There are many great supplements on the market, but not all of them work the way they should. So here’s an evidence-based review of dietary supplements that may improve health, adaptation to exercise, or recovery from injury and could help you train more effectively.
In this post, we’re going to use athletes as an example and make an assumption that will cover all the basis to reflect what an average person would experience at the gym. Recovery time depends on gender, type of exercise, how long the activity was, and intensity.
Without further ado, let’s review some of the supplements.
Creatine Monohydrate helps men and women of all* ages and reaches well-beyond muscle building and exercise recovery. Since Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most researched and safe supplements, it’s likely to be number one on the list of helpful body ergogenic aids.
Creatine monohydrate is a natural substance that increases muscle creatine by about 20% once it reaches certain levels in the body. As a result, it improves sports and exercise performance via multiple mechanisms to enhance muscle recovery from intense exercise.
A daily dose of 5g is sufficient, and pre-loading is not required.
If HMB is anticatabolic, it could improve training adaptations by decreasing muscle damage or protein breakdown. However, research suggests that HMB isn’t recommended for athletes because these benefits are obtainable with whey protein. More specifically, leucine.
Similarly to Creatine, HMB may prove helpful in rehabilitation where there may be periods of extreme inactivity. It shows better preservation of lean mass in older adults ingesting HMB during ten days of bed rest.
The daily dose varies from 1-3g.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3, like Creatine, does not need an introduction. The first evidence that fish oil fatty acids might benefit coronary heart disease came from the discovery of Greenland Eskimos. With a diet high in n-3 fatty acids, they have lower mortality from coronary heart disease than Danes and Americans.
Fish oil (EPA) and (DHA) supplements are known for their effects on the brain and cardiovascular health, muscular performance, and recovery from injury.
The daily dose varies from 200 to 5,000mg. Therefore, taking more than a tolerable upper intake of 5,000 per day (EPA/DHA combined) does not provide additional benefits.
Vitamin D is most associated with bone health; vitamin D receptors throughout the body, including skeletal muscle, indicate a role in other tissues.
In 2015, a study demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation (6 weeks; 4,000 IU/day) improved recovery of post-eccentric training peak torque in vitamin D insufficient men and enhanced in vitro myotube hypertrophy. These data firmly suggest a role for adequate vitamin D in the adaptive process to intense exercise. Whether vitamin D supplementation is necessary for adaptive sound effects likely hinges on the athletes’ vitamin D level at the initiation of supplementation.
The daily dose varies from 400–5,000 IU.
Strenuous and prolonged exercise place stresses on the gut. It influences the gastrointestinal tract, which increases the likelihood of discomfort, abdominal cramping, acid reflux (heartburn), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and gut leakiness that may allow endotoxemia to occur.
Probiotic support to increase the resilience of the gastrointestinal tract against ischemia is of interest to athletes, particularly those in prolonged endurance events with the most significant occurrence of gastrointestinal tract problems that impair or stop performance.
Because there are so many different probiotic organisms, there is no set dosage. Supplement range from 1-30 billion colony-forming units (CFU).
A constituent of turmeric, curcumin supplements are often ingested for anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects at a dose of about 5g/day. In addition, turmeric and curcumin can decrease muscle damage or DOMS in athletes.
Tart Cherry Juice
Cherry juice has been vastly studied for its benefits for training recovery and has become a standard component of athlete recovery strategies.
Based on the extensive research on tart cherry juice, consuming at least one serving a day for several days before an exercise will provide an accelerated recovery of function on the days after the workout.
Cherry juice on the days before an exercise protects muscle function across various types of physical activity. However, the effects on soreness and systemic inflammation were more uncertain.
The daily dosage varies from 8 to 12 oz. (1 oz. if concentrated) twice/day for 4 to 5 days before an athletic event or for 2 to 3 days afterward to promote recovery.
More research is needed, but this is what we know about suitable supplements or whole food sources when applicable for Health, Adaptation, and Recovery.