My Top 3 Recovery Supplements
Here's the third and final installment on my supplement series, today looking at the recovery aspect of health and fitness.
The below are recommended to assist in recovering from the demands our lifestyle and training has on our bodies, especially if you want to perform optimally day-to-day and in our training sessions.
Now recognized for its far reaching benefits and no longer just for the gym rat or bro-lifter, but actually a great supplement for anyone that wants to ensure that adequate protein levels are met.
What you need to know is that protein powders are simply blended protein sources that have a fantastic amino acid profile and a fantastic absorption rate (especially whey powders) which is what we need. Amino acids are essentially small molecules of protein (there are twenty of them depending on the literature you read) and contain a good proportion of the important ones for growth and repair, the Branch Chain Amino Acids.
There is a misconception about the 'anabolic window' with protein powders in that you need to make sure you consume protein immediately after your workout or you will lose all your gains. Not true – and really this only applies to people that train in the morning or fasted that won't be able to get in a meal immediately afterward. Again this is not absolutely vital and daily protein intake always trumps geeky meal timings.
The current recommended UK guidelines suggest 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. However for most people (especially athletes who constantly break down muscle via training) as much as 2 grams per kilogram will be more beneficial for muscle protein synthesis and repair. A scoop can get you anywhere from 15-45 gram so make sure you read the label. It is also the cheapest gram-for-gram protein source you can get and is the easiest to prep.
On a side note, some people that have lactose intolerance and do not digest dairy well may have the same issues with whey and casein. If this is the case, opt for an alternative source of powder such as hemp, pea or rice. This is also a viable for option for vegans who sometimes struggle to ensure adequate protein levels are met.
Yes I realise that sleep is not actually a supplement, but I figure this is a fantastic way to get through to a lot of you about the importance of sleep for health and recovery, and how consistently ignoring the signs of under-recovering can negatively impact you!
We all know that we should get 7-8 hours sleep every night but studies show that people get closer to 4-5 hours a night. Not surprising with the modern age luxuries like mobile phones, laptops and Netflix keeping people up longer than they should be.
Add to that the ever-growing fast paced nature of today's society where there are not enough hours in the day to get all that office work completed. So the laptop stays out and the person works well in to the early hours. All for it to repeat again the following day. D'oh!
Sleep is crucial for pretty much every system in your body including; the central nervous, musculoskeletal and endocrine (hormone) systems.
Failure to get enough sleep means that repair processes are slowed down and the body fails to recover in full, which means that even simple day-to-day tasks can be impaired like using a tool or thinking clearly. You can forget about training effectively if you consistently yawn at your desk!
Not only that, but under-sleeping has been shown to affect the hunger hormones leptin and grehlin which can cause havoc to those on a diet. We all know that when we are tired we tend to make poor nutritional choices and studies have shown that your body will think it's still hungry when in fact it is actually just tired.
It amazes how many times a client reports back to me that their diet, energy levels and focus have improved massively with just this small adjustment of getting more quality sleep.
For a good nights sleep, ensure that all electronic devices are switched off an hour before bed as this can affect secretion of melatonin which relaxes the body before sleep, and ensure that you are replicating 'cave-like' conditions (a cool and pitch black room is optimal.)
This one costs you ZERO and can have far reaching positive affects for you. Don't shun sleep.
To list all of the processes magnesium has in the body and it's importance to you would far out-weigh the size of this post (and I try to keep these as short as possible for you guys). Just know that it is vital for cardiovascular, immune and hormonal biological processes.
Especially worth noting is that training depletes our magnesium levels as it gets used during exercise. Magnesium is essentially involved in the 'power up' and 'breakdown' of energy systems like ATP (the body's energy currency).
The less magnesium in the body, the more likely you will show signs of weakness and fatigue. Also certain studies show that a deficiency of magnesium can raise blood pressure and reduce insulin sensitivity which is vital for preventing diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
Magnesium is the second biggest deficiency in developed countries, behind Vitamin D (which is why you should go read the top three HEALTH Supplements post first!) Can you get enough magnesium in the diet? The short answer is yes but you have to eat a lot of veg, nuts and seeds to make up for the deficit.
If you feel you do not eat enough veg, nuts and seeds firstly what are you doing? Go and eat more veg, nuts and seeds!
After that it might be worth supplementing with. A good dosage would be anywhere from 200-400 mg either via pill form or transdermally (sprayed on to the skin). Magnesium Glycinate has been shown to have the best absorption rate over others like magnesium threonate (as it contains less elemental magnesium per dose) magnesium oxide or magnesium chloride, so go with that.
Always take with food, and be wary of any potential gut issues as over-dosing has been shown to cause upset stomachs and diarrhea. Obviously this is overdosing and most will be fine with a recommended normal dose.
So that's that for the supplement series. Hopefully you can take an honest and critical approach to what you feel could benefit your health, performance and recovery!