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Can’t Keep Up? 4 Supplements to Simplify Your Weight Training

Getting big requires a lot of time and dedication. You must become an unrelenting force that shouts “I’m never giving up!”

One thing that I love about my loyalty to the gym, is this very same loyalty seeps into every aspect of my life. How to find one thing and stick through it through the ups and downs. Loyalty.

Another plus: my mild case of scoliosis magically disappeared. Thank you gym gods.

Once again, the program that put me on track is right here: Bony to Beastly 

I also have 3-4 supplements that I highly recommend.

Here they are:

Creatine

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More muscle. Creatine is by far the most powerful legal muscle-building supplement available (study). Studies unanimously show that it builds remarkable amounts of muscle and strength (studystudystudy, study). Secretly mixing creatine into a trainee’s coffee in the morning significantly improves his muscle gains? Pretty fearsome.

For example, this study found that guys who began weightlifting and taking a post-workout carbohydrate shake gained 6 pounds of muscle over the course of eight weeks. A separate group of guys who had creatine secretly mixed into the carb shake gained 9 pounds of muscle. That’s a 50% improvement in muscle mass due to creatine. 

Less fat. You’ll also gain less fat. This is because creatine is a potent supplement for improving insulin sensitivity in your muscle cells. More insulin sensitivity in your muscle cells means that more of the calories you eat are used for muscle growth instead of fat storage.

Safety and health: Of all the muscle-building supplements out there, creatine is by far the safest. After decades of rigorous testing researchers haven’t found a single harmful side effect (study, study, study). In fact, they were surprised to find several beneficial side effects. Creatine is now being research as a way to prevent depression, Alzheimers, improve mood, etc. It may soon be known as a general health supplement.

The only reported negative side effect is that some people get stomach discomfort after consuming it. That’s not harmful, it’s just due to mild dehydration. Creatine will pull fluid into your muscles, so you may need to drink a little bit of extra water.

How does it work? Creatine helps your body replenish ATP, which increases anaerobic power—the type of power you need to haul heavy-ass weights. Being able to lift more weight increases the mechanical tension you’re placing on your muscles and on your body, meaning that you’ll have pretty fantastic muscle stimulation and a greater acute hormonal response to your training. The real benefit comes from the increased skeletal muscle synthesis and glycogen storage that comes along with having high concentrations of creatine in your system. This means that not only will you build more muscle via your training, you’ll also get more muscle out of the food that you’re eating.

Some guys joke that creatine supports the entire muscle-building supplement industry, and that isn’t too far from the truth. When you start reading supplement ingredients you’ll be amazed at how many of them have a few grams of creatine tucked away into every serving. How many supplements out there would still produce results if you yanked the creatine out of them? Not many. Not many at all.

Think of most supplements like mix drinks. There are a lot of cool colours, flavours and ingredients, but the whole point of them is the alcohol. Creatine is the alcohol. I’m not a fan of mix drinks, so I recommend that you skip all the fancy proprietary blends and just head straight to the good stuff.

Click here to check out the creatine brand I recommend

Now, as with virtually everything in the supplement world, there are a lot of extremely expensive and fancy variations out there. You don’t need them. Simple creatine monohydrate is still the king of creatine. You’ll save a ton of money and get all the benefits. You also don’t need to get fancy with how you take it, as you may have heard. Mix it into your tea, coffee, water—whatever.

*Creatine is synthesized in a lab so it’s safe for vegetarians and vegans too.
**If you’re a vegan I would say it’s nearly mandatory, as you’ll be more likely to have a deficiency in creatine, which can cause some longterm health problems and reduce your cognitive function. (study)

Maltodextrose

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Most expensive recovery drinks are packed full of dextrose or maltodextrin. It’s actually a little alarming how cheap these supplements can be when you buy them separately. Given how cheap they are, you’d think you were buying a tub of flour… and you’d be correct.

The supplement that I’m recommending is maltodextrin, which is a glucose polymer. It’s made up of many glucose units bound together. It’s a starch, like flour, rice and potatoes. Unlike flour, rice and potatoes though, if can be consumed in liquid form. This makes it easier to consume in large quantities without your stomach feeling like it’s going to explode. It’s also very low in fibre, so it’s easy on the appetite and will clear out of our stomachs relatively quickly.

This carb powder will allow us to eat more overall, which is a very a big deal for us “skinny” dudes.

That study in the creatine section is said to have produced “some of the highest non-steroid increases in lean mass” ever seen. While the study was technically studying creatine, the carbohydrates they were giving them were a huge factor in producing the ridiculous amounts of muscle growth the participants were getting. After all, even the study participants who just had the “placebo” carb drink gained 6 pounds of lean muscle in 8 weeks. (The training program itself was also a factor. It was a very well designed muscle-building program. This is surprisingly rare for studies.)

“But Jay, won’t consuming all these refined carbohydrates make me fat?!”

No. Perhaps surprisingly, this is actually a pretty good way to minimize your chances of getting fat. This has to do with the heightened insulin sensitivity in your muscle cells that accompanies weightlifting, the synergistic anabolic effect that the protein creates (whey protein creates a very strong insulin response), the fact that we’re strategically creating a calorie surplus and spiking insulin, and the fact that carbs aren’t very easily converted into fatty acids and thus aren’t very easily stored as fat.

To quote the brilliant nutrition researcher and fat loss expert James Krieger, who has a master’s degree in nutrition and has published of some of the best muscle-building nutrition studies out there—”Post-workout carbohydrates shouldn’t cause you any trouble in the long-run as you are extremely insulin sensitive after training. As long as you maintain a good diet, good activity, keep your body fat low, and your fasting blood sugar remains normal, then you should be fine.”

Click here to check out the maltodextrin brand I recommend

I picked this brand because it’s pure and affordable. It has one and only one ingredient—maltodextrin.

Whey Protein

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Whey protein is the easily digested protein found in dairy products. Unlike many other supplements, the processing of whey is fairly minimal. It has several vitamins and minerals as well as being a great source of protein. Many nutritionists and dieticians consider it a whole food, as they would with other minimally processed dairy products, like cheese, milk and yoghurt.

Muscle can only by synthesized out of amino acids (found in protein) so a shortage of those can easily slow down your efforts. Since most of us ectomorphic guys aren’t consuming enough protein to optimally build muscle, adding whey protein into your diet will improve the rate that you can build muscle (study, study).

Whey protein powder is similar to a chicken breast. A chicken breast would taste pretty funky blended up into a fruit smoothie though, so sometimes whey is preferable.

Whey is especially preferable when taken surrounding training (studystudy). It digests quickly and contains a pretty stellar blend of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). If you really want to kick things up a notch, it works even better at stimulating muscle growth when combined with a carb source like maltodextrin (study). This is why most commercial weight gainers will combine these two ingredients.

Click here to check out the whey protein brand I recommend

An interesting (independent) study recently looked into many of the popular brands of whey protein. The study got a lot of attention because of how controversial it was – a lot of popular brands were making false claims. This brand (Optimum Nutrition) wasn’t, and was thus ranked the highest.

*If you want a non-workout protein powder to take along with meals use this casein protein, but keep in mind it presents no advantage over real food. It’s handy and affordable though if you’re not much one for cooking.
**If you don’t handle whey protein well (allergies) or you’re avoiding it for moral reasons (e.g. you’re a vegan) then you can go with rice+pea protein, or another blend of plant-based protein sources. (The amino acid profile in individual plant-based sources isn’t complete, so blends are ideal.) SunWarrior is pretty fantastic both from a quality standpoint and from a taste standpoint. I use it sometimes and I’m not even a vegan.

Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass

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Enough said. Buy it.

 

THE PROTOCOL

Daily Creatine: Take 3-5 grams every day. Sprinkle it on your cereal, put it in your coffee/tea, mix it with water—whatever you like. On workout days you’ll be putting it right in your workout drink.

With 5 grams per day it will take around a month for your creatine levels to rise to max levels. To cut that loading period down to a week, you could take four 5 gram doses each day during the first week. However, it’s unclear whether there’s an advantage to loading up quickly like that.

Training drink: 30-90 grams Whey + 60-180 grams maltodextrin + 5 grams creatine. A typical guy would want 30g whey, 60g maltodextrin and 5g creatine to create a good hormonal situation (insulin primarily) and optimal recovery from his workouts. That would maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis and take care of the nutrient timing benefits (study). You’d want to have this shake within 1-2 hours of training for optimal results (studystudy). There are even nutrient timing benefits to taking the creatine surrounding your workouts (study, study).

I start sipping on it as I warm up, and I chug whatever’s left when I finish my workout.  It tastes pretty good (think liquid cake), but nothing will guarantee muscle growth like consuming tons of extremely effective calories at the most crucial muscle-building moment.

For most of us skinny guys, who often have trouble consuming enough calories, this is the magic formula we’ve been missing. 

Throughout the day, sip on your cup of Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass. Witness and enjoy the magic 🙂

  1. Creatine for the improved rate of muscle growth.
  2. Maltodextrin for the extra easily digested calories.
  3. Whey for the muscle protein synthesis (and calories).
  4. Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass. Buy it. Become “300”. What is your profession? A’oo! A’oo! A’oo!

With a good workout program, soon you’ll be (falsely) accused of rampant steroid abuse and/or participating in a top secret military muscle-building experiment.

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