Workout supplements are one of the most well-studied topics within the fitness industry and it has been around for decades. Many people are looking for an edge in their training and it usually takes more than going all-out physically to develop your body; you need to supply your body nutrients that will materialize your efforts in the form of size and strength.
I’m not saying that you need supplements to make progress. If you’re someone who has a healthy balanced diet, you can get all these vitamins and minerals from your food. Nonetheless, adding in supplements could give you that small additional advantage.
That being said, I will take you through the supplements that I take as a bodyweight athlete. There are so many different products out there with promised miracles, but which ones work, and why should you consider taking them? Let’s find out…
Best Supplements For Muscle Recovery
Whey protein is among the most researched supplements in the world, and for good reasons. As mentioned in the calisthenics diet planning guide article I’ve written, protein is one of the three major nutrients, in addition to fats and carbohydrates.
Protein is made up of amino acids, the building blocks used for muscle growth. They are essential for building and maintaining all forms of body tissue. A meta-analysis found that protein supplementation increased muscle mass and strength gain during extended resistance training in both younger and older individuals.
Another benefit is that it is convenient. More than likely, you’re not able to not meet your daily protein requirements from just eating whole foods, this is why whey protein comes in as it can save you time, and enable you to meet your protein intake throughout the day easily via a shake, rather than having to eat 2-3 extra meals a day.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Further, a 2017 study highlighted a protein intake of at least 1.4 to 1.6 grams per day for active individuals.
If you train regularly, at some point you’ve probably heard of creatine (a magical white powder that makes all of your fitness dreams come true). Creatine is an amino acid that is found naturally in foods like beef, pork, fish, and you also make it in the cells of your own body.
Naturally, meat-eaters tend to have a higher level of muscle creatine than vegans. Though, if you were to consume meat as your source of creatine, to get the same amount of 1 scoop of creatine (5 grams), you’d need to consume 1.3 kilograms of beef. This is not only expensive but also high in calories. It is also a bonus that creatine is generally 100% vegan!
Creatine is used to increase high-intensity performance (which generally increases by 10-20%), and this leads to greater training adaptations. Research has shown that creatine may reduce muscle damage and enhance post-exercise recovery after intense sessions, allowing you to train harder and recover faster.
The recommended dosage range for creating is between 3-5 grams per day. Doses in this range have been proven safe by countless clinical trials. However, creatine may come with side effects such as weight gain due to increased water retention.
Cod Liver Oil (Omega-3)
The cod liver oil is a nutrient-dense source of vitamins and essential fatty acids. As the name suggests, it is a fish oil supplement that is obtained from the liver of fish. The oil is rich in vitamin A, D, and omega-3. The use of this supplement has been associated with reducing inflammation and improving recovery.
Oily fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, tuna, and mackerel are great sources of omega-3. With that said, you’ll have to eat a lot of fish, but not many people like fish! That’s why this oil supplement comes in handy because you can instead get all the nutrients you need from supplementing with 1-3 grams of fish oil per day.
A meta-analysis conducted 10 randomized controlled trials on 552 elderly participants and found that omega-3 was associated with an increase in muscle mass by 0.33kg for the elderly who were consuming more than 2 grams/day of fish oil.
Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin”, and the reason for this is that we get it from sunlight. Though, it can be challenging to get the amount that you need if you work indoors or don’t live in a sunny area of the country.
According to the National Health Service UK, vitamin D helps control the amount of calcium phosphate in the body. These nutrients contribute to the maintenance of normal bones and the normal function of the immune system.
This does not only play a role in bone health and fracture prevention but also offers many musculoskeletal benefits: increased muscle protein synthesis, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) concentration, strength, the capacity of exercise, and physical performance are obtained with greater vitamin D levels.
The daily amount recommended for the general population is 10 micrograms, which is equivalent to 400 international units of vitamin D.
Hopefully, you are able to understand the benefits of each supplement that I take, but know that they are not required for recovery as you can gain all of these from consuming a healthy balanced diet. Regardless, you will still need to push yourself in your workouts. There are plenty more supplements that are not mentioned here, therefore I encourage you to do your research before trying them.
Another important factor for supplements is that if you decide to take them, I recommend you try one at a time so you can track the impact they have on your body and evaluate whether it’s worth taking them.
If you are interested in learning more about supplements, diet, and recovery, I suggest you check out these previous blogs that I’ve written:
- How To Maximize Muscle Recovery After Workout
- The Calisthenics Diet Planning Guide: How To Achieve Your Dream Body
- Stretches For Calisthenics
Thank you for reading and I’ll catch you next time!
I’m Pat Chadwick, a qualified Level 2 and Level 3 calisthenics coach and athlete from London, England, with six years of experience. I’ve competed in various UK competitions, including the Kalos Stenos Championships, where I achieved third place in the lightweight category. My passion is highlighting the beauty of calisthenics as an authentic and pure form of body expression. I believe that everyone has the potential to become a champion of their body and mind, and that calisthenics opens the door to personal empowerment.