It seems like everyone is so focused on what to take BEFORE the workout that they often forget it's just as important to supplement your muscles AFTER the workout. Experts agree that the nutrients you ingest within 60 minutes of finishing the workout are crucial to determining your results including growth and recovery. Let's take a look at the top 4 post-workout ingredients that you should be taking right after that intense gym session.
- Creatine Monohydrate
What is it?
- A legend in the supplement industry, Creatine Monohydrate is actually produced in the body but only about one gram per day. Studies show that the optimal dose for Creatine Monohydrate is 5 grams after a 20 gram loading period of 2 weeks. You must take this AFTER your workout for optimal absorption as this is how you'll maximize your benefits in the gym. The key is that creatine is best absorbed when taken in conjunction with a high quality protein (more on that below) and fast acting carbohydrates. Taken on its own, its absorption is not nearly as good.
- Higher energy levels
- Extended fuel source for muscles
- Allows for more time under tension, which triggers muscular hypertrophy
- Boosts recovery time (1, 5)
What is it?
- Another amino acid found within the body, Glutamine, like Creatine, is created in small amounts but can result in high level benefits when introduced into the diet via supplementation. The ideal dose is 5 grams but no loading period is needed with Glutamine. Just like Creatine, it's important to take Glutamine after your workout as this is when it can work its magic.
- Promotes protein synthesis (essential for muscle building)
- Protects from catabolism (muscle tissue breakdown)
- Supports recovery (2)
- L-Carnitine L-Tartrate
What is it?
- This amino acid derivative is making big waves in the supplement industry due to recent studies that highlight its benefits. When you take it after your workout, you'll want to shoot for 2 grams. No loading phase is needed.
- Supports faster recovery times
- Promotes more time under tension (ideal for muscle building)
- Triggers a higher level production of growth hormone (needed for muscle building, recovery, and results) (3)
- Whey Protein Isolate
What is it?
- This milk-based protein source isn't your typical protein supplement. While whey concentrate and casein are ideal for various times throughout the day, nothing beats protein isolate for a post-workout treat. Protein isolate has been broken down into its most absorbable form. In fact, it scores 101 out of 100 on the bioavailability scale. This means that your body is going to be able to quickly absorb it and put it to good use. If you use any of the ingredients on this list, make sure it's protein isolate.
- Supports muscle recovery
- Triggers protein synthesis
- Promotes muscle growth
- Boosts immunity (4)
While pre-workout nutrition is important to prepare your body for the workload ahead, what you do AFTER your workout is just as essential. Post-workout ingredients can ensure faster recovery and better results. The four ingredients mentioned above are some of the best in the industry. If you have to only choose one, go with protein isolate for the best benefits.
- Rawson ES, Volek JS. Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Nov;17(4):822-31.
- B. Mittendorfer, E. Volpi and R. Wolfe. Whole body and skeletal muscle glutamine metabolism in healthy subjects. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 Aug 22.
- Kraemer WJ, Volek JS, French DN, Rubin MR, Sharman MJ, Gómez AL, Ratamess NA, Newton RU, Jemiolo B, Craig BW, Häkkinen K. The effects of L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation on hormonal responses to resistance exercise and recovery. J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Aug;17(3):455-62.
- Blomstrand E, Eliasson J, Karlsson HK, Köhnke R. Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise. J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1 Suppl):269S-73S.
- Antonio, J., Ciccine, C. The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength. Journal of The International Society of Nutrition 10:36, 2013.