- 1 Effectively Supplementing Your Diet
- 2 Effectively Supplementing the Muscle Building Process
- 3 Conclusion
- 4 More Tips on Supplement Buying?
If your goal is to gain muscle mass, best using weight gain and muscle supplements shouldn’t be your first consideration.
You should first look at designing a diet that will provide the body the materials to build muscle and a training program that will encourage muscle growth.
You build muscle through diet and through training, through desire and determination.
No one ever succeeds or fails based on whether or not they used weight gain and muscle supplements. They succeed or fail based on the strength of their dieting and training practices, on the strength of their desire and determination.
People successfully build very impressive physiques without the use of muscle supplements…
They always have…
On the left is the Farnese Hercules, a copy of the ancient sculpture from the 4th century BC, or to put it another way about 2264 BBP (Before Bill Phillips). On the right is a photo of Eugene Sandow from about 67 BBP. Sandow, considered the “Father of Modern Day Bodybuilding,” reputedly died in 1925 without ever handling a shaker bottle.
Weight gain and muscle supplements aren’t necessary. They can, however, be a valuable modern-day addition to an otherwise strong program. Used effectively, the best dietary weight gain supplements can turn a diet from average to excellent. They can open the door to big muscle gains for a person who can’t otherwise maintain a solid muscle-building diet.
The best muscle supplements, used correctly, can also give the body just a little bit more muscle building power.
Effectively Supplementing Your Diet
Before you even think about the muscle supplements you have to plan your diet. Check the weight gain diets page and related pages for help in putting together a diet capable of building muscle.
With an idea of the amount of calories and the macronutrient ratio you want to attain, start figuring out how you are going to meet your dietary goals on a daily basis. This is the tough part of a successful mass gain program.
Fitting a well-balanced high calorie diet into a busy schedule can be a challenge. And if you can’t consistently meet that challenge, you simply can’t gain significant muscle mass.
Dietary weight gain supplements can help you meet the challenge.
- Vitamin and Mineral supplements can help insure the body is not deficient in any of the micronutrients necessary for muscle gain.
- Meal replacements and weight gainers can provide quick, complete and nutritious meals.
- Whey protein powders and flaxseed oils can help you shore up your diet’s weak spots.
Dietary supplements can make dieting for muscle gain doable but…
Do NOT become overly reliant on dietary supplements.
Always opt for whole food nutrition when the choice is available. Despite what the labels of certain meal replacements or weight gainers may try to make you believe, there is no magical muscle building formula contained within them. They are just calories. If a chicken took a marketing course, she could much more legitimately hype her eggs as muscle supplements then any powder or potion the supplement companies can conjure up.
Solid food has many advantages. You need your digestive system working hard. At the absolute maximum, 50% of your calories should come from liquid sources.
The possible exception to the “always opt for solid, whole food nutrition” rule occurs post-workout. Here, studies have shown that it is extremely important to get nutrition to your muscles as soon as possible after a workout. Liquids are digested faster and therefore a protein/carbohydrate shake can be advantageous.
While whole foods are superior to supplements, supplements are vastly superior to not getting the nutrition you need. Without the proper muscle building nutrition, your muscles simply will not grow.
So, where your diet needs help, you plug in supplements. If you need more protein, you add whey protein powder. If you need essential fatty acids, you add flax seed oil. Etc. Use weight gain supplements to supplement your diet, not to be it.
“How many weight gain shakes should I drink?” or “How much whey protein should I use?” or…
My in-box is constantly filled with these questions…
My answer is as little as possible, so long as you are getting all the muscle building nutrition you need. These questions come from people who are basing their diets on supplements. This is a mistake. A big mistake.
Again, the base of your diet should be solid, whole food nutrition. Plan your diet out this way and how much you need (or don’t need) of any supplement will be clear. See my sample weight gain diet for an example.
Effective use of weight gain supplements is supplementing your diet to the point where it has given your body the ability to build muscle.
Only then, when your diet shows sufficient ability to support muscle growth, should you consider muscle supplements…
Effectively Supplementing the Muscle Building Process
Muscle supplements (muscle building supplements) are those whose primary purpose is not to provide calories but rather to augment a part of the muscle building process.
Again, before considering any muscle supplements you should be consistently consuming a solid weight gain diet. If you aren’t doing this, the only thing any muscle supplements will give you is expensive urine. Skip the middle-man and just flush your money directly down the toilet.
Muscle supplements can’t help your body build muscle when you aren’t giving it the necessary raw materials to do so. That’s like hiring a brick-layer and expecting him to build you a house without any bricks.
Unfortunately, this is where many inexperienced trainers start their supplementing – they buy into the massive amount of supplement hype and spend massive amounts of money on ridiculous products.. They buy the glamour muscle supplements based on “amazing discoveries” by the supplement companies’ “top team of scientists.” And they don’t gain a thing except an empty wallet.
For more information on the business of supplement hype, how supplements are regulated, and why you shouldn’t put a lot of faith in anything on a supplement’s packaging and promotion, check out this article… Bodybuilding Nutrition: Avoiding Supplement Hype.
There are very few proven effective muscle supplements. Creatine and Glutamine are the only two that really stand out as consistent difference makers, the two who can claim to be the best muscle supplements.
- Creatine, when used effectively, can help increase the speed with which ATP is regenerated. This can increase the total weight you are able to lift in a set, allowing you to greater stress your muscles and therefore encourage greater muscle growth.
- Glutamine works to increase your muscles’ ability to recover, repair and rebuild themselves after being subjected to an intense weight training session.
From there, when all your bases are sufficiently covered and you still find some wiggle room in your bodybuilding budget, if you want to venture further into the murky world of bodybuilding supplements, you may find some additional help in supplements like ZMA and others.
What about those muscle supplements that have multiple ingredients?
These supplements include whey, creatine, glutamine and any number of other stuff in their ingredient’s list, offering an all-in-one solution to your supplementing needs.
These “super muscle supplements” rarely present a good deal. They often include negligible amounts of some of the ingredients they trumpet (amounts too small to have any effect). The quality of these mixtures should also be questioned.
Even when the above is not a problem, they are usually priced much higher than their individual ingredients would require, apparently charging you a great amount to mix it together.
You are generally better off to control the quantity and quality of what you consume. You’ll also save significant money by buying stuff separately and doing your own mixing.
Smart and effective supplementing basically boils down to ignoring all the noise generated by the supplement company’s marketing practices and instead stepping back and appropriately evaluating what you actually need.
Using supplements as their name suggests, to supplement an otherwise strong muscle building plan will allow you to keep the focus of that plan exactly where it needs to be – on the dieting and weight training portions. With this focus, you will get the muscle gain results you want.
More Tips on Supplement Buying?
Visit the Bodybuilding Supplement Guide’s About Page for some more tips on how to buy bodybuilding supplements and what you should and shouldn’t be paying for them.
And, of course, visit the Bodybuilding Supplement Guide for a complete listing of the proven effective weight gain and muscle supplements.