Supplements are a way to fix a specific hole in your diet. They are easy, relatively inexpensive (especially when compared to the list of whole foods you’d have to buy to get the same nutrients) and can be purchased with a specific goal in mind.
For example, when we set out to make RedLeaf, we were trying to get a low-caffeine energizing drink with no added sugar and no aspartame. When you ask what supplements are best for recovery, you want to make sure you’re buying only the things which will actually support your recovery. For our money, that is protein or BCAA’s (not both), and and anti-inflammatory supplement or two.
Which supplements are best for recovery?
First and foremost, remember that recovery and improvement come down to a few specific things:
- Inflammation in your body
- Protein synthesis (or breakdown)
- Growth hormone (not something you should supplement because it is illegal)
What supplements are best for recovery given these criteria? Two things specifically come to mind:
Protein Powder or BCAA’s
Please notice that protein powder and BCAA’s do different things for your body and recovery. In order for your muscles to recover, become stronger, and potentially grow, they need to have protein from which to build. A complete protein powder (meaning it has all 9 essential amino acids) is a great supplement to use to ensure this is the case, especially around your workouts. If you are able to consume dairy, whey protein powder is your best bet. It is cheap, comes in a lot of delicious flavors, and is readily available from many sources. However, if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, you are not out of luck. There are many plant proteins – just check the BCAA content in the mix.
Unlike protein powder, BCAA’s will not help your muscles to grow because they do not have actual grams of complete protein. It is JUST the branched chain aminos (valine, leucine, and isoleucine). However, BCAA’s are not worthless. If you are in a caloric deficit, or follow a vegan lifestyle and are therefore often unable to consume a complete protein source, BCAA’s can help your body stay away from protein breakdown which is bad for muscle recovery.
You do not need to take both BCAA’s and a complete protein powder. That is like washing your car outside while it is raining.
There are two obvious supplements which act as anti-inflammatory options. These are curcumin with turmeric, and fish oil (check out ISN’s supplements by clicking the links here!) Turmeric and curcumin have been shown to have beneficial properties for joints. Our team has found it useful which is why we set out to make our own.
Fish oil works by increasing the amount of omega three fatty acids in your system. The standard western diet is comprised of approximately a 20:1 ratio of omega six fats to omega three fats. This is more than triple the recommended 6:1 ratio – and some health experts recommend a 3:1 or lower ratio for optimal health.
While this is a simplification, imagine omega six fats as pro-inflammatory, and omega three fats as anti-inflammatory. For recovery, you want to keep inflammation down and including fatty fish, avocados, and olive oil in your diet is a great way to do so. For many people, however, even with these included it is still difficult to get the recommended amount of omega three’s into your diet. Fish oil (or a vegan version) is a great way to increase the ratio in the right direction and help your body to feel better quickly.
As we’ve said many times before, your recovery is just as important as the work you’re putting in at the gym when it comes to getting results! That’s why we are having a limited-time SALE on ISN’s recovery supplements, Turmeric Curcumin and Omega 3 Fish Oil.