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What Are Workout Recovery Supplements?

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 28 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
Workout Recovery Supplements Muscle Mass

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were special supplements that helped us recover a bit quicker from an intense exercise session, getting our bodies refuelled and ready to work out again in the near future?

Well, those supplements do actually exist. Called “workout recovery supplements”, they are especially designed to be taken in that small window of opportunity immediately after exercise, and are popular in particular with bodybuilders and others who want to put on extra muscle mass.

No supplement can turn a 90-lb weakling into Mr. Muscle. But workout supplements, if integrated carefully into a personalised exercise and nutrition program that takes into account your own individual needs and desires, can help improve your performance – and help boost your muscle mass in particular.

Supplements and Drinks

Most people have heard of post-workout drinks such as Gatorade and Lucozade, which contain a balance of water, glycogens and electrolytes. They are best consumed directly after exercise, but they do not contain everything your body needs.

Here are a few other nutrients which, along with sugars and electrolytes, can help your body to recover quicker. You can either buy pre-pared drinks containing them, mix up your own, or take them in tablet or even power bar form:

  • Creatine. Both glucose and sodium play a role in creatine transport, so if you add some creatine monohydrate to a glucose drink, you’ll help increase muscle mass.
  • Fructose. Helps restore the glucose stored in the liver, which can make it act as a glucose pump. For that reason, it can be better than simply taking a supplement of glucose, or drinking a high-glucose drink such as Lucozade.
  • Minerals. Electrolytes, sodium and potassium all help the body to re-hydrate quicker.
  • Amino acids. Can help restore muscle fibers.
  • Carbohydrates and proteins. Some supplement drinks contain a mixture of these two important elements. Carbohydrates can help replenish lost stores of glycogen, while protein builds up lost muscle mass.

Workout Recovery Foods

Along with supplements, some “recovery foods” can help you replenish your glycogen stores in particular, and help you on the road to recovery faster. As with drinks and supplements, these foods are best eaten within 30 minutes of your workout, as that is when the blood flow is increased, and the cells in your muscles more sensitive to insulin.

Some of the foods containing the right amount of carbohydrates would be a fruit smoothie, a cinnamon raisin bagel, chocolate milk, natural granola or a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Power bars specially formulated for this purpose are also good (see above), as are, funnily enough, meal replacement drinks designed for slimmers.

When you work out, your muscles get torn down, and they only start to rebuild only when they are in the recovery phase. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of this post-recovery period to give your muscles the best nutrition they need at this time.

No matter if you are a bodybuilder or a serious athlete, post workout recovery supplements - or a healthy recovery snack - can be of help. If you don’t recover properly, you will feel it at your next workout.

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