After the last rep of your workout, the first thing that comes to your mind is that postworkout shake. That’s because your muscles are hungry, broken down and receptive to nutrients. This is called a window of opportunity because the nutrients you take in go directly to start the muscle rebuilding and recovering process. So it only makes sense that if you want to maximize benefits from this window of opportunity, you need very solid nutrition and this entails consuming the right supplement combination to promote faster muscle growth and recovery. Here, we present a list of the best supplements that you should consume to boost muscle growth and recovery after beating up your muscles during a long, hard session with the weights.
Whey tops the list of postworkout supplements because it digests easily and gets to your muscles rapidly to start building muscle. Whey supplies the body with the essential amino acids that it needs to build muscle, including the three branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) which kick-start protein synthesis. The body uses these amino acids to repair damaged muscle fibers and manufacture important growth hormones to support muscle growth and recovery. Whey also contains peptides (small proteins) that increase blood flow to the muscles to increase their size.
Taking fast-digesting carbs postworkout creates a spike in insulin, a hormone which drives muscle growth and recovery. Insulin helps create an optimal anabolic response to start the muscle building process. First, insulin kick-starts protein synthesis by pushing protein into the muscle cells where it gets to work repairing and rebuilding muscle. Then insulin drives more amino acids, creatine, and carnitine into your muscle cells to increase their uptake. The boost in insulin also directs any excess carbs to replenish depleted glycogen stores to prepare your body for your next workout.
Despite its slow digestion rate, casein enhances muscle growth and recovery and prevent muscle catabolism. When it’s taken postworkout, casein boosts muscle protein synthesis much like whey does. It’s even suggested that a whey and casein protein shake taken together after training increases muscle growth better than either protein taken alone. Choose a casein protein that contains micellar casein, the slowest-digesting casein there is. Casein is also an ideal pre-bedtime snack because it prevents catabolism while you sleep by emptying slowly and steadily.
Hands down, creatine is the most effective supplement you can take to boost muscle growth and strength. Taken post-workout, creatine increase muscle size by drawing water into muscle cells, which places a stretch on the cell that increases long-term growth. Creatine also boosts levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in your muscles, which leads to hypertrophy.
These three amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine – are the absolute most important amino acids for repairing and building muscle tissue. They work in synergy to provide multiple functions that aid muscle growth and recovery. Taken with your postworkout shake, they enhance protein synthesis, the process that leads to muscle growth. BCAAs also depress the levels of cortisol, a catabolic hormone that inhibits testosterone and increases muscle breakdown. BCAAs also aids muscle recovery by decreasing delayed-onset muscle soreness.
This amino acid has been a favorite of bodybuilders for decades because it’s central to muscle function and is one of the most plentiful aminos found in the human body. Glutamine provides numerous benefits. Taken after workouts, glutamine aids growth by increasing the levels of leucine in your muscle fibers, preventing muscle breakdown and encouraging your muscle to store more glycogen, which makes them fuller due to the water that glycogen holds. Glutamine also boosts growth hormone levels, encouraging greater muscle growth and strength gains. It’s critical for bolstering the immune system as well, which helps to ensure you don’t get sick and miss precious gym time.