Post-workout supplements are designed to stimulate muscle building and recovery from workouts. They help us perform better from one training session to the next, as they support proper rest.
During exercise, muscle fibre is damaged, proteins are damaged and so-called micro-tears are formed in the fibre. To heal this, a very slight inflammatory process is triggered (which we do not perceive). The inflammatory cells break down (catabolise) the damaged proteins and then start to produce new proteins (protein synthesis). One of the main requirements for muscle building is a positive balance of protein synthesis. More new protein is synthesised than is broken down. To achieve this, our daily protein intake must be sufficient. In addition, many supplements (mostly amino acids) can stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Post-workout supplements can be divided into two groups in terms of their effect:
- Muscle regenerators, which support muscle protein synthesis so that damaged muscles can recover sooner. These include: leucine, beta-hydroxybeta-methylbutyrate (HMB), l-glutamine, branched-chain amino acids (BCAA).
- Growth hormone (GH), the hormone most responsible for muscle protein synthesis, is produced during sleep, so adequate sleep helps muscle recovery and growth. Excessive stress increases levels of the hormone cortisol, which breaks down muscle proteins. Therefore, any nutritional supplement that promotes sleep and has calming effect can help the process of muscle building and recovery.
Adequate recovery is also important for endurance athletes, as muscles are damaged during running, swimming and similar sports, and if recovery is not adequate, there will be a reduction in performance and an increased risk of injury.