What Supplement to Drink to Tone Muscles

Woman working out with dumbbells, rear view

Although many people work out to gain large amounts of muscle mass, not everyone is seeking that goal. For example, you may go to the gym in order to increase your muscle tone. While exercise is certainly an important part of toning your muscles, you'll also need to follow proper nutritional protocols. You may want to add certain nutritional supplements, such as branched-chain amino acids, to your regimen to enhance your chances of successful muscle toning. Consult a doctor before using any nutritional supplements to reduce the risk of side effects.

Muscle Toning Explained

When you want to tone your muscles, the idea is not to add large amounts of mass. Instead, you'll want to strengthen your muscles and reduce body fat so your muscles are defined and your body appears toned rather than bulky. To tone your muscles, performing repetitions with heavier weights at lower repetition ranges is an effective workout strategy. A study from the April 2002 issue of "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" indicates that performing sets of eight repetitions at 85 percent of your one-repetition maximum encourages muscle growth and also promotes a higher rate of post-exercise calorie-burning than higher repetition ranges at lower weights. This extra calorie burning can help you burn fat to improve your muscle definition.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids and Muscle

The branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs, are leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAA supplements can encourage muscle toning because these amino acids are integral in the formation of muscles and for recovery after exercise. Additionally, a study published in the April 2010 edition of "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" found that BCAA supplementation promoted higher levels of testosterone, a hormone that helps promote muscle growth.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids and Fat Burning

Burning fat is also an important component of getting the toned muscle look, and BCAAs can assist with this component as well. According to a study from the February 2011 issue of "The Journal of Nutrition," increased intake of BCAAs is related to a lower incidence of excess body weight. Additionally, a study from the journal "Diabetes" found that supplementation of leucine encouraged reduction of body fat.

Dietary Concerns

While BCAA supplements may help you with muscle toning, you should note that your nutritional intake is also crucial. Consuming too many calories will result in excess body fat, which will impair your attempts to get a toned, defined look. In addition to controlling your calorie intake, you may wish to consider increasing your protein intake relative to your carbohydrate intake. A study from the March 2011 issue of "Nutrition & Metabolism" suggests that a lower ratio of carbohydrates to protein in your diet may help reduce body fat accumulation and promote more muscle development.