We all know the immense benefits of working out, but the aching muscles afterwards are enough to put many people off. We are here to guide you through some supplements you can take to reduce recovery time and get you feeling 100% again as soon as possible.
DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, is a common condition following intense exercise. It tends to begin between 24 and 72 hours after your workout. It cannot be avoided, but these supplements can help to reduce the severity.
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance that gets transformed into creatine phosphate when ingested. This is then used to make a molecule known as ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is used to provide energy for muscular contractions.
It often comes in powder form and is added to post-workout protein shakes. It is believed to speed up the recovery time of your muscles and experts theorize that it can also help athletes to achieve short bursts of speed and energy.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence to support these theories about creatine, although not everyone responds to the supplement.
Everyone knows that protein is vital to the growth, maintenance, recovery, and repair of your muscles. It makes sense that protein supplements assist with speeding up the recovery period, and this is why many athletes will chug a protein shake after their workout.
Following a workout, your muscles will hurt as many of the fibers have been torn to make way for future growth. Supplementing with protein will help your muscles have enough nutrients to recover fully.
It can also be used in protein synthesis to grow your muscles overall. Protein is also very useful when replenishing your (now depleted) energy stores.
This is an amino acid that is found in abundance in the blood and muscle cells of humans. It cannot be made by the body and must be ingested, making it an essential amino acid. This is used in protein synthesis, acting as building blocks for new proteins.
L-Glutamine is used to supply approximately 35% of the nitrogen required for protein synthesis.
It also helps to pull water and salt molecules into the cells of the muscles. This replenishes the muscle’s store and helps to speed up the process of protein synthesis. This means that the recovery period is reduced and muscle fatigue is lessened.
L-Citrulline is a non-protein amino acid. It is produced by the body but can also be taken as a supplement. Watermelon is also very rich in this compound. When ingested, L-Citrulline is converted into another amino acid, L-Arginine.
This creates nitric oxide and forces blood vessels in the body to dilate.
This allows more oxygen and nutrients to reach the muscle cells. This dilation also helps metabolic waste (such as lactic acid) to be expelled from the cells more rapidly. This will reduce muscle soreness and stiffness overall.
BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acids. There are 3 of these, out of the 9 essential amino acids required for human health. These BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The name comes from the chemical structure of the amino acids.
There is research that suggests BCAAs can be used as a dietary supplement to decrease muscular soreness following a workout. Some of this soreness is due to small tears in the muscle fibers as a result of exertion.
Research has shown that BCAAs can decrease the damage done to muscles, in turn improving the recovery time. Ingestion of BCAAs has been shown to decrease creatine kinase levels in the body - an indicator of muscular damage.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These are found in a variety of foods, and there are 3 main acids. These are ALA (alpha-linoleic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). EPA is believed to be one of the best for muscle recovery and is primarily found in seafood.
EPA and DHA are long-chain fatty acids and can assist with muscle recovery. They have been shown to reduce inflammation, swelling, and stiffness in the muscles. It is recommended to consume a 6g supplement of omega-3 fatty acids daily in order to get the most benefits.
These are key minerals required by your body for optimal functionality. They are used to maintain the charge across cell membranes throughout the body, allowing electrical impulses to be transmitted. They are also vital to the maintenance of adequate hydration.
Electrolyte stores within the body are depleted in a variety of ways. These include muscle contractions, heart beats, sweat, urine, vomit, and diarrhea. It is important to replenish your electrolyte stores following a workout to prevent any detrimental health impacts.
Ensuring your electrolyte levels are maintained will reduce your muscle pain and limit muscular cramps.
Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherries (Montmorency cherries) contain the most anti-inflammatory compounds of any fruit. These antioxidants can help to promote muscle recovery in a similar manner to medicinal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen.
Many professional athletes, especially those competing in endurance sports, will consume tart cherry juice daily.
How Else Can You Speed Up Muscle Recovery?
Knowing what to eat for muscle recovery will help you get the essential nutrients that your body needs. Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to speed up the recovery time following a workout. Water is a good shout, but if you have been sweating a lot then we recommend a sports drink. This will hydrate you and replenish your electrolyte stores at the same time.
A post-workout snack is also a good idea. We recommend something high in both protein and carbohydrates. Good examples include protein shakes, fruit, and yogurt, or tofu. You should aim to eat these within 60 to 90 minutes of completing your exercise.
During this time, the body can replace carbohydrates as well as grow and repair muscles most effectively.
Now you know everything there is to know about muscle recovery and how to speed it up. Try any of the above methods and you may just find that you’re able to get back to training quicker than ever before!