Some people can literally look at a free weight and get beautifully sculped and defined muscles. Others, like myself, can lift a lot heavier weight than we seem on first glance and yet the muscle growth and definition takes a longer time and a lot more hard work. Mind you, I’m not talking about the muscle-bound women found in bodybuilding magazines, (sorry, but ew), rather the lean and defined muscular look like the girl shown at right.
So, how does one put on lean muscle? Well, with commitment to the right exercise program you CAN change the shape of your body but there are also a number of supplements that can help get you there. These supplements can be used to boost energy levels. That being said, if you aren’t eating a clean, healthy diet (no chemicals, additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, refined sugars, GMOs, etc), then don’t waste your money ordering a truckload of supplements because all it will do is add further stress to an already exhausted liver. Once you are committed to these lifestyle changes, then adding some of the following supplements is the next logical step. While these are not the only beneficial supplements for weight training by any means, they are simply the ones I either personally use and/or have recommended to my clients with good results (in no particular order):
1. BCAAs: Branched Chain Amino Acids are 3 amino acids (isoleucine, leucine and valine) that may help you have increased energy during your workouts. They are also involved in creating new muscle tissue and can help protect your muscles from the catabolic (muscle breakdown) effect of dieting.
Preferred brand: The powder form from AOR, which has no other ingredients; It tastes a little bitter on it’s own though, so I recommend adding a tsp of Truvia. Dosage: 1 scoop with water before and/or after your workout.
2. CLA: An omega 6 fatty acid, Conjugated Linoleic Acid is different than other omega-6 fats in that it supports fat loss while promoting muscle growth and strength.
Preferred brand: Genestra Dosage: Take 1 cap 3x/day with meals.
3. B-Complex: B-vitamins help your body derive energy from the food you eat and helps get oxygen to muscle tissue. Certain B vitamins also help the body use the protein you’re eating to help build muscle properly.
Preferred brand: While many professional brands make good quality B-complex formulas, I like Orti B from Genestra Dosage: 1 capsule/day with a meal, but there are plenty of other protein products that you can get yourself.
4. Magnesium: Without Magnesium the body cannot produce adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP). ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism and is critically important in building lean muscle. If you have muscle or joint pain or spasms, magnesium may help to relax your muscles and ease the aches. Additionally, magnesium helps to block excess calcium from depositing in your muscles. I recommend Magnesium Bisglycinate since it’s readily absorbable and easier on the digestive system than other forms.
Preferred Brand: CanPrev. Dosage: 1 – 2 capsules/day.
5. Matcha Tea: While you can take Green Tea Extract in supplement form, I prefer to drink it in my tea! Green tea extract contains EGCG – epigallocatechen gallate – which helps muscle recovery after intense workouts, and increases metabolic rate and fat burning. To learn more about matcha tea and how to make the perfect latte to replace your morning coffee, click HERE.
Preferred Brand: DoMatcha Dosage: 2 cups/day
6. Bovine Colostrum: Yep, that’s exactly what it sounds like but it’s not as weird as you might think! Colostrum is the initial type of breast milk mothers produce during pregnancy and for several days after giving birth. It has high levels of protein, fat-soluble vitamins, minerals and antibodies called immunoglobulins. (The molecular structure of colostrum from cows is identical to human colostrum). Several studies suggest that colostrum supplements may improve exercise performance and increase lean body mass, especially during periods of high-intensity training and recovery from high-intensity training.
Preferred brand: SurThrival, which is not de-fatted like other brands, is verified 6 Hour Colostrum, tested to be free from herbicides, antibiotics and hormones, and taken only after baby calves have had their share. You can purchase SurThrival Colostrum HERE. Dosage: 3 capsules, 2x/day on an empty stomach.
7. Vitamin C: Vitamin C fights free radicals created by weight training, reduces cortisol production (cortisol breaks down muscle tissue and tends to promote extra abdominal fat storage), and helps decrease muscle soreness.
Preferred brand: AOR – Vitamin C with Bioflavanoids Dosage: 1 capsule/day with a meal.
8. L- Glutamine: An amino acid, L-glutamine has many benefits including improved muscular recovery, lower levels of muscular pain, and reduced risk of muscle breakdown. Additionally, it’s very beneficial for intestinal health, so you will be able to utilize all the nutrients you eat in your diet, which in turn helps build lean muscle.
Preferred brand: AOR Dosage: 1 capsule, 2x/day.
9. Coconut Oil: Coconut oil improves endurance and athletic performance, promotes fat burning, and maintains muscle mass. What this means is that it is one of the best ways to get lean AND ripped. Many people are afraid of the fat content in coconut oil but I assure you it’s very different than other types of fat. Learn more about the benefits of coconut oil HERE.
Preferred brand: Spectrum Naturals – Coconut Oil Unrefined Dosage: 1 teaspoon, 1 – 3 times per day, preferably before and after your workout.
10. Whey protein: Due to its complete protein content, Whey protein, derived from cow’s milk, helps increase muscle mass while decreasing body fat. It also helps enhance exercise performance and protect against free radicals. While there are many brands and types of whey protein, one thing is certain: steer clear of brands made with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and Aculfame K. There is also some debate as to whether it is better to use Whey protein in concentrate or isolate form – each have pros and cons. For example, whey concentrates contain high amounts of lactose, which many people are sensitive to, however they contain more health promoting compounds. Isolates, on the other hand, are more rapidly absorbed and contain higher amounts of protein.
Preferred brand: (Kosher-certified) Integrated Supplements; For those who do not require Kosher certification, I prefer the comprehensive combination of healthy ingredients in Shakeology (they have 2 vegan options as well which contain plant-based proteins instead of whey if you are sensitive/allergic to whey protein and want to help build lean muscle). Dosage: 1 serving per day.
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Have you tried any of the above items? I’d love to hear your feedback on the supplements that worked for you and the ones you felt were a waste of time or money.