What's The Best Post Workout Supplement?

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Upon completion of your workout, what is the most important supplement to consume besides protein/amino acids? Pure Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C). While most Americans understand the importance of Pure Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) in their diet for a strong immune system, most don’t understand why you would consume it with your post workout supplements.

Let’s step back for a second. When you are lifting weights, your ultimate goal is to break down muscle fiber or cause "microtramas" to the muscle fiber. These "microtramas" are the reason you will eventually achieve your physical goals (whether speed development, body fat reduction, strength or muscle mass gains). When you are lifting effectively, your body is in a "catabolic" state.

Bodybuilding.com explains:

A Catabolic state is the breaking down of complex molecules into smaller ones. As it relates to bodybuilding, catabolism is the breaking down of muscle tissue.

To attain your lifting goals, we want to make the workout as stressful on the muscle fibers as possible. Many factors like load, intensity, recovery time, etc. can enhance the stress response and produce cortisol (stress hormone). Cortisol works with you during your workout, causing enhanced "microtramas".

Cortisol is your best friend during your lift, it's your enemy upon completion of your workout. Cortisol will continue to be produced following your workout. While most people understand the importance of consuming protein/amino acids post workout, they don’t understand that their body is not yet in a state ready to repair the muscle fiber. You need to stop the cortisol production to repair muscle fiber. For this reason, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is the most important post workout supplement.

How does ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) help stop cortisol production? adrenalfatiguerecovery.com explains:

The highest concentration of vitamin C in the body is stored in the adrenal glands.

Vitamin C is utilized by the adrenal glands in the production of all of the adrenal hormones, most notably cortisol. When you are faced with a stressful situation, your vitamin C is rapidly used up in the production of cortisol and related stress-response hormones.

In adrenal fatigue, your adrenal glands "panic" when they don't have enough vitamin C available, and, in what seems like an odd paradox, they release MORE cortisol. This not only increases your immediate anxiety, but as this state of high cortisol is prolonged, it wreaks havoc on your blood sugar, blood pressure, and contributes to the dreaded accumulation of belly fat.

What does the research say?

PoliquinGroup writes:

For example, a study published last year in the European Journal of Applied Physiology tested the effect of giving physically active men 800 mg of vitamin C for six weeks and perform a session of high-intensity shuttle running for 90 minutes. Results showed that the vitamin C produced lower cortisol levels post-workout than a placebo group, and the vitamin C group cleared cortisol much more rapidly with significantly lower cortisol at 1 hour of recovery.

Other studies show similar effects of vitamin C as an anti-catabolic supplement:

A 2008 study had untrained men take 1,000 mg of vitamin C pre-workout and do 30 minutes of moderate exercise. Post-workout cortisol levels declined much faster than a placebo group and the effect was evident immediately after exercise, and at 2 and 24 hours post-workout.

Another 2008 study had trained men take 1,500 mg of vitamin C for 8 days and perform 120 minutes of cycling at moderate speed in a humid, 93-degree environment. Cortisol response was 57 percent lower after exercise in the vitamin C group compared to a placebo.

A 2006 study tested the effect of giving 1,000 mg of vitamin C a day for two weeks to trained men who performed a 2.5 hour run at 60 percent of maximal. Cortisol was significantly lower post-workout than a placebo group.

Another benefit of taking a large dose of vitamin C daily is that over time it will also elevate testosterone. Human studies into the effect are sparse, but two recent studies show vitamin C supplementation for 30 days can improve testosterone levels in diabetic rats. Testosterone is typically very low in diabetics, and in one studies, the vitamin C totally restored testosterone levels and the rats recovered normal reproductive function. In the other, vitamin C partially restored testosterone and reproduction.

What are you to do?

So instead of taking your Vitamin C at breakfast, put the bottle in your workout bag, and take an elevated amount (800-1,500mg following a challenging workout) to stop cortisol production and assist in restoring your testosterone levels while accomplishing your original goal, stronger immunity.

I personally use Thorne Pure Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) because of the product being pharmaceutical grade. If you would like to take advantage of 10% off of our products follow the steps below:


Go to shop.lifetimefitness.com

  1. Enter your name and password from your myLT profile, (if you have not set up an account, simply create a new account)
  2. Search: ascorbic acid or vitamin c.
  3. Select ascorbic acid or vitamin c
  4. Click on the “my autoships”
  5. Enter Trainer ID “ 10963 “ to receive an additional 10% off your purchase.


Steven Zahn

ACE Certified Personal Trainer

NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Pre and Post Partum Certified

Dragondoor Publications: HKC Russian Kettlebell Certified

Steve Zahn
Experienced fitness trainer with multiple certifications helping his clients become the happiest and healthiest versions of themselves every day.
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