8 Supplements to Maximize Post-Workout Recovery
I just want to preface this blog post with the statement: I am not a doctor. And therefore, I am not necessarily the person to go to for advice, but I’m happy to share the supplements that work for me and those that I recommend for fellow athletes to use.
Get Yourself a Good Quality Protein
Regardless of what kind of athlete you are, there’s been some well-documented research on the effects of protein immediately following a workout, especially for muscle building exercise, like strength training. Consuming protein (along with a carbohydrate) following your workout is beneficial to enhance glycogen repletion, as well as limiting any post-exercise muscle damage and helping to initiate muscle repair! For women, this is approximately 15-20g (depending on body weight) and for men, closer to (20-30g). This work out perfectly as most protein supplements can be easily scooped into a quickly consumable drink or smoothie.
Ultimately, the kind of protein that you use is personal to you. If you are vegan or vegetarian, I would highly recommend Naked Nutrition’s Pea Protein, as it has no animal ingredients or by-products (I’m a fan of Matcha, personally). When people ask me if they should add in protein powder, my answer is usually always in regards to “What else is in the powder?” Most proteins are infused with artificial flavorings, sweeteners and food coloring - all of which you do not need.
If you’re not interested in pea protein, Naked Nutrition also has a line of Rice protein, as well as your more common Grass-Fed Whey. They also have a line of Collagen protein (which does contain animal products), which, is my personal favorite as collagen’s aid in hair, skin and nails is an added bonus with your protein!
Read more: My Love Affair with Vital Proteins
Vitamin C & Vitamin D
While most people immediately think of Vitamin C when they get sick, they likely forget about it for post-exercise recovery. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, and is vital for many physiologic functions, as well as the well-known immune boost. Humans cannot synthesize Vitamin C on our own and that’s why it must be found in our diet. Vitamin C’s antioxidant qualities are important as it serves as a scavenger for muscle-damaging free radicals. Appropriate supplementation with Vitamin C has been shown to decrease DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) and exercise-induced cellular damage. It’s important to note, however, that more is not better, and supplementing over the recommended daily allowance (RDA) could have the opposite, unwanted effect.
Vitamin C gets all the accolades for helping you when you’re sick, but supplementation with Vitamin D is just as important. Most people think that we might get enough Vitamin D from the sun living in Austin, but you might be surprised to know that that is not the case! Vitamin D is crucial maintaining a healthy immune system and healthy bones, by promoting the uptake of calcium. Even though endurance running is a weight-bearing exercise, and therefore, great for building strong bones, the additional supplementation of Vitamin D helps to keep those bones strong and intact.
B-vitamins are water soluable, which means that your body doesn’t store them. Therefore, we have to get them daily in your diet. This isn’t to say that most people don’t, but the B-Complex vitamin puts all of the B vitamins into one convenient package. Many of the B vitamins are important to your metabolism, specifically converting nutrients into energy, something that is key to endurance athlete! Some of these vitamins, such as B-12, cannot be obtained outside of animal sources, such as meat and eggs.
I really started taking magnesium when I started ramping up my marathon training last spring. Magnesium is an incredibly important electrolyte in your body and responsible for the normal functioning of cells, nerves, muscles, and bones. Magnesium is also vital for the conversion of glycogen to glucose, which is our main fuel during endurance exercise. Without sufficient amounts, the body experiences a buildup of lactic acid and muscle soreness. I was experiencing cramping and restless legs at night very frequently.
I’m a big fan of magnesium glycinate over the more common, citrate, since it is more readily bioavailable. This means that your body absorbs it easier and it also has less chance of causing, well, diarrhea.
Magnesium glycinate is also an incredible sleep aid, as it helps reduce stress, anxiety and promote restfulness at night. I usually take the supplement about 30-40 minutes before bed and it allows me to fall asleep quickly, stay asleep, and wake up without feeling groggy.
Omega 3 - Fish Oil
When looking at athletes, fish oil supplementation can help with: inflammation response, tissue repair, and post-exercise soreness. This ability to decrease inflammation may lead to mitigating tissue loss during strenuous training. The current recommended daily dose is 3000mg of DHA/EPA omega-3 and seems to be all that is required to see the benefits. Most importantly, when selecting a fish oil supplement, is making sure that the supplement is fresh, molecularly distilled and pure (to prevent the lowest amount of heavy metals), and supported by a third-party testing.
Turmeric, an more specifically, the chemical curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory. While it sounds like I’m against inflammation, a very small amount is actually beneficial towards healing and repair after a large physical effort. However, chronic inflammation can be extremely detrimental. And, like Vitamin C, turmeric is a powerful antioxidant to protect against free radicals in the body. Turmeric has also been shown to have a positive effect on brain function and a decrease in heart disease.
A last thought…
I’ve been working on a CBD oil post for awhile now, but I wanted to makes sure before I posted it that it was thoroughly researched and vetted. The full CBD post can be found below!
I think that most people have a tendency to immediately think that CBD is a “legal” way to get high from marijuana or cannabis, but there is some very interesting new research that shows that CBD oil helps aid in inflammation, reduces stress and anxiety, and promotes sleep-cycle regularity.
The important thing to look for when looking for a CBD Oil supplement is the amount of THC. While you are unable to get “high” from CBD supplementation, a concentration of <0.3% THC is ideally recommended for those concerned about blood testing at their job. A good quality CBD oil should be able to tell you exactly how much THC is in their supplement. If they can’t, I suggest you find another.