A Dancer’s Guide to the Best Supplements for Muscle Recovery

Hey there, Dancer. Before we deep dive into the best supplements for muscle recovery, I want you to imagine this: 

You’ve just woken up and reaching for your phone to silence the alarm is enough to let you know that last night’s spotlight class has left you *incredibly sore.* 

You get up and take a hot shower, drink some water, have a protein shake, pack your dance bag, and limp your way to your audition. You might even gripe a bit about how you did everything you could to help your muscles recover but alas, here you are: 

Sore, tired, and wishing you didn’t have to whack your face at 10 A.M. 

Now imagine you’re scrolling on Instagram after tell your friend how sore you are and you see and ad, “The best supplements for muscle recovery!” 

The ad pitches you on a few powders and a couple pills that are packed with antioxidants that will leave you more energized and will extend the benefits of your workouts! A great kickstart to your day! Some users have even seen a drop in weight!

And what’s even better? They’re on sale! 20% off a three month supply!

Tempting, right?

Well, before you click the “purchase” button on that ad, why don’t you keep reading. 

Because what if I told you there were supplements you could add into your diet that could help your muscles recover? 

No they aren’t miracle pills and powders. But they are scientifically proven to help with protein synthesis, muscle accretion, inflammation, and beyond. 

You see, here at Dancers Who Lift, we emphasize the importance of establishing a consistent, nutritious diet before adding in supplements. We encourage our dance athletes to get as many of their nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins through whole foods first, then supplement where needed. 

But the reality is, there are certain supplements that can have a massive impact on your training, and those are what we are going to discuss today!

But before we reveal the best supplements for muscle recovery, let’s define what a supplement is. 

For the purposes of what we are discussing today, a supplement is anything you consume to support your daily nutritional needs that is not “real food.” 

For example, protein powder. Yes, you are mixing it into a shake with real foods, but the powder itself is a supplement. 

Even Vitamin C or your morning daily vitamin are supplements because they supplement your diet to help your body perform at it’s best.

Got it?

Let’s dive in.

 

 

personal training for dancers

 

 

  • Protein

You might have chuckled when I mentioned protein powder earlier because it is such a common supplement it almost feels normal. After all, you can consume enough protein in a day to forgo the need for a protein shake. 

But when you are trying to be as consistent as possible about hitting your protein goals, a protein supplement like a whey powder or premixed shake can be hugely helpful.

The protein needs of dancers are demanding and learning how to eat enough protein daily can require a bit of a learning curve. 

 Help yourself out with a protein powder than can be eaten at any time of day and get you closer to reaching your protein goals!

 

  • Creatine Monohydrate

For a long time people thought that creatine was only for the bros and the body builders. 

But the truth is, creatine is insanely beneficial to all types of athletes. And is definitely one of the best supplements for muscle recovery.

What’s more, creatine is the most extensively studied supplement on the market and scientists have found no adverse affects to using creatine daily. In fact, they’ve only found benefits!

Creatine has been shown to increase muscle accretion, support muscle recovery, hyper-hydrate on an intracellular level, AND it’s been shown to increase brain cognition in female athletes!

And while Creatine Monohydrate is found in protein rich meats and fish like pork, beef, and salmon you’d have to eat pounds of those foods to gain enough creatine to reep the benefits. 

That’s why we recommend a high quality creatine monohydrate supplement for our dancers. 

Because who doesn’t want increased muscle growth and faster muscle recovery?

 

  • Fiber Rich Foods & Why you might want to rethink your supplement. 

Okay, Okay, you caught me. Fiber rich foods are not a supplement. They are in fact a food! But they are incredibly important. These foods give your body the antioxidants and support it needs to function efficiently and healthily.

Now,  you might be thinking, “but what if I take a greens powder?” 

We will do a deep dive into greens powders another day. But for today let’s talk about this from a nutritional standpoint. 

If you are consistently eating high amounts of vegetables and leafy greens, you likely don’t need an antioxidant/greens powder supplement. 

In fact, studies have shown that over doing it in the area of antioxidanct supplements (like high-dose vitamin c and e supplements) can actually inhibit muscle growth and recovery. 

That same study suggested that consuming these antioxidants via whole foods in our diet is much much more beneficial. 

So, is it a supplement? No. But most people are not eating enough fiber rich foods and vegetables, so I’m going to say, supplement your diet by adding these foods!

(However, if veggies and greens totally give you the ick. Talk to your coach or health professional about whether or not a greens supplement could be beneficial for you.)

 

  • BCAAs – But not how you think!

BCAAs are one of the first supplements to populate when you google “best supplements for muscle recovery.”

And it’s true, BCAAs do support muscle recovery. However, most athletes eating a well rounded nutrient rich diet don’t need a BCAA supplement. This is because BCAAs are found in most protein dense foods (yes, including the vegan/vegetarian ones). 

So you might be asking, why do people take a supplement if they are getting them from their food?

What BCAAs do well is decrease the amount of serotonin released during a workout which means you can workout harder and longer. 

But if you don’t pair your BCAAs with whey protein, athletes generally see a decrease in muscle protein synthesis a.k.a. muscle growth. 

You can read all about the pros and cons of BCAAs here

But bottom line? If you’re working hard to build muscle, maybe opt for a different pre-workout energy source like and apple or cup of coffee. 

But if you’re finding yourself struggling with stamina and recovery despite eating a balanced diet, it’s okay to give BCAAs a try for a season.

 

Let’s Recap:

I know that might seem like a short list, but truly, the best supplements for muscle recovery come from fueling your body with a well balanced, nutrient dense diet. 

Does this mean that all supplements other than this list are bad? Absolutely not. 

But it does mean that you should be wary about people trying to pitch you health supplements you might not need. 

The National Institute of Health actually has a great list of popular supplements and their efficacy listed here. 

Next time you’re being pitched the hottest new thing, go take a look. What do the experts have to say?

But until then, Dancers Who Lift is here to cut out the noise and tell you the cold hard facts. 

So, let us know if you add creatine to your diet! Let us know if a greens powder has saved your life since you abhor salads! We want to cheer you on in whatever goal you’re striving for. 

You’ve got this!

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