Say I just to a little bit of exercise (enough to have some gain), what would be the supplements I should take to maximize gain and minimize pain.

I would think Creatine, Glutamine and ALC - Acetyl L-Carnitine.

What about fish oil?

  • 'Maximize gain and minimize pain.' - Actually, sounds like an oxymoron to me.
    – user2135
    Oct 8, 2011 at 23:32
  • I usually write it as Gain/Pain(As opposed to Gain/Time for example)
    – Olav
    Oct 10, 2011 at 22:37

3 Answers 3


What you want does not exist. If you understand the basics of nutrition, you need a certain amount of protein, carbs and fat in your diet. Beyond that, vitamins and minerals. That's just for living, so how about building muscle?

Bottom line: if you want to build muscle you have to work hard and lift heavy things. Your body will adapt to the stresses you put on it (exercise), and in its recovery it will supercompensate to handle what you told it to do plus a little spare capacity. If you want to build muscle you have to repeatedly increase what you ask of your muscle.

If you take protein supplements, creatine, l-glutamine, etc. without putting in the work that causes your body to build muscle, they will be going to waste. Anything your body does not need is excess, and all excess is either discarded (as waste product) or stored as fat.

In short, no pain, no gain.

Additional information about the specific supplements you listed:

  • Creatine: specifically creatine monohydrate is a very well studied and tested supplement that helps your body recover more quickly. Recommended dose for adults is roughly 5g per day, no studies or recommendations for children. Muscles use ATP for energy, which when consumed yields ADP and lactate. Creatine helps convert ADP back to ATP more quickly. If you have a high amount of red meat or fish in your diet, you may not see any benefit due to the high amounts of creatine in those food sources. However if you are vegetarian, you will see a big improvement. Creatine does cause some water retention, and proper hydration is even more important when you supplement.
  • Fish Oil: specifically EPA and DHA Omega 3s are also very well studied and tested supplement that helps minimize inflammation. If you eat all organic, natural diet sourced foods, you might not need supplementation. However, most farming practices (including fish farming) include unnatural diets (usually grains) and other stressors to the animals which makes those food sources more inflammatory. Inflammation is a normal part of exercise, and is a predecessor to bigger and stronger muscles. However, too much systemic inflammation causes problems for your immune system and may make you more prone to inflammation type injuries such as tendinitis and bursitis.
  • Glutamine: is a non-essential amino acid, meaning the body can manufacture what it needs. In catabolic states such as injury and illness, taking it as a supplement can improve your immune system and ability to recover.
  • Acetyl L-Carnatine: is another non-essential amino acid, again meaning the body can manufacture what it needs. It helps the body produce energy, and purportedly also helps the brain to function better. ALC is used in some treatments for Alzheimer's disease.

If your training stimulus is mild, the inflammation induced by the training is well within the body's normal means of recovery. Additionally, if you have a healthy diet you'll receive all the Creatine, Omega 3s, Glutamine, and ALC your body needs to function properly.

However, if you are pushing yourself as an athlete training for their sport does your needs for these items can outpace your ability to eat the food that contains them. By this I mean you are exercising several times a week at high intensities for the purpose of getting better, stronger, and faster at your chosen sport. I am not talking about Zumba or Yoga classes (while they are challenging disciplines, they don't have the same recovery requirements as someone training as part of a basketball team).

  • I have visible result, with muscle mass gain (and some pain) with what I am doing.
    – Olav
    Oct 9, 2011 at 6:09
  • 2
    What I am saying is that low levels of exercise is enough to cause the visible result you are seeing. However, those supplements are designed for people who are putting in a lot of work. Oct 9, 2011 at 18:46
  • ALC, fish oil and Glutamine are mainstream. Creatine is not, but it should work the same. (Previously people has said that I look bigger when I have just been taking Glutamine/Creatine)
    – Olav
    Oct 10, 2011 at 22:35
  • In the strength community, Creatine is pretty main stream. It ought to be with high intensity sports such as basketball and football (both American and European styles). Aug 12, 2013 at 16:40
  • @Olav - Also, you look bigger when taking creatine because it draws extra fluid into muscle cells.
    – JohnP
    Aug 12, 2013 at 16:47

Don't waste your money. If you aren't willing to put in 'more than a little' exercise, the impact you'll see from the supplements will be slim to none. If someone told you that you looked bigger while you were taking creatine, that's because creatine causes you to retain slightly more water - so you had a bit more water weight bulking you out, but that's not the same as actual muscle gain.


Supplements are for people working on the last bit of perfection in their physique. Any normal gym rat will not notice and huge difference. One need to understand that most supplements are simply crap and that almost no one in the Ads for them actually take them but supplement with AAS instead.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.