Exercise and diet. Yeah, you probably know by now that those are the two most important things for trying to build some muscle. They’re not the only things you can do, however. There are lots of supplements on the market that claim to be ideal for muscle gain. Some of them are talking nonsense, but others have an impressive scientific backing.

Creatine may be the most effective of the muscle-building supplements. It’s certainly one of the most popular. You can’t exercise without energy. Creatine boosts ATP, the chemical that provides energy to your body at the cellular level. More ATP means you can exercise more intensely for longer.

It’s not only ATP levels that are boosted by creatine. It may have an impact on other hormones, on the water level in your cells and on the way new proteins (and with them, muscles) grow. Once the muscles are there, it may help you retain them. That’s a lot of potential benefits for one supplement.

Speaking of proteins, another way of supplementing your muscle gain is to go straight to the protein shakes. Most people get enough protein through meat, dairy, nuts and seeds. Others might feel the benefit of supplementing the nutrient in charge of your muscle growth, particularly if they don’t have enough in their diet. Weight gainer supplements also contain protein, but it’s secondary to carbs. If you’re exercising really hard, you’ll burn a lot of calories as well as muscle and may need something extra to replace them.

Other supplements you may want to take include various amino acids, the building blocks that make up protein. Research is a bit more mixed on their effectiveness, but they’re still popular choices. Some may have other advantages, such as reducing fatigue. Amino acid supplements include beta-alanine as well as branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine). Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate is a molecule associated with the production of leucine and can be taken as a supplement.

Then there are other options like glutamine, carnitine and even testosterone. Of course, you can’t take all of these if you’re planning to enter competitions. Some supplements are more strongly supported by science than others, and not everyone will react in the same way to the same supplement, so make sure you do your research and talk to your doctor before making any decisions. Muscle building can be a complicated process.

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