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The Best Things to Take to Gain Muscle

by 
author image Jonathan Croswell
Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.
The Best Things to Take to Gain Muscle
Protein is essential for building muscle. Photo Credit: PaulBiryukov/iStock/GettyImages

Muscle gain is one of the primary goals of weightlifting. Building muscle mass is a process requiring an investment in several different areas, including strength training, proper rest and nutrition.

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A normal, balanced diet is enough to maintain a healthy body, but if you want to add muscle mass at a rapid rate, adding certain supplements enhances targeted weight training. Know which supplements are worth the investment when your goal is to gain muscle mass and get leaner.

1. Creatine

Creatine is one of the most popular types of muscle-building supplement. This compound is found naturally in the body and can help you take your workouts to the next level. It doesn’t directly increase your muscle size, but it supports your ability to train at a higher intensity.

Creatine converts to ATP — adenosine triphosphate, which is the primary fuel your muscles use when heaving big barbells. With creatine, you have more ATP available so you feel stronger and more energized and are thus able to heft heavier weights.

By enabling you to work harder, you get faster, more effective muscle-building results. Creatine is most effective when you take it consistently for four weeks and then abstain from it for one to four weeks.

2. Whey Protein

Whey protein is a derivative of milk and one of the most effective muscle-building supplements available. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2013 showed whey protein is superior to soy or carbohydrate supplements when it comes to increasing muscle growth.

Whey protein is fast digesting, so the amino acids that assist in muscle building get to working muscles quickly to help with growth and repair. Mix it into milk, juice or water, or blend it into a shake with fresh fruits, nut butter and greens.

Read more: 20 Best Muscle Building Foods

3. Glutamine

Glutamine is an amino acid that fuels cells as they rapidly divide, which enhances muscle growth and boosts the immune system. Your body naturally produces this amino acid and it’s directly related to your ability to absorb and use protein, essential to the muscle-building process.

Glutamine also improves your recovery time, so you can train harder more often. It’s proven to reduce inflammation and increase power, according to a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Metabolism in 2015.

You can take L-Glutamine safely year-round without any potential risks. However, you should not take L-Glutamine in conjunction with creatine. These two supplements compete for the same receptors in your body to be absorbed and thereby neutralize one another.

Read more: The 6 Rules of Gaining Muscle Mass

4. BCAAs

BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, make up 35 percent of your muscle mass. They include leucine, isoleucine and valine.

These three amino acids are special in that they carry nitrogen throughout your body to promote muscle development and help you produce insulin, which helps shuttle energy into your muscles for enhanced growth. They’re essential, meaning your body cannot produce them on its own and you must consume them through food, drink or supplements.

Taking BCAAs during, or immediately after, a workout helps counter your body’s depletion of glycogen and glucose so you continue to synthesize muscle, rather than burn it for fuel. Protein synthesis is crucial to the development of increased muscle mass.

Look for a blend that has a ratio of 4:1 of leucine to isoleucine and valine. This composition is best for muscle growth as when your levels of leucine are out of balance with other muscles, it actually interferes with anabolism, or muscle growth.

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