Regular weight training is one of the best ways to transform your body. As you gain muscle, you’ll begin to look firmer and more toned in as little as two weeks. While diet and exercise alone are enough to help you add muscle to your frame, fitness supply stores are lined with supplements designed to boost your results. Should you choose to take supplements, talk to your doctor first, and remember that they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Whey protein, one of the proteins found in cow’s milk, is one of the most popular muscle-building supplements on the market. Most adults need 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight each day, so a 130-pound women would need about 48 g of protein. While whey protein shakes offer a convenient way to boost your protein intake for muscle building, especially for vegans or vegetarians, most adults get more than enough protein through dietary sources. Any protein consumed in excess of what your body needs will be stored as fat. Women, who are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis, should take extra care, as digesting protein strips your body of urinary calcium.
Glutamine, available in powder or capsule form, is supposed to prevent muscle breakdown during intense exercise, such as weight lifting. Most athletes demonstrate low levels of glutamine when suffering from over-training syndrome, but studies have shown mixed results on the effectiveness of supplementation for muscle gain or recovery.
Branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs, make up three of the amino acid building blocks found in protein. BCAA supplements are marketed as a way to reduce fatigue during your workout, allowing you to lift heavier weights for a longer period of time. While every busy mom could use a pick-me-up, researchers have been unable to back up such claims with verifiable results.
Many male weightlifters supplement with creatine, an amino acid found in meat and fish, to help them bulk up. While results have been mixed, some preliminary clinical trials on animals and humans have shown that creatine may help boost strength and lean muscle, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center. There are no known long term side effects of creatine supplementation, and because women lack the hormonal makeup to pack on muscle like men do, creatine may help you add muscle without making you look bulky.