What are the best supplements for building muscle?

Registered dietitian, owner of the Southeast Nutrition Clinic and host of The Fuel Better Podcast, Evan Lynch, is the official RPM Power dietitian and he is here to tell you how to build muscle with the support of supplements. This is a popular question, which Evan gets asked a lot and thankfully the list is short. Listen to some of Evan’s tips in the video below or read on to learn more:

How to bulk up with supplements: What you need to know

If you want to start taking muscle growth supplements to support your training goals, then first and foremost, you need to already be performing strength-building exercises on a regular basis. Resistance training or weightlifting will be the initial stimulus for muscle building, while the supplements you take will only capitalise on the gains you’ve already made.  In addition to this, you should be trying to maintain a high-protein diet and you can learn more about that in Evan’s video on protein diet tips .

Which supplements should you be taking for muscle growth?

If you’re practicing regular strength training and have a protein-rich diet, then you can look into taking some supplements. There are three supplements that Evan recommends which can support effective muscle building.

Creatine

Number one is the king, creatine monohydrate. Your standard form of monohydrate powder doesn’t have a hefty price tag, but it will bring you some hefty gains. The recommended creatine intake is three to five grams a day on a reasonably long-term basis. It’s very, very safe, and unless you have a history of kidney issues, pretty much everybody can take it. Creatine is definitely one of the best supplements out there for muscle growth.

It works by building up your body’s phosphate creatine levels, helping you to work harder for longer in the gym and thus enabling you to derive bigger gains. The research on creatine shows that users typically gain muscle size, power and strength over a period of three to six months. With this supplement in your repertoire, you’re more likely to achieve your goals.

  • How often should you take creatine? Long-term basis, results can show within 3-6 months
  • What is the recommended creatine dosage? 3-5 grams a day

HMB (Hydroxymethylbutyrate)

The second supplement that Evan recommends for muscle building is HMB or hydroxymethyl butyrate. It’s generally used more in clinical settings and if you have any kidney issues, it’s probably the safer of the options. It’s good if you want to maximize muscle protein building, and as an anabolic compound, it’s safe to take. You can get it from any store that sells protein powders. With HMB, a daily intake of three grams on a reasonably long-term basis is advised and it’ll have a similar effect to creatine.

Four brown bodybuilding supplements on a wooden chopping board

HMB (Hydroxymethylbutyrate)

The second supplement that Evan recommends for muscle building is HMB or hydroxymethyl butyrate. It’s generally used more in clinical settings and if you have any kidney issues, it’s probably the safer of the options. It’s good if you want to maximize muscle protein building, and as an anabolic compound, it’s safe to take. You can get it from any store that sells protein powders.

In a recent study on HMB, the supplement was taken by participants who performed very little exercise and were of an older age. They took 2.4g of HMB a day and were able to build a kilo and a half of muscle mass in their quads, which is quite impressive.

  • How often should you take HMB? Long-term basis, results can show within 3-6 months
  • What is the recommended HMB dosage? 3 grams a day

Beta Alanine

The third supplement that Evan recommends is beta alanine. Beta alanine is a lactic acid buffer. If you’re trading hard in the gym, beta alanine can help you work harder for a longer, thus derive a little bit more from the work you’re doing. You often find it in pre-workout and you’d want to be taking a daily dosage of about five grams of beta alanine for about four to six weeks for it to have an additive effect.

An important thing to note about beta alanine: if you take it and notice a slight tingling in face, you’re not having a stroke, that’s just a normal side effect of the supplement. If that happens to you, you can split your dose into two. Again, you can get this supplement on at any protein powder retailer or in most sports shops.

  • How often should you take beta alanine? Effects should show within 4-6 weeks
  • How much beta alanine should you take? 5 grams a day, can be split if side effects are strong

Evan’s supplement tip: If you’re going to start taking a supplement, make sure you fully inform yourself about it and that it’s sports-approved.  If you compete in any sport where doping and drug testing is conducted, it’s your duty to ensure what you’re taking is safe and reliable.

Key takeaways

So in summation, if you want to start taking supplements that will support you on your muscle-building journey, take the following into account:

  • Any supplement you take should be safe and sports-approved
  • Make sure you’re well-informed before taking any supplements
  • Always buy supplements from a reputable source, such as a protein-powder retailer or sports shop
  • The most helpful supplements for muscle building are creatine, HMB (hydroxymethadrate) and beta-alanine.

Evan Lynch is a dietitian based in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. His specialty areas centre around sports nutrition, weight management and aiding those he works with to make more successful and long-term changes to their diet. He also works with a wider range of clients with a variety of issues ranging from simple nutrient deficiencies to diabetes management.

Southeast Nutrition Clinic