Number 1: Caffeine. Caffeine is perhaps the most widely used stimulant in the world, taken almost religiously by many sleep-deprived individuals for a quick energy boost. But, it also has very capable ergogenic, performance enhancing effects that can aid muscle growth. Studies consistently show an increase in performance measurements such as totals reps and anaerobic output, explained possibly from caffeine increasing calcium mobilization into muscle cells, allowing for greater muscle contractions. One study in particular, found a notable 12 percent increase in total bench press reps in the 6 to 12 rep range when subjects supplemented with caffeine. More reps ultimately mean that you can lift for more volume, one of the best dose-dependent factors of muscle growth. Caffeine can also acutely increase metabolic rate by an extra 14 calories burned per hour with up to 30 or more the more active you are. Such an increase can help speed up short term fat loss for those on a cut. However, there is a catch. If you habitually drink coffee, you will develop a tolerance, which vastly reduces any of these potential benefits. That means to stay on top of the benefits, you’ll have to intermittently cycle off of caffeine for a few weeks to a month. Also, an effective dose is highly individualized with no set amount guaranteed to work for everyone. It’s a matter of testing out for yourself but do try to stay below 500 milligrams, which is roughly 5 cups of coffee to avoid adverse effects. Number 2: Whey Protein The reason to supplement whey is simply to help you meet your protein goals when you cannot meet it with food alone. Whey protein provides the convenience of getting 30 grams of protein or more in just a few quick gulps. Among all protein sources, it does also rank the highest in biological value and protein digestibility corrected amino acid scores (PDCAA), two ratings measuring a protein’s absorbability and protein quality. Indeed, it does absorb rather quickly, hitting the muscles an hour after ingestion and quickly elevating muscle protein synthesis, and it does contain all of the essential amino acids you need. But… other than that, the overarching benefit is that it’s still simply… protein. Yes, you can consume other protein sources like casein or soy, but given that whey is often the most inexpensive and most abundant, it takes the crown by a slight edge. If you want to know more about Whey, you can come checkout my Whey Protein video as well. Number 3: Creatine Creatine’s main role is to replenish the energy phosphates within our ATP-PCr system. This system is chiefly responsible for the energy we use within roughly the first 15 seconds of intense physical activity, the time in which we are our strongest. Because of this, it’s believed to improve performance, which again can enhance our total work volume. Two meta-analyses, tallying up to over ONE HUNDRED studies, supported this belief. One of them found significant increases in lean mass, improvements in various lab-based resistance exercises including the Wingate test, and improved upper body strength without any notable discrepancies between genders or level of training. The other meta-analysis found that when paired with resistance training, strength was increased up to 78.5% greater with 8 weeks of supplementing creatine relative to a placebo. (squats bench) Although creatine can increase lean mass, much of it is from water weight. But that can also hypothetically enhance muscle hypertrophy via cell swelling, triggering multiple growth factors. Studies even suggest that it inhibits myostatin, a hormone that suppresses muscle growth. Only possible concern is creatine accelerating baldness, with one study suggesting that creatine increases DHT, a hormone linked to hair loss but only if you have a family history of hair loss. As for dose, 5 grams of creatine monohydrate per day is optimal for most and a loading phase isn’t all too necessary. And there’s also no need to cycle it unless you want to drop the water weight. Considering that it’s safe, effective, and inexpensive, it’s almost a no-brainer to supplement creatine if you’re even slightly interested in building muscle. And there you have it! Three supplements, Caffeine, Whey, and Creatine, in my opinion, definitely worth bringing with you on your one-way trip to Gains town.