Supplements for Muscle Growth

Supplements for Muscle Growth

Many people regularly do strength-resistance exercise such as a weight lifting or a home-gym machine program, or simple push-ups and pull-ups. If the results of these workouts are unsatisfactory, attention turns to supplements for muscle growth. There is a vast array of muscle-supplement products that are used to promote muscle growth on the market; they're sold in stores and sometimes on the black market. Here, we'll examine several of the most popular of these and explore how they work, what to expect and potential concerns when using each.

Protein Supplements
Proteins are the building blocks of muscles, and it's no surprise that even large chain retailers are now carrying various forms of protein supplements. According to a scientific study in Sports Medicine, protein is very beneficial to muscle growth, but timing is a major factor influencing protein's effectiveness.

According to the Sports Medicine study results, ingesting protein--usually in the form of a shake or beverage--should be done both before and after exercise for maximum muscle growth. Carbohydrates should be included as well, so the body has something to burn while using protein to enhance muscle gains.

Creatine monohydrate (usually referred to as creatine) is the most popular supplement used for muscle growth among athletes, says the Mayo Clinic. This supplement is also widely available, although a bit on the pricey side.

Creatine works by increasing the release of a compound in the body called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This chemical stores and transports energy to the muscles, and is mainly useful in resistance strength training such as weight lifting where quick bursts of activity are needed, helping to maximize workout muscle gains, while at the same time delaying muscle fatigue.

Commonly used to boost endurance and energy for muscle gains, stimulants are widely available over-the-counter. Nearly every supplement mixture available without prescription that claims to burn fat and promote muscle growth in a pill form contains a very common stimulant on the ingredient list--caffeine--and usually in large amounts.

While caffeine, as a stimulant, may promote increased mental alertness and hence promote physical activity resulting in muscle growth, it is also a diuretic. Diuretics are substances that drain the body of water, and using one for muscle growth poses risks such as fatigue and dehydration.

Hormone Supplements
Hormone supplements boost testosterone levels to enhance protein synthesis--the ability of muscles to use protein to grow. Two of these supplements have garnered substantial media attention.

Androstenedione, or "andro," is one of these. It is a hormone produced naturally from the adrenal gland, and often used as a supplement to help promote muscle growth. Human growth hormone, or HGH, is another type of hormone supplement, listed by the Mayo Clinic as having the ability to promote muscle growth, as well as possessing potential antiaging capabilities.

These supplements are banned for use in professional sports in the United States--most notably in baseball, where their use has been heavily reported on. Although they do work, hormone supplements are illegal to possess in the U.S. without a prescription, and can have dangerous side effects.

The four types of supplements for muscle growth discussed here are only a sampling of what's available. Some have proved to be healthy and effective in growing muscle, others risky and potentially detrimental to health.

If you're looking to find the right supplement for muscle gain, your best bet is to discuss the matter with your doctor. Your doctor will know your medical history, what medications you're currently taking (if any), and can make an educated determination on what the best supplement in terms of muscle growth is for you.