Re­plen­ish

No mat­ter what your goals, these six sup­ple­ments can help you build lean mus­cle, burn fat and even fight ag­ing.

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No mat­ter what your goals, these six sup­ple­ments can help you build lean mus­cle, burn fat and even fight ag­ing.

or many women who train with weights, in­creas­ing strength and lift­ing per­for­mance is more im­por­tant than build­ing mus­cle mass. Of course, any strength gains will be ac­com­pa­nied by im­prove­ments in mus­cle tone and shape — ev­ery­one de­sires these up­grades. But if you want to hoist more weight, you have to care­fully se­lect your nu­tri­tional sup­ple­ments.

For starters, ev­ery strength-train­ing diet should be­gin with ad­e­quate pro­tein. This is the fuel by which mus­cles grow. To stay strong, your daily in­take should be be­tween 1 to 1.5 grams per pound of body­weight, di­vided so that you don’t con­sume more than 25 grams at any one sit­ting (for great­est ab­sorp­tion). About 20 per­cent of this could be taken im­me­di­ately af­ter work­ing out.

What fol­lows are key vi­ta­mins and other nu­tri­ents that will help your mus­cles con­tract more pow­er­fully with­out tremen­dously in­creas­ing their over­all size.

BCAAs. These three amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and va­line) are unique from other aminos be­cause they can be used as fuel within mus­cle tis­sue, al­low­ing for in­creased mus­cu­lar en­durance and faster re­cov­ery. Leucine is the an­abolic trig­ger for growth, so it helps build new mus­cle tis­sue, plus may in­crease growth hor­mone and re­duce cor­ti­sol. Even if you’re not look­ing to get big­ger, branched-chain amino acids are crit­i­cal for mus­cle power and en­durance dur­ing in­tense train­ing, plus re­cov­ery after­ward. When sup­ple­ment­ing, use a BCAA with at least a 5:1:1 ra­tio (leucine to isoleucine and va­line) and take 5 to 10 grams be­fore train­ing. B-Com­plex Vi­ta­mins. Among the group of eight vi­ta­mins known as B com­plex — all of which are crit­i­cal for con­ver­sion of food to en­ergy — at least four play an ad­di­tional role in devel­op­ment of strength. Niacin (B3) is key to en­ergy pro­duc­tion and hor­mone man­u­fac­tur­ing, both of which are nec­es­sary for mus­cu­lar

PRO­TEIN IS THE FUEL BY WHICH MUS­CLES GROW, BUT A FEW KEY SUP­PLE­MENTS CAN STIM­U­LATE PRO­TEIN SYNTHESIS.

devel­op­ment. Vi­ta­min B6 (pyri­dox­ine) is crit­i­cal for trans­form­ing amino acids into pro­teins, thereby pro­vid­ing the build­ing blocks for healthy mus­cle tis­sue. Bi­otin (B7) is also im­por­tant for amino-acid me­tab­o­lism, which helps pro­mote im­prove­ments in mus­cle func­tion, strength and en­durance. Fi­nally, B12 (cobal­amin) as­sists in en­ergy pro­duc­tion and health of red blood cells. It is also nec­es­sary for proper im­mune func­tion, which is needed for proper mus­cle re­cov­ery and cu­mu­la­tive devel­op­ment of strength. Be sure to take at least 100 per­cent of the daily value of B3 (20 mil­ligrams), B6 (2 mil­ligrams), B7 (300 mi­cro­grams) and B12 (6 mi­cro­grams) each day as part of an over­all B-com­plex for­mula. Be­cause the B vi­ta­mins are wa­ter-sol­u­ble, any ex­cess not im­me­di­ately used is flushed out in the urine. There­fore, you can sup­ple­ment more than once daily or use a timed-re­lease for­mula. Beta-Ala­nine. This nonessen­tial amino com­bines with his­ti­dine in the body to form carno­sine, which is shown to in­crease mus­cle strength, en­durance and tone. Beta-ala­nine is the lim­it­ing fac­tor in this equa­tion, so its sup­ple­men­ta­tion is crit­i­cal for im­proved per­for­mance. You can find this amino in pre­work­out sup­ple­ments or take it on its own. In­gest 1 to 3 grams be­fore and af­ter work­outs.

Be­taine. An­other nonessen­tial amino acid, be­taine has been shown to have po­ten­tial ben­e­fits for im­prov­ing body com­po­si­tion and help­ing pro­mote mus­cle gains through its role in pro­tein synthesis. Re­cent re­search shows that be­taine helps in­crease mus­cle power out­put and mus­cle force pro­duc­tion, re­duce mus­cle pain, and boost mus­cle en­durance and per­for­mance of qual­ity lift­ing rep­e­ti­tions. It’s also shown to help im­prove fat-burn­ing ca­pac­ity. For best results, sup­ple­ment with 1,500 to 2,000 mil­ligrams daily.

Vi­ta­min C. This an­tiox­i­dant vi­ta­min is crit­i­cal for synthesis of col­la­gen and elastin, which are nec­es­sary for ten­don and lig­a­ment struc­ture and func­tion. Ten­dons an­chor mus­cle tis­sue into joints, while lig­a­ments pro­vide joint sta­bil­ity — both crit­i­cal to mus­cle ac­tiv­ity. It also con­trib­utes to the health of blood ves­sels, which pro­vide oxy­gen and nu­tri­ents to mus­cle tis­sue. An­other wa­ter-sol­u­ble vi­ta­min, C can be con­sumed safely well in ex­cess of the 60-mil­ligram Daily Value. But don’t take too much C — one study showed that 1,000 mil­ligrams daily (along with 235 mil­ligrams of vi­ta­min E) ac­tu­ally ham­pered strength in­creases in re­sponse to heavy train­ing. ZMA. This sup­ple­ment is a com­bi­na­tion of zinc monome­thio­n­ine/as­par­tate, mag­ne­sium as­par­tate and vi­ta­min B6. Re­search shows that it helps boost strength and power, en­hance mus­cle re­cov­ery and even aid in fat loss. It does so in part by pro­mot­ing higher lev­els of testos­terone and in­sulin-like growth fac­tor-1 (IGF-1) dur­ing in­tense train­ing. Zinc is also known to be in­volved in pro­tein synthesis, while mag­ne­sium works on the path­ways that in­flu­ence mus­cle growth. For best results, take two cap­sules of stan­dard­ized ZMA be­fore bed, which will de­liver 20 mil­ligrams of zinc and 300 mil­ligrams of mag­ne­sium. It will also en­hance your sleep.

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