Health Supplements for Increased Muscle Strength
Health experts often emphasize the importance of regular exercise to promote heart-health, lose excess weight, and prevent chronic disease. To achieve these, we are advised to eat a balanced, healthy diet that is low in calories and fat, and to engage in regular physical activity. However, it must also be pointed out that muscle strength is also an important goal, not only for athletes, but also for ordinary people at any age. Good muscle strength is necessary to support proper posture, prevent injury, improve balance, reduce excess weight, and to increase bone density.
People gradually lose muscle mass and muscle strength with age. This increases one’s risk for losing bone density and sustaining injuries, particularly from falls. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies show that aside from increasing strength, muscle-building exercise can also improve your balance, reduce your risk of falls, improve blood-sugar levels, and improve sleep as well as mental health. Furthermore, strengthening exercises help slow metabolism and has weight-loss benefits. However, to build muscle and increase strength, proper nutrition is important. Training very hard to achieve these goals can also result in nutritional deficiencies. You will also additional sources of energy and proteins to sustain muscle growth. Eating a balanced diet that includes these food sources is therefore important.
Some experts recommend increasing protein intake in the diet to increase muscle strength. Compared to sedentary individuals and endurance athletes, power athletes need more protein in their diet. To maintain a positive nitrogen balance, one should consume 1.6 to 1.8 grams of protein per day. This is to support the need to produce more protein in the body to aid in the repair and remodeling of muscles, which are usually damaged during resistance exercises, and to improve muscle size and strength. For young athletes, studies show that protein supplementation is often necessary, since their daily protein intakes may exceed the ordinary person’s recommended daily allowances. One study involving college athletes showed that protein supplements help increase lower body strength development. Another study showed that high-calorie, high-protein supplements are effective in increasing body mass and fat-free mass when combined with resistance training exercise.
Health Supplements for Muscle Strength
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs are protein building blocks (amino acids) that have a special molecular structure. They are known to help build muscles, improve performance, reduce muscle soreness, delay fatigue, and promote muscle recovery. University of Birmingham researchers recently discovered that taking BCAA supplements before and after exercise significantly reduces muscle soreness. Another study revealed that glycogen-depleted participants who took BCAA supplements experienced less fatigue and a greater degree of fat burning than those who did not.
Creatine is naturally produced in our bodies from other amino acids found in the liver, pancreas, and kidney. It also comes from some foods we eat. Great sources of creatine include wild game, lean red meat and fish. Supplements come in the form of powders, tablets, capsules, liquids, energy bars, flavored chews, drinks, and other preparations.
Creatine is a popular health supplement because it helps build strength and lean muscle mass. One study involving participants who performed resistance-training exercises found that taking creatine supplements can help increase insulin-like growth factor-1, a hormone that is known to have anabolic effects.
Creatine is converted to phosphocreatine, which is stored in the muscles to be used for energy, especially during high-intensity, short-duration exercise. It is therefore a popular health supplement for athletes who are involved in weight lifting, high jumping or sprinting. Some studies also suggest that creatine may help increase muscle strength in patients who have heart failure and muscular dystrophy.
Just like other health supplements, creatine has the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, and it should be taken only under the supervision of a health care provider. Side effects of include muscle cramps, stomach upset, dizziness, diarrhea, high blood pressure, weight gain, kidney damage, and liver dysfunction.
Studies suggest that glutamine can help reduce inflammation and infection. It is also believed to stimulate muscle growth by regulating glycogen in the body.
Intensive workouts can lead to weight loss, but your body’s nutritional needs also increase. Many people who train hard and diet to lose weight have nutritional deficiencies. Although experts recommend eating a healthy, balanced diet to obtain most nutrients that the body needs, taking multivitamins can help ensure that you get the amounts you need to support an active life.
This information should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health.
WebMD. The Basics: Build Muscle for Better Health. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/the-basics-build-muscle-for-better-health
JSMPF. Effects of high-calorie supplements on body composition and muscular strength following resistance training. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12094125
JSSM. Effects of Protein Supplementation on Muscular Performance and Resting Hormonal Changes in College Football Players. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3778704/
JISSN. Effect of Protein Intake on Strength, Body Composition and Endocrine Changes in Strength/Power Athletes. http://www.jissn.com/content/3/2/12
UMMC. Creatine. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/creatine
Men’s Fitness. 6 Supplements You Shouldn’t Be Skipping. http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/supplements/6-supplements-you-shouldnt-be-skipping