Have you ever wondered why many professional athletes and bodybuilders voluntarily sit in a tub filled with ice after a game or intense workout? Growing up, personally I never understood why someone would ever elect to put themselves through something that seemingly torturous. The reason behind ice baths is that they aid in muscle recovery. Ice baths are not the only method to use in the muscle recovery process. Many people have also turned to taking supplements (ice baths must not be for everyone). In this article, we will discuss the 4 best supplements for muscle recovery.
The Importance of Muscle Recovery
We all know the pain of dealing with muscle soreness the day or two after a great workout. With great workouts, comes great muscle soreness… if we do not incorporate a muscle recovery process into our plan.
The most important time for our body’s ability to build muscle isn’t the time we spend at the gym. It is the time between our trips to the gym. What you are doing to help recover your muscles in between workouts matters more than the workouts themselves.
Muscle recovery involves repairing muscle and tissue, removing toxic waste, and reducing inflammation. It also involves replenishing nutrients and energy stores necessary for cellular activity and restoring central nervous system function, which means repairing the communication pathways between the brain and the body.
Failure to make the most of this crucial time can lead to a gradual build up of lactic acid and toxic metabolic waste, also known as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
Incorporating a muscle recovery process means gaining the ability to show up at the gym the next day with more strength and energy to give your next workout your all! If not, you are more likely to skip the gym or do the bare minimum due to muscle pain and weakness.
4 Best Supplements for Muscle Recovery
Muscle recovery is a multifaceted process. Staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, eating protein, and strengthening your immune system all factor into your body’s muscle recovery rate. Taking supplements for muscle recovery provides your body with the building blocks it needs to repair and grow faster.
1. Branch-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs are made up of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. During exercise, our bodies rely on these amino acids for fuel when our glycogen stores are low. It is important to restore these amino acids post-workout. Doing this helps prevent muscle breakdown because your body will not be forced to eat its own muscle for energy. Taking BCAAs in pill or liquid form immediately before/after or during a workout is said to reduce muscle soreness and accelerate the growth and recovery process.
During periods of intense exercise, lactate accumulates in the blood, making it acidic. Lactic acid build up is associated with fatigue, nausea, and muscle weakness. Beta-alanine is an essential amino acid that protects against lactic acid build up and reduces fatigue caused by it. This reduces the time it takes for muscles to recover post-workout.
L-Glutamine is one of the building blocks of protein (amino acids) that plays an important role in the muscle recovery process after a workout. The Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness published a study conducted in 2011 that reported supplementing with L-glutamine after strength-based exercise significantly reduced DOMS compared to the placebo group.
Soothing inflammation is vital to incorporate into your muscle recovery plan and is why professional athletes and bodybuilders take ice baths. Another way to soothe muscle inflammation post-workout is by supplementing curcumin – the anti-inflammatory compound found in turmeric. It is known to reduce muscle pain and swelling when applied topically or taken orally.