The last few months of the coronavirus pandemic have changed our schedules and habits in more ways than we can count. And now, as restrictions begin to lift, it’s time to reevaluate seemingly every aspect of daily life—and adjust your supplement regimen accordingly.
Whether you’re ramping your exercise routine back up, (re)adjusting to a sleep schedule, or wanting to support your immune system amidst increased contact with the rest of the world, keep these supplement considerations in mind.
1. Revamp Your Sports Nutrition Game
If you’re back at the gym and finally face-to-face with your favorite machines or participating in socially-distanced classes, consider the effects of your increased activity on your supplement routine.
“Recovery supplements are key for making progress when starting an exercise routine again,” says The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Karen Cooney, R.D. “Worn-down muscles get injured very easily.”
To support recovery, consider adding BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) to your stack. “BCAAs are essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein and are needed for strength and recovery,” Cooney explains. Since your body cannot produce them on its own, you have to get them through food or supplements.
Another top priority: upping your protein intake. “A post-workout protein shake reduces muscle breakdown and supports muscle mass gains,” says Cooney. For a quick refuel, make your own shake with protein powder (Cooney recommends plnt brand Plant-Based Protein Powder) or pick up a pre-made grab-and-go option.
Read More: 9 Easy Ways To Increase Your Protein Intake
For bonus points, also consider adding collagen to the mix. “Collagen helps to build and repair ligaments, tendons, tissues, and cartilage that are stressed during exercise,” Cooney explains. “Collagen replenishment is the key to maintaining an active lifestyle as we age.”
2. Continue With Certain Immune-Boosters
Did you add a vitamin D supplement to your routine during quarantine? You might see a little more sun these days, but that doesn’t mean you should stop going the extra mile for your immune health.
“Vitamin D has so many benefits beyond just boosting immunity,” says Cooney. Lower levels of D3 affect your levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin and, therefore, your mood. For that reason, Cooney recommends continuing to supplement with 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 right now.
Read More: 7 Signs You Have A Vitamin D Deficiency
It’s also a good time to add a probiotic supplement to your diet. After all, “seventy percent of the immune system resides in your gut,” Cooney says. “Probiotics nourish your gut with good bacteria, which crowd out bad bacteria and make it difficult for diseases to thrive.”
3. Don’t Sleep On Nighttime Supplements
If quarantine seriously screwed with your sleep schedule, getting back to your usual bedtime may be difficult as daily life begins to shift into a new normal. The right supplements can help smooth the transition.
“Magnesium powder in a glass of water before bed, for example, can be very relaxing and calming,” says Cooney. The mineral relaxes brain activity and the nervous system by reducing stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol and increasing levels of the neurotransmitter GABA. (It also eases muscle cramps and soreness, potential effects of your ramped-up workout routine.)
If stress is keeping you up at night, there’s another supplement to try. “If your nervous system is on total overload, I would really consider CBD,” Cooney says. In addition to warding off cortisol, CBD also helps your body regulate its sleep/wake cycles, so you feel alert during the day and relaxed come sundown. Cooney recommends a CBD product formulated with additional ingredients that promote relaxation and sleep, like chamomile or melatonin.
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