The best supplements for gaining mass are not exotic, new or expensive. These bodybuilding and weightlifting staples have been around for years. They help your body expand muscle cells, produce energy faster and quickly repair damaged muscle fibers after intense workouts. When it comes to gaining mass, there are no magic pills or potions, but these supplements have a lot of science to back them up and can increase your training results more than proper diet and exercise alone.
Taking in carbs after your workout triggers release of the most anabolic or muscle-building hormone that your body possesses: insulin. Taking 60 to 100g of carbohydrates from dextrose, maltodextrin or waxy maize causes the pancreas to release insulin, driving much-needed nutrients into your starved muscle cells, according to the "Muscle & Fitness" article "The Carbo Rater" by Jordana Brown.
Your body needs protein to build mass because its amino acids make up the raw materials that rebuild your muscles. Whey protein is the fastest digesting protein, according to "Homemade Supplement Secrets" by Jeff Anderson. Take 30 to 50g of whey immediately after your workout, preferably with carbohydrates. Other excellent times to take whey are upon waking, between meals or as meal-replacement shakes.
The opposite of whey, casein protein is the slowest-digesting and comes from dairy protein sources such as milk and cottage cheese. Micellar casein is the highest quality form of this protein, according to "Supplements 101" by Jim Stoppani in the 2010 "Muscle & Fitness: The Ultimate Supplement Handbook." The slow digestion creates a trickle effect of muscle-building amino acids that last from four to eight hours. This makes casein a perfect source of protein before you go to bed. Take 20 to 40g before bed, between meals or mixed with your post-workout shake.
Creatine is an effective mass-gaining supplement because it makes your muscles physically larger, almost immediately, according to "Natural Anabolics" by Jerry Brainum. It is common for first-time creatine users to gain five to 10 pounds in less than two weeks because of this muscle-expanding effect. It works by drawing water into your muscle cells, but this is not creatine's primary muscle-building effect. It also helps your body produce energy faster to fuel harder workouts and quickly repair damaged muscles. Take 5 to 10g after your workouts and at least 3g on non-workout days upon waking.
Like creatine, L-glutamine can expand muscle cells, according to "Good News on Glutamine" by Matthew Kadey in the March 2010 issue of "Muscle & Performance." Moreover, L-glutamine boosts anabolic growth hormone levels, supports proper immune function and replenishes glutamine stores lost during intense training. Take 5 to 10g, before, during or after your workout as well as before bed.
- Muscle & Fitness: The Ultimate Supplement Handbook; "The Carbo Rater"; Jordana Brown, January 2010
- "Homemade Supplement Secrets"; Jeff Anderson; 2008
- Muscle & Fitness: The Ultimate Supplement Handbook; "Supplements 101"; Jim Stoppani, January 2010
- "Natural Anabolics"; Jerry Brainum; 2006
- Muscle & Performance; "Good News on Glutamine"; Matthew Kadey, March 2010