Need to Build Muscle Quickly (and Safely)? Your Best Options

Whether you've been specifically instructed by your sports coach or trainer to gain muscle weight, or simply want a leaner and stronger look, you may be wondering how you should go about the bodybuilding process. While the tried-and-true advice to bulk up on protein and increase weight-bearing exercise should help you reduce fat and grow muscle, it could take months or even years to achieve the level of muscularity you desire. However, many of the tips for speeding up this process could cause long-term damage to your kidneys and other organs. Here are three effective methods to quickly (and safely) build muscle mass.

Make sure you're eating enough

If you're transitioning from a relatively high-carbohydrate diet to a more protein-based one, but aren't counting calories, you may be handicapping your muscle-building efforts by not consuming enough calories each day. Carbs are converted to energy fairly quickly, which is why a meal of pure carbohydrates will leave you feeling hungry just an hour or two later. If you've made the switch to more protein-based foods recently, you're likely feeling fuller longer, and may be inadvertently decreasing your caloric intake.

You may want to keep a food log for a few days just to get an idea of how many calories you're consuming. Then use an online calculator to determine exactly how many calories you need in order to gain the amount of muscle you'd like, and shoot for this target during future meals. You may want to also be mindful of the specific breakdown of carbs, protein, and fats at each meal. While consuming extra protein is the quickest way to increase your muscle mass, this protein isn't easily converted to energy -- so adding in some carbs and fats will help provide you with the fuel you need to keep up your workout regimen.

Consider supplements

As bodybuilding continues to increase in popularity, the number of supplements, protein shakes, and other "miracle" powders that promise to instantly transform you into a lean muscle machine has expanded at an even greater rate. Many of these products offer relatively little nutrition or other benefits, even with a high price tag. However, there are a few specific types of supplements that are backed by science, rather than fad.

These "natural anabolics" mimic the effects of anabolic steroids, but are legal in the U.S. and are derived from plants and other natural substances, rather than from questionable animal sources. These steroid supplements trigger your body's ability to produce lean muscle mass, and (when combined with a high-protein diet) are one of the fastest ways to increase your amount of muscle without harming your kidneys or leading to other undesirable side effects like acne and anger outbursts.