The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009;6:6. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-6-6. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef]
Another supplement that’s ideal to take pre-workout is protein. Depending on your goals and your workout time, taking protein before your workout can help you keep your energy levels elevated while working out. Make sure you give yourself at least an hour between the time you take your protein and your workout time so that your body has time to digest.
When it comes to building muscle, there are numerous theories, methods, and preferences. Whether the goal is improved health, aesthetics, performance, or a combination of all three, there is no shortage of advice to help you get there. So much so that it can sometimes become overly complicated and you forget about the basic facts. But, it’s simpler than it seems.
Energy: Energy is found in amino acids, also known as creatine, produced naturally in the body and also found in meat such as beef, chicken and pork. The problem with naturally found creatine is that the amount of protein in it is not high, which therefore, draws bodybuilders to supplement it with a powdered version. Bodybuilders use creatine to increase anaerobic energy; this allows them to lift weights for longer periods of time. Creatine also helps to give volume to the muscle cells by adding more water in them, thus making them look fuller.
So how does that play out in the real world? Well, if, for example, a woman adds 10 pounds of muscle and loses 10 pounds of fat, she’ll burn 40 extra calories per day. Forty calories a day isn’t nearly as significant as a dietary change could be, but for people who are looking to lose weight, it can still make a minor difference over the long term.
Of course, cardio is an important part of fitness too, but the benefits of strength training are major. Strength training helps build muscle, and lean muscle is better at burning calories when the body is at rest, which is important whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain it. It also helps strengthens joints and bones, avoid injury, improve your muscular endurance, and will help you give it your all during your other workouts, whether that means setting a new PR if you're a runner or pushing (and pulling) a little harder with your legs during your favorite indoor cycling class.
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. As a result, the incidence of products adulterated with illegal ingredients has continued to rise. In 2013, one-third of the supplements tested were adulterated with unlisted steroids. More recently, the prevalence of designer steroids with unknown safety and pharmacological effects has increased.
After the ingestion of 5g creatine in otherwise healthy humans, serum levels of creatine were elevated from fasting levels (50-100µM) to 600-800µM within one hour after consumption. The receptor follows Michaelis-Menten kinetics with a Vmax obtained at concentrations higher than 0.3-0.4mmol/L, with prolonged serum concentrations above this amount exerting most of its saturation within two days.
Some bodybuilders use drugs such as anabolic steroids and precursor substances such as prohormones to increase muscle hypertrophy. Anabolic steroids cause hypertrophy of both types (I and II) of muscle fibers, likely caused by an increased synthesis of muscle proteins. They also provoke undesired side effects including hepatotoxicity, gynecomastia, acne, the early onset of male pattern baldness and a decline in the body's own testosterone production, which can cause testicular atrophy. Other performance-enhancing substances used by competitive bodybuilders include human growth hormone (HGH), which can cause acromegaly.
Elsewhere, it has been noted that in chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia (CPEO, a progressive weakening of the muscles around the eye and a mitochondrial disorder), there was a failure of creatine supplementation to benefit symptoms when subjects were provided 20g daily for four weeks. Creatine supplementation failed again at 150mg/kg for six weeks in people with either CPEO or another disorder associated with single gene deletions affecting the eyes (Kearns–Sayre syndrome, KSS) in improving muscular function.
Competitive and professional bodybuilders, however, can often build up to two to three pounds of muscle per month during dedicated bulking periods. "But they are living and breathing muscle growth. They aren't just in and out of the gym like most people," Simpson says, noting that under extreme conditions, hyperplasia, or the growth in the number of muscle cells in a given muscle tissue, may actually occur, further adding to muscle growth results.
Trimethylglycine (TMG, betaine) is a dietary supplement and component of beet root, which is a methyl donor. It contributes to metabolic processes in the body which require a methyl group either directly (the methylation of homocysteine) or indirectly via replenishing the active form of folate or via replenishing S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe). As the synthesis of creatine (via GAMT) requires a donation from SAMe, it is thought that TMG can aid in creatine synthesis, which has been noted in the rat liver in the absence of creatine supplementation.
The first published results (not blinded) noted that a loading phase of 20g of creatine for a week, followed by 3g daily for up to six months, was able to enhance maximal voluntary isometric muscular contraction (MVIC) on a dynamometer for both the knee and elbow joints, with enhanced fatigue resistance on the same joints in more than half of subjects (53-70% response rate).
Foundational supplements are often overlooked for building muscle, because they work behind the scenes. In actuality, foundational supplements are important to take for building muscle, because they assist with overall health and wellness and contribute to the effectiveness of other muscle building supplements.* Some of the top foundational supplements are:
One case study exists of a man with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis who experienced an accelerated rate of GFR decline during supplementation (5g thrice daily for loading, then a 2g maintenance for seven weeks) which was partially reversed upon supplement cessation. This was deemed strong circumstantial evidence, and the brand of supplement was not named. Elsewhere, interstitial nephritis associated with creatine supplementation has been reported in a man, although symptoms arose four weeks after supplementation started with no evidence to support correlation. Some studies involving athletes and various dietary supplements have attempted to draw a correlation with creatine and cases of rhabdomyolysis. Finally, one study in a diabetic person ingesting both metformin and creatine resulting in metabolic acidosis has attempted to place causation on creatine, but it did not establish causation or circumstantial evidence.