If you heard the known saying, “You are only as good as the effort you put into your workouts,” and follow it – you’re on the right path towards fitness success. But, in order to recover from all that work, and quickly maximize your endeavor at the gym, you have to take in the adequate fuel afterwards.
One the best ways you can accomplish this is by taking supplements. However, the problem is there are thousands of post-workout supplement out there. How do you know which ones actually work?
Take notes, because this list will help you sort through all options with ease. By the end of this blog, you’ll know the best and most effective post-workout supplements out there today!
Proven to Work Post-Workout Supplements
This is the most important part, so let’s jump right into the list. After that, I’ll explain why these supplements work so well.
1. Whey Protein Isolate
Numerous studies have shown that whey protein supplements increase muscle and strength gains from resistance training.
But it’s crucial to not settle for any type of whey protein. If we look at the label, cheaper options will have “whey concentrate” as the first ingredient. These supplements have less protein per serving, and additional unnecessary ingredients added.
That is why a whey isolate supplement is the way to go. It does cost slightly more, however you’ll actually get more quality protein. So don’t cheap out!
Be that as it may, you also don’t need to pay a fortune for protein powder. Simply go with a popular and well-established brand, and you should be set.
2. Dextrose or Sport Drinks
Once we get our protein, the second crucial post-workout nutrient are carbs. While you can get your carbohydrate intake from food, it’s faster and easier to use carbohydrate powders like dextrose or sport drinks such as Gatorade.
Your body needs to break down carbs into glucose before the nutrients enter the bloodstream. Glucose is the simplest form of sugar, easily absorbable.
And dextrose is basically the same thing as glucose, so your body doesn’t have to break it down. Sport drinks also contain the simplest form of glucose, packing some added electrolytes and vitamins on top.
Whether you go for dextrose or sport drinks is a matter of preference. Sport drinks are slightly more expensive, however they taste better and have added micronutrients.
The most researched supplement on the market is creatine. About 95% of creatine is stored in our muscles, and is responsible for the production of energy during heavy lifting or any form of exercise.
When you supplement with creatine, you basically help your body to produce more of a high energy molecule called ATP.
ATP is also known as the body’s energy currency. When you have more ATP, you will perform better during exercise.
Creatine also alters several cellular processes which lead to more muscle mass, strength, and recovery.
Now, since there are many brands and variants of creatine, I will keep this short and concise. Buy creatine monohydrate. It is guaranteed to work and has the lowest-cost.
4. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Protein is broken down into amino acids, and these build new muscle tissue. BCAAs are a group of 3 amino acids that are particularly beneficial for building muscle.
The advantage of taking BCAAs is that they are absorbed a lot faster, since the digestive system won’t have to break them down. It is indicated that BCAAs start the muscle rebuilding process sooner than whey protein.
Be that as it may, the downside is that they don’t include all 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) necessary for tissue repair. This means that technically your body may break down muscle to get the other 6 missing.
However, as long as your post-workout nutrition contains protein, BCAAs will work just fine and won’t hurt your budget too much since they are affordable.
Nearly one-third of the U.S. population is at risk of deficiency in at least one vitamin. And stress-inducing workouts serve to further diminish these micronutrients.
For that reason, a good multivitamin supplement is like an insurance policy. It’s not a big investment, but having one can spare you of any possible harm.
While you can take a multivitamin during any part of the day, I often take it with a post-workout shake or meal. The reason for this is that insulin is at its peak at that time, and this hormone is responsible for delivering nutrients into the cells.
Benefits of Post-Workout Supplementation
Now you know which supplements to choose. But you may want to learn more about their benefits?
Here is a brief explanation.
Increased Protein Synthesis
The fundamental factor that determines if you build or lose muscle is the protein synthesis. This is simply the building of proteins that create new muscle.
When your body builds more protein than it breaks down, that represents a positive protein balance necessary for muscle growth. But if you break down more protein than you build, that’s a negative protein balance and muscle loss.
Therefore, it’s crucial to get enough dietary protein to ensure that positive protein balance. And a post-workout protein supplement is proven to increase protein synthesis!
Crucial Metabolic State
There are many processes in the body, and metabolic functioning is one of them. Periods of breaking down are called catabolism, followed by periods of building, called anabolism. Which state you’re in is affected by your activity and nutrition.
For instance, intense workouts bring a catabolic state due to the increase of stress. Whereas consuming carbs post-workout releases anabolic hormones like insulin that bring nutrients into your cells.
That is why the best way to go from catabolic to anabolic is to eat some carbs shortly after exercise. As mentioned, dextrose or sport drinks are good options.
Besides their ability to increase protein synthesis and anabolism, post-workout supplements also replace the energy you burn during exercise. Specifically, the carbs you have stored in the form of glycogen.
Scientist state that glycogen storage is directly correlated with the post-workout insulin response. Therefore, consuming high glycemic carbohydrates after your training increases the amount of energy you can replenish.
Every time you exercise, you tear down muscle tissue, induce fatigue and exhaustion. Glycogen levels are also depleted severely.
The process of glycogen restoration starts immediately after training and is highest during the first couple of hours of recovery. That is why replenishing glycogen after your workout is vital for the recovery process and prevention of fatigue and injuries.
If you’ve read all of the above, you may have noticed that supplements have much in common with regular food. And you are right.
Actually, it is possible to get all of these nutrients from healthy food. Creatine is found red meat, fish, and poultry, BCAAs in protein rich foods, and similar.
That is why these post-workout supplements work, they are a natural extension of your diet, and not a replacement for it. They can make your nutrition intake easier, but shouldn’t be your main source.
So, don’t forget to still eat a well-balanced and optimized diet that will contain enough protein, carbs, and fats.
Next time you see a hyped up supplement ad, remember what you’ve learned here today. More often than not, these supplements contain a bunch of hyped-up ingredients with no scientific basis behind them.
Save your money and stick to the basic and proven ones. Try them, track your progress, and you’ll see great results!