The human body naturally receives nutrients from the food we eat. However, specific intensities and kinds of activity require specific nutrients. Certain nutrients excel in enhancing muscular power, growth, stamina, size and/or energy. Contractile Machinery within cells, production of cellular energy (in the form of ATP,) and speedy removal of unnecessary metabolic waste, are all processes that decrease friction during muscular contraction, therefore producing more muscular force. Below, you will find some of the best nutrients for improving muscular power, growth, stamina, size and energy, what foods to find them in, and how they work throughout your body.

#1 Creatine Monohydrate, for Growth and Size

Creatine is a molecule that helps the body create energy. It does this by increasing the amount of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) available for muscle cells to use. Creatine also aids in increased energy production and supports muscle growth by increasing water uptake into cells. This means that Creatine can help muscles produce more force during short, intense bursts of activity, such as weightlifting or sprinting. A common side effect of Creatine supplementation is water retention, creatine pushes water into the muscle which can give you a fuller appearance fairly quickly. The water retention typically subsides within two or three weeks of consistent use. The body can produce Creatine on its own from amino acids, it can also be found in beef, pork and tuna. Creatine Monohydrate is available as a supplement in powder, pill or drink form.  When taken correctly, Creatine can increase the effects and growth of each workout by up to 15%.

#2 ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate,) for Energy

ATP is the principal molecule that provides energy to the body's cells, and is especially important for muscle contraction. All functions of the body rely heavily on ATP.  Studies have shown that oral intake of ATP can increase its capacity to supply energy. The most positive effects can be seen when ATP binds to receptors embedded within the muscle cell membrane. This stimulates muscle cell formation and therefore an increase in muscle protein synthesis, optimizing your potential for muscle growth.  ATP can be found in most meats, but the highest concentration is found in beef. Supplemental forms are also available that provide a higher dosage of ATP than what you would find in food. When looking for an ATP supplement, make sure to read the ingredients as some products contain fillers and additives which could negate any potential benefits. Foods high in ATP include spinach, kale and swiss chard. MPA Supplements uses a patented form of ATP called ElevATP in their pre-workout formula, Celluvol. ElevATP is a natural combination of ancient peat and apple polyphenols clinically shown to increase levels of endogenous ATP and support improved strength, power and performance in resistance-trained athletes. MPA Supplements uses the clinical studied dose of ElevATP in Celluvol.

#3 Betaine (Trimethylglycine)

Supplementing with Betaine can increase muscular size and strength via it's increased cellular hydration. Betaine is a nutrient within cells, functioning similar to that of an osmolyte, protecting cells against dehydration, environmental stresses and harmful toxins. It's main function is water retention, increasing cellular water retention via a process known as osmosis. Therefore, Betaine reduces the negative impact dehydration usually has during and after workouts.  Betaine could also decrease the amount of time it takes for muscles to recover after exercise by reducing muscle protein degradation. This is because Betaine has been shown to reduce plasma homocysteine levels, which are an indicator of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease risk. 

Betaine can be found in plantains, spinach, beets and quinoa.

Honorable Mentions: The 3 C's of Rapid Strength and Power

  • Citrulline- Citrulline works in a powerful and unique way! It rids each cell of certain harmful or useless metabolic byproducts. Exercise-induced muscle fatigue can occur after the accumulation of metabolites within the muscle cell (like ammonia.) During intense exercise, the body converts ATPs into AMPs, providing energy for each muscular contraction. The more you participate in high-intensity training, the more ammonia your body will attract, because post workout, AMP is then broken down into ammonia. By eliminating byproducts that inhibit muscular contractions, such as ammonia, results come faster and easier to the body.
  • Calcium- Studies have shown that calcium increases ATP within cells and muscle tissue. This increase provides a flow of glucose into the cell and that natural glucose creates energy. Increased levels of calcium in the liver from ATP consumption has been proven to aid the process of glycogen to glucose conversion.  This means that the more ATP you have, the more glycogen will be stored in your liver as glucose.  The more glucose you have, the more energy your muscles are able to use. Calcium has also been shown to increase protein synthesis in skeletal muscle cells at rest and after exercise by increasing insulin release from pancreatic beta cells within the body. For this reason calcium is important for not only creating ATP but maintaining bone health as well!

Overall, the best nutrients for power, strength and energy are those that enhance the contractile machinery within cells, increase production of cellular energy (in the form of ATP,) and quickly remove any unnecessary metabolic waste. By including these key nutrients in your diet you can maximize your muscle gains and athletic performance!