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The Best Supplements to Take When Exercising for Weight Loss

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Even if you spend hours at the gym day in and day out, building strong muscles isn’t always as simple as it seems. In addition to making sure you’re eating the right foods to support your fitness goals, taking the right supplements can play a major role in how well your body responds to your exercise routine—which is especially important when you want to lose weight. Building muscle mass can help you lose weight because muscle burns more calories than fat. Building more muscle means burning more calories, which means more weight lost!

Before you brave the supplement aisle alone in search of a magic bullet for muscle, read on to discover which supplements registered dietitians recommend for building stronger muscles to lose weight. And for more healthy additions to your supplement routine, check out The One Vitamin Doctors Are Urging Everyone to Take Right Now.

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“The best supplements for building muscle are branched-chain amino acids,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian for Zhou Nutrition.

“Including BCAAs in your workout plan may help you build healthy muscles in a natural way.”

In particular, Manaker recommends Zhou Muscle BCAA, “Which contains the amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine, key aminos that support muscle building and endurance.”

creatine monohydrate
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While it’s found naturally in foods like fish, red meat, chicken, and pork, creatine supplementation is a great way to build strong muscles to burn fat and lose weight, says Jenna Stangland, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN, CLT, team dietitian for Minnesota Wild.

“When used as a supplement, creatine can be used to promote lean muscle gain and increased strength,” says Stangland, who recommends Momentous Creatine, which is vegan and NSF certified for sport.

“When creatine goes into the muscle, it combines with phosphate to form phosphorylcreatine, or PCr. PCr enables the muscle to work at high-intensity levels for a longer period of time, which would also allow one to train at higher volumes during resistance training. If you can lift heavier weights and/or work out for a longer period of time, you will see stronger muscles,” Stangland explains.

And if you need help powering through those workouts, check out The #1 Best Supplement for Energy, According to a Dietitian.

Whey protein concentrate isolate protein powder tub
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If you’re eager to put on fat-burning muscle mass, consuming an adequate amount of protein is essential—but that doesn’t mean you need to start loading up on steaks and egg whites at every meal.

“Whey protein is not only affordable but is a very high-quality and complete protein,” says Lauren Twigge, MCN, RD, LD, founder of Lauren Twigge Nutrition, who notes that whey protein’s leucine content is particularly beneficial for muscle growth. Protein powder can also help you lose weight in other ways, like by consuming it as a meal replacement for typically high-calorie meals. To ensure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck, Twigge recommends ensuring that your whey protein isolate has been third-party tested for safety before consuming it.

Related: 10 Best Protein Powders For Weight Loss, According To RDs

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If you’re looking to lose weight by exercising, there’s one supplement you may already have in your medicine cabinet that can help you reach those goals faster.

“A multivitamin may not seem like much to someone wanting to build muscle as they do not have muscle-focused nutrients, but they help in the process more than most realize,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, a registered dietitian with Balance One Supplements, who recommends MuscleTech Platinum Multivitamin.

“When the body is deficient or lacking in an area, it will divert nutrients and energy to make up what is missing; when you’re building muscle for weight loss, you want all systems working efficiently and effectively—this is where a multivitamin comes in,” Best explains.

For more smart additions to your regular routine, check out the Best Supplements to Take Every Day, According to a Dietitian, and for more healthy living news sent to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter!

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