What are the main types of supplements for muscle recovery and what do they do?
When it comes to achieving fitness, muscle recovery supplements can be an effective tool to help you reach your fitness goals.
Protein powder, and amino acids such as creatine, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), and glutamine are among the most common types of muscle recovery supplements available on the market today.
Understanding what each type does and how it can benefit your body will help you determine the best recovery supplement for you.
What are the benefits of using supplements for muscle recovery?
With proper supplementation and nutrition, recovery time can be reduced dramatically so that athletes can maximize their training cycles and achieve their fitness goals faster.
Without proper muscle regeneration, muscle fatigue can set in quickly and impede progress toward fitness goals.
Supplementation can help reduce delayed onset muscle soreness and enhance muscle recovery time so that athletes are able to restore muscle cells more efficiently and rapidly.
The use of supplements for muscle recovery has a number of advantages over traditional nutrition alone. The extra nutrients provided by supplementation can help restore muscle tissue more quickly than relying solely on food sources.
Supplements with ingredients like creatine and BCAAs provide additional nutrients to aid post workout muscle recovery. Findings from a number of studies suggest that supplementing with BCAAs may reduce muscle soreness after exercise and improve muscle growth over time (1).
Additionally, creatine has been found to reduce muscle fatigue and damage that can also impair muscle performance.
Taking supplements specially designed for muscle recovery helps ensure that athletes are getting the right amount of nutrients they need after exercise, rather than trying to guess what their bodies need from food sources alone.
How muscle recovery supplements help you achieve fitness goals
During exercise or performance, muscles are put under strain which can lead to a decrease in muscle strength and size over time if not taken care of properly after workouts.
Supplements provide the extra nutrition needed for muscle growth, as well as helping to reduce soreness and muscle fatigue.
A combination of protein powders, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and other compounds can be used to maintain muscle health while training. The right combination of muscle recovery supplements can not only prevent muscle damage but may also reduce post-training muscle soreness.
Reduces muscle soreness after workouts
Nutrition plays a pivotal role in reducing post-workout soreness. Supplements such as protein powders, omega 3 fatty acids such as those found in fish oil, and BCAAs can help improve muscle recovery and reduce soreness.
Omega 3 fatty acids provide anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce soreness associated with exercise. They work to decrease joint pain and stiffness, promoting flexibility and mobility in the body (3).
BCAAs aid muscle recovery, help decrease soreness, improve performance, and increase muscle mass.
Protein helps build lean muscle mass for any type of exercise, whether strength training or cardiovascular activity.
Protein in powdered form is an efficient way to fuel muscle growth after exercise and promote soreness relief. It helps repair damaged muscles, speeding up the process of recovery and reducing soreness.
Minerals such as zinc, magnesium and calcium play an important role in muscle contraction and relaxation. Vitamin C may also boost muscle building results by decreasing muscle damage associated with intense workouts or competitions.
Some muscle recovery supplements are formulated to provide athletes with the extra energy needed to perform at their best during training sessions. Many of these supplements contain carbohydrates which give the body a quick burst of energy for short-term performance gains.
Some athletes use supplements containing herbs such as Ashwagandha and Rhodiola rosea for improved mental clarity and focus during practice or competition (4).
Popular muscle recovery supplements
The following is an overview of some of the most common muscle recovery supplements, what they do, and how they can maintain and enhance athletic performance.
Protein in powdered form is a staple of sports nutrition, as it provides the building blocks for body repair. Athletes use it as a pre workout supplement for energy during exercise, and as a post workout supplement to repair muscle damage from exercise.
Protein powders often contain added essential vitamins and minerals that help support muscle health and strengthen bones.
Consuming the right amount of quality protein at the right times can help maximize muscle protein synthesis and achieve optimal muscle-building results for peak performance.
Muscle protein synthesis is the process during which new muscle tissue is built and muscle mass is acquired. It requires the consumption of enough dietary protein to supply the necessary amino acids for muscle building. Without enough dietary protein, muscle growth and full muscle recovery will not occur, and muscle can even be lost if a calorie deficit exists due to inadequate energy intake.
Protein powder is an excellent way to get enough protein to support muscle growth and development. When muscle cells break down during exercise, they need additional protein to rebuild effectively. Powdered protein can provide this extra nutrition in a form that is quickly absorbed and utilized by the body, helping with muscle recovery and building muscle mass.
Protein synthesis in the body may be further stimulated by consuming a mix of both fast and slow-digesting proteins. Protein supplements can provide this combination and support better recovery from strenuous activities, as the body can rebuild muscle tissue more quickly and efficiently.
Whey protein powder is one of the best muscle recovery supplements due to its high bioavailability, meaning more of it gets digested and absorbed by the body compared to other kinds of protein powders. It comes in many flavors such as vanilla and chocolate peanut butter.
Athletes can consume whey protein powder in shakes or smoothies before or after workouts, depending on their goals. Pre-workout protein shakes provide energy while post-workout protein shakes can help repair the muscle damage that often occurs from a tough workout.
Protein with added nutrients
By combining whey protein powder with other dietary components, athletes can create an optimal sports nutrition plan that helps keep them performing at their best. For example, adding carbohydrates to whey protein shakes after workouts can help replenish glycogen stores and encourage faster recovery. Additionally, consuming whey protein shakes right before going to bed can improve recovery during sleep, providing the body with the building blocks it needs to repair itself overnight.
Creatine is an excellent muscle recovery supplement. It is a compound made from three amino acids: glycine, arginine, and methionine. It is primarily stored in muscle tissue and is responsible for providing energy to muscles during high-intensity activities such as weightlifting and sprinting, allowing athletes to push themselves further during workouts. Creatine has also been linked to improved cognitive function.
Creatine assists the body in its production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the primary energy source for muscle contraction. Supplementing with creatine increases levels of phosphocreatine, a form of stored ATP, in the body and can help athletic performance by increasing muscle strength and endurance.
Creatine also plays an important role after intense physical activity. Creatine supplementation helps to increase creatine storage levels, which can speed up the process of muscle repair. By restoring creatine levels more quickly, this muscle recovery supplement helps reduce muscle cramps and soreness that is often associated with strength-training sessions.
It is also one of the most affordable post workout recovery supplements available today.
Creatine monohydrate is a man-made form of creatine manufactured from sarcosine and cyanamide. This is done through a process known as “creatinization” wherein both sarcosine and cyanamide react in the presence of an acid catalyst, producing creatine monohydrate.
Many athletes experience post workout fatigue due to lactic acid buildup in their muscles. Creatine monohydrate helps reduce this lactic acid build-up and helps muscles recover faster.
This supplement is used by many athletes for its potential to increase muscle size, strength and endurance. Creatine monohydrate is also known to provide protection against muscle damage which can be caused by muscle fatigue. This makes it one of the best muscle recovery supplements for people who are looking to improve their physical performance and muscle health.
Amino acids are essential components of muscle recovery and performance. Amino acid supplementation has been found to enhance muscular endurance and aerobic performance capacity during intense workouts.
Supplementing with amino acids can also help prevent decreases in immune system function that occur after physical activity due to oxidative stress. Amino acid supplementation may lead to increased glutathione production, which helps to reduce inflammation and protects cells from free radical damage.
Essential amino acids, such as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) can be used to help reduce muscle breakdown after exercise and reduce the amount of time needed for muscle repair. BCAAs support increases in lean body mass when incorporated into an exercise regimen.
Branched-chain amino acids
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are essential amino acids that can be used to help reduce muscle breakdown after exercise and reduce the amount of time needed for muscle repair. The three BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAAs are found naturally in many common foods such as eggs, dairy products, soybeans, fish, meat, nuts and legumes.
BCAAs are considered essential because they cannot be produced by the body on its own; they must come from dietary sources. Of the nine essential amino acids needed for muscle repair and growth, BCAAs make up 35% of our total amino acid needs. Leucine is an especially important amino acid because it is the primary driver of protein synthesis, a key component of muscle repair and growth.
A BCAA supplement can help to reduce fatigue during exercise, which can be beneficial for athletes who are training intensely. Supplementing with BCAAs post workout may help muscles recover faster and reduce the amount of soreness in the muscles.
May promote fat loss
In addition, a BCAA supplement may help promote fat loss due to its ability to stimulate protein synthesis and prevent muscle breakdown.
L-Glutamine, is a non-essential amino acid, meaning it can be produced by the body. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation caused by exercise and helps build muscle. L-Glutamine is naturally present in muscle cells and helps to rebuild muscles. It also prevents muscle breakdown during intensive training sessions.
Helps increase oxygen delivery
L-Glutamine helps restore glycogen levels in muscles – the main energy source for anaerobic metabolism. This decreases lactic acid buildup and increases oxygen delivery, aiding in faster muscular repair. L-Glutamine stimulates protein synthesis, helping stimulate cell growth and regeneration of damaged tissue.
L-Glutamine also possesses anti-inflammatory properties which help reduce tenderness associated with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). In addition to reducing inflammation, it helps reduce muscle fatigue and improves overall exercise performance.
How to choose the right supplement for your needs
With such a wide variety of muscle recovery supplements available, it’s important to consult with a health professional or nutritionist who can recommend the best products for specific fitness goals. Choosing muscle recovery supplements that contain natural ingredients is recommended whenever possible as this reduces the risk of potential side effects caused by artificial compounds.
How much to take
The amount of supplements you should take to help your body improve athletic performance will depend on the product and your individual needs, taking into consideration factors like age and activity level. Generally, if you’re looking for an immediate post-exercise recovery boost, 1-2 servings per day should be sufficient. On the other hand, if you’re aiming for quicker recovery over a longer period of time, 2-4 servings per day may be beneficial.
Choosing the best supplement
When choosing supplements, make sure they are high quality and non-GMO products. You can purchase supplements at most health food stores or online retailers like Amazon or iHerb. Read product labels carefully and consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplement to ensure it won’t interact with other medications or have an adverse effect on your health.
Do your research first
It’s a good idea to research the supplement company before you purchase from them. This will help ensure you are getting the best quality product for your money. With some careful consideration and research, you can find the right muscle recovery supplements for your needs.
Check the ingredients list for any artificial additives or preservatives. Natural supplements with simple ingredients like minerals and vitamins are usually the best choice for optimal muscle recovery.
Avoid products with added sugar or other unhealthy substances as these can cause adverse health effects in the long run and will not provide effective results.
Look for supplements that are certified by the US Pharmacopeia (USP) or other reputable organizations, as this indicates that the product has been tested and verified for quality and safety.
Do your research into the company behind the product. Reputable companies will have third-party testing results available and a website that provides detailed information about the product. Do not be afraid to contact the company and ask questions about their manufacturing process or any potential risks associated with taking their supplement.
Individual lifestyle and nutritional needs
Consider your lifestyle and nutritional needs and choose a muscle recovery supplement that is tailored to you and your particular fitness goals. Some supplements are designed for endurance athletes while others are best suited for bodybuilders or weightlifters. If you need help determining which one is right for you, consult with a doctor or nutritionist who can provide personalized advice.
Read the reviews
Look for products with positive reviews from consumers who have already tried them. Reviews can help you get an idea of how effective the product actually is and whether it is worth the cost. Reading reviews can also give you a better understanding of any potential side effects and help you make an informed decision about which supplement is best for you.
Side effects and risks
Supplements for muscle recovery may have certain risks and side effects, including allergic reactions and gastrointestinal symptoms.
Toxicity from long-term use
In some cases, long-term use of certain supplements may be linked to liver problems or other serious health issues.
Interaction with medications
Some supplements may interact with medications, such as blood thinners or diabetes drugs. You should consult with a healthcare provider before taking supplements.
Check labels carefully and follow the recommended dosing instructions provided by the manufacturer. If any side effects occur when taking a supplement, seek medical attention right away.
Include a healthy diet
Keep in mind that muscle recovery supplements are not intended to be a replacement for eating a balanced diet. In addition to a carefully planned supplement regimen, you should also include diet-based nutrition, adequate rest, and a healthy lifestyle.
For more information
For more information on risks and side effects of supplements, please refer to your healthcare provider or visit reliable websites such as WebMD or MedlinePlus.gov. Additional resources are also available through organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- Yoshiharu Shimomura, Y., et al. “Nutraceutical Effects of Branched-Chain Amino Acids on Skeletal Muscle”, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 136, Issue 2, February 2006, Pages 529S–532S, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/136.2.529S
- Louis, J., et al. ” Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation Effect on Muscular Activity and Cycling Efficiency in Master Athletes”, Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism, Volume 35, Issue 3, June 2010: 251-60. DOI: 10.1139/H10-014. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/44680185
- Gammone, M. A., et al. 2019. “Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Benefits and Endpoints in Sport”, Nutrients 11, no. 1: 46. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11010046
- “Vitamins and Supplements for Athletes”, MedicalNewsToday. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326756