woman working out

Essential Nutrients for Performance Recovery

A quick recovery after exercise is essential to being ready to go for the next workout. With COVID winding down and consumers back to the gym and sports activities, products that include the right nutrients to support their efforts will be especially appealing. 


Nutrients associated with exercise recovery include:

  • Protein 
  • Amino acids
  • Fluids
  • Electrolytes 

Exercise Recovery a Key Factor in Performance

The changing habits of active consumers in response to the COVID lockdowns have made it challenging for sports nutrition companies to understand and respond to consumers’ new needs. While a number of sports nutrition trends have been emerging, we are now seeing renewed efforts by active consumers to prioritize fitness.

Gyms, in-person workout classes, and team sports are back in session, making it easy for consumers to get active again. As consumers return to the physical activities they’ve been missing, sports nutrition products that can help them reduce soreness and fatigue and speed recovery so they can return to their prior performance levels will be important. Recovery is a major driver of performance and relies on the availability of key nutrients in the body.

Muscle Recovery: Protein and Amino Acids

Protein is a critical nutrient in supporting muscle recovery after exercise. Intense resistance or endurance exercise can speed protein breakdown, which can lead to prolonged muscle soreness and fatigue post-workout unless sufficient protein is made available to the body. The presence of high-quality protein provides the amino acids needed to support the process of muscle protein synthesis and enhance net protein balance.

woman with water bottle

Alternatively, amino acids can be added to muscle recovery products—for example, for use in a non-protein formula like a fasting workout beverage or to boost amino acid levels in a protein formula. Amino acids are also absorbed by the body faster than protein. The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)—leucine, isoleucine, and valine—are especially valuable, as they’re metabolized directly by the muscle, unlike other amino acids. Research that shows leucine is actually involved in triggering the protein synthesis process has made leucine popular as a superstar ingredient for muscle recovery products.

Hydration: Fluids and Electrolytes

Proper hydration, which includes sufficient water and electrolytes, is also essential to exercise recovery. Not only does being in a state of dehydration slow the rate of muscle repair, but it also leads to fatigue. Both of these effects tax the body and hinder recovery, which can impact future performance.

man and woman sitting after running

The loss of water and electrolytes during exercise occurs primarily from sweating, with a typical loss of about one liter of fluid per hour of exercise. Workouts in hot environments or of high intensity or long duration can raise this figure significantly. Electrolytes, including sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, play key roles in maintaining fluid balance, which is why they’re an indispensable part of proper hydration. 

Ingredients that Perform

Sports nutrition companies have a great opportunity to tap into the current resurgence in exercise. And with consumers more health-conscious than ever due to COVID, science-backed ingredients that deliver results will get noticed. To make sports nutrition products that meet consumers’ needs for performance and recovery support, learn more about our portfolio of sports performance proteins, bioactive ingredients, and custom premix solutions.

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