Melatonin for Muscle Recovery
Dwayne N. Jackson, PhD
Melatonin is synthesized and released by the pineal gland in the brain and its release follows the body’s circadian rhythms (i.e., internal clock)—where it is released in abundance during the night and less so in the daytime.
Due to its association with circadian rhythms, most people consider melatonin supplements only when they are trying combat jet lag or insomnia. However, beyond its sleep-promoting effects, melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that boosts the expression and activity of a variety our natural antioxidant enzymes, including glutathione, the main intracellular antioxidant. Having a well-developed endogenous antioxidant defence system is important for athletes, especially those who limit fruit and vegetable intake, train/perform intensely multiple times per day, and/or are over the age of 40.
Recent research published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism investigated the antioxidant potential of melatonin in athletes undergoing a heavy resistance-training program. The researchers concluded that taking high dose melatonin (100 mg, 30-minutes before bed) during heavy resistance training enhances the efficiency of the endogenous antioxidant defense system and provides protection against exercise-induced oxidative damage in skeletal muscle, without adverse effects.
ACTION POINT: We generally recommend from 0.5 to 5 mg of melatonin for sleep issues and to boost growth hormone while you sleep. Research from this team suggests that taking 100 mg, 30-minutes before bed, improves circadian rhythms in athletes and promotes an increase in the body’s natural antioxidant defenses safely and without major side effects. Taken together, pre-bedtime melatonin may promote increased exercise recovery via increased protection from exercise-induced oxidative stress and better sleep patterns in athletes.
Leonardo-Mendonça RC, Ocaña-Wilhelmi J, de Haro T, de Teresa-Galván C, Guerra-Hernández E, Rusanova I, Fernández-Ortiz M, Sayed RK, Escames G, Acuña-Castroviejo D. The benefit of a supplement with the antioxidant melatonin on redox status and muscle damage in resistance-trained athletes. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2017 Feb 13.
Maximizing β-alanine’s Effects on Muscle Carnosine
β-alanine elevates muscle carnosine levels, where increased muscle carnosine promotes greater exercise performance by buffering skeletal muscle acidity during intense exercise. A recent study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise sought to determine whether there is a ceiling for carnosine accumulation in skeletal muscle following long-term (24-weeks) β-alanine supplementation. The authors also questioned whether the expected increases in muscle carnosine would correlate with changes in exercise performance.
What they found was that taking 6.4 g of β-alanine daily increased muscle carnosine at all time points up to 20 weeks, at which time elevated muscle carnosine stabilized at around 2x the concentration measured at baseline. Most importantly, this research provided the first evidence illustrating that the more muscle carnosine you have stored, the greater your exercise performance, as measured by time to exhaustion during high-intensity cycling exercise. Notably, those who received the placebo saw no change in muscle carnosine and no improvements in exercise performance.
ACTION POINT: You can reap the benefits of β-alanine with as little as 1.6 grams per day, however it will take much longer for muscle carnosine levels to peak. For best results, we recommend taking 2-3 g of β-alanine 30 minutes before training and again immediately after training.
Saunders B, Painelli VS, Oliveira LF, Silva VD, Silva RP, Riani L, Franchi M, Gonçalves LS, Harris RC, Roschel H, Artioli GG, Sale C, Gualano B. Twenty-four Weeks β-alanine Supplementation on Carnosine Content, Related Genes, and Exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016 Dec 6.