If you pay attention to the products we create and the focus we have on providing education on how to recover better, you know that the recovery process is something extremely important to prioritize for leading your healthiest life. One of the best ways to increase muscle recovery is to take specific supplements for muscle recovery. Combining these with a full rest day and at least one, if not more, active recovery day each week can help ensure your body is rebuilding from your workouts – and that you’re feeling your best for all the parts of life that happen outside of the gym.
Supplements for Muscle Recovery
Muscle recovery is an intricate process and we can support it by including specific supplements in our diet. From a macronutrient perspective, having a balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein, and fats will ensure that you have the necessary building blocks for recovery in your body – but giving your muscles an added boost through BCAA’s, glutamine, and creatine will only serve to improve recovery and get you back to one-hundred percent quicker.
BCAA’s for recovery:
The branched chain amino acids are three of the nine essential amino acids which have to be consumed through your diet. Let’s be really clear here, however: BCAAs do NOT increase muscle growth. You have to have mass to make mass – and BCAAs do not provide the calories needed for muscle growth.
That being said, they are still helpful for recovery purposes. When you exercise, you decrease the levels of BCAA’s in your muscles which causes muscular fatigue and muscle wasting. Taking BCAA’s around your workout can help you to stay out of a muscle wasting state and prioritize muscle growth following a workout. It is somewhat like this car analogy. If you take your car to the gas station while it is on empty, it is going to take longer for you to be able to get back on the road, and you’re going to need more gas. If you take your car to the gas station when you’re half empty, you’ll be full and on your way quicker. Don’t start from empty with your recovery, either.
Why to include glutamine for recovery:
The number one reason to include glutamine in your recovery is to avoid muscle breakdown. Like BCAA’s, glutamine is not actively going to rebuild your muscles – but it can help you to start from square one when you take protein and eat a meal meant to promote muscle growth. Taking extra glutamine allows your body to stay out of a catabolic state because your body prioritizes glutamine for other cellular functions than muscle growth when levels are low.
Additionally, some studies have shown that glutamine can support your immune system – can’t be living an active life if you’re at home on the couch nursing a cold!
How creatine helps recovery:
If you’ve ever lifted weights, you know that the day after can be brutal. You wake up, roll out of bed, and are welcomed with jello legs. Don’t even get to thinking about going down the stairs – or back up them. Creatine helps you not have to experience this.
When you overload your muscles, you use a good amount of the creatine your body has stored in your cells. Without creatine, your muscles actually function worse which leads to poor athletic performance – whether the sport your playing is functional fitness, hiking through the mountains, or spending time on the lake with your family.
Including creatine in your recovery protocol helps avoid this problem. You recover quicker, and actually see improved function in your muscles from your training. In essence, creatine makes it easier for you to benefit from all the hard work you’re putting in at the gym day in and day out.
When should you take these?
There’s no right or wrong time to take these supplements, but there are recommendations. In order to get the maximum benefit from each of these supplements, take BCAA’s and creatine before/during exercise, and take glutamine after. The easiest way to do that is to mix up BCAA’s (which are found in RedLeaf) with a scoop of creatine and drink that on the way to the gym. After your workout, combine glutamine with a scoop of protein powder and you’re all set.