Advanced Ingredients for Muscle Growth in Athletes

August 7, 2023

In the July issue of Natural Products Insider, Denis Faye dives into the top ingredients for muscle growth.

The sports nutrition arena has taken a turn… for the better.  There are more products on the market that are being formulated with clinically proven ingredients.  In the article 5 muscle-friendly sports supplements ingredients, they take a look at well-recognized muscle-building ingredients that should not get overlooked.


As far as supplements go, protein will always be king. 

“If I recommend one supplement to start with, usually it would be protein,” states Ralf Jäger, Ph.D., MBA, FISSN, CISSN, co-founder of Increnovo. “You need the amino acids.  Those of the building blocks of muscle.”

Dietary protein is comprised of approximately 20 amino acids, among which 9 are classified as "essential." These amino acids cannot be synthesized by the body and must therefore be obtained through one's diet.

Supplementing with protein ensures that the body receives an adequate and readily available supply of amino acids. These amino acids serve as the raw material for repairing and building new muscle tissue, helping athletes recover faster from intense workouts and reducing the risk of muscle breakdown.


Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are 3 of the 9 essential amino acids.  These amino acids are classified as essential, meaning the body can't produce them on its own, necessitating their intake through diet or supplementation.


HMB, scientifically known as beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate, is a downstream metabolite of the amino acid leucine.  It has been shown to increase protein synthesis while decreasing protein breakdown to help preserve lean muscle, build strength, and improve recovery.

“HMB really works when there’s a stressor,” explained Shawn Baier, MBA, VP of Business Development at TSI Group. “With older adults, the stressor obviously is age-related muscle loss.”


Creatine is one of the most studied ingredients on the market and has been widely known for its role of providing energy to our cells.  Research has also shown creatine can increase muscle strength, improve performance, and aid muscle recovery. 

“The emphasis in the past few years has been looking at if creatine has the ability to impact things such as bone density as we age, musculature as we age, dealing with age-associated muscle loss,” states Douglas Kalman, Ph.D., RD, Hewlings’ co-founder at Substantiation Sciences.  “We’re also dealing with things like cognition.  Creatine is thought of – or beginning to be thought of – as a life cycle nutrient.”


Another ingredient known for fueling our cells is ATP or adenosine triphosphate.  ATP is the primary source of cellular energy for all living things.  It is found in every cell of the human body and provides the energy to drive all biological reactions that allow cells to function and life to exist.  In addition to powering cellular processes, ATP is also an important signaling molecule, where cells release ATP to send messages to nearby cells.

“I think the most unique thing about ATP is that is actually works acutely,” Jäger noted. “When you’re looking at creatine or protein, you have to take it for a longer period of time to see the benefits.  ATP is different because with just a one-time dose, you can see an increase in different performance measures.”

To read the full article in Natural Products Insider, click here, download and turn to page 8.

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