The general consensus among athletes suggests that the first 45 minutes after your workout are the most important for muscle recovery and growth. If you happen to miss this short window of time, there is an increased possibility of compromising your recovery ability by a...Read more
WHAT EXACTLY ARE RECOVERY SUPPLEMENTS?
The general consensus among athletes suggests that the first 45 minutes after your workout are the most important for muscle recovery and growth. If you happen to miss this short window of time, there is an increased possibility of compromising your recovery ability by a significant margin. This could lead to multiple downsides, including having less energy, making less gains, and experiencing prolonged muscle soreness – just to name a few.
Taking at least one these four types of supplements immediately after your workout will improve your recovery rate, bring you clarity and mental focus, and provide you with a motivational boost to knock those reps right out of the ballpark.
Protein is dubbed as one of the more important macronutrients to take right after a workout. Since your muscles are in dire need of amino acids after they’ve been broken down by rigorous exercises – fast digesting protein is a must. In fact, amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so in order to repair the muscle tissues that were damaged – a supplement such as whey protein would be a wise addition to your diet. With that being said, we’ll delve more into amino acids as supplements later.
Adding protein into one’s diet is a crucial step for all athletes, regardless of the type of sport they’re into, since whey protein stimulates muscle protein synthesis and promotes faster recovery and growth.
On the other hand, you’ll also need protein that works its way slowly and steadily into the muscles – such as casein. Casein will help with stretching out the muscle protein synthesis started by whey protein. When you carefully pair slow-acting and fast-acting protein formulations into your nutritional regimen – the following results will lead to quality gains in a faster and all-natural manner.
Carbohydrate Supplementsor ‘Carbs’
Carbs are that one macronutrient that most trainers overlook taking right after their workout. Intense training leads to depletion of your muscle glycogen stores, which is where the body keeps most of its carbohydrate reserves. This can impair the body’s ability to maintain carbohydrate reserves in proper amounts – therefore compromising the quality and duration of your next workout.
This is why it’s very important to ‘fuel’ the body with additional carbohydrates immediately after training.
Taking creatine after a workout can increase your gains by as much as 10% compared to working out without including it in your diet. In addition, creatine is also a proven anabolic agent that can promote more power, strength, and motivation during your time at the gym.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
As most of you know, branched-chain amino acids (or BCAAs in short) are comprised of three amino acids:
Most professional athletes consider these three amino acids to be essential in the normal development of muscle tissue during, and especially, post-workout. Leucine is directly responsible for ‘turning the lever’ on muscle protein synthesis. This amino acid also signals the body to secrete more insulin, leading to more nutrients converting to muscle mass faster. Additionally, BCAAs also play a major role in reducing the levels of the catabolic hormone ‘cortisol’ in the body after a workout.
What’s the Difference Between Amino Acids and BCAAs?
For trainers who are new to supplements, this can get real confusing, real fast. Thankfully, we are here to shed some light on the subject and help you differentiate between amino acids and branched-chain amino acids once and for all.
First off (and we’re sure you’ve heard this one before), let’s start by saying that amino acids are the building blocks of protein. In fact, just like a house is built from bricks, so is protein built from a different subset of amino acids. Therefore, in a way, amino acids are to protein what bricks are to a house. Note: these 20 amino acids are called ‘proteinogen amino acids’ because they come together to ultimately form proteins. However, there are 250 other amino acids which do not form protein, and are in fact used to form sugar instead. To avoid additional confusion, we’re only going to refer to the amino acids that form protein, i.e. the proteinogen ones.
All the amino acids are further broken down into three additional sub-categories:
Essential Amino Acids (EAAs)
Non-Essential Amino Acids (NEAAs)
Conditionally-Essential Amino Acids (SEAAs)
The first subset – essential amino acids – is absolutely crucial because the body cannot make them on its own. These include isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
The second amino acid subset is considered non-essential because the body can make them on its own. These are alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, serine, proline, and tyrosine.
Finally, conditionally-essential amino acids are considered as such because they have to be included in the diet under some very strict conditional circumstances. These are histidine and arginine.
Now, where do branched-chain amino acids fit in all of this? Well, BCAAs are considered essential amino acids, as they are part of the eight other EAAs. Branched-chain amino acids are L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine, therefore you can say that all branched-chain amino acids are essential amino acids, but not the other way around (all EAAs are not BCAAs).
Proteinogenic Amino Acids and Structure
Biochemically speaking, the proteinogenic amino acids can be separated through their structure. They can be found in two symmetrical types: the D-structure and the L-structure. The L-structure is the only one that naturally occurs in the body (hence the “L” letter before all BCAAs). This is why it’s absolutely crucial to be informed when picking up your preferred amino acid supplement that the ingredients inside are ‘L’, and not ‘D’ or ‘DL’ forms of amino acids.
Additionally, the most important amino acids for the body are the (proteinogen) L-amino acids. Plus, a sufficient supply of B-vitamins is very important to have an effective amino acid supplementation at all times. In fact, these B-vitamins (B-complex) should not be separated from their naturally occurring chemical state, as this would disrupt the affectability of both B-vitamins and BCAAs as well.
BCAA Powders VS BCAA Capsules
The main difference between BCAAs in powder form VS BCAAs in capsule form is the rate at which they are absorbed in the body. This rate of absorption can depend on multiple factors, such as product brand, product quality, your personal physiology (i.e. height, weight), the time at which you take these supplements, and more. More importantly, however, the general consensus among trainers considers that BCAAs in powder form are absorbed quicker than BCAAs in capsule form. And not only that, but powdered branched-chain amino acids can also be more effective than capsules, tablets, or BCAA pills.
Are BCAAs Good For Extra Energy?
Of course. When you’re cutting down on calories, your body will undergo a so-called ‘catabolic’ state. This basically translates to a faster rate of muscle tissue breakdown as opposed to making it (‘anabolic’ state).
Both muscle and fat loss is more likely to occur when you’re cutting down on the number of calories that you take in daily. By doing this, your body hasn’t got any other choice except to utilise muscle protein (muscle tissue, made up of amino acids) as a source of energy. So, in order to build muscle, the rate at which you burn calories (protein breakdown) should be lesser than the rate at which your body makes more protein (protein synthesis). When it’s the other way around, you’re more likely to experience rapid muscle loss; whereas if these two rates are in balance, your muscle mass would most likely remain the same. Which leads us to our next key point.
As we mentioned, there are nine essential amino acids, three of which that are considered branched-chain amino acids. These are L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine. They comprise at least 35% of all essential amino acids in the muscles. And not only that, but BCAAs can also be oxidised in skeletal muscle, as opposed to the other remaining six essential amino acids which are mainly broken down in the liver. On top of that, rigorous exercise is also known to increase energy expenditure and, in a way, “spend” the BCAAs (and other essential amino acids) in the muscles.
With BCAA supplementation, you’re getting the additional energy to fuel the muscles, build your body, and maintain your focus all at once.
What is the Best Time to Take BCAAs?
There are several ways to time your BCAA intake, and they are as follows:
Immediately after waking up
As you can see, BCAAs are most efficient when taken either right before a major physical activity, or immediately after, to promote quick muscle growth. Granted, there is no evident issue in deciding to take branched-chain amino acids in the morning, but this would deprive you from that extra energy that BCAAs provide before working out. Either way, there is no real downside of taking BCAAs at a time that’s most convenient for your daily schedule.
What are Some of the Best BCAA Products to Buy?
It depends on what your fitness goals are. For example, if you’re looking to bulk up as quickly as possible, then a simple product like Axis Labs Amino XTR should get the job done. If you want to use BCAAs for weight loss, however, then International Protein Amino Recovery is, without a doubt, the right supplement to go for.
What is The Best BCAA Product in Australia?
Again, it depends. Amino acid products and whey protein supplements are equally viable, since nowadays the manufacturer is careful to include branched-chain amino acids in both of these products due to popular demand. If you’re on the verge of what BCAA product (capsule or powder form) is right for you, then we’d recommend carefully reading over our BCAAs guide and come back when you’re ready to make a purchase.
In short, yes. You can safely combine BCAAs with creatine for the ultimate muscle-building + energy-inducing results both in the short term and over the long haul as well. Here’s how to do it.
Creatine is a non-essential amino acid, which means the body can produce this highly-beneficial compound on its own. As a result of this, you should always stack BCAAs with creatine for about 4 weeks in cycles. As most of you know, creatine does its magic by increasing the levels of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in the body. Generally, the higher your ATP levels, the better you’ll perform at the gym. On top of that, more ATP also translates to an increased rate at which protein synthesis occurs, which is the ultimate precursor to more quality lean muscle mass.
Some tips on how to make the best out of stacking creatine and BCAAs:
Track your progress continuously
Combine a quality workout with a solid nutrition plan
Don’t forget to hydrate properly
Stay away from processed foods such as industrial sugar, deli meat, sausages, and other unhealthy foods to avoid extremely low and high levels of insulin
Are BCAAs Good for Fasting?
Yes, but you have to follow strict rules to avoid breaking your fasting regimen. If you’re an intermittent faster, then you’re probably either lean, or you’re trying to get there as quickly as possible. So, your goal should be to work hard, minimize muscle protein breakdown (loss of muscle), and also build lean muscle mass whilst doing it. Something to take in mind before you enter fasting is to avoid training completely fasted, mostly because this approach would be absolutely detrimental for your long-term health (catabolic). Therefore, if you want to build lean muscle and get stronger without cheating out on your intermittent fasting goals, BCAAs is the proper way to go.
When you ingest quality branched-chain amino acids during your fasting state, you’re making sure that:
Muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth) is kick-started and protein breakdown (loss of lean muscle mass) is prevented. As we said, BCAAs contain L-Leucine which is a major component in triggering muscle protein synthesis.
You achieve the optimal benefits for muscle protein synthesis on a “rationed” caloric load. To compare, you’d have to take more than 500 calories from regular foods in order to get the equivalent amount of BCAAs into your body.
According to a recent study, BCAAs can enhance muscle protein synthesis in skeletal muscle following rigorous resistance exercise training. BCAAs do this by increasing the phosphorylation of a compound called p70S6k prior to training. All subjects took BCAAs in a fasted state.
DoBCAA Supplementation Have any Side Effects?
There is no concurrent evidence to suggest that BCAA supplementation is harmful in the long run. However, as with most things, excessive consumption of branched-chain amino acid supplements (whether in powder, pill, or any other form) potentially can lead to some undesirable side effects. Plus, BCAAs are not recommended for individuals affected by certain medical conditions. Some of these conditions include:
In addition, some side effects of excessive BCAA intake can include loss of coordination, fatigue, headaches, and in extreme cases – increased insulin resistance which can transform into type 2 diabetes.
Finally, branched-chain amino acids can also affect blood sugar levels, so individuals with type 1 diabetes (different from type 2) should be careful when taking these compounds, and even consult their doctor/nutritionist if and when needed.
Are BCAA Supplements (Capsules, Powder) Available in Australia?
Yes. You can buy them directly via our Second To None Nutrition e-store by choosing a product directly from this page! You can also search for your favourite BCAA supplement in the upper right corner and then click on your preferred product as well. Finally, you can browse through our categories from the drop-down menu, make your pick, and either proceed to ‘checkout’ or continue with your shopping until you’re finally ready.
Are BCAAs Safe for Women?
There is no evidence to date to suggest that BCAA supplementation is better for men or vice versa. If you’re nursing, however, consider consulting with your physician before including BCAAs in your nutritional plan, just in case.
RECOVERY SUPPLEMENTS TIPS
Taking recovery supplements won’t miraculously promote mind-blowing gains by itself – not if the other half of your training routine consists of poor diet choices, lack of sleep, and unbalanced alcohol intake – just to name a few. Rest and recovery are crucial parts of any training program – and some athletes would argue that it’s even more important than the training itself. Simply speaking, recovery is an essential step if you want progress to be made. The following three tips will enhance the effects of any recovery supplement product and will bring you closer to your training goals than ever before.
The process of recovery has to be meticulously planned and perfectly executed if you want to see results fast. In addition, it’s important to remember that working out breaks your body down, uses all of your energy reserves, and causes a fatigue onset the day after. That’s why a proper recovery plan is a must.
Avoiding proper recovery can lead to what is known as ‘overreaching’ or ‘overtraining’ syndrome. In fact, if the training is too frequent and too intense – it is most likely that exhaustion will occur. This exhaustion can lead to lots of physiological and mental changes that will negatively impact your workout routine.
Tip 1: Include a recovery week every third-fifth week into your training. Perform with half the intensity and with lessened resistance. Meanwhile, take your recovery product as planned, and leave the building feeling energized and full of vigor.
Integrate Recovery Time Between Workouts
Athletes are also facing a symptom called ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’, or ‘DOMS’ for short, after a workout. Some beginners are even going so far as to base their progress on the intensity of DOMS during, and especially after, their exercises. This is a definite no-go, since DOMS isn’t really a reliable metric to track your progress in the long run.
Generally speaking, delayed onset muscle soreness manifests in the form of muscle soreness, decreased flexibility, reduced motion in the extremities, and a feeling of general stiffness. Going to the gym immediately after DOMS kicks in leaves an open door for potential injury and other serious physiological and mechanical problems.
Tip 2: Rest at least 24-72 hours between strenuous workout sessions that involve the same groups of muscles. Submaximal training sessions require less rest as opposed to intense workouts.
Get Sufficient Amounts of Quality Sleep
Sleep is so underused and underappreciated that it is slowly turning into a worldwide epidemic. The lack of sleep can trigger lots of unwanted symptoms, including reduced tolerance to training, lack of motivation and focus, and feelings of general fatigue – just to name a few. While you sleep, anabolic processes thrive and catabolic processes in the body decrease by a significant margin. Lack of proper shut-eye can disrupt the anabolic (muscle-building) processes to a greater extent – leading to all sorts of bad things for your health and well-being.
Tip 3: Get rid of smartphones, notebooks, or anything that emits a blue light after 8:00 PM. Go to bed at the same time each night and try to get at least 8 hours of quality sleep. If needed, take a nap during the day, but limit your napping time to 30 minutes maximum. Opt for a recovery supplement that best fits your needs to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep patterns.
Including these tips into your daily habits can maximise the impact of recovery supplements by as much as 15-20%. And given how important the recovery process turns out to be – grabbing a decent recovery supplement is an absolute no-brainer.