Estimated reading time: 8mins
1. Creatine: How does it work? How much do I need for muscle growth?
When it comes to increasing muscle strength, creatine is without a doubt one of the most researched and effective supplements you can take. Creatine, an organic compound, allows your muscles to produce more adenosine triphosphate (ATP) -- a high-powered energy-carrying molecule that provides a strong spark during exercise.
Effectively, taking creatine means you have got the energy to lift more! And because progressive overload (adding more weight to the bar) is a principle of muscle growth, creatine, therefore, helps us get stronger and thus may help us induce more muscle growth.
Researchers have examined creatine and muscle growth directly and have found that those who take creatine can double the amount of muscle they gain compared to those who don’t! So how much creatine do you need? Let’s say Bulk Nutrients customer “Andrew” wants to reap the muscle-building benefits of creatine as quickly as possible. In this case, “Andrew” would need to:
Load up on creatine for 7 days, taking 25 grams per day.
After 7 days, take just 5 grams of creatine per day.
This will boost “Andrew’s” energy and regeneration of ATP during training.
Whilst you don’t need to load creatine, and you can take just 5 grams a day, loading will allow you to saturate your muscles with it faster.
Our Bulk Nutrients creatine provides 3 grams per serve, ensuring you’ve got enough for whatever stage you’re at with creatine.
The science has been very clear for a long time: you should consider creatine monohydrate as a supplement if you’re serious about maximal muscle growth and strength!
2. Beta-alanine: How does it work? How much do I need for muscle growth?
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that has a similar role in muscle growth to creatine: boosting your performance during training. It achieves this by:
Here’s a hypothetical: You’re performing a set of biceps curls in the gym and you fail after the 12th rep because of fatigue. This is because your levels of muscle carnosine have run out, and the PH level in your muscles has dropped; meaning you drop the weights to the floor too!
By taking Beta-alanine, you’re increasing your muscle carnosine levels which act as a buffer to then reduce the acidity in your biceps; meaning you might achieve more reps of bicep curls before you become fatigued.
And the fatigue delaying effects of beta-alanine have been shown in research to help people gain more muscle mass.
So how much beta-alanine do you need? It’s recommended you take 3.2g - 6.4 g of beta-alanine daily to reap the benefits of its enhancing effects.
Our Bulk Nutrients beta-alanine is a great way to consume this supplement, in convenient powder form in your pre-workout shake.
3. Citrulline Malate: How much do I need and how does it help muscle growth and performance?
L-Citrulline is a dietary amino acid and malate an organic salt of malic acid. When combined in the use of a dietary supplement they act to increase the production of nitric oxide. This allows for more blood to flow into our muscles for increased endurance.
Specifically, Citrulline Malate has been shown to increase bench press performance, whilst also relieving post-workout muscle soreness.
We know how muscle soreness can hinder performance days later in the gym (ever tried squatting with a tight and sore chest!?) so Citrulline Malate may be a vital ally here.
And when put directly to the test, Citrulline Malate has been found to directly enhance muscle growth and is therefore recommended if maximal exercise output and muscle growth is your goal.
A great way to get adequate citrulline malate is with our Bulk Nutrients Pre Workout 101 pre-exercise supplement, which contains the right dose of citrulline malate, in concert with an adequate amount of caffeine -- the next supplement we’ll examine!
4. Caffeine: How does it help with muscle growth and how much do I need?
Caffeine is one of the other most effective performance-enhancing supplements.
Generally consumed in coffee by the general population, it’s a stimulant that combats physical and mental exhaustion by increasing our fat metabolism, which can allow our muscles to use more energy during workouts.
So how much do we need? 2 to 9 mg/kg is ideal 45 minutes before exercise; so Bulk Nutrients customer “Thomas” weighing 80 kilograms would need 320 mg (4 x 80 kilograms).
Start on the lower end of the recommendations first, or try simply consuming our aforementioned Bulk Nutrients Pre Workout 101, which has 272 mg of caffeine per serve.
5. Protein powder: How much you need and how it helps you grow muscle.
Let’s face it: eating protein can be expensive, take a lot of time to prepare, and be inconvenient to track down when you’re busy.
Protein powder is effective because it’s as convenient as it gets: throw some into a shaker and suck it down. The end!
To grow muscle as effectively as possible you’ll need 1.7 grams - 2.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. So, Bulk Nutrients customer “Thomas” at 80 kg needs roughly 160 grams of protein per day (80 kg x 2 grams).
Protein powder is high in the muscle-building amino acid leucine, which is why it’s one of the most popular muscle gaining supplements on the market; you can’t grow muscle without adequate leucine!
Bulk Nutrient’s Whey Protein Concentrate offers 22 grams of protein per serving, and it makes it easy for you to reach your required levels of protein.
So, there are 5 supplements you can start taking today which may help you perform better in the gym and reach optimal muscle growth faster!
Shop for the best supps for muscle growth
Liked this? Subscribe to our Bulk Nutrients newsletter below and receive more health and fitness content.
Carbone, J.W. and Pasiakos, S.M. (2019). Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit. Nutrients, 11(5), p.1136.
Casey, A. and Greenhaff, P., 2000. Does dietary creatine supplementation play a role in skeletal muscle metabolism and performance?. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 72(2), pp.607S-617S.
Cooper, R., Naclerio, F., Allgrove, J. and Jimenez, A., 2012. Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(1).
Culbertson JY, Kreider RB, Greenwood M, Cooke M. Effects of beta-alanine on muscle carnosine and exercise performance: a review of the current literature. Nutrients. 2010;2(1):75-98. doi:10.3390/nu2010075
Gonzalez, A.M. and Trexler, E.T. (2020). Effects of Citrulline Supplementation on Exercise Performance in Humans. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, p.1.
Grgic J, Trexler ET, Lazinica B, Pedisic Z. Effects of caffeine intake on muscle strength and power: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018;15:11. Published 2018 Mar 5. doi:10.1186/s12970-018-0216-0
Hall, M. and Trojian, T.H. (2013). Creatine Supplementation. Current Sports Medicine Reports, [online] 12(4), pp.240–244. Available at: https://journals.lww.com/acsm-csmr/Fulltext/2013/07000/Creatine_Supplementation.10.asp
Hickner, R.C., Dyck, D.J., Sklar, J., Hatley, H. and Byrd, P. (2010). Effect of 28 days of creatine ingestion on muscle metabolism and performance of a simulated cycling road race. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7(1).
Hoffman, J.R., Varanoske, A. and Stout, J.R. (2018). Effects of β-Alanine Supplementation on Carnosine Elevation and Physiological Performance. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, pp.183–206.
Kreider, R.B., Kalman, D.S., Antonio, J. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 18 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z
Saunders, B., Elliott-Sale, K., Artioli, G.G., Swinton, P.A., Dolan, E., Roschel, H., Sale, C. and Gualano, B. (2016). β-alanine supplementation to improve exercise capacity and performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51(8), pp.658–669.
Te, G. (2001). Caffeine and exercise: metabolism, endurance and performance. [online] Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.). Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11583104/.
Tipton KD, Wolfe RR. Protein and amino acids for athletes. J Sports Sci. 2004 Jan;22(1):65-79. doi: 10.1080/0264041031000140554. PMID: 14971434.
Trexler ET, Smith-Ryan AE, Stout JR, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12:30. Published 2015 Jul 15. doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0090-y
Villareal MO, Matsukawa T, Isoda H. L-Citrulline Supplementation-Increased Skeletal Muscle PGC-1α Expression is Associated With Exercise Performance and Increased Skeletal Muscle Weight [published online ahead of print, 2018 May 24]. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2018;62(14):e1701043. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201701043
Witard, O.C., Jackman, S.R., Breen, L., Smith, K., Selby, A. and Tipton, K.D. (2013). Myofibrillar muscle protein synthesis rates subsequent to a meal in response to increasing doses of whey protein at rest and after resistance exercise. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 99(1), pp.86–95.
Wu, G. (2016). Dietary protein intake and human health. Food & Function, 7(3), pp.1251–1265.