A well-rounded fitness program should include both fat loss and lean muscle gain. The American Council on Exercise notes that resistance training, cardiovascular exercise and calorie moderation are essential components of your fitness plan. Assuming you've already made the necessary lifestyle changes, certain supplements may provide additional help in accomplishing your goals.
Athletes, weight lifters and bodybuilders use creatine to improve muscle size and strength. Creatine improves strength by giving muscles more energy for contraction. Creatine also increases muscle fullness and size by drawing water into muscle cells. Although the National Strength and Conditioning recognizes creatine as effective and generally safe, creatine supplementation may cause minor muscle cramps due to dehydration.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Leucine, isoleucine and valine make up the branched-chain amino acids. During resistance training, muscle proteins are broken down and metabolized for energy. The body must repair this damage before muscles can grow stronger. Supplementing with branched-chain amino acids before and after training can limit muscle breakdown and ensure that more recovery time is dedicated to new muscle growth. Although BCAAs are considered to be safe, consult your physician before you start taking them.
Caffeine, which occurs naturally in coffee, tea and chocolate, is among the most widely used drugs in the world. Also available in supplement form, caffeine may improve fat burning, according to The Physician and Sports Medicine Journal. A moderate dose of caffeine taken before exercise seems to increase the amount of fat oxidized for energy. Caffeine is also a central nervous system stimulant which boosts metabolism and overall calorie burning. Do not use caffeine as an exercise aid if you have a heart condition or blood pressure issue.
Protein as an all-purpose nutrient which aids both muscle gain and fat loss according to nutrition expert Mauro Di Pasquale, M.D. Protein, which the body uses to build muscle following training, also stimulates metabolism, leading to increased fat burning. Whey protein is an effective supplement because it digests quickly, mixes well in shakes and has a mild taste. While protein supplementation is generally safe, those with kidney disorders may be unable to handle increased protein in their diet.