Wolverine is an assassin, very strong and very stubborn. But his greatest asset is his ability to recover from basically any injury. Hell, Wolverine even survived being incinerated at some point. That image up there? Yeah, he came back from that. Naturally, us regular people can’t do that. But what we can do is help our body heal. Especially after your latest workout at the gym or after a marathon or after fighting a supervillain. And here’s how you do that.
The recovery process actually starts way before the workout. We’ll just use the workout as an example, substitute any kind of exercise or strain you like. Also, this might be a good time for a disclaimer:
What you’re going to read here is medically sound and documented by studies (see Sources below), but there’s a chance of it going wrong, because no two human bodies are exactly the same. So should you experience side-effects or pain, stop the exercise immediately. If the symptoms keep occuring, seek medical help. If you’re on any kind of medication, please consult your doctor before doing anything mentioned here.
Now with that out of the way, let’s get back to the time of…
Long before your workout – Two days before it, actually.
- Relax. Take a hot bath. – two days before an arduous Workout, have a hot bath. 20 minutes at 41° C (Touchberry, et al., 2012)
- Take antioxidants – Green tea catechins and N-acetyl-cystein. Both are powerful antioxidants, they reduce muscle soreness and they’re awesome for your health. (Kerksick, Kreider, & Willoughby, 2010)
- Eat fish or supplement with fish oil – This will allow you to move better and you’ll end up being less sore. Bascially, fish oil’s grease for your muscles (Tartibian, Maleki, & Abbasi, 2009)
An hour before you work out
- Take branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) – Consuming five to ten grams of BCAA before and after a workout. This protects your muscles from damage and breakdown, resulting in better recovery (Negro, Giardina, Marzani, & Marzatico, 2008)
What follows now is the workout or the fight against the bad guys. Don’t forget to strike a pose. This has no medical value whatsoever, but it makes you look and feel badass. It’s also great for morale.
Right after the workout
- Have a cold shower or a cold bath – two immersions for five minutes in cold water alleviate muscle soreness (Higgins, Cameron, & Climstein, 2013)
- Drink a protein shake – Have around 30 grams of whey protein
- Make the shake more awesome using the following extra ingredients (This also makes it more tasty!)
- Frozen berries – for protein ice cream and muscle glycogen stores! Glycogen is basically energy for your muscles, also a form of the often bedevilled carbohydrates.
- Frozen mango – In order to modulate blood glucose (Lucas, et al., 2011). This keeps your blood sugar low.
- Glutamine – Glutamine helps your muscles to get that glycogen (Bowtell, et al., 1999)
- Another shot of BCAA – Leucine as an even more anabolic agent (Koopman, et al., 2005). In layman’s terms: This makes your muscles grow. Add Isoleucine as a repartitioning agent (Morato, et al., 2013) and valine, well, valine’s there too. Isoleucine makes sure your blood sugar will not be stored as fat but as glycogen – remember, one of the fuels for your muscles.
- Phosphatidylserine – lower cortisol and greater testosterone:cortisol-ratio (Starks, Starks, Kingsley, Purpura, & Jäger, 2008). This lowers stress on your body significantly. If you want this in food, go for fish. Not fish sticks, but salmon and tuna and the like.
Later this evening
- Take another hot bath, loaded with magnesium chloride. As an alternative, apply magnesium oil directly onto your skin. The oil doesn’t smell, but gets nice and warm on your skin.
- 30 grams of casein protein in a tasty shake with 5 grams of leucine added for greater muscle growth than with just the casein alone (Norton, Wilson, Layman, Moulton, & Garlick, 2012)
- Eat and sleep! There is nothing more important than providing your body enough raw material and time to repair itself! This means that you should have at least a good night’s rest and eat around two grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
Attention: This does not give you a freeway ticket to gluttony, but get your adequate intake of energy and protein. To figure out just how many calories you need, you can use this handy formula.
- Women: 655.1 + 9.5663 x weight in kg + 1.85 x height in cm – 4.676 x age
- Men: 66.5 + 13.75 x weight in kg + 5.003 x height in cm – 6.775 x age
Then, multiply your result with your appropriate activity factor to get the amount of calories you need:
- 1.2 (little or no exercise and desk job)
- 1.375 (light amount of exercise, 1-3 days per week)
- 1.55 (moderate amount of exercise, 3-5 days per week)
- 1.725 (high amount of exercise, 6-7 days per week)
- 1.9 (high amount of exercise and physical job)
- Bowtell, J. L., Gelly, K., Jackman, M. L., Patel, A., Simeoni, M., & Rennie, M. J. (June 1999). Effect of oral glutamine on whole body carbohydrate storage during recovery from exhaustive exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, S. 1770-1777.
- Higgins, T., Cameron, M. L., & Climstein, M. (January 2013). Acute response to hydrotherapy after a simulated game of rugby. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
- Kerksick, C. M., Kreider, R. B., & Willoughby, D. S. (June 2010). Intramuscular adaptations to eccentric exercise and antioxidant supplementation. Amino Acids, S. 219-232.
- Koopman, R., Wagenmakers, A. J., Manders, R. J., Zorenc, A. H., Senden, J. M., Gorselink, M., . . . van Loon, L. J. (April 2005). Combined ingestion of protein and free leucine with carbohydrate increases postexercise muscle protein synthesis in vivo in male subjects. American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism.
- Lucas, E. A., Li, W., Peterson, S. K., Brown, A., Kuvibidila, S., Perkins-Veazie, P., . . . Smith, B. J. (November 2011). Mango modulates body fat and plasma glucose and lipids in mice fed a high-fat diet. The British Journal of Nutrition, S. 1495-1505.
- Morato, P. N., Lollo, P. C., Moura, C. S., Batista, T. M., Carneiro, E. M., & Amaya-Farfan, J. (August 2013). A dipeptide and an amino acid present in whey protein hydrolysate increase translocation of GLUT-4 to the plasma membrane in Wistar rats. Food Chemistry, S. 139.
- Negro, M., Giardina, S., Marzani, B., & Marzatico, F. (September 2008). Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, S. 347-351.
- Norton, L. E., Wilson, G. J., Layman, D. K., Moulton, C. J., & Garlick, P. J. (July 2012). Leucine content of dietary proteins is a determinant of postprandial skeletal muscle protein synthesis in adult rats. Nutrition & Metabolism.
- Starks, M. A., Starks, S. L., Kingsley, M., Purpura, M., & Jäger, R. (July 2008). The effects of phosphatidylserine on endocrine response to moderate intensity exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition .
- Tartibian, B., Maleki, B. H., & Abbasi, A. (March 2009). The effects of ingestion of omega-3 fatty acids on perceived pain and external symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness in untrained men. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, S. 115-119.
- Touchberry, C. D., Gupte, A. A., Bomhoff, G. L., Graham, Z. A., Geiger, P. C., & Gallagher, P. M. (November 2012). Acute heat stress prior to downhill running may enhance skeletal muscle remodeling. Cell Stress & Caperones, S. 693-705.
- Varnier, M., Leese, G. P., Thompson, J., & Rennie, M. J. (August 1995). Stimulatory effect of glutamine on glycogen accumulation in human skeletal muscle. The American Journal of Physiology, S. 269.