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What Are Recovery Supplements?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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"Recovery" is a term used in fitness training that refers to the process of the body repairing itself after being put through the stress of exercise. If the body is not allowed to adequately recover, it may put a person at increased risk of injury and prevent him or her from increasing stamina or strength. To ensure the body is able to recover properly after physical activity, it is generally recommended to consume a small snack containing protein and carbohydrates approximately 30 to 60 minutes after exercising. Recovery supplements are nutritional supplements marketed as an alternative to eating food after exercising and are typically geared toward people who find it inconvenient to eat after working out, or to those who simply do not feel hungry enough to eat.

One of the most widely used types of recovery supplements is creatine. Creatine is a chemical that forms naturally in the muscles and is primarily responsible for producing the energy required by the muscles to function properly. Many believe that taking a supplement of the chemical after exercising may help the muscles recover in order to help improve athletic performance.

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L-Glutamine is another common ingredient in recovery supplements. It is an amino acid that is found in muscle tissue and is thought to play a role in converting protein into energy. During strength workouts, L-Glutamine levels in the muscles may become reduced. The central belief behind taking L-Glutamine after a workout is that it will replenish the decreased amount of the amino acid in the muscle tissue and help it heal more quickly.

Vitamins C and E may also be recommended by some fitness experts as recovery supplements. These vitamins are thought to help the body tissue repair itself after a workout by decreasing the inflammation that may occur after intense physical activity. The two vitamins are generally considered to work more effectively if they are taken together, but it has not been conclusively proven.

Critics of recovery supplements often believe that there is no evidence to prove the benefits of the ingredients in the supplements. They tend to instead believe that the main component of muscle recovery is rest. Sleeping at least eight hours a night and taking a 48-hour break between intensive workouts is said by many critics to be more effective than supplements. A balanced diet rich in protein and carbohydrates is also considered by many to be a better option than getting nutrients from supplements.

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