Women looking to gain muscle, strength or even just tone their bodies may benefit from extra supplementation. Supplements help you achieve your goals, and with a busy lifestyle, who doesn't want the extra help? When you are trying to lose weight, don't forget about adequate nutrition. An unhealthy diet can lead to problems if you are engaging in strength training. Ideal supplements help feed your muscles, give you energy and maintain your immune function.
Protein is the most important macronutrient when you are trying to build muscle or gain strength. It is the building block for muscle. Many women get inadequate protein and are unable to build muscle. Whey protein is fast absorbing, easy to find and tastes good, making it an ideal meal replacement and recovery drink. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, active or athletic women looking to gain strength need about 0.8 to 1.0 gram of protein per pound of body weight and about 20 to 30 grams post workout for muscle recovery.
The branched chain amino acids are leucine, isoleucine and valine, which are essential amino acids. Your body cannot produce them, so you must get them through food or supplements. Leucine is important for muscle building because it produces insulin, which is an anabolic hormone. Isoleucine and valine convert into glucose, a ready form of energy for the body during exercise. BCAAs spare muscle glycogen, which prevents the breakdown of muscle tissue during prolonged or strenuous exercise. Muscle and Fitness Hers suggests taking up to 5 grams of BCAAs before and after each exercise session.
Glutamine is another amino acid and is important for recovery post-exercise. It increases white blood cell count, helps with brain function and boosts your immunity. Glutamine helps with ammonia toxicity, which increases during exercise. It is stored in the skeletal muscle, helping to prevent breakdown and keep muscles strong. Take 5 grams of glutamine post-exercise and before bed.
Fish oils and flaxseed are two of the most common supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3s have numerous health benefits, including lowering LDL cholesterol, raising HDL cholesterol and preventing diabetes, hypertension and heart-related issues. It is important in the formation of brain cells and cellular function. Taking 1 to 3 grams per day in combination with exercise can reduce your body fat and control blood sugar levels, states Fitness RX for Women.
The combination of zinc, magnesium aspartate and vitamin B-6 is called ZMA, a natural supplement that raises testosterone and growth hormone levels, keeping your muscles in an anabolic state while you sleep. ZMA also improves sleep quality, allowing you to fall into a deeper sleep -- an important part of recovery in performance. Take it on an empty stomach about 30 to 60 minutes before bed.
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning; R. Thomas and Roger W. Earle
- Fitness RX for Women: Top 10 Supplements for Women
- BodyBuilding.com: 5 Essential Supplements for Beginners: It’s Never Been So Easy to Choose
- ExRx.net: ZMA
Riana Rohmann has been working for the Marine Corps doing physical training and writing fitness articles since 2008. She holds personal trainer and advanced health and fitness specialist certifications from the American Council on Exercise and a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology and exercise physiology from California State University-San Marcos.