The best supplements for muscle growth are considered to be pre workout supplements, intra workout supplements (BCAA’s) and post workout protein powder supplements.
This is a muscle-building supplement trifecta that many trainers and athletes feel can be used together to get the maximum benefits and the best performance out of your workouts.
We are going to look into these 3 types of supplements which work in combination to enhance your exercise program from start to finish.
Pre Workout Supplements
The first category that I believe is the most critical to my exercise routine is the pre workout supplement. You may be familiar with the term “pre workout” since it is probably the most popular and heavily advertised supplement.
Its popularity is for good reason because pre workouts can come with huge benefits. Not only do they help to have a more intense workout, but it also brings increased energy and focus.
It gives you that “muscle pump” through vascularisation. The amino acids through some chemical processes recharge your muscles between sets by bringing greater amounts of nutrients and oxygen to the muscle tissue.
This brings you noticeably more strength and stamina while keeping you from fatiguing.
Since our bodies all react differently to certain products and ingredients, I’ll give a brief summary of the different pre workout options available to you.
Traditional Pre Workouts
What I consider to be the “Traditional Pre Workout” category is the most popular and largest brand names. They are usually on the eye-level shelf at nutritional stores and are made with the strongest ingredients.
They tend to contain a the highest amounts of Caffeine, Amino Acids including Creatine as well as other nutrients. The “traditional” category may also be the Best Tasting Pre Workouts. However, these contain artificial ingredients such as colors, flavors, and sugars.
The ingredients are not grown or manufactured to be certified chemical-free. There is nothing wrong with these “traditional pre workouts” as there haven’t been any reports of being harmful. Whether to use these or not is based mainly on personal diet preferences.
All Natural Pre Workouts
All Natural pre workout supplements come with all the zip as the traditional ones. The difference is that they don’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, or sugars.
They usually contain strong ingredients, but the flavor may not be as strong because of the natural ingredients. Personally, I prefer a low key taste anyway.
Natural Pre Workouts are becoming a very popular category since most fitness enthusiasts don’t seem to care about how pretty the color is if they have a healthier option.
Organic Pre Workouts
The Organic supplement category is the fasted growing in the fitness industry. Organic pre workout supplements are manufactured with the purest ingredients and are regulated by the USDA Organic agency. They are held to the highest standard in the food industry.
Not only are they made without artificial ingredients, but they are also must be manufactured without the use of any fertilizers, chemicals, or pesticides.
I’ve had good results with Organic Pre Workouts myself, and they receive great online reviews. If there is any downside to Organic, it is that they may cost a bit more and are not as powerful.
Vegan Plant-Based Pre Workouts
Vegan plant-based products are just as they sound. Manufactured without the use of any animal or dairy products. Usually, these ingredients are also ecologically friendly. In other words, they take extra care not to harm the environment in the process.
Many Vegan Plant-Based Pre Workout Supplements are manufactured under USDA Organic guidelines, but not all of them.
Plant-based Vegan is the smallest pre workout category, so there is not as much of a selection. Vegan pre workouts tend to have less Amino Acids per serving because plant material is not as concentrated as animal proteins.
Men’s Vs Women’s Pre Workouts
Men’s and women’s bodies process supplements very similarly. However, some brands market their product specifically towards each gender.
Some of the key factors for this are metabolism, tolerance to certain ingredients (especially Caffeine), differences in body weight, and the genetics between men and women.
This being said, Women’s Pre Workout Supplements are usually not as strong and they may contain less Caffeine. Since women are generally lighter in weight, this has a large effect on the quantity and strength of their pre workouts.
Women’s pre workouts are also aimed more towards the ladies by being sugar-free and zero calories. Sometimes they even come with a pink label that the manufacturers feel women adore.
Men’s Pre Workout Supplements are made with stronger ingredients. The theory behind this difference in product strength is because of the body size and a higher metabolism to process these ingredients.
Men also have less of a tendency for weight gain, so they may not focus on fat burning aspects as much.
Caffeine Free Pre Workouts
Caffeine is a powerful natural stimulant which is the main ingredient that gives energy to most pre workouts. Some pre workouts contain up to 400mg of this ingredient! For those that are caffeine intolerant, this amount of Caffeine can result in anxiety, nausea, discomfort, and even rashes.
Fortunately, some manufacturers have come up with a great alternative. Caffeine Free Pre Workout Supplements contain a larger quantity of Amino Acids such as Creatine, Nitric Oxide and Beta Alanine to make up for this missing stimulant.
There are several effective stimulant-free pre workouts that come with good user reviews. Many Organic and Vegan Pre Workout brands come with a natural blend that may contain less Caffeine, so check the nutritional facts label for Caffeine quantities.
Creatine Free Pre Workouts
Creatine is a well known, widely studied substance that is naturally made in the body. It has been shown to improve strength, power, and endurance. However, as with many ingredients, some of us react differently than others. If you are Creatine intolerant this could result in discomfort and water retention.
If this is the case, the Creatine Free Pre Workout Supplements available are just as good as the regular ones. They contain enough energy and Aminos to give you all of the performance that you will need.
⇒ If you have any questions or comments regarding the different categories of pre workouts, please leave a message at the bottom and I will respond.
Pre Workout Ingredients
- Caffeine is a natural stimulant that is the most important ingredient for energy. Teacrine is another form of Caffeine naturally extracted from the tea leaf.
- Nitric Oxide and L-Citrulline. These Amino Acids synthesize to open up the veins for blood flow and vascularization to bring more oxygen and nutrients to the muscle tissue. This brings faster muscle recovery between sets, movements, sprints, or trials.
- Beta-Alanine is another Amino that increases muscle carnosine. Increased carnosine buffers the negative side effects of the hydrogen accumulation in the muscles when exercise intensity increases. This improves muscle performance.
- Creatine creates the primary fuel source in the muscles for high intensity, short duration activities. Creatine maintains these energy stores which increases muscle strength.
- L-Leucine, L-Taurine, L-Tyrosine, L-Arginine are essential Amino Acids responsible for protein synthesis, muscle growth, and recovery. They also help to increase strength, muscular endurance, and training volume.
- Pre Workouts for fat burn include thermogenic ingredients.
Intra Workout Supplements or BCAA’s
Intra workouts are composed of a particular group of BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids) that provide nutrients and hydration to your body. They are called intra, because they are to be used “during” your workout.
This supplement is necessary to keep up the same level of stamina throughout your workout. They help to keep your muscles charged and fight fatigue.
Aminos are the building blocks for protein synthesis in your body, and muscle tissue cannot perform or grow without them. Therefore, Amino Acids and muscle growth go hand in hand.
Intra workouts also contain vitamins and minerals which are the electrolytes for hydration. This keeps your energy strong and reduces fatigue much better than water alone can.
You have probably seen that “muscle guy” at the gym carrying around a gallon jug around with brightly colored blue or red liquid. This most likely is his Intra Workout Supplement or BCAA. Of course, you can drink it out of a normal type of bottle.
Intra Workout powders can come in a few different options as well. You can find “All Natural”, caffeine free, or sugar free.
If you have any questions or comments regarding Intra Workout BCAA’s, please leave them in the space and the bottom and I will respond.
Intra Workout Ingredients
- BCAA’s include 3 essential Amino Acids: L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine. These Aminos stimulate muscle protein synthesis. This will help to maintain strength, performance, muscular endurance, and fighting fatigue.
- Vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B complex, magnesium, calcium, sodium, potassium. These are the critical electrolytes that keep your body recharged, energized, and hydrated during your workout.
Post Workout Protein Powders
Studies have shown that the peak absorption time for you to consume protein powders is about an hour after you finish exercising.
Additional protein is mandatory for increased muscle mass or muscle tone. A protein powder supplement will help to quickly rebuild your muscles stronger than they were before. Muscle recovery cannot occur without these Aminos, so it is critical to get plenty of them.
There are several different theories on the amount of protein that is needed post workout and most of this depends on your body weight and personal goals.
The majority of people in the fitness industry recommend using 20-40grams of protein for a serving. If you have the option to eat a well-balanced meal instead, you should always take this over these powder forms.
If your protein powder happens to give you gas, try drinking it slower or get a protein powder that doesn’t cause bloating.
Men’s Vs Women’s Protein Powders
The differences between men’s and women’s protein powders supplements are basically the same as that of the pre workouts. Women tend to weigh less and have a slower metabolism. Therefore, women do not need the same amount of Amino Acid proteins or other post workout nutrients.
Women also tend to gain weight more easily. Because of this, the best Protein Powder for Women will be lower in calories, carbohydrates, and many times sugar-free. Women prefer to look thin and more toned than bulky.
On the other hand, the best Protein Powder for Men is the exact opposite. Men are more concerned with muscle growth and size. Because of this, men’s protein powders contain more calories and Amino Acid proteins. Most men are interested in putting on more muscle mass.
Most quality powders should have a sufficient amount of proteins for either gender. The amount of protein per serving can be controlled by the portions.
Organic and Vegan Protein Powders
You have the option of a healthier choice for your post workout protein powders.
Organic Protein Powders and some Plant-Based Vegan Protein Powders are manufactured without pesticides, fertilizers, or any artificial ingredients. Vegan protein powders are made without animal or dairy products.
Organic and vegan protein powders are made with better ingredients and are usually are priced a little higher. The only downside to this category is that they sometimes contain less protein per serving than other protein powders. This is because animal products contain more amino acids than plants.
I like to include Organic protein powders in my supplement rotation. I’ll simply double up on my serving to get the additional protein that I need. The organic that I use the most is Orgain Organic Protein Powder.
⇒ If you have any questions or comments regarding post workout protein powders, please leave them at the bottom of the page and I will respond.
Protein Powder Ingredients
- There are many different protein sources that these powders are made from. These include: whey, whey isolate, beef, casein, egg, brown rice, hemp, pea, chai, and soy.
- The best sources of protein contain up to 22 Amino Acids. The more amino acids the better the muscle recovery and muscle growth.
- You may see added vitamins and minerals in some protein powders.
- Many plant based protein powders add probiotics and superfood as an even healthier option. You can see some of these options here.
Exercise Supplements for Fat Burn
Pre Workout Fat Burner
The combination of a longer, more intense workout along with the thermogenic ingredients, cause your body up to burn calories at a much faster rate. This is the best long term way to lose weight and muscle tone. This will result in an all around healthier, stronger body.
Most diet pills and supplements not only come with potential side effects, but the weight that was lost generally returns. One of the main reasons for this is that the manufacturers of diet supplements recommend using their product with an exercise program for it to work.
This is a critical part that is not usually carried out when using these “easy weight loss programs”, so they are set up for failure.
Protein Powder for Weight Loss
Post workout protein powders benefit weight loss in a couple of different ways. First of all, after an intense exercise session, it is critical for your body to get its healthy amino acid proteins for muscle recovery.
At an average of 100-200 calories per serving, protein powder is the lowest calorie, high protein food that you can get to recharge your muscle tissue. At the same time, your body burns additional calories while digesting protein.
The other process at work here is that protein is the most filling type of food that you can eat. Filling up on this will not only keep you from eating a large meal after exercise, but it is proven to keep snacking to a minimum.
This helps to avoid unnecessary calories. Keep in mind that it is always healthier to choose a well-balanced meal over a protein powder if you have the chance.
Are Exercise Supplements Safe
There is no such thing as an FDA approved pre workout or post workout. In fact, nutritional supplements as a whole are not FDA approved. However, the individual ingredients contained in these supplements are documented and can be found on the FDA website. If any supplements are deemed dangerous or misbranded, the FDA will remove it from the market.
Most documented cases having to do with exercise supplement dangers are caused by misuse and user error. People mistake thinking that more is better and will get over ambitious with their serving sizes. Usually, this will result in discomfort, nausea, headaches, and other minor issues.
The Best Supplements For Muscle Growth – Conclusion
Depending on your personal goals, its important which supplement is best suited for you as the individual. The qualities you may be looking for are the best one for muscle growth, the strongest, the best tasting, the healthiest, or the best for weight loss.
For your most intense workouts, I would encourage you to use this performance trifecta of pre, intra and post workout supplements.
These supplements are the best way to get the energy, amino acid protein, and nutrients for your exercise program from start to finish. Using them will give your muscles the best opportunity for growth.
Some of these individual supplement options we discussed include organic, vegan, all natural, supplements for men or women, fat burning, caffeine-free, sugar-free, and the list goes on.
These nutritional supplements come with a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, so if you don’t care for the product simply send it back.
⇒ If you have any questions or comment about the best supplements for muscle growth, please leave them below and I will respond.