The Best Supplement for Lean Muscle Mass

The Best Supplement for Lean Muscle Mass

Question:

Hi, what would be the best supplement to become leaner and cut muscle?

– Lito J.

Answer:

The leanest, most cut people are generally considered bodybuilders. They most commonly use arginine, beta-alanine, branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), caffeine, citrulline malate, creatine monohydrate, glutamine, and beta-hydroxy-methylbutyrate (HMB). Among these, creatine has been shown to be effective for muscle size and strength when added to a weight training program.1,2 The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) states that “creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.”2 Beta-alanine further improves lean mass gains and body fat loss in conjunction with creatine supplementation.1  

Arginine and citrulline malate may have ergogenic effects but do not conclusively alter body composition. The BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine and valine) decrease muscle protein breakdown and increase skeletal muscle protein synthesis though these have not translated to increased lean mass. The stimulant caffeine, taken pre-workout, increases strength training performance which allows you to do more muscle-building work.

Read about related topics on our Living Healthy blog – overall supplements and nitric oxide boosters.

Resources:

  • Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation. Helms ER, Aragon AA, Fitschen PJ. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. May 2014; 11:20. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-11-20
  • International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Safety and Efficacy of Creatine Supplementation in Exercise, Sport and Medicine. RB Kreider, et al. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. June 2017; 14:18. doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

6 + 8 =


Recommended Reading - Q+A

How do I reach potassium goal on low sugar?

How do I reach potassium goal on low sugar?

Question:

I read we need to consume 3,500-4,700 mg of potassium daily. I don’t eat sugar…I had a banana the other day and I almost came out of my skin! I eat spinach and broccoli daily and sweet potatoes regularly. How can I reach these numbers?

– Cliff A.

Answer:

To reach the US Dietary Guidelines goal for potassium [4,700 mg for adults] from vegetables, dairy, animal protein foods, legumes, nuts and grains with little fruit is doable with the proper planning and tools. Charts such as from Health.gov and the National Institutes of Health show the potassium content in various foods. For our members in Canada, check out HealthLinkBC’s chart with metric measures.

Using the above, we calculated that eating a medium baked potato, ½ Cup cooked beet greens, 2 Cups raw spinach, ½ Cup white or adzuki beans, ½ Cup soybeans, 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt, 1 Cup skim milk, 3 oz cooked salmon, and ½ Cup avocado would meet the potassium goal for the day. If the variety of foods you’re willing to consume is limited, adjust portions accordingly to provide more potassium from what you do eat.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

Disclaimer: Nutrient values were used along with RDN’s professional judgment. Due to variations in products, final calculation is an approximation.

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

11 + 15 =


Recommended Reading - Q+A

Intra-workout Drinks and Protein Recommendation

Intra-workout Drinks and Protein Recommendation

Question:

My focus has largely been on muscle growth, though I do plan on switching my routine a bit later in the summer to incorporate more cardio. I would like to be more mindful about the supplements I use and am hoping you can provide advice on this front. I shop at GNC and I normally get a powder for intra-workout drinks and I also get tubs of protein. Do you have products that you would recommend that are both effective and healthy? There are so many different products in the market, as you know, but there really isn’t much oversight of those products when it comes to quality, effectiveness, and, to some degree, legality. I think it would be good for me to hear from an expert on what intra-workout drinks and protein shakes are best rather than relying on blogs, etc.

– Deb S.

Answer:

You’re absolutely right that all consumers have to go on is mostly user reviews and manufacturer advertising – how frustrating! With thousands of products on the market for an industry that draws billions of dollars in sales each year, it’s impossible to even keep up a list of what sport nutrition supplements are available. Turning to the experts is excellent. To be completely unbiased, I don’t endorse a particular brand or products. Rather I look at the individual ingredients for their safety and efficacy.

Protein powders that only contain other macronutrients, amino acids and flavors tend to be safe and effective as solid proteins. They really are a substitute for whole food for convenience, portability and ease of digestion. A reasonable guide is to spend no more than one dollar ($1) per 20-25 gram protein serving; even less if you buy in bulk.

Some active compounds that have scientific evidence behind them are creatine, caffeine, Beta-alanine, nitrate and sodium bicarbonate1.  You can look up ingredients on www.Examine.com but can’t research a certain product by name or brand. The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements has a helpful table of selected ingredients’ efficacy, safety and dosages that also indicates the type of exercise that they may benefit.

Even when there are studies on effectiveness of an ingredient, the next step is determining whether a particular product has an active amount of that compound. In addition, I look for those that not only say they have 3rd party (“independent laboratory”) testing for potency but offer the report as well. In addition, consumer sites such as Labdoor.com and ConsumerLab.com allow you to search their review/analysis by product name.

Remember, supplements are of best value when they complement a well-chosen high-quality eating plan!

Resources:

  • Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016;116:501-528.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

6 + 13 =


Recommended Reading - Q+A

Inflammatory Foods on GI Health

Inflammatory Foods on GI Health

Question:

Which foods have the most inflammatory effect on the digestive system?

– Anonymous

Answer:

The upper digestive tract (mouth, throat and stomach) is probably less apt to get irritated from compounds in food since what you’ve eaten isn’t yet broken down there. Hot sauce is an exception! Inflammation in these areas is likely due to bacteria or autoimmune responses. It’s rare that foods cause direct inflammation on the interior lining of the intestinal tract from within the gut itself. Usually it’s by way of immunoregulatory pathways and depends on the health of that lining.

When nutrition and medical experts speak of an inflammatory effect from food, they’re usually talking in reference to the two inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. The causes may be genetic, environmental or both. It’s assumed a pathogenic agent – bacteria, viruses, antigens – triggers the body’s immune system to produce an inflammatory reaction in the digestive system. Certain types of foods may cause greater symptoms, but each person’s response varies.

Outside of IBD, maybe you’re referring to foods that cause other gastrointestinal problems like gas, bloating and pain such as from indigestion, reflux or irritable bowel syndrome? Here the list of problem foods can vary depending on the person’s tolerance. Lactose-containing milk products, nuts, legumes, fructans in grains and vegetables, sugar alcohols, heavy spices, caffeine, and greasy foods are the top contributors to gut issues.

Though you may want to avoid inflammatory foods, I’d suggest focusing on the positive by seeking foods that fight inflammation systemically. These include beneficial spices, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, potatoes, tomatoes, nuts, olive oil, fatty fish (such as salmon and mackerel), oysters, wheat germ, liver and citrus fruit.

Resources:

  • Inflammation in the intestinal tract: pathogenesis and treatment. Blumberg RS. Digestive Diseases 2009;  27(4): 455–464. doi:10.1159/000235851
  • “Symptoms & Causes of Gas in the Digestive Tract.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 July 2016, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gas-digestive-tract/symptoms-causes.
  • Harvard Health Publishing. “Foods That Fight Inflammation.” Harvard Health, Harvard Medical School,    June 2014, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

1 + 15 =


Recommended Reading - Q+A

Meats, Fruits, and Vegetables to reach 100% Daily Value of Vitamins and Minerals

Meats, Fruits, and Vegetables to reach 100% Daily Value of Vitamins and Minerals

Question:

Which unprocessed meats, vegetables, and fruits should I eat each day to get 100% daily value of vitamins and minerals without supplements?

– Charles E.

Answer:

Great question, Charles! There are over 20 vitamins and minerals which need to be obtained in the diet because the human body cannot make them. The Reference Daily Intake levels – either Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) or Adequate Intake (AI) – for each micronutrient show how much is needed for men, women and children of various age groups. Your question’s wording refers to the Daily Values, which are not so specific.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “one value for each nutrient, known as the Daily Value (DV), is selected for the labels of dietary supplements and foods. A DV is often, but not always, similar to one’s RDA or AI for that nutrient.” The Daily Values are set by the U.S. FDA for labeling so that consumers can see how much of a nutrient is provided in a serving of a food compared to their approximate requirement for it. The Nutrition Facts panel shows the percent DV for certain vitamins and minerals. Readers – if you’re interested in more about food labels, check out our Living Health Podcast Episode 21!

Okay, so on to whether it’s possible to plan a 100% micronutrient complete day from whole foods. Yes! Though the amount of produce may not be realistic for a person to consume on a daily basis, or the energy provided may be inadequate or excessive for you. That’s one reason why a variety of food selected across several days is best for meeting one’s nutritional needs.

If you’re looking for a list of what to eat in one day that meets 100% DV, the best one could do would be to construct a day using nutrient analysis software which would still be compared to the RDA or AI for your age and gender, not DV. The following list shows how you can meet the DV for about half the essential micronutrients:

Vitamin C: 1 large orange

Vitamin D: 3 1/2-ounces salmon

Vitamin E:  1 cup raw broccoli, plus 2 ounces almonds

Vitamin K: raw broccoli from above

Folic Acid: 1 cup peas, 1 cup cooked spinach, and 5 long asparagus

B12 and B6: 1 cup plain yogurt and a banana, 1 ounce sunflower seeds, and 3 ounces roast beef

Calcium: cooked spinach and yogurt from above plus an 8-ounce glass skim milk, and 1 fig

Iron: red meat from above plus a large spinach salad, and 1 cup lentil soup

Magnesium: almonds from above plus 2 slices of whole-wheat bread, 1 ounce raisins, a baked potato, and 4 ounces grilled halibut

Zinc: whole wheat bread from above plus a burger patty, and 1 slice cheese

 

Restricting intake to only the three food groups you mentioned is more work, so you are on your own there. If you are adamant about doing so, I’d suggest using a sample menu as a template for starters then substituting for foods you won’t eat. Truly a personalized custom menu!

 

References:

  • “Daily Values.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ods.od.nih.gov/HealthInformation/dailyvalues.aspx.
  • Harvard Health Publishing. “Getting Your Vitamins and Minerals through Diet.” Harvard Health, Harvard Medical School, July 2009, www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/getting-your-vitamins-and-minerals-through-diet.
  • “How to Eat Your Vitamins.” Real Simple, www.realsimple.com/health/nutrition-diet/vitamins/eat-vitamins.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

10 + 3 =


Recommended Reading - Q+A

SUBSCRIBE TO

LIVING HEALTHY

Be the first to know about exclusive

content, deals and promotions

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest