Muscle recovery is a critical component of your training. Nobody wants to go back to the gym when you can barely get up the stairs in your apartment. In order to keep you healthy, sore-free, and on track to meet your training goals, your body requires essential nutrients to adequately rebuild and repair itself. Supplementing the right nutrients into your post-workout recovery routine can help with faster muscle recovery, promote muscle repair, and reduce muscle mass breakdown and soreness so you can optimize your athletic performance.
What Supplements Should I Take For Faster Recovery?
Before we get into what supplements are best for faster muscle recovery and to reduce muscle soreness, it’s important to find a supplement that is transparent or proprietary-blend free and tells you how much of each ingredient is in your product. Most pre and post-workout powders use proprietary blends and do not disclose how much of each ingredient they use. Without knowing the amount of each ingredient your ingesting, you won’t know if you're getting enough of each ingredient to have any performance benefits.
Pay attention to the supplement label and make sure the amounts for each ingredient are clearly and transparently listed. Most products will put some key ingredients in the ‘other ingredients’ or into a blend with a trademarked name such as "muscle-matrix blend", "Recovery boosting blend" etc, and do not disclose the proportions of each ingredient.
You can be almost sure, that products marketed as "Post-WOD", or "Recovery" will use some type of blend.
What Are The Best Supplements For Faster Muscle Recovery?
Whey Protein Isolate
One of the best supplements for faster muscle recovery is Whey Protein Isolate. Whey protein isolate is rich in Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) which are essential to help build, rebuild, and repair muscle mass breakdown, and encourage muscle growth. Whey Isolate also digests faster than other forms of protein, delivering vital nutrients to your muscle tissue faster, for more rapid recovery times.
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Why Is Whey Protein Isolate One Of The Best Supplements For Faster Muscle Recovery?
Supplementing with Whey Protein Isolate before, during, or after your training, stimulates protein synthesis and minimizes protein breakdown (proteolysis), which are the two biological processes that are essential for faster muscle recovery.
Compared to regular protein supplements, whey protein isolate is more effective at increasing blood amino acids concentration and stimulating the process of protein synthesis due to its different absorption kinetics and amino acid profile. The high availability of amino acids in whey protein isolate, especially branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), is important for protein synthesis in the hours immediately after ingestion.
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Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs should be a staple product within everyone’s recovery strategy, to rebuild muscle mass, and recover faster. Branched Chain Amino Acids are comprised of three essential amino acids, Leucine, isoleucine, and Valine. BCAA’s are vital for faster recovery because they are directly responsible for increasing the rate of the biological process of muscle protein synthesis (anabolism, or muscle growth) and decreasing the rate of protein degradation (catabolism, muscle breakdown). They’re the building blocks of protein.
Whether you love lifting weights or crushing times at the CrossFit box, your body utilizes these essential amino acids for fuel, which increases the rate of protein degradation (muscle mass loss) and BCAA oxidation.
Why Are BCAAs One Of The Best Supplements For Faster Muscle Recovery?
When you workout, BCAAs are expended quickly, and without a positive balance of BCAAs, the rate of protein degradation will be greater than the rate of protein synthesis, meaning you’ll actually lose muscle mass, rather than gain it. Not to mention, without an adequate supply of BCAAs your body won't have the essential nutrients it needs, to efficiently repair, rebuild, and restore muscle mass, for faster recovery times.
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Your training isn't over until you recover and recovery is crucial to your overall performance. L-Glutamine is the most abundant conditionally essential amino acid in the human body. However, with increased training volume, glutamine stores are depleted faster than your body can replenish them, which can cause your body to be catabolic and break down lean muscle mass. Low levels of glutamine can also compromise your immune system, increasing the risk of infection.
Why Is L-Glutamine One Of The Best Supplements For Faster Muscle Recovery?
Glutamine is vital for reducing muscle mass breakdown and boosting immune system function. After prolonged periods of exercise, your immune system becomes susceptible to infection.
In a study conducted by Oxford Universities Biochemistry Department, 200 elite endurance athletes including distance runners and rowers, consumed a post-workout drink either containing 5g of glutamine, or a placebo immediately after and two hours after exercise. The results indicated that seven days following exercise, 81% of the glutamine group showed no infection post-workout, as compared to the placebo group, which showed 49% with no infection [R].
Glutamine is one of the best supplements for muscle recovery due to its ability in reducing muscle mass breakdown and post-workout soreness. With less soreness and faster recovery, you can increase training volume. Increased training volume translates to more training and better results.
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In another study conducted by the School of Health and Exercise Performance in the division of Kinesiology at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Sixteen healthy participants volunteered in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study to examine the effects that L-glutamine supplementation has on muscle strength and soreness ratings following eccentric exercise. The results concluded that supplementation of L-Glutamine directly influenced faster recovery of peak torque and diminished muscle soreness following eccentric exercise [R, R].
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Electrolytes are minerals that help maintain alkaline pH and hydration, which are required to normalize pH balance following exercise, to help with faster muscle recovery. During exercise, alkalizing minerals (magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium, and bicarbonate) are utilized to help with normalizing muscle contraction and muscle function.
Why Are Electrolytes One Of The Best Supplements For Faster Muscle Recovery?
Muscles require a substantial concentration of alkalizing minerals to function smoothly and maintain consistent blood flow. Without an adequate concentration of the proper alkalizing minerals, the inflammatory response of muscles can lead to a lack of recovery and increased pain and soreness. 1 The last thing you want is to cramp during your training or competition. If I were you, I’d make sure to get an adequate amount of electrolytes, to recover faster.
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This one gets a little tricky. If your goals are to be a competitive athlete, then supplementing a clean complex carbohydrate supplement is understandable. If you’re going to the gym and lifting weights to maintain your muscle mass and strength, to keep up with your kids at soccer practice, then carbohydrate supplements are probably not for you. So let’s break this down.
Why Are Complex Carbohydrates One Of The Best Supplements For Faster Muscle Recovery?
When you eat carbohydrates, the digestive system breaks them down into glucose (sugar), which then raises your blood sugar levels causing your pancreas to produce insulin, a hormone that prompts your cells to absorb sugar for energy, which turns into glycogen and stores body fat. Replenishing glycogen stores is vital for normal cellular function, however, if you’re not a competitive athlete, you don't need a carbohydrate supplement to do it. Obtaining quality carbohydrates from your diet is always preferred as opposed to supplementation.
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Now, if you are a competitive athlete, sometimes it can be hard to get the daily intake of carbohydrates you need, to adequately replenish glycogen stores for added energy and improved performance. In that case, it is important to supplement with a natural carbohydrate that sustains long-lasting glycogen release such as complex carbohydrate supplements, like Clean Carbs for faster muscle recovery and optimized performance. In order for carbohydrate supplements to be effective, protein or BCAA’s must be combined with carbohydrates to have a positive impact on faster muscle recovery and achieving a net positive protein balance.
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Citrulline Malate 2:1
Citrulline Malate is a unique combination of the nonessential amino acid L-Citrulline and malate, which comes from malic acid. Citrulline Malate is perhaps one of the most impressive and versatile supplements proven to help support faster muscle recovery.
Why Is Citrulline Malate One Of The Best Supplements For Faster Muscle Recovery?
Citrulline Malate is one of the best supplements for faster muscle recovery, due to its ability to release nitric oxide (NO).
NO is a vasodilator, meaning that it widens the blood vessels, without raising blood pressure. By promoting the release of NO, the body is able to transport more oxygen and blood, resulting in improved strength, better endurance, and optimized recovery. By improving each aspect of your training through an increase in Nitric Oxide production, you'll be able to clock faster times, delay muscle fatigue, increase training volume, row harder, and lift heavier.
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In a study, published in the Journal Of Strength and Conditioning Research, at the University of Córdoba, Spain 41 male participants performed two consecutive flat barbell bench-training sessions for a total of sixteen sets. 8g of Citrulline Malate was administered during one of the first two sets and placebo was administered for the third. The subjects' resistance was tested using the repetitions to fatigue test at 80% of their predetermined one rep max in the 8 sets of bench presses during the training session.
The number of reps showed a significant increase from placebo treatment to treatment with CM from the third set achieving 52.92% more repetitions. The study also showed a 40% reduction in muscle soreness at 24 hours and 48 hours with a response rate greater than 90% with Citrulline Malate supplementation [R]. Again, this study proves that one of the greatest benefits of Citrulline Malate is reducing muscle fatigue, in addition to optimizing post-workout recovery.
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Muscle soreness can cause extreme physical discomfort and interrupt training sessions. With a reduction in acute muscle soreness and post-workout muscle breakdown, you can increase training volume, and generate greater gains in strength and overall performance.
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Krill oil contains essential Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA) eicosapentaenoic acid and (DHA) docosahexaenoic acid. Essential, meaning that your body cannot produce them on its own therefore they must be obtained through your diet or through supplementation. But, since you can’t usually go to the grocery store and buy a bag of Krill for the BBQ, then I’d suggest buying a high-quality Krill Oil supplement.
Why Is Krill Oil One Of The Best Supplements For Faster Recovery?
Krill Oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. And omega-3 fatty acids are proven to help with post-workout inflammation and faster recovery.
In randomized, controlled trial 50 adult participants with mild knee pain were administered 2g of Krill Oil or placebo for thirty days. The results indicated that the krill oil group had significant improvements in knee pain, stiffness, and increased range of motion [R].
What’s unique about Krill Oil, is that it also naturally contains the world's most powerful antioxidant, Astaxanthin.
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Astaxanthin is a carotenoid or an antioxidant that helps fight the build-up of free radicals. Astaxanthin is also an anti-inflammatory and can help reduce chronic inflammation and help you with faster recovery. If you have constant joint pain, especially after lifting, or spending a few hours at the CrossFit Box, I would definitely consider adding Krill Oil to your recovery regimen to faster active recovery.
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What Are The Best Supplements For Faster Muscle Recovery? Conclusion
It’s important to establish a recovery strategy and regimen that includes stretching, rest, healthy nutrition, and supplementation with the right nutrients to optimize your performance. You work out hard, to become stronger, faster, and healthier, however, the process of protein synthesis (muscle building) occurs during your recovery period and while you're resting. Adding some of the supplements above in your recovery routine will be a good way to help you recover faster. Faster and optimized recovery means better workouts, harder training, and improved results.
Are you extremely sore all the time after your workouts? Looking for supplements that will help you recover faster and reduce muscle mass soreness?
The Momentum Stack was created to generate the momentum you need to push through your workout from start to finish without compromise. All products are clinically dosed for optimum performance with the vital nutrients you need for your endurance, strength, and recovery all with a delicious lemon-lime flavor.
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We believe that everyone can optimize not only their athletic performance but their human potential. The way we believe we can optimize performance is through transparency, clinically effective doses, and clinically proven ingredients with evidence-based outcomes. We provide the nutrients you need to power your active lifestyle.
ReferencesSuzuki, Yoshio et al. “Krill Oil Improves Mild Knee Joint Pain: A Randomized Control Trial” PloS one vol. 11,10 e0162769. 4 Oct. 2016, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0162769
Pérez-guisado J, Jakeman PM. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(5):1215-22.
Legault Z, Bagnall N, Kimmerly DS. The Influence of Oral L-Glutamine Supplementation on Muscle Strength Recovery and Soreness Following Unilateral Knee Extension Eccentric Exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2015;25(5):417-26.
Gleeson, Michael. “Dosing and Efficacy of Glutamine Supplementation in Human Exercise and Sport Training1,2.” The Journal of Nutrition, 1 Oct. 2008