Muscle recovery is a critical component of your training. Nobody wants to go into their next workout or WOD, sore. That's why in order to keep you healthy 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, and ultimately optimize your performance.
What Supplements Should I Take For Faster Recovery?
There are several different supplements that help with faster muscle recovery. However, the most important thing to consider before buying supplements is to ensure that the products you’re consuming are made with clean, healthy ingredients, and don’t contain proprietary blends, mixes, or complexes.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), supplement manufacturers are required to list all of the ingredients in a product, on its label along with the appropriate amount of each in terms of weight. However, if the ingredients are part of a proprietary blend – the specific amount of each individual ingredient in the blend does not have to be listed, only the total
That being said, if you use supplements with proprietary blends, you won’t know what’s in your product, and if you don’t know what’s in your supplements, how do you know if you’re getting the right nutrients your body needs for faster recovery? You don’t. You work hard to incorporate wholesome, healthy foods into your diet, why compromise your results by consuming supplements that contain harmful and unhealthy ingredients?
Whey Protein Isolate For Faster Muscle Recovery
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.
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. If you want to recover faster, you definitely want to include a quality whey protein isolate in your recovery regimen.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) For Faster Muscle Recovery
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 and BCAA oxidation. 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.
L-Glutamine For Faster Muscle Recovery
L-Glutamine plays a vital role in helping your muscles rebuild and repair themselves, to prevent muscle soreness and aid in faster muscle recovery. Besides being the most abundant, conditionally essential amino acid in the human body, glutamine is fundamental in the process of nitrogen transport between muscle tissues. High-intensity training is proven to utilize higher concentrations of stored glutamine within the muscular-skeletal system. By supplementing L-glutamine into your recovery regimen, you can improve recovery times and recover faster. Glutamine also helps with hydration, which is an often-overlooked aspect of muscle recovery and reducing muscle soreness.
Electrolytes For Faster Muscle Recovery
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. 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. 1The 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.
(We recommend BCAA 2:1:1 because it has added electrolytes and glutamine for hydration and recovery)
Carbohydrates For Faster Muscle Recovery
This one gets a little tricky. If your goals are to be a competitive athlete, then supplementing a fast absorbing 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.
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.
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 carbohydrate that sustains glycogen such as Maltodextrin and Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin, and includes protein or BCAAs, 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.
Citrulline Malate For Faster Muscle Recovery
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.
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.
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 CM were administered during one of the first two sets and a 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. (2) Again, this study proves that one of the greatest benefits of Citrulline Malate is reducing muscle fatigue, in addition to optimizing post-workout recovery.
(READ MORE about the amazing benefits of Citrulline Malate)
Krill Oil For Faster Recovery
Besides the amazing health benefits that Krill Oil has on brain function, heart health, and immune system support, Krill Oil also helps with post-workout inflammation and muscle recovery. 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. What’s special about Krill Oil, is that it contains the worlds most powerful antioxidant, Astaxanthin (Read more here). Astaxanthin is a carotenoid or an antioxidant which 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 help with your active recovery.
(READ Why Krill Oil is the preferred Omega-3 Supplement Over Fish Oil)
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 workout 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 your recover faster. Faster and optimized recovery means better workouts, harder training, and improved results.