The use of sports nutrition supplements in this day and age go hand-in-hand with just about every athlete, bodybuilder, and fitness enthusiast that walks into the gym.
With these supplements comes a wide focus on the ones that are known to directly affect and influence the actual workout itself, such as pre-workouts.
Considered the be the most popular workout supplement, pre-workouts are known for increasing:
- Endurance; and
After all, who wouldn’t want to increase their overall performance output, especially… when all it requires is 8-10 ounces of a delicious-tasting pre-workout drink?
Nowadays, just about everyone is looking for a quick and convenient means to enhance their results in the gym.
However, when it comes to your training…
The time you spend in the gym isn’t the only factor that determines your progress.
Believe it or not:
The recovery period post-workout is just as, if not, MORE important for proper and effective muscle recovery.
Without proper recovery, you may come to encounter a little something known as “overtraining“.
If you’re unfamiliar with the symptom, we’ve got you covered…
Overtraining is one (of several) results of experiencing fatigue and reductions in performance as a consequence of a physically demanding workout regimen.
When you strike a disproportionate balance between:
- Workout-induced stress; and
- Proper recovery
To that note, it’s crucial to craft a training program that incorporates recovery, or, “off days” to allow your body and muscles ample time to recover.
Lucky for you, there are several types of supplements that have been scientifically proven to enhance recovery on your days out of the gym.
Proper nutrition, on the other hand, should also be the main source of nutrients in your daily diet, but in various circumstances, some of the best recovery supplements can play a crucial role in providing the necessary “building blocks” for:
- Muscle repair
- Muscle recovery; and
- Muscle growth
Science-Based Recovery Supplements
Here at Supplement Demand, we like to use science to your advantage.
That’s why all of the best recovery supplements that you’ll find in this guide have the science to back them up.
After all, with all the tomfoolery in today’s supplement industry, it’s important to understand a few things before you pull the trigger and start using a new supplement.
Simply put, this guide will provide a walkthrough on the topics of:
- Which type of supplement are best for recovery
- What to look for in those recovery supplements; and
- Top recovery supplements (by brand and name)
The supplements below work best during two specific times:
- Immediately post-workout; and
- The following “Off Day”
With that in mind, let’s start right at the top:
#1: Whey Protein
Protein is, without a doubt, the most crucially important nutrient to consume immediately after each workout.
“Protein timing“, as it’s often referred to as, is one of the most popular dietary strategies designed to optimize muscle response, recovery, and repair from exercise.
The goal here is to:
Faciliate muscle repair, enhance post-exercise strength and adjust to muscle hypertrophy.
As a result of an intense workout, your muscles have been, essentially, broken down and are now in need of repair.
Consuming a protein shake in the 30 to 60 minutes following a workout is the best way to get the fast-acting and quick-absorbing nutrients your muscles require to repair and recovery.
One of the most common question regarding protein as a recovery supplement has to do with which type is most effective.
In this regard, whey protein powder has been shown to increase lean body mass and create the best overall environment for anabolic activity.
So, why do we love protein as the overall best recovery supplement?
It’s got the science to back it up.
Here are several of our favorite research studies that help to describe the effectiveness of consuming protein post-workout:
- Effect of Protein Timing on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy: A Meta-Analysis
- Protein for Exercise and Recovery
- Nutritional Strategies to Promote Post-Exercise Recovery
- Exercise, Protein Metabolism, and Muscle Growth
100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate (by Transparent Labs)
Transparent Labs’ Whey Protein Isolate is one of the highest-rated supplements in the world of protein.
Not only does it offer 28 grams of protein per serving, but it delivers it in a way that proves why they’re the best:
- 100% formula transparency
- 88% protein-by-weight (28 grams per 32-gram scoop)
- Derived from naturally-fed, hormone-free cows
- Sourced from New Zealand
- Contains zero fat, carbs, fiber, or sugar
- Free of artificial sweeteners, dyes, and fillers
View a full list of the top ten best protein powder supplements here.
L-Carnitine is a compound that can be produced naturally within the body, but also through food and supplementation.
While playing a vital role in cellular energy, and the regeneration thereof, L-carnitine helps to:
- Reduce muscle soreness as a result of training
- Reduce muscle damage as a result of training
- Improves muscle repair
- Improves muscle recovery
One study, in particular, found that:
“Both 1- and 2-gram doses were effective in mediating various markers of metabolic stress and of muscle soreness. Use of L-Carnitine appears to attenuate metabolic stress and the hypoxic chain of events leading to muscle damage after exercise.”
What you may notice from the study above is the clinical dose with which L-carnitine has been found to be most effective for combating domestic onset muscle soreness, at 1-2 grams.
L-carnitine comes in a number of different forms, from capsules to powders, to liquid ready-to-drinks, which offers a wide array of convenience.
Along with protein, L-carnitine is an absolute must-have recovery supplement for your day off!
L-Carnitine (by NOW Foods)
NOW Foods has long been known for their sterling reputation when it comes to the manufacturing of single-ingredient supplements, like their L-Carnitine.
This product, specifically, is highly recommended for a couple of important reasons:
Do you remember the clinically effective dose for L-carnitine, mentioned above? If not, it’s 1-2 grams.
NOW Foods offers 1,000mg capsules, which makes it the most convenient means of getting your daily dose of L-carnitine.
It’s the minor, but important, details like “coating” that takes a particular supplement from just another “run of the mill” products to being one of the best recovery supplements.
For NOW Foods, its the use Vegetable Capsules, as opposed to the typical bovine gel.
if you’ve ever conducted any personal research around the topic of “what should I eat post-workout”, there’s a good chance you’ve come up with some research related to carbohydrates.
The importance of carbs as a fuel source during periods of rest and recovery from workouts has been known for more than six decades.
In fact, according to one of our favorite studies from the Journal of Sports Medicine, it found that:
During the 1960’s, it was determined that the number one major source of carbohydrates during exercise came from the muscle’s glycogen stores.
To expand on this, it was found that an individual’s exercise capacity and performance (at intensities between 65 to 75% of their VO2Max) was directly correlated to their pre-workout muscle glycogen levels.
The greater the muscle glycogen levels… the more endurance and the longer it took to reach exhaustion through exercise.
As you may imagine, this newfound parallel between glycogen levels and athletic performance drew a considerable amount of new research conducted with a simple goal in mind:
To design the best regimen possible that elevated glycogen levels in the muscle prior to exercise or competition, while determining the most effective means of replenishing those glycogen levels after they were used up post-workout.
What they found was, as some may be, to be expected…
Muscle glycogen concentrations vary from athlete to athlete depending on a number of factors:
- Training status
- Exercise regimens; and
So, why is this important for you and your recovery supplement regimen?
Well, for optimal training performance, over sixty years worth of research has shown us that muscle glycogen stores must be replenished daily.
On average, it’s recommended to consume between 500-600 grams of carbohydrates per day in order to maintain optimal levels.
Lucky, for you, we’ve got an incredible glycogen-based recovery supplement for you to check out right here:
Post JYM (by JYM Supplement Science
JYM, not incidentally, is led by “The Doctor” of the fitness industry, Dr. Jim Stoppani.
For many years now, Stoppani and his team over at JYM have been formulating and manufacturing some pretty incredible supplements.
Post JYM is a fast-digesting carb supplement that allows for better recovery and more muscle growth.
It works by replenishing your glycogen stores as quickly (and as fully) as possible after intense workouts. As you now know, this is paramount to maximizing the amount of muscle growth and recovery you yield over time.
Formula-wise, one scoop of Post JYM provides you with 32 grams of pure dextrose, which, for this type of specific carb source, has been found to be the optimal level for…
…you guess it, replenishing your muscle’s glycogen stores after intense workouts.