Nik is a full time sports marketer, freelance fitness contributor and avid Crossfitter. On his personal blog, The Amateur Athlete, Nik shares his passions for health and fitness, as well as providing his own tips on training and nutrition, with a particular emphasis on improving athletic performance.
The use of supplements in recent years for recovery has become more common than ever before. Nowadays, there is a high demand for quick and convenient solutions to kickstart the recovery process and ensure one is taking the right nutrients. However, when it comes to supplements, it certainly isn’t one size fits all. There are so many products on the market serving their role for different purposes and every athlete is endorsing a different brand. Before buying, let’s first look at why certain supplements help with recovery and which ones you should add to your diet.
The mark of a great athlete at any level is one that is able to train to their desired intensity on a consistent basis. Day after day, we will beat ourselves up in the gym in order for our bodies to adapt to stress and consequently become stronger. However, while you think you are building your hard earned muscles inside the gym, the reality is the process of muscle recovery and muscle building occurs between the time you’ve left the gym and the time you return. Devising a recovery strategy during this window, through the form of supplementation, food and rest, will help you perform like a champion week in and week out. Failure to make the most out of this window, can lead to a gradual build up of lactic acid and toxic metabolic waste, otherwise known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) (1). And trust me, nobody wants DOMS!
While food should always remain a priority to get most of your nutrients, supplements do play their part in providing the right building blocks for muscle repair and growth, due to their convenience and fast rate of absorption. Generally speaking, sticking to the fundamentals is the best way to get the most out of effective supplementation; use science to your advantage and add in only the appropriate ones that you know, through proven research will benefit your body. So, are you wondering which ones these are? Whether you are a man or a woman, here are a list of supplements that will play a crucial role towards your recovery.
Protein is arguably the most important nutrient to take immediately after your workout, alongside carbohydrates. Your muscles have been broken down and therefore need repairing and rebuilding. Consuming protein in the form of a shake is not only an efficient and fast-digesting way to get aminos to your muscles quickly, but is the perfect way to also stimulate muscle protein synthesis, recovery and growth (3). However, you want to make sure you find one with only the best ingredients. When it comes to protein, quality over quantity is key. A protein such as PW1 offers a complete and clean protein source with all natural ingredients.
Branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) have become a staple supplement for athletes due to their role in muscle and energy production during exercise and therefore are commonly used immediately around or during one’s workout. They are made up of three essential aminos, leucine, isoleucine and valine. They have been found to significantly reduce muscular soreness and accelerate the growth and recovery process (2). Supplementing BCAA’s will also help prevent muscle breakdown, as your body will not be forced to eat into its own muscle tissue for energy. Consequently, protein synthesis will be kept high or in other words the body’s ability to effectively digest and absorb protein. Typically, BCAA’s are taken in the form of tablets or a liquid drink.
Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which offer numerous health benefits including keeping your heart, brain and eyes in good working order. Most importantly, fish oil decreases inflammation in the muscle and enhances body composition (5). Inflammation in the body is not only damaging for ones health, but severely impacts your ability to recover, lose fat and build muscle. By getting the optimal percentage of your dietary fat from fish oil, you will reduce muscle inflammation and improve oxygen delivery, allowing your muscles to recover faster.
Not only will magnesium allow you to sleep like a baby through its ability to relax muscles, but it is another critical supplement to help speed up recovery. Incorporating magnesium into your diet will help you improve muscle function, maintain electrolyte balance and reduce fatigue. Combining magnesium with zinc will have an even greater reaction in the body, as zinc has extremely high immune system values. By taking M3, you are not only ingesting organic magnesium and zinc, but a unique blend of malic acid and vitamin b6 ensures maximum absorption of these minerals is achieved.
While supplements may come at a cost, they are certainly worth the price tag if you invest in quality ones such as the above. By sticking to these essentials, you will not only see a noticeable difference in your performance, but in your recovery time. So, train hard but recover smart and supplement the right way in order to maximize your performance.