All of us have experienced post-workout soreness. This is caused by both mechanical and metabolic damage to the muscles, and it can reduce exercise capacity and sap motivation, causing missed gym visits and slowing gains.
A group of researchers have coordinated the existing work that has been done into exercise induced muscle damage, looking at some solutions to speed recovery. There has been a lot of research into recovering from post-exercise muscle damage, and the authors concluded that repairing this damage using nutrition was the most convenient and accessible of the methods studied, which included physical treatments like ice bath and massage.
The authors confirmed that restoring a positive nitrogen balance through ingestion of protein as soon as possible after exercise will help the muscles repair themselves faster. It was also found that the best response was obtained when the protein source was rich in essential amino acids.
Carbohydrates were not found to be important on their own for overcoming exercise induced muscle damage, but may increase the regenerative effects of protein. This means a whey powder containing whey hydrolysate, which is a fast acting complete protein with a high bioavailability and high levels of BCAAs, could provide ideal post workout recovery nutrition, particularly a blend with some sugar content.
Antioxidant supplementation was found to have both pros and cons, but the scientists concluded that ultimately, antioxidants in normal physiological doses can be beneficial for muscle repair. Some examples they cited included ALA (Alpha Linoleic Acid), Quercetin and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Many antioxidants also have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help minimise the effects of the muscle injury.
Sometimes it is just not practical to obtain these nutrients from a food source when they are needed, and in these cases, supplementation can be a great way to get the nutrition you need to get back in action faster.
Sousa M, Teixeira VH, Soares J.Dietary strategies to recover from exercise-induced muscle damage. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2013 Nov 4.