Best Ingredients for Post-Workout Recovery [EXPERT GUIDE]
At the end of the day we all have the same goal in mind – train hard and grow stronger.
Many of us will try all kinds of fancy post-workout recovery shakes, new styles of massaging and various teas to help the body recover faster – but how many of these actually do anything real?
Looking at performance from the perspective of training and recovery we must understand that recovery is just as important as the work you put in while you are at the gym.
Your recovery will factor into how much you can lift, how fast you can build muscle and, most importantly, how effectively you can avoid injury.
It is far too common that people forget about the important aspects of being fit and health and how that relates to injury prevention. As a bodybuilder or strength athlete, you are largely moving around a bunch of weight each day – without proper recovery, you might be missing out on strength, but also becoming more prone to injury.
In this guide, we are going to walk you through the most effective ingredients you should be taking to maximize your post-workout recovery – and why they’re important.
Best Ingredients for Post-Workout Recovery
We already know why recovery is important. Not only will it help us to grow stronger, but it will also help to limit injury and allow for the best possible success in weightlifting.
Ensuring that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to succeed in bodybuilding becomes one of the most important and crucial steps to your success.
Think about if you were to put cheap gas into a very expensive car. The car would not run as effectively – it might even lose some horsepower. This is the same concept for your body and performance in the gym.
The nutrients you put into your body will not only serve as the fuel for your workouts but also the critical stages of recovery that take place.
Here are the most important ingredients you should have in your post-workout routine:
The bread and butter of any strength program will always come with the supplementation of creatine. Yes, your body can produce a minimal amount of phosphocreatine, and if you’re a meat-eater you will be getting some in your diet, but timing your creatine dosage before and after a workout will be one of the most effective ways to recover.
Creatine works by directly stimulating the resynthesis of ATP (your energy molecule for muscles) by providing an excess amount of phosphocreatine to draw from. These extra creatine molecules resynthesized into ATP and allow your muscles to feel energized much faster.
Supplementing with 3-5g before and after a workout will provide faster recovery and greater strength.
It really does not matter the type of protein you are going for. You could have a whey, casein, pea, hemp – the protein is not the most important part.
Whenever you are looking at protein content it is important to understand that the reason you consume this protein is so that you can have a high dosage of important amino acids. The most important are:
L-Leucine: the primary driver of muscle protein synthesis. Leucine will serve as the basis for your strength improvements.
L-IsoLeucine: more of an energy compound than an amino acid. IsoLeucine will go to work providing your muscles with a metabolized energy you can use to power your workouts and recovery.
L-Glutamine: a primary amino acid that is potent in many food sources but especially plant sources, glutamine works to limit muscle wasting and can allow for optimal recovery.
Aspartic Acid: commonly found in plant-food sources, this amino acid has some ties to increased performance because it can boost free-testosterone levels.
Ensuring that your protein has a complete spectrum of these ingredients is essential if you are to recover quickly and effectively.
This might ruffle some feathers but the truth is, if you’re concerned with strength, carbs are a very important component. You see, carbs work to replenish lost glycogen stores. Each carb you consume can be converted into either muscle glycogen (to fuel exercise and muscle contractions) or liver glycogen.
Having this in mind you can see the value of carbohydrates will come when you’re training at high intensities.
Those who train with maximal weights will need a large storage of glycogen – as will those who train for a long duration.
In other words, unless you walk around the gym hitting a set every 20 minutes you will need a good source of carbohydrates.
Now, we are not talking about eating a bunch of donuts after a workout. Consuming the right amount of complex carbohydrates like fruit, ancient grains and even supplements can be an effective way to consume good calories and recover faster.
Largely one of the most forgotten about supplements in the industry, taurine is an important energy compound that helps to volumize the cells and focus the healing attention on the body. Consuming taurine through whole-foods it probably your best approach rather than drinking energy drinks. Taurine is largely found in shellfish and other salt-water fish.
Eat Good Food
The last and most important ingredient for you post-workout recovery is to eat good food. Your diet should serve as the bulk of your calories so don’t think that just because you had a protein shake that you can eat a pizza for recovery.
Ensuring that you are consistently eating whole-foods and keeping your diet as clean as possible will allow you to effectively recover and have you primed and ready for the next workout.
Your strength will ultimately lie in the dietary food you provide it. Eating incomplete fuel sources like processed foods will cause nothing but a weakness in your workouts.
On the other hand, eating food that is all-natural and contains a wealth of nutrients will help to promote the most effective returns in strength and performance.
Understanding how your body works to recover is important in your training program. Just by providing a scoop of protein after a workout may not be enough to help with growth.
Providing your body with a complete spectrum of nutrients that allow your muscles to recover, resynthesize fuel sources and allow for relaxation and volumization is important.
Remember, this is a long-standing process. Just because you do not see results immediately does not mean you are not recovering fast enough. Be patient with your progress, supplement well and watch as you grow stronger and fitter.
Gabriello is a writer and strength expert best known for his science-based and practical approach to Exercise Physiology, Nutrition and Strength. After serving in a directors position for The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Gabriello moved towards writing to help more people understand the importance of living a healthy life. Gabriello’s writings have been published in several languages on some of the largest health and fitness websites helping people learn, grow and understand the complex components of optimizing human performance in a simplistic way.
Gabriello also takes on specialized, high-performance athletes who are in need of strength, mobility and conditioning programming to optimize their fitness through his Earned Fitness program.
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