Muscle mass supplements are dietary supplements that contain nutrients useful for increasing and maintaining muscle volume.
Muscle mass supplements are ideal for those who practice sports regularly and want to get the most out of their workouts; however, some of them may also be useful for those who need to make up for some nutritional deficiencies.
Muscle mass supplements are special preparations, which must always be used after proper consultation with the ingredients and methods of use, and as part of a balanced diet.
Muscle mass supplements may contain: amino acids (both single and multiple forms), simple or complex carbohydrates, vitamins of various types, minerals, essential fatty acids and other active substances.
What are Muscle Mass Supplements?
Muscle mass supplements are dietary supplements that help increase and maintain muscle volume; in other words, they are dietary supplements designed to promote so-called muscle hypertrophy.
Muscle mass supplements are an aid for those who practise sport and want to get the most out of their workouts; however, some of them can also be useful for those who need to supplement certain nutritional deficiencies.
Muscle mass supplements are products subject to free sale, which consumers can buy in pharmacies, para-pharmacies, large supermarkets and shops both physical and online, dedicated specifically to the sale of dietary supplements.
The Basic Requirements for Muscle Mass Growth
Before continuing with the description of muscle mass supplements, it is important to review the basic requirements for muscle mass growth and maintenance.
The basic requirements to promote the growth of muscle mass (muscle hypertrophy) are:
- Train constantly, methodically and progressively increasing the “workload”;
- Increasing calorie intake (i.e. eating more), possibly sticking to a healthy diet;
- Give the body time to recover between workouts, rest 7-8 hours during the night and periodically organise a week of unloading workouts (in which the “workload” is less than usual).
Without these requirements, muscle mass supplements are less effective.
What Muscle Mass Supplements Are For
Muscle mass supplements are preparations that contain nutrients to increase and maintain muscle volume; therefore, muscle mass supplements serve to promote muscle hypertrophy. (Muscular hypertrophy means the increase in volume of the muscle by increasing the volume of the elements that make it up, such as fibres, myofibrils, connective tissue, sarcomeres, contractile proteins, etc..)
Who Needs Muscle Mass Supplements?
As only mentioned earlier, muscle mass supplements may find indication between:
- Those who practise sports regularly and want to get the most out of their workouts, in terms of muscle mass, and
- Who needs to make up for a shortage of certain nutrients.
It should be pointed out that muscle mass supplements should not replace a balanced diet, but should be added to it; in other words, the use of muscle mass supplements should always take place as part of a diet adapted to the needs of the human body.
Formulation of Muscle Mass Supplements
Muscle mass supplements exist in various formulations; they can be in the form of powders (in containers with a measuring cup), bars, tablets or capsules.
How to Use Muscle Mass Supplements
The way muscle mass supplements are used varies from product to product, depending on the composition and the need of the human body (need) for the nutrient(s) present in the preparation.
Muscle mass supplements are indicated on the packaging containing the preparations in question, so the consumer can read the appropriate information on how to use them.
When using muscle mass supplements, it is good practice to follow the instructions on the package so as to avoid any undesirable effects.
Before using the muscle mass supplements, it is essential to read carefully what is stated on the packaging regarding how to use them.
What are the main ingredients of Muscle Mass Supplements?
The main ingredient(s) of muscle mass supplements vary depending on the product under consideration.
The typical main ingredients of muscle mass supplements are:
- Amino acids: In muscle mass supplements based on amino acids, amino acids can be present in single form (i.e. a single amino acid) or in multiple forms, such as small peptides or proteins. Muscle mass supplements based on amino acids may contain essential, semi-essential, non-essential and other amino acids (amino acids not coded by the human genome). Examples of amino acids that can be found in muscle mass supplements are: isoleucine, leucine, valine, cysteine, glycine, alanine, arginine, lysine, glutamic acid and methionine.
- Vitamins: Belonging to the category of essential nutrients, vitamins are organic substances extremely variable in their chemical nature, which play a key role during certain cellular activities, thus being fundamental for the maintenance of certain vital functions.
The vitamins that can be found in muscle mass supplements are: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B1 (or thiamine), vitamin B2 (or riboflavin), niacin (or vitamin PP), vitamin B6 (or pyridoxine), folic acid, cyanocobalamin, biotin and vitamin B5 (or pantothenic acid).
- Essential fatty acids: Essential fatty acids are particular lipids, which the human body is not able to synthesise on its own, but can only take them through the diet.
Essential fatty acids are very important for the human being; in fact, they are the precursors of eicosanoids (biologically active molecules fundamental for the well-being of the human being) and, despite being lipids, they reduce the levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
The essential fatty acids are divided into two categories: the essential fatty acids of the omega-3 series (linolenic acid) and the essential fatty acids of the omega-6 series (linoleic acid).
Muscle mass supplements mainly contain the essential fatty acids of the omega-3 series.
- Minerals: Also known as mineral salts, minerals are chemical elements of an inorganic nature, which, in living beings, including humans, can have a structural function and/or play a fundamental role in some vital cellular processes.
Depending on the level of presence in the human organism, minerals can be divided into: macro-elements and trace elements.
Among the minerals used in the composition of certain muscle mass supplements are: potassium, chlorine, sodium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, chromium and iodine.
- Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are a very heterogeneous class of organic compounds, to which mono- and disaccharides (i.e. simple sugars such as glucose, fructose or sucrose), oligosaccharides (e.g. maltodextrins) and polysaccharides (e.g. friend, glycogen and cellulose) belong.
Carbohydrates that can be used in the composition of muscle mass supplements include both high glycemic index compounds, such as maltodextrins and glucose (or dextrose), and low glycemic index compounds, such as fructose (which is the monosaccharide sugar of fruits).
Excipients of Muscle Mass Supple Supplements
In addition to the basic ingredients, muscle mass supplements also contain so-called excipients, i.e. those substances that serve to give the final product certain characteristics of appearance, taste and/or texture.
Among the excipients that can be part of muscle mass supplements, they deserve to be mentioned:
- Sweeteners (or sweeteners), which serve to make the final product sweet;
emulsifiers, such as soya lecithin;
- Coating agents, which serve to give the final product a certain appearance;
- Flavourings (e.g. chocolate, vanilla, banana, etc.), which serve to give the final product a pleasant taste.
Most people tolerate muscle mass supplements well, which does not mean, however, that these preparations are completely free of undesirable effects.
Muscle mass supplements, in fact, may be responsible for:
- Allergic reactions in individuals with an intolerance to one of the ingredients in the preparation;
- Worsening of the general state of health, in individuals with chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus and some family dyslipidemia;
- Overweight or obesity, in individuals who do not adhere to the recommended doses and/or do not lead a particularly active lifestyle as would be recommended.
In light of the above, therefore, the possibility that a muscle mass supplement may give rise to undesirable effects varies in function of factors such as:
- The presence of intolerance to one of the ingredients in the preparation;
- The presence of a medical condition that could worsen with the use of the preparation;
- The wrong way to use the preparation (in this case, an exaggerated consumption, whether or not combined with a not particularly active lifestyle).
Muscle mass supplements are contraindicated in the presence of a known allergy to one of the active substances present in them.
In addition, some muscle mass supplements are contraindicated during pregnancy, breastfeeding or the presence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, mellitus and familial or acquired dyslipidemia.
What are the most used muscle mass supplements?
- Mass gainer;
- Essential fatty acids;
- Protein powder;
- ZMA (zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6)