10 Key Supplements to Support Muscle Recovery
In this article:
- Hydroxymethyl butyrate (HMB)
- Amino Acids
- Whey Protein Isolate
- Complex Carbohydrates
- Tart Cherry Extract and Celery Seed
Muscle recovery can be easily overlooked in the training world. It is common to hear that in order to see significant development in muscle size, resistance training and general exercise are important to do on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, it isn’t as common to hear how important recovery is for muscle growth.
When we exercise, the fibers that make up our muscles sustain microtears, which is a normal response to this type of stress. When we allow our bodies to recover, whether that is by taking a rest day, consuming necessary nutrients and supplements for the body, or taking time to stretch, we allow for these microtears to repair. This ultimately results in bigger and stronger muscles!
If you are someone who trains on a regular basis or if you want to train more regularly, it is crucial to implement a recovery routine into your week. As previously stated, recovery is equally, if not more, important than training, and our bodies need time to heal if we want to see results. A few key points to focus on when creating a recovery routine are to get substantial sleep at night, stretch for increased flexibility and decreased muscle soreness, and most importantly, feed your body with the nutrients it needs.
Exercise can put a lot of stress on the body, and it is important to replenish what has been depleted for proper recovery and strength gains. After a good workout session, we have burned calories and lost electrolytes, minerals, and water through sweating, and damaged our muscle fibers (for the better)! We can easily restore what we have lost and give our bodies even more beneficial recovery amplifiers to stay ahead of the game with these supplements.
One of the first products that are amazing for muscle recovery is hydroxymethyl butyrate, better known as HMB. HMB can be found in a liquid soft gel form and comes in handy when trying to accomplish lean muscle recovery.
It is well known in the bodybuilding and powerlifting community for its ability to boost performance, amplify recovery and promote muscle hypertrophy. HMB is an L-Leucine metabolite or amino acid that helps reduce protein from breaking down as it usually does. This allows the body to retain more protein which aids in muscle building. HMB is an ergogenic aid that can take your training to new heights and is said to be much more potent than regular L-leucine, which also has benefits.
L-leucine stimulates protein synthesis and helps with lean muscle mass preservation and recovery. It is also said to aid in positive nitrogen balance positively affecting protein in the body.
The body uses amino acids to make protein and protein is the building block of your muscles. Amino acids are a vital component for muscle repair. You can find amino acids in powder form that easily mix with water and taste like fruity deliciousness!
They usually contain beta-alanine, taurine, and L-Citrulline to promote muscle protein synthesis. The great thing about many of these products are that they have zero sugar, they are non-caffeinated (so no jitters), and they contain 63% of your daily value of vitamin D which many people are actually deficient in. Not to mention, you get up to 10 grams of amino acids per serving with less than 1% of your daily value of carbohydrates. Does it get any better than that?
Ashwagandha is a shrub native to Africa, India, and the Middle East. This powerful superfood is used as medicine in many parts of the world and has a vast number of health benefits including, but not limited to, muscle recovery. This medicinal plant is extracted from the roots of the shrub.
Ashwagandha supports resistance to fatigue and fights chemical, physical, and biological stresses placed on the body. It also aids in cognitive health, endurance, and recovery. Look for ashwagandha supplements that are non-GMO certified. If you’re a superfood junkie like me, ashwagandha is a staple supplement to have in the kitchen cabinet for you and your loved ones.
L-Glutamine is another type of amino acid commonly depleted after an intense workout. This supplement can be found in powder or pill form and assists to rebuild, recover, repair, and protect muscles. Not only does it support muscles, but gut and immune function as well. This multifaceted supplement easily mixes with water if choosing the powder form and has no taste or odor. I find it best mixed in a smoothie post-workout but using glutamine before or after training is just as effective.
D-Ribose is great for muscle recovery, energy restoration, and enhancing endurance. It is a carbohydrate and simple sugar naturally produced by the body. When we train, our bodies utilize this nutrient for energy and it is considered an important building block. Supplementing D-Ribose allows us to restore our cells much quicker and help with aching muscles. This product can be found in powder or pill form and can be found in vegan and non-GMO versions. If you ask me, D-Ribose is much better than consuming energy drinks loaded with sugar and additives.
Whey protein isolate is the purest form of whey that exists. The difference between the isolate and concentrate whey is that the isolate powder is processed more, resulting in a higher protein content per serving and less of the things you don't want such as extra carbohydrates and fats. You also often get BCAAs and L-Glutamine in powder preparations, which conveniently cover a few bases for optimal muscle support. I personally love a good protein shake after a hard workout or even as a meal replacement.
Carbohydrate powder supplements are a great source of energy pre- or post-workout. The benefit of consuming complex carbohydrates is that they are great sources of fiber and are usually found in foods such as beans, vegetables, and whole grains. The benefit of the supplement version is that you get to fuel your body without the extra calories, sugars, preservatives, sweeteners, artificial flavors, or fillers. Complex carbohydrate supplements are used amongst both endurance and strength athletes and help to replenish the glycogen stores in the muscles and liver.
Supplements containing both tart cherry and celery seed aid in cleansing uric acid from the body and providing antioxidants that assist with joint discomfort and muscle recovery. These products have also been shown to be helpful with the sleep cycle. This supplement is a great option for anyone who wants to take that extra step and give your body some love and nourishment.
Creatine is commonly supplemented amongst athletes and is scientifically proven to have amazing performance and recovery effects. Many creatine powders are micronized, meaning they are broken into very small particles for easy digestion. Creatine is a good option for you if you are looking to maintain lean muscle gains and enhance overall strength, performance, and recovery.
We all know the feeling of lactic acid buildup in the muscles after an intense workout and it is nothing to look forward to. This response is completely normal, but it can affect future workouts because of the amount of discomfort it causes. Luckily, probiotics containing lactobacillus can help reduce the ache of lactic acid. Place a few of these magic pills in your gym bag for those days you just need an extra boost.
The importance of muscle recovery should not be taken lightly. If we train hard, we also have to recover hard because our bodies deserve it.