Before we start talking about supplement to help you gain muscle there are a few things we need to cover. Namely, your nutrition. As is stated in the name, “Supplements”, should simply be supplementary to an already solid nutrition plan conducive to your goals.
If you want to gain muscle, this means putting yourself in a caloric surplus. Now you don’t want to go too far into a surplus, or most of your weight gain will be from fat. Aim for a 250-500 calorie surplus per day (based on your maintenance), and make sure to monitor you weight gain, going for about 1-2 pounds of weight gain per month.
The concept of eating more protein to put on mass has been hammered so far into our heads that reinforcing it at this point seems redundant. Anyone trying to optimize their gains during a muscle-building phase of their training should aim to get at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. You can try and get this protein any way you like but often the most convenient and cost-effective way is in the form of protein powder.
A higher protein intake will also keep you nice and full, and keep those cravings at bay, which will make sure that when you gain weight it will be all lean muscle and not fat.
If you’ve got a busy day at work or class and have a huge amount of calories to get in, a lot of you might not have the time to meal prep for hours on the weekend, or cook every morning. If this is indeed your situation then supplementing with a Protein Powder might just be perfect for you. Just mix it in a shaker each morning and carry it around with you during your day. No need to stop to cook or sit down to get enough calories in by the end of the day to meet your caloric goals.
Depending on where you live, buying a protein powder might just be cheaper than getting the same amount of protein and calories from a alternative source. If this is indeed the case and you have both convenience and cost-effectiveness on your side, this one is a no-brainer.
You can get this from your favorite pre-workout supplement or just a cup of coffee, or if you want to be extra frugal, just straight up caffeine pills you can find at the drug store. The most relevant effect it will have in helping you put on more mass would be similar to that of creatine. The increased focus and fatigue resistance in training will allow you to train longer and harder, slowly contributing to your progress over time, as well as making your training a hell of a lot more fun.
Theres a good amount on controversy on this one but the benefits I’ve seen both personally and anecdotally in multiple trainees is enough for me to thoroughly recommend it for use, and is probably the ultimate aid when it comes to maintaining lean muscle while still shedding pounds of fat off your body, to leave you looking toned instead of skinny once your done with your diet.
Even though there isn’t a large body of research on the topic there is the “Scivation Study”, which while having the bias of being partially funded by a supplement company showed some very significant results:
The BCAA guys dropped their body fat % by 2%, gained 9 pounds of lean body weight (I call that muscle!), increased their bench press by about 15 pounds and squat by 25 pounds!
The Whey group dropped their percent body fat by 1%, gained 5 pounds of lean body weight, increased their bench press by about 5 pounds (7 pounds) and squat by about 10 pounds (11 pounds).
The Gatorade group dropped their percent body fat by less than 1%, gained 3 pounds of lean body weight, increased their bench press by almost 5 pounds (4 pounds) and squat by almost 10 pounds (8 pounds)
I round up the bench press and squat weight because you can't increase bar weight in reality by anything other than 5 pound increments.”
The BCAA group lost an average of 4 pounds of body fat. The whey group lost and average of 2 pounds of body fat. Gatorade group lost 1 pound of body fat.
– Quoted from Jim Stoppani, PhD