3 Ineffective Muscle Building Supplements, According to a Sports Nutritionist

3 Ineffective Muscle Building Supplements, According to a Sports Nutritionist

3 Ineffective Muscle Building Supplements, According to a Sports Nutritionist

  • A board-certified sports dietitian said BCAA, HMB and beta-alanine supplements are not necessary for muscle building.
  • BCAA supplements contain the same amino acids as protein-rich foods and may be more expensive.
  • Research has not shown that HMB and beta-alanine help build muscle in healthy, well-nourished adults.

Lifting weights is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to building muscle mass.

What you consume plays a huge role in building lean muscle, leading many gym goers to turn to supplements, a market that has seen a surge in sales in recent years.

Jason Machowsky, a certified sports dietitian based in New York, said that while protein supplements and creatine can support muscle growth, other supplements marketed for muscle building may not be helpful, according to research.

Supplements marketed to build muscle mass, such as BCAAs, HMB and beta-alanine, aren’t as effective as consuming enough calories and getting enough protein in your diet, Machowsky said. But research has shown that protein supplements and creatine can aid in gains.

A high-protein diet is more effective for muscle building than most supplements on their own

Supplements that contain acids that make up proteins, such as BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), or that help break down muscle such as HMBs (beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate), are touted by retailers as muscle-building supplements. Some studies indicate that BCAAs may have a greater impact on muscle growth compared to other acids such as threonine, which prevents fat build-up in the liver, or methionine, which strengthens the skin and nails.

But Machowsky said BCAAs are found in protein, making them “just another source of protein.” Protein sources such as eggs, yogurt, and chicken also contain BCAAs.

Machowsky said getting enough calories and protein from food, combined with strength training, is the most crucial part of building muscle mass.

If someone who does strength training is unable to get enough protein through their diet, Machowsky said he could understand the desire to take BCAAs, but the supplements are very low in calories and the body needs a calorie surplus to be able to do both. fuel workouts if enough left over to build muscle, he said.

“The other thing I have to emphasize to people is that if you take in 10 grams of branched-chain amino acids, that’s 40 calories,” Machowsky said. “If you’re not getting enough calories everywhere, your body is just going to burn that protein as fuel.”

He added that “for the amount you get, it’s probably cheaper to eat the food than to get it through a supplement.”

Beta-alanine is also marketed as a supplement that can help stimulate muscle growth, but there isn’t enough evidence to support that, Machowsky said.

Research surrounding beta-alanine has found that the amino acid can improve a person’s anaerobic performance, or high-intensity exercise that takes place over short periods of time, such as repeated sprints. But current research on beta-alanine has not shown that the amino acid helps during strength training, according to The International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Finally, Machowsky said that while HMB supplements can help frail or aging people rebuild their strength, the same has not been shown for young, well-nourished individuals.

Research shows that protein and creatine supplements can help build muscle

Protein is especially important in building muscle, Machowsky said. Protein is a macronutrient made up of amino acids, essential compounds that grow and maintain muscle, skin and other tissues.

Dietitians recommend eating 1.2 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight to build muscle. While foods like meats and Greek yogurt have high amounts of protein, Machowsky said protein supplements can help meet the daily recommended protein requirement.

Creatine is another science-backed protein-building supplement that can help strength trainers build muscle mass, Machowsky said.

Creatine is an amino acid stored in muscle tissue that helps the body produce a molecule called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. ATP provides energy to cells during muscle movements, and having more of the molecule allows your muscles to work harder for a longer period of time.

The supplement has been studied extensively and experts consider it safe for most people, Brandon University professor and sports nutritionist Scott Forbes previously told Insider.

“The way creatine works is that it allows your body to recover a little bit better between strength training sets so you can get extra reps,” Machowsky said.