Hi friends! If you’re an active person and love to exercise, then this post is for you. I enjoy exercising, and I enjoy where it can take me: trail running, hiking in the mountains, riding a bike around Wyoming. But I don’t always enjoy what happens after exercise sometimes. I get sore muscles pretty easily even though I have been lifting weights for years, and I used to get extreme muscle soreness for days. No fun.
Along with adequate rest, foam rolling, less stress, and good hydration, I have discovered a few supplements along the way that have helped me improve my exercise recovery and not be quite so sore (I still get muscle soreness but not as much!).
There are lots of other recovery supplements out there, like tart cherry, rhodiola, ashwagandha, maca, etc., but the ones below are the most effective and most accessible, and I consider them to be essential supplements for exercise recovery for me.
Don’t forget: supplements are never a replacement for a bad diet! You can’t eat tons of sugar and junk food then expect to be healthy by taking supplements. Supplements are meant to help fill in dietary and nutritional gaps, but most of your nutrition should come from your food. So choose good food! And make sure you talk to your doctor before starting any new supplements, and make sure you follow supplement recommendations so you don’t overdose (yes, you can overdose on vitamins!).
Both turmeric is an anti-inflammatory spice that you can easily add to your routine through either whole-foods (like turmeric milk or curry), or by supplementation. Turmeric contains the compound curcumin which is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that can help to reduce the inflammation in your body caused by exercise (source).
It is recommended that pregnant women avoid taking medicinal quantities of turmeric since it could stimulate the uterus and cause complications. Normal food quantities are safe for pregnant women (source).
BCAA stands for branched chain amino acids, a group of amino acids that are essential to our bodies. BCAAs include leucine, isoleucine, and valine, but if you’re taking BCAAs, make sure you get some L-glutamine in there as well. Look for BCAA formulas that are natural and don’t have fillers or artificial sweeteners. I take BCAA tablets that have vitamin B6 added for amino acid metabolism. Since I started taking BCAAs on a regular basis after exercise, my recovery has improved and my muscle soreness hasn’t been as bad (yay!).
BCAAs aren’t just for bodybuilders: whether you run, bike, swim, Contrary to what some people believe, BCAAs don’t help improve athletic performance directly. Instead, it helps facilitate recovery after exercise to reduce muscle soreness and help repair muscle and tissue. Any performance improvement is likely due to improved recovery.
Fish oil is one of those supplements that people don’t quickly refer to when they think of workout recovery, but fish oil (and krill oil) is a great addition to anyone’s supplement plan. Fish oil can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, and it helps to keep connective tissue (like joints and skin) lubricated and moist. Fish oil is high in omega-3’s, so it can help balance out people’s diets which are typically high omega-6’s. It’s still possible to overdo it with fish oil, though, so make sure you are getting plenty of food sources of omega-3’s like fish in your diet, flax seeds, and walnuts.
Zinc is a required mineral for many metabolic functions in the body and is needed by over 300 enzymes in the body. Research has shown that endurance training depletes zinc levels in the body. Heavy exercise for extended periods can even have an effect on zinc metabolism. Low zinc levels can result in reduced endurance and fatigue, so watching your zinc is important! There is no need to take large quantities of zinc though: women age 19 and up should get 8 mg a day.
There are different kinds of zinc out there to choose from. Zinc sulfate is the cheapest form of zinc, but is not absorbed very well and can cause stomach upset. The forms of zinc that are absorbed best are zinc citrate, zinc acetate, zinc glycerate, and zinc monomethionine, zinc picolinate (source).
Electrolytes are a group of minerals that are essential to maintain proper pH, nerve conduction, and muscle function in the body (among other things) and they include calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and sodium.
Electrolytes can come in powders, drinks, drops, or tablets, but not all electrolyte mixes are created equal! Choose electrolytes that don’t have a lot of added stuff, like artificial sweeteners and colors. If you’re using an electrolyte mix or drink, find one that includes trace minerals, too, such as zinc, copper, and selenium, to replace those minerals lost during exercise.
A good quality multivitamin will have a balance of vitamins and minerals in proper doses so you can fill in the gaps in your nutrition so you don’t have to search for individual minerals and vitamins. The amounts of vitamins and minerals in vitamins are formulated to account for what you get from your food, too, so you can meet your daily requirements in a safe way.
While not specifically made for workout recovery, the SunWarrior Raw Vitamins for Her are developed with many of these great recovery vitamins, minerals, and herbs to help not only meet your daily recommendations for nutrients, but also to help you improve your health.
SunWarrior Raw Vitamins for Her include these nutrients:
- Organic vitamin and mineral blend (curry extract, guava extract, lemon extract, amla extract, holy basil extract, annatto extract)
- Longevity blend: barley, turmeric, quercitin, cordyceps, fo-ti root, ginger root, grape seed, muira puama
- Ionic trace minerals
- Macro minerals
SunWarrior Raw Vitamins for Her are also:
- No synthetics
- No binders or fillers
- Raw and plant-sourced
- Mostly organic (ingredients are marked as to which ones are organic or not)
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Disclaimer: this information is intended to be informational only and is not intended to replace the advice of your qualified healthcare professional. Use discretion when trying new supplements