Best supplements for exercise recovery, according to a nutritionist 

Man crossing the finish line in a marathon

Let’s face it, exercising is hard! Whether you strength train, engage in cardio or challenge your flexibility with yoga, the best reward you can give your body after a tough workout is time to rest and recover. Exercise recovery is your body’s time to recharge – it’s a vital part of training to restore energy, replenish fluids and repair muscles to set you up for bigger gains next time around. So, what can you do to make sure you’re getting the most out of your recovery? Along with drinking plenty of fluids and getting a good night’s rest, you can take certain supplements. Here are 5 that we recommend. 

1. Ashwagandha  

While exercise has obvious benefits, it also puts stress on your body—and without proper recovery, it can increase cortisol, your main stress hormone. If your cortisol levels stay elevated, it can prolong the recovery phase and increase your risk of injury.1 Ashwagandha, an ancient root that’s long been used to manage stress, may help with this issue by keeping your cortisol under control, supporting your recovery—especially when you’re feeling physically tense after a tough workout.2,3  

2. Astaxanthin 

Inflammation and free radicals (substances that can damage your cells in high concentration) naturally occur after exercise, contributing to muscle growth, but too much inflammation can be hard on your body.4 Astaxanthin, an antioxidant that gives salmon and shrimp their distinctive pink color, may help protect cells from free radicals and promote a healthy inflammatory response, helping to repair your tissues after an intense session.5 

3. Phytoplankton 

Phytoplankton is a microalgae powerhouse packed with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids and enzymes – including Superoxide Dismutase (SOD). SOD is an antioxidant enzyme that occurs naturally in your body, helping to protect your cells from free radicals after exercise.6,7 

4. Water & electrolytes 

Staying hydrated is always essential, but it’s especially important with exercise. When you sweat, you lose water and electrolytes, minerals that play a vital role in your body. If you’re not rehydrating during recovery, you’re not going to perform your best next time you’re at the gym.8 In fact, low levels can lead to nasty health effects like muscle cramps, dizziness and even irregular heartbeat.9 If you’re doing serious, sweaty workout sessions, take care to replenish your electrolytes. Fruit smoothies, coconut water and sports hydration packs are all good options.  

5. L-theanine 

Whether you’re an athlete, a fitness enthusiast or just starting to run your first mile, your body needs sleep. Regular shuteye is vital to recovery because it allows your body to rest and recharge the energy it spent during the day. If your eyes are shutting in the middle of your workout, you won’t perform your best and you may increase your risk of injury. L-Theanine is an amino acid with powerful antioxidant properties that protects cells from exercise-related free radical damage,11 and may also reduce sleep latency, the time it takes you to fall asleep.12  

To learn about the 5 best nutrients to support your muscles, watch:

About Sonya 

Sonya has a bachelor’s degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Diego State University. Before Persona, Sonya worked as a personal nutritionist and health educator where she coached hundreds of clients to empower them with knowledge about their own health status, as well as coach them to create healthy and sustainable lifestyle habits. 

Do you have questions on how you may benefit from supplements? Reach out to one of our experts, or take Persona’s free nutrition assessment, and learn exactly what you need to take your wellness to the next level.   

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.   
This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.   


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  2. Lopresti AL, Smith SJ, et al. An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somifera) extract: A randomized double-bling, placebo-controlled study. 2016 Sept;98(37):e17186. doi 10.1097/MD.0000000000017186. PMID 31517876. 
  3. Wankhede S, Langade D, et all. Examining the effects of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. 2015 Nov; 12:43. doi: 10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9. PMID 26609282. 
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  5. Brown DR, Gough LA, Deb SK, Sparks SA, McNaughton LR. Astaxanthin in exercise metabolism, performance and recovery: a review. Front Nutr. 2018;0.
  6. Sharp M, Sahin K, et all. Phytoplankton Supplementation Lowers Muscle Damage and Sustains Performance across Repeated Exercise Bouts in Humans and Improves Antioxidant Capacity in a Mechanistic Animal. 2020 Jul; 12(7)L1900. DOI: 10.3390/nu12071990. PMID: 32635494. 
  7. Sharp M, Sahin K. Marine Phytoplankton Improves Exercise Recover in Humans and Activated Repair Mechanisms in Rats. 2021 Nov;42(12):1070-1082. doi: 10.1055/a-1320-1061. PMID: 33352600 
  8. Maughan RJ, Meyer NL. Hydration during intense exercise training. 2013;76:25-37. doi: 10.1159/000350225. PMID: 23899752 
  9. Zorbas YG, Kakurin VJ, et al. Fluid and salt supplementation effects on body hydration and electrolyte homeostasis during bed rest and ambulation. 2002 Jun;50(12):765-74. doi: 10.1016/s0094-5765(02)00012-7. PMID: 12053941 
  10. Paiva L, Lima E, Motta M, Marcone M, Baptista J. Variability of antioxidant properties, catechins, caffeine, L-theanine and other amino acids in different plant parts of Azorean Camellia sinensis. Curr Res Food Sci. 2020 Aug 15;3:227-234. doi: 10.1016/j.crfs.2020.07.004. PMID: 33426532; PMCID: PMC7782930. 
  11. Vitale KC, Owens R, et all. Sleep Hygiene for Optimizing Recovery in Athletes: Review and Recommendations. 2019; 40(08): 535-543. DOI: 10.1055/a-0905-3103

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