Muscle performance supplements: What works and what doesn’t

If you’re aiming to boost your muscle performance, whether for sports, bodybuilding, or overall fitness, understanding the role of supplements can be a game changer. 

These products promise enhanced muscle growth, recovery, and overall performance. But with so many options on the market, knowing which supplements are effective and which might not live up to the hype is crucial.

This post will explore various muscle performance supplements, highlighting which ones are backed by science and which ones might not be worth your money. 

With a focus on credible research and expert insights, you’ll get the information you need to decide which supplements could help you meet your fitness goals.

Do supplements increase muscle?

Frequent strength training activities, such as resistance training or lifting weights, cause tiny damage to muscle fibers, which promotes the creation of new muscles [1].

Protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats must be consumed appropriately to support muscle growth and aid in the recovery process after exercise.

If you give your muscles enough rest and recuperation between sessions, they can mend and become stronger over time, eventually increasing your performance.

Understanding these fundamental principles of muscle growth and performance can help you optimize your training routine and achieve your fitness goals more effectively.

Which supplement is best for muscle growth?

Explore the proven powerhouses of muscle performance supplementation—creativity, protein, BCAAs, beta-alanine, and omega-3s—backed by solid scientific evidence. 

Discover how these supplements can optimize strength, endurance, and muscle growth to help you achieve your fitness goals. 

Elevate your performance and recovery with these evidence-based supplements, trusted by athletes and fitness enthusiasts worldwide.

1. Creatine

Discover the muscle-boosting potential of creatine, a powerhouse supplement backed by science. Enhance your strength, power, and performance with this well-researched compound trusted by athletes worldwide.

Powerhouse molecule: Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in muscle cells, where it plays a key role in energy production during high-intensity activities like weightlifting and sprinting.

Boosts strength and power: By increasing the body’s stores of phosphocreatine, creatine supplementation provides a readily available source of ATP, the primary fuel for muscle contractions. 

This translates to improved strength, power, and performance in the gym or on the field.

Supported by science: Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of creatine supplementation, showing significant increases in muscle mass, strength, and exercise capacity, especially during short-duration, high-intensity efforts.

Incorporating creatine into your supplement regimen can help you push through plateaus, recover faster, and maximize your muscle gains. Just remember to stay hydrated and follow recommended dosages for optimal results.

2. Protein supplements

Unlock the power of protein supplements to fuel your muscle growth and recovery journey. From whey to plant-based options, discover convenient and effective ways to support your fitness goals with these essential supplements.

Muscle repair and growth: Protein is an important part of any athlete’s or fitness enthusiast’s diet because it is necessary for both growing and repairing muscular tissue [2].

Variety of options: From whey and casein to plant-based proteins like pea or hemp, there’s a protein supplement to suit every dietary preference and lifestyle.

Post-workout recovery: Consuming protein supplements after exercise helps replenish amino acids lost during workouts, promoting faster recovery and muscle adaptation.

Convenience and versatility: Protein powders are convenient for on-the-go consumption and can be easily incorporated into smoothies, shakes, or recipes for a quick and nutritious boost.

Protein supplements are a valuable tool in your arsenal. Whether you’re looking to recover faster, build lean muscle, or support your overall fitness goals, they should be paired with a balanced diet and consistent exercise routine for optimal results.

protein supplements

3. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)

These amino acids aid in reducing muscle damage, speeding up recovery, and boosting endurance during intense workouts. Elevate your performance and recovery with BCAA supplements, trusted by athletes worldwide.

Muscle preservation: Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are the BCAAs that are necessary for preserving muscle mass, particularly during rigorous exercise or periods of calorie restriction.  

Enhanced recovery: These amino acids are essential for promoting quicker muscle recovery in between training sessions and minimizing the damage that exercise causes to muscles.  

Supports endurance: BCAAs can also help delay fatigue during prolonged exercise, allowing you to push harder and longer during your workouts.

Incorporating BCAA supplements into your routine can help optimize muscle preservation, recovery, and performance, whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting your fitness journey. So, whether you’re hitting the gym or hitting the pavement, BCAAs have got your back.

4. Beta-alanine

Beta-alanine’s ability to raise muscle carnosine levels, which function as a buffer against the accumulation of acid during strenuous exercise, makes longer and more effective training sessions possible.

Supplementing with beta-alanine can help you perform better and surpass your limitations.

Muscle buffering: Beta-alanine increases carnosine levels in the muscles, acting as a buffer against acidity buildup during high-intensity exercise.

Improved performance: By delaying the onset of muscle fatigue, beta-alanine supplementation can help you push harder and longer during your workouts, whether you’re lifting weights or sprinting [3].

Research-backed benefits: A vital complement to any athlete’s supplement routine, beta-alanine has been demonstrated in numerous studies to significantly boost exercise performance, especially during exercises lasting 1-4 minutes.

Including beta-alanine in your regimen will help you get the most out of your workouts and reach your fitness objectives faster.

So, whether you’re aiming to set a new personal best or simply improve your overall endurance, beta-alanine has got you covered.

5. Omega-3 fatty acids

These powerful nutrients boast anti-inflammatory properties, aiding in muscle recovery and reducing post-workout soreness. Elevate your muscle function and recovery with omega-3-rich foods or supplements, ensuring you’re primed for peak performance.

Anti-inflammatory properties: Omega-3s possess potent anti-inflammatory effects, helping to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation after intense workouts.

Muscle recovery: By supporting faster muscle recovery, omega-3 fatty acids enable you to bounce back quicker from strenuous exercise and get back to training sooner.

Improved muscle function: Studies suggest that omega-3 supplementation may enhance muscle protein synthesis and overall muscle function, particularly in older adults or individuals with conditions like arthritis.

Incorporating omega-3-rich foods like fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts into your diet or taking fish oil supplements can help optimize your muscle health and performance. So, whether you’re hitting the gym or pounding the pavement, don’t forget to include omega-3s in your nutritional arsenal.

Is it true that supplements don’t work?

Explore supplements that may not live up to their muscle-boosting claims, backed by limited evidence and uncertain efficacy. Learn about these supplements’ potential pitfalls and safety concerns. 

Navigate the supplement market wisely, prioritizing evidence-based options for optimal muscle performance and overall well-being.

Testosterone boosters

Learn about the limited evidence supporting their efficacy and the potential risks associated with their use. 

Navigate the landscape of muscle performance supplements wisely, weighing the pros and cons of testosterone boosters for your individual fitness goals.

  • Promises of muscle growth: Testosterone boosters claim to increase levels of this hormone, which is crucial for muscle development and strength.
  • Limited evidence: While testosterone is indeed vital for muscle growth, the effectiveness of these supplements in healthy individuals is uncertain, with limited scientific support.
  • Potential risks: Some testosterone boosters may come with risks, including hormonal imbalances, liver damage, and other adverse effects, particularly when used long-term or in high doses [4].

While these supplements may seem enticing, it’s essential to approach them with caution and consider alternative strategies for optimizing muscle performance, such as proper nutrition and exercise. 

testosterone boosters
Photograph: GeorgeRudy/Envato

Weight gain powders

Discover the muscle-building potential of weight gain powders, designed to help you pack on mass and achieve your desired physique. 

These convenient supplements offer a calorie-dense solution for individuals struggling to meet their daily energy needs through diet alone.

  • Calorie boost: Weight gain powders typically contain a high concentration of calories, making them appealing to individuals seeking to increase their muscle mass and overall body weight.
  • Convenient option: These powders offer a convenient way to consume additional calories, especially for those with busy lifestyles or small appetites.
  • Potential pitfalls: However, it’s essential to approach weight gain powders with caution, as some may contain excessive sugars, fillers, or artificial ingredients, potentially leading to unwanted fat gain rather than lean muscle growth.

When considering weight gain powders, be sure to prioritize quality ingredients and consider consulting with a healthcare professional or nutritionist to ensure they align with your fitness goals and dietary needs.

Other lesser-known supplements

These supplements promise to enhance strength, recovery, and overall athletic performance. 

However, it’s essential to approach them with caution and seek guidance from a healthcare professional to ensure their safety and efficacy for your individual needs.

  • Deer antler velvet: Claimed to improve strength and athletic performance, deer antler velvet contains insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), and other growth factors thought to promote muscle growth.
  • Tribulus Terrestris: Marketed as a natural testosterone booster, tribulus terrestris is believed to enhance muscle strength and recovery, although scientific evidence supporting its efficacy is limited [5].
  • Fenugreek: Known for its potential to increase testosterone levels and improve exercise performance, fenugreek may also aid in muscle recovery and growth.

While these supplements may have promising theoretical benefits, it’s crucial to approach them with skepticism and consider consulting with a healthcare professional before adding them to your supplement regimen.

Closing thoughts

You can support muscle growth, endurance, and recovery by incorporating evidence-based supplements like creatine, protein, BCAAs, beta-alanine, and omega-3 fatty acids into your routine. 

However, it’s essential to approach supplementation wisely, prioritizing quality products and consulting with a healthcare professional to ensure safety and effectiveness.

By taking a holistic approach to muscle performance, you can set yourself up for long-term success and unlock your full potential in the gym and beyond. 

So, fuel your body with the right nutrients, train smart, and keep pushing towards your fitness goals with confidence.

FAQs

Are protein supplements necessary for building muscle?

While it’s possible to meet protein needs through diet alone, protein supplements can be convenient for ensuring adequate protein intake, especially for athletes or those with higher protein requirements.

Do BCAAs help with muscle recovery?

Yes, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) can aid in muscle recovery by reducing exercise-induced muscle damage and promoting faster repair and adaptation, particularly when consumed before or during workouts.

Can omega-3 fatty acids improve muscle growth?

While omega-3 fatty acids are not directly involved in muscle synthesis, their anti-inflammatory properties may support muscle recovery and overall muscle health, indirectly contributing to muscle growth over time.

What is creatine, and how does it work?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in muscle cells that helps produce energy during high-intensity exercise. It works by increasing the body’s stores of phosphocreatine, a key component in ATP synthesis, the primary energy source for muscle contractions.

[1] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/resistance-training-health-benefits
[2] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/sporting-performance-and-food
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3374095/
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5870326/
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9368143/

Photograph: gstockstudio/Envato
The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.