Top 10 Best Post-Workout Repair Nutrients
The ability of your body to recover from exercise and training is vital to maintaining peak performance. During exercise, it is normal for tiny microscopic damage to occur to muscles, joints, ligaments, and bones. When the body repairs itself properly, it rebuilds a better, stronger version of itself.
If vital repair nutrients are lacking, it is like trying to repair a house without enough construction materials. The more wear-and-tear there is, the more likely you are to develop aches, reduced performance, or soft tissue injury. Your body needs enough rejuvenating nutrients to help offset the strain of exercise and rebuild itself back up to an optimal state. The greater the demands put on your body, the higher your body's nutrient needs will be.
There are a number of excellent supplements that help support body repair, recovery from exercise, and optimum athletic performance when taken after exercising or before bed when the majority of repair occurs. If you want to get the most out of your workouts, consider these post-exercise nutrients:
Glucosamine and chondroitin are important structural nutrients that are necessary in the repair process. Glucosamine helps to form glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), the major building block of connective tissue and joints. Glucosamine has been shown in human clinical trials to improve joint mobility.
Chondroitin is a major component of all body tissue and helps maintain structural integrity of the body. Numerous chondroitin sulfate molecules, glucosamine molecules, and sulfur-containing proteins form larger aggregates known as proteoglycans, which are used as major structural building blocks, including the structure of cartilage. Chondroitin sulfates are required for joint integrity and providing resistance of cartilage to compression.
3. Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid may very well be the most important compound in the structure of the human body. Supplemental low-molecular weight hyaluronic acid helps maintain healthy structure of skin, cartilage, synovial fluid and joints. Hyaluronic acid makes up the backbone structure of cartilage. Hyaluronic acid helps resiliency, ease of movement, and cushioning of joints by making up the majority of synovial fluid or the “goo” within joints.
There are huge quality differences among hyaluronic acid supplements. Low quality, sodium hyaluronate is not the naturally occurring compound of the body. It is a molecule too large to absorb and contributes to your sodium intake. Instead, supplement with natural hyaluronic acid with a low molecular weight.
4. MSM Sulfur
MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is an organic sulfur-containing compound that has been shown to improve exercise recovery with less fatigue, joint discomfort, and muscle soreness. Sulfur-containing enzymes are involved with hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body including those that build body structure. Collagen strands are held together by disulfide bonds, a major component of connective tissue and healthy joints. Several studies demonstrate MSM is helpful for joint health. In human trials, sulfur supplementation improved health of knee cartilage, joint health, and recovery time in athletes.
Glutamine is the single most important nutrient needed by the GI tract for energy and repair. Glutamine is also a major component of muscle. When the GI tract is in distress, large amounts of glutamine are taken from the blood to fuel GI tract needs. This may promote muscle breakdown or muscle wasting. The need for glutamine rises in response to inflammation. Thus, if a person is in a wear-and-tear trend, such as when exercising, then supplemental glutamine can help to support body tissue repair and muscle health.
Curcumin, the active component of the spice turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory antioxidant. Getting extra antioxidants is important when exercising, especially if you are overweight. Supplementing with curcumin after exercising helps support a healthy repair process. Curcuminoids also help modulate NF-kappaB, the crucial gene signal that determines how a cell manages stress and inflammation.
7. Proteolytic Enzymes
Research supports the use of proteolytic enzymes bromelain and papain for exercise recovery. Papain from papaya and bromelain from pineapple are enzymes the body uses to naturally assist repair and recovery from the demands of exercise. They help to remove debris from the circulatory system for healthy circulation. One study evaluated bromelain and papain for their ability to reduce inflammation and support muscle health after exercise. The researchers found that these nutrients significantly enhanced muscle performance, while reducing inflammatory markers like COX2 and IL6.
8. Whey Protein
Adequate protein is essential for muscle and tissue repair. Any bodybuilder or athlete can tell you that the key to building muscle is consuming protein following strength training. High quality whey protein is an easily digestible protein that fosters muscle repair and growth, even in the elderly who aren’t always physically able to exercise. It is also a good source of branched chain amino acids (BCAA). BCAAs, particularly leucine, stimulate the key gene signal, mTOR, an anabolic signal that stimulates muscle growth and repair in the body. Pay attention to labels though, because quality of whey protein matters!
9. Fish Oil
Research has shown that patients with muscle loss have too much omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. DHA is the most bioactive omega-3 fatty acid in the human body and can help to correct the ratio. In clinical studies, DHA was found to enhance the rate of muscle growth better than exercise alone by stimulating mTOR signals. Additionally, DHA lowers NF-kappaB, a major inflammatory gene signal that can interfere with the repair process of microscopic damage done to muscles, connective tissue, and bones caused by exercise.
Phosphatidylserine has been shown to offset the stress of intense exercise when taken after exercise. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, elevates when you exercise so you can perform at a higher level without friction, helping you to get a refreshing response to exercise. Cortisol is no longer functional or friendly when combined with too much inflammation. This results in cognitive decline, poor mood, fatigue, wear-and-tear, and weight gain around the midsection. Supplementation with phosphatidylserine promotes a desired hormonal status for athletes by preventing cortisol spikes due to over exercising.
Body tissue growth is stimulated by use, so it is very important to exercise regularly. Still, exercise puts stress on your body. Many nutrients will help to rejuvenate after exercise and the greater demand you put on your body, the greater your nutrient needs will be. Various nutrients, enzymes, and antioxidants will help to facilitate the process of rejuvenation and reduce inflammation that may interfere with repair. Nutritional supplements offer a way to support this natural process when your nutritional needs are greater than diet can fulfill.
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