Ask the Expert: What are the Best Fat-Busting, Muscle Building Supplements?

You don’t have to fill your shopping cart with product. Just a few key supplements will help you build muscle and burn fat. Image via FlavCity with Bobby Parrish/YouTube

As a gym owner, personal trainer and former body builder, the question I get asked almost as much as, “How can I lose weight fast?” is, “What are the best muscle building and/or weight loss supplements?” With shelves upon shelves of different supplements that each supposedly serve a unique purpose, the confusion and apprehension is understandable. After all, if it truly takes all of those supplements to reach your weight loss and muscle building goals, you’ll be in bankruptcy pretty quick.

The good news is that you don’t need all those supplements. While many of them do have positive effects, most are unnecessary if you’re not out to place first in a bodybuilding competition. For most people, only a handful of muscle building supplements are required on a regular basis. You’ll notice that not many are necessarily considered to be weight loss supplements. However, by virtue of helping increase your muscle mass, they are fat-busters. Experts such as the American Council on Exercise tell us that building and maintaining muscle burns more calories than a soft, sedentary body does. That’s why, even though the following supplements are mostly considered to be muscle-building supplements, they’re also effective weight loss supplements, helping you to achieve two goals at once.

Good Ol’ Protein

Protein is an essential ingredient for building lean, fat-burning muscle tissue.

At the top of the list of the best supplements for women and men alike is every dieter and body builder’s best friend: protein. It’s a vital element for building muscle tissue. If you’ve been protein shopping, you already know that there are a number of different types and sources of protein, including powders made from egg whites as well as whey. Whey is one of the best forms of protein, as it’s easily absorbed by the body, even more readily than food sources such as fish or chicken. If you like to cover your bases with several types of protein, Beverly International’s Ultimate Muscle Protein (UMP) is your dream protein. In addition to whey, it contains egg white and casein, which is ultra-useful in the repair stage of muscle building.

Creatine Supplements Enhance Anabolic Results

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Creatine can help increase muscle mass, improve endurance and ease post-workout soreness.

Creatine supplements are useful for improving muscle and strength gains and busting through plateaus. According to a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, creatine supplements increased IGF-I (insulin-like growth factor-1) which is essential for the repair and building of muscle tissue. You may have heard of negative side effects associated with creatine, but if you stick to the recommended cycling and servings, you should do fine. Also, because creatine works partially by drawing water into the muscle cells, you’ll want to ensure you’re drinking plenty of water to avoid muscle cramping and other symptoms of dehydration.

Muscle-Metabolized Aminos

L-Leucine is just one of the BCAAs that metabolize in your muscle tissue, and provide strength and recovery assistance. Image by Benjah-bmm27 (Own work) [Public domain]/Wikimedia Commons

Whether or not you’re familiar with all nine essential amino acids, you should familiarize yourself with the three known as the Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs):

  • L-IsoLeucine
  • L-Leucine
  • L-Valine

These ones are metabolized in the muscles, instead of in the liver like the rest of the aminos. BCAAs are awesome because they support energy levels, strength and recovery. Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that supplementing BCAAs reduces fatigue during workouts and also increases fat oxidation — yep, that’s fat-burning to you and me. More good news for those taking UMP: this “ultimate” muscle building supplement also contains the three BCAAs in addition to L-Arginine and L-Glutamine.

Take Your Viteys

A quality multivitamin with minerals will provide nutrients that your diet doesn’t.

Even with the best intentions, your diet will fail in providing you the complete nutrition you need to build lean muscle to burn fat. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition revealed that, even when careful attention was paid to improving nutritional intake, most (up to 90 percent!) failed to provide 100 percent of recommended micronutrients. A quality multivitamin that also contains minerals is the answer. Vitamins provide energy and give your body what it needs to build and repair muscles. If you’ve plateaued and have been dragging, the lack of a quality multivitamin could be the reason. It will fill in the blanks left by your diet to help you get through your workouts, building lean muscle and burning fat.

Still, your diet does play an important part in your health and fitness goals. Taking vitamins and protein doesn’t mean you can slack off on eating right. Making healthy choices when you eat, drinking plenty of water, and including these few supplements will get you over the hump, off the plateau and back on track to building muscle and burning off body fat.

–Matt

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