Supplements and muscle mass: The truth beyond marketing decoys

To supp or not to supp, a sportsman’s dilemma springs eternal. Science-backed answers to the common gym quandary are more of the grey than black-and-white kind: many bodybuilders use supplements to maximize workout effects, but this still doesn’t mean that every gym-loving Jane and Joe should reach for a powdery or pill-shaped muscle mass leg-up. For bulk-minded lifters who like their gym sessions tough, long, and frequent, dietary supplements can be a welcome addition to the training agenda, as they can prevent tissue breakdown, enhance muscle repair, and reduce post-workout recovery. Unfortunately, while some supplements are blessings in a bottle, others are just cleverly advertized fool’s gold, so knowing the difference can save you a decent amount of cash, sweat, and disappointment. Here are four tried-and-tested supplements which you can turn to when your nutrition and workout plans fail to produce desired results.


  1. Caffeine Pills

If gym fatigue is your everyday reality, caffeine pills can provide a quick energy boost. Caffeine pills have twofold benefits: they can increase on-bar focus and stamina, and help prevent post-workout muscle soreness. According to recent studies, endurance sportsmen who use caffeine tablets can improve performance by 3.3-17%, while strength athletes can dial up their game by up to 20% on the caffeine pill. Sprinters and weightlifters who regularly use caffeine supps also report massive performance improvements (6.5% and 9.5% gains, respectively), and most of them also say that caffeine can lower perceived exhaustion by as many as 6%.

  1. Creatine

After years of research, scientists have finally reached a consensus: creatine boosts muscle strength, reduces post-training recovery, and increases muscle responsiveness in high-intensity anaerobic training. The level of creatine prosphate in the muscles is directly linked to weight per lift and total short-term maximum power repetitions. On top of that, creatine can also enhance cognitive function and glucose metabolism, increase bone density, promote fracture healing, and curb oxidative stress.

  1. Whey protein

Whey is the most popular muscle-building protein powder out there, and its recognized benefits include increased muscle size and strength, lower risk of muscle inflammation, reduced hunger, speedier weight loss, and shorter post-training recovery. Whey protein digests relatively fast, so you can use it in both pre- and post-workout liquid snacks. Other boons you get in from a whey-streaked smoothie are seamless immune function, improved antioxidant defenses and glucose metabolism, as well as reduced risk of cancer.

  1. Multivitamin and mineral complexes

Your mom was right: you need to eat spinach if you want to grow muscles like Popeye. Vitamins and minerals are responsible for glitch-free immune function and increased resistance to viruses and infections, both of which are extremely important for hardcore gym fans who do not want to miss trainings over a seasonal cold. Still, if you are eating your fruit and veggie ratios like a good boy scout, you can use pill-shaped vits only in peak flu seasons.

Before you join the supp queue, be aware that protein powders, fat burners, BCAAs, and vitamin and mineral complexes are just that – dietary supplements, not a replacement for meals or a substitute for increased workout intensity. Muscles are built on complex carbs, protein, sweat, and appropriate training programs, not magical quick fixes in a bottle. If your diet and exercise sessions are fine-tuned for optimal gym performance, supplements are not really necessary – but if your muscle mass percentage is stagnating even with a carefully devised top-to-bottom meal plan and workout consistency, a trip to the supp store may help nudge it up in the right direction.


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