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Maintenance and increase of muscle mass. What are the best strategies and supplements?

Most gym athletes focus on maintaining or gaining muscle mass through strength training and using supplementation, essentially based on whey protein or creatine, to optimize their results. It is known that an athlete’s nutritional needs differ according to the type of exercise performed, associated energy expenditure, or current training period. In addition to these energy needs resulting from exercises, there is also a greater need to maintain an adequate protein intake to ensure the preservation of muscle mass. The use of supplementation occurs when, through food, they cannot meet the daily protein intake recommendations to increase its biological value in a meal or simply to enjoy their anticatabolic and anabolic effects.

How can food help you gain muscle mass?

There are nutritional strategies that promote the maintenance or increase of muscle mass (hypertrophy) helping to optimize these gains (improvement of the anabolic state). Among them, we can highlight a consumption of about 20g of protein in meals throughout the day for young adults or a greater amount when we are facing a meal after strength training (we know that the consumption of this macronutrient during this period favours muscle recovery and even the hypertrophy).

A daily intake of 1.7-2.2gr/kg of body weight is recommended.

For that, we listed below some food options with 20gr of protein:

  • 1 protein yoghurt (300ml)
  • 1 scoop whey protein (30gr)
  • 100gr (uncooked weight) chicken breast
  • 1 can of natural tuna (80gr)
  • 200ml of egg whites

When protein needs cannot be met only by food, the use of protein or amino acid supplements can be a solution. The two most used supplements are whey protein and creatine:

Whey Protein

Derived from the cheese manufacturing process, it is a supplement with high nutritional value, an excellent quantity of essential amino acids, calcium, and active whey peptides, which gives them numerous beneficial functional properties. It is practical and versatile and can be consumed diluted in water or milk or added to many recipes.

It comes in 3 versions:

  • Concentrated – Obtained by physical separation, where the final product has about 80% of proteins, containing reduced sugar and fat content;
  • Isolated – Obtained by chemical separation, containing about 95% of proteins, without fat or lactose;
  • Hydrolyzed – Obtained by a more refined separation process, it provides proteins already decomposed into their constituents, peptides, making their digestibility faster and more efficient


Widely studied supplement with proven benefits in increasing protein synthesis and increasing muscle mass and strength, reducing degradation, and increasing protein synthesis. Some studies report that creatine supplementation can lead to body weight gain along with strength gains. However, it is important to emphasize that this gain does not come from fat gains but from a greater susceptibility to water retention associated with the osmotic effect related to greater circulation of this compound at the intramuscular level.

Recommended daily dose:

The recommended daily dose for supplementation is between 5-7gr/day, and it is advantageous if it is taken with a meal with carbohydrates to have a greater optimization in its absorption.

In this sense, for the maintenance and gain of muscle mass, it is important to ensure a good protein intake in our daily diet and, when it cannot be supplied in this way, the use of food supplements can be especially useful.


The information included in this article concerns the authors opinion only.

About Silvia Coelho

Silvia Coelho
Licenciada em Dietética e Nutrição com especialização em Nutrição Desportiva, exerce a sua atividade laboral essencialmente em ginásios e centros de treino personalizado. Tem larga experiência no acompanhamento de atletas de elite e recreativos de todas as faixas etárias. Nome profissional e o n° da cédula: Sílvia Costa Coelho 3756N

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