Protein and creatine may just be two of the best muscle enhancers on the market today and two supplements that can help you make gains in your bodybuilding pursuits.
Come to think of it – anything that builds muscle could probably be termed a “muscle enhancer.” Lifting heavy weights with low reps will enhance your muscle growth, but unfortunately nothing is that easy. Muscle enhancers are a combination of diet and supplements that reportedly have a positive effect on muscle growth. Separating what’s good from what’s not is the core argument of what muscle enhancer use is all about.
You can spend a lot of time and money purchasing and ingesting a lot of useless and potentially dangerous products that claim to enhance muscle growth or you can concentrate on two: protein and creatine. The first gives your muscle growth a foundation to build on and the second gives your muscles the energy boost to get through the rigors of heavy training. Anything else is a drain on your pocketbook.
Protein is one of the building blocks of muscle and also a muscle enhancer. Protein comes in many forms but liquid or powdered protein is what you’re after. Sure you can wolf down 10 steaks a day to get the protein intake you need but realistically that is not going to happen. You can get all the protein you need and then some from a powdered or liquid protein supplement.
But check this out: protein in itself won’t make you stronger or builder bigger muscles per se. But increased protein intake will give you more fuel to burn and build on during your workout, which, in turn, will enhance your muscles.
If you’re a serious weightlifter or bodybuilder the basic equation for protein intake is 1.25 to 1.5g — up to 1.75g for hardcore gym rats — per pound of bodyweight. The smart money is aiming for the quickest assimilation of protein into your body. Protein drinks are popular for that reason.
Whey protein is one of the best muscle enhancers you can use and is quickly absorbed in the body. Amino acids are one of the main ingredients in whey protein. Protein may be the building block of muscle, but amino acids are the building block of protein. So increasing your intake of amino acids is a benefit for muscle enhancement. Whey protein is on of the best avenues for amino acids.
The effects of protein as a muscle enhancer rate very high in my book. Keep in mind that if you increase your protein intake and don’t increase your workouts you’re just going to get fat or bloated. And that’s not quite the same thing as muscular.
The debate has always been, “is creatine a muscle enhancer or an energy enhancer?’ I always consider it a little bit of both. Taken in moderation before your workout, creatine will give your muscles the energy boost to get through the grueling, intense kind of weightlifting you need to do in order to get bigger.
There are many different types of creatine on the market, but 5g of basic creatine monohydrate is more than sufficient for your muscle enhancement needs. Creatine pulls water from other parts of your body and redirects it to your muscles, so drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Creatine can be taken before or after your workout. I have found that taking creatine after a workout actually works best as my muscles absorb the creatine and I have it stored for my next workout when I need a literal “kick in the pants” to push whatever weight I’m struggling with.
After a workout you pretty much have a 60 to 90 minute window to replenish the muscles. Use this window to your advantage for creatine intake.
The Best and the Rest
There is a laundry list of muscle enhancement products and they all claim to work wonders. These products also boast high-tech names and sometimes it seems like the only thing missing is a lab technician in a white coat. Do you really want to put this kind of stuff in your body?
I think not!
Nothing is going to make your grow muscles overnight. Even the proper use of protein and creatine supplements won’t work miracles. In fact, the magic ingredient isn’t even magic: its good ‘ol hard work pushing iron in the gym.
The effect of muscle enhancers is only as good as the thought process that goes behind using them.