What Post-Workout Supplements Should I Take?

By Harris Wheless
Victor Freitas

After running for half an hour on the treadmill, or doing a few dozen reps with a dumb bell, you probably feel relieved, exhausted, and a bit sore. It’s tempting to just stretch a little and head home or hit the shower, but if you make a habit of that you might find your body in a worse state when you return to the gym.

The post workout recovery period is an essential component of any good fitness routine. It gives your body the chance to cool down properly so you can be ready to go the next time around. Post-workout supplements can promote muscle growth and recovery, as well as strengthen the immune system, which is important for long term fitness. Here’s our list of the five best supplements to take after a workout so you can recover better, set higher goals, and break more barriers.

Post-workout supplements for exercise and training recovery

  • Creatine Monohydrate—This substance can be found naturally in the muscles and brain. It is best-suited for short-lasting, high intensity activities and comes in many different forms: powder, tablets, energy bars, and more. Creatine is safe to consume and can enhance muscle building, help with muscle recovery, and improve strength.
  • Eucalyptus oil—This essential oil is one of many, including peppermint oil and lemon oil, which has the potential to aid recovery and help you bounce back quicker after a workout. Eucalyptus oil comes from the eucalyptus trees that are native to Australia, and can be used as a remedy for a variety of health issues. After a workout, it may help ease joint or muscle pain and reduce inflammation so your body can repair and ready itself for the next day.
  • CBD—The cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from hemp, marijuana’s low-THC counterpart, and can be used as an alternative treatment for common ailments like anxiety and insomnia. CBD is also used as a wellness supplement for athletes or active individuals that enjoy running, weight lifting, and yoga. CBD products have shown great benefits for pain management and muscle recovery due to their analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)—“Branched chain” refers to the chemical structure of BCAAs, which are a popular wellness supplement usually sold as protein powders. They are dairy free and gluten free, and can be found in protein-rich foods like eggs and meat. Taking BCAAs can result in reduced inflammation and muscle soreness, and allow you to bounce back quickly from a tough workout.
  • Whey protein—This is one of the two proteins found in milk, and is considered a complete protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids. Whey protein can aid in weight loss, improve muscle protein synthesis, and promote the growth of lean muscle mass. The amino acids in the protein are well-suited to help you build muscle and recover faster after a workout.

How to choose the supplement that’s right for you

Whatever form of exercise you’re doing may put stress on specific parts of the body, which your recovery routine should address accordingly. Some supplements are better than others for providing certain forms of relief. Listen to your body and locate what part of it is sore or needs attention. Some topical supplements can be rubbed onto the skin to treat localized pain, while others that are ingested and go into the bloodstream may have a more whole-body effect.

Many of the supplements we’ve recommended come in different forms, including powder, oil, topicals, capsules, and more. Whey protein and other protein supplements are very common in powder form, while Eucalyptus oil often comes as you’d expect it to—as an oil. CBD can be inhaled with a vape, taken sublingually as CBD oil, or rubbed onto your skin. If you’re thinking about using CBD as a post-workout supplement, consider application method and how fast-acting and long-lasting the product is.

Regardless of what supplement you choose to start taking after your workout, take the time to think about what your body needs and how you can help yourself recover. Ask a doctor or trainer about the most effective way to incorporate a supplement into your fitness routine. Feel free to test out different brands and products to find what your body responds best to.

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