You’re using supplements or steroid-like substances to help you bulk up fast. You’re seeing nice results, but are worried about how to help your body manage cycling. What are the best supplements for post-cycle recovery (PCR)?
The best supplements for post-cycle recovery include whole foods rich in natural fats, leafy greens, turmeric, plant-based protein, and select vitamins. While all of these are helpful, it’s important to balance out naturally sourced supplements with a healthy lifestyle for optimal recovery.
Keep reading to understand the best ways to help your body heal after a dosing cycle, how to combine natural and man-made supplements carefully, and what to avoid when you’re in recovery.
What Does My Body Need During PCR?
When your body is recovering from the effects of muscle-boosting supplements, it’s important to consider what these substances have been doing to your system. Your body may be bulking up, but processing these man-made substances can put your system through the wringer.
When cycling, your body has been receiving false messages about hormone production. These cycling pills bind to testosterone receptors in your body and trick your body into thinking there’s already plenty of T in your system. As a result, natural testosterone production goes down, and your male health may suffer as a result.
As testosterone production decreases, some men experience symptoms like
- Hair loss
- Feminine breast tissue growth
- Shrinking of external sex organs
- Lower sperm count
Offsetting these effects is an important part of recovery.
Your liver is also working overtime to process the artificial components of bulking drugs, and long-term cycling can do serious damage to your liver. Making sure your liver gets plenty of time to recover and keeping this vital organ healthy is an important part of PCR.
Finally, your muscles are likely to experience inflammation during a cycle. Inflammation can also impact heart tissue and the nervous system, leading to cardiac health concerns and mental health issues, both of which are serious.
So making sure that your body has the resources and time to recover from a cycle is important to your long-term health. Remember, there is no sense in bulking up if you’re not alive to enjoy the benefits. So how long should your recovery period last?
How Long Should PCR Last?
When allowing your body to recover from a 6 to 8 week cycle, we suggest a further 6 to 8 weeks of recovery time. This break from dosing allows your organs to get some relief, helps your body recalibrate itself, and lets you build back strength and testosterone levels naturally.
Just because your body is muscular doesn’t mean it’s healthy. The invisible long-term effects of dosing can be hazardous, and PCR periods help your body do its best in the long run while allowing you to bulk more safely.
While some bodybuilders might balk at a 6 to 8 week recovery time, it’s important to understand that your body needs time and space to recover from the sped-up effects of powerful steroids and steroid-like drugs. The more time you give the body to heal naturally, the better your health will be. So why do you need supplements, anyway? Can’t the body just heal on its own?
Why Does My Body Need Supplements To Recover?
Treating your body with natural supplements after a cycle helps to balance out the effects of doping. You see, doping does more than just increase muscle mass. It tricks your body into lower T production, impacts your excretory and nervous system, and enlarges sensitive muscle tissues all over the body.
Simply leaving your system to heal or fend for itself after a cycle can be risky. Your body’s hurting, to some degree, and needs treatment and healthy supplements to help counterbalance the effects of the cycle.
If you’re sleep-deprived from driving all night, simply exiting the car and watching TV won’t cut it. You need sleep and lots of it. Similarly, a body that’s been cycling needs more than just an absence of drugs to recover. It needs a healing dose of natural vitamins, minerals, and supplements, rest, and special care.
The balance of your organ systems has been thrown out of whack, and it’ll take more than just a break from dosing to help recover your health. So what are the best supplements for post-cycle recovery, and how do they work?
Testosterone Boosting Plays A Role in PCR
The most important supplements to consider are those that will help your testosterone levels recover naturally. The doping you’ve been benefiting from as far as gains have possibly shut down your natural testosterone production.
This leaves your sperm count low, may cause hair loss, and can interfere with mental health and sleep patterns. Getting your T levels back up without shocking your body is important. And one of the best remedies for low T is sleep.
It’s simple, but your male body works best when it has plenty of rest. Allowing yourself to get at least 8 hours a night lets your endocrine system kick back into gear and release healthy doses of T into your body overnight. With no more drugs blocking and tricking testosterone receptors, your body can ease back into natural hormone production quickly.
Going the natural route with diet and natural supplements is safest here. How can you make this simpler and safer?
Natural Testosterone Boosters Are Safest
A natural diet also plays a key role in boosting testosterone levels. Vitamin supplements can also help (and we’ll cover those), but we suggest relying mainly on a healthy diet of whole foods to boost testosterone again. Such foods include
- Fatty fish like tuna and salmon
- Whole grains
- Leafy greens (like kale and spinach)
Note that this is a diet of whole, minimally processed foods cooked at home. Olive oil, butter, and peanut oil should be used to cook food, and you’ll want to avoid refined sugar, junk food, fast food, and artificial ingredients.
Another natural and safe testosterone booster is gentle exercise and time spent in nature. Sometimes the best supplements for post-cycle recovery can be non-dietary. Go for a walk or a hike, visit a National Park, or play some disk golf. De-stressing can also boost testosterone naturally, and a lack of stress will help your body recover from the cycle faster.
Interestingly, some studies have linked yoga and meditation with healthy hormone levels, so you may want to give these a try, too. Even time spent quietly vegging out in the backyard with a book or some relaxing music can do wonders.
If you want to use natural vitamins to help your system recover, we suggest modest doses of
- Vitamin D
Don’t go overboard with these. One capsule every 1 to 2 days should be enough for a natural and stress-free recovery. The biggest tools in your arsenal will be healthy eating, rest, exercise, and less stress.
Another important factor to consider is aromatase inhibitors. What are these, and how can you use them to help in PCR?
Aromatase Inhibitors Can Help With PCR
Aromatase inhibitors help lower estrogen levels in the body by preventing enzymes in fat tissue from creating estrogen. Some cycling agents can increase estrogen levels, leading to feminizing characteristics which can be embarrassing, or harmful to male health.
Allowing your hormones to stay out of balance can affect reproductive health and bone health, and may adversely impact the nervous system, too. The best supplements for post-cycle recovery will help target estrogen as well, and lower it to safer levels.
During recovery, if the agent you’ve been using has been linked to estrogen production, allow your body to recalibrate itself with some natural aromatase inhibitors. These include
- Ground Flaxseed
- Organic Tofu
Vitamin supplements to help naturally lower estrogen levels include
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin E
Continuing on the same diet and lifestyle that allows testosterone levels to naturally increase will also help push estrogen levels down to a healthy level. Again, plenty of deep sleep and moderate exercise are key here. You’ll also want to reduce alcohol consumption, quit smoking (if you do smoke), and reduce stress.
While looking after hormonal health is vital for your recovery period, there’s another body system to be concerned about; your liver.
Does Liver Health Play A Role in PCR?
Liver health can sometimes get overlooked during post-cycle recovery, but it’s unspeakably important. You see, your liver works overtime to process the artificial components of the cycling agents you’ve been on. Your liver knows what to do with food, water, and juice, but struggles to process artificial or especially dense materials.
Cycling long-term has been linked to a variety of serious liver problems including reduced liver efficiency, cysts, tumors, and eventual failure of the organ. This is seen especially in athletes who have been dosing / cycling for decades, and who use androgenic anabolic steroids to bulk up.
Even relatively “safe” modern bulking materials can cause problems if used long-term. So what can you do to take care of your liver in between cycles?
Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption for one thing. Alcohol puts extra stress on the liver, and cutting beer, wine, or harder stuff out of your routine will be a great help to your body. The traditional Chinese herb bupleurum, legumes, and nuts are excellent for liver health, and moderate coffee or green tea consumption has also been linked to a healthy liver.
Ideally, the healthiest thing you can do for your liver is to forgo cycling all together and opt for a healthy diet, rest, and consistent exercise to bulk up naturally. Even post-cycle recovery periods can’t undo all of the damage your liver may endure through cycling. The safest option is to let go of all doping agents for good.
Another supplement regimen which may help you is anti-inflammatories. Why do you need these, and how might they help you recover?
Should I Be On Anti-Inflammatories?
When you’re cycling, the extreme and speed-up muscle growth triggered by agents is going to cause some tissue inflammation. Not just in your arm or leg muscles, but throughout the body. Your heart is a muscle, too, and inflammation of the heart can lead to poor health, exhaustion, or an eventual heart attack. This is especially true for those who cycle long-term.
Heart attacks are one of the scariest health issues linked to cycling. Though many in the lifting community assume that this tends to affect older bodybuilders, even younger men can suffer serious cardiac issues when dosing.
So how can you reduce this inflammation during recovery? Some of the most potent and safest ways to help bring down inflammation are with herbs and natural whole foods. Our favorites include
- Turmeric powder
- Fatty Fish (like Tuna and Salmon)
- Spinach and Collard Greens
As you may have noticed, some of the foods that keep surfacing again and again are fatty fish, leafy greens, and nuts. These are fantastic things to add to your diet year-round and can boost your health naturally. The less reliant on cycling your body is, the safer and more healthy your fitness journey will be.
Allowing your body to recover after a dosing cycle is vital. Your liver, heart, muscles, and endocrine system all take a hit, and allowing your body to recalibrate and heal is key. Following a 6 to 8 week cycle, another 6 to 8 weeks of recovery is recommended.
The best supplements for post-cycle recovery are going to be natural, and easy on your body. Choose whole foods like fatty fish, eggs, leafy greens, legumes, nuts, and beef to help rebalance hormone levels. Turmeric and oranges can help fight inflammation, while Chinese bupleurum and eliminating alcohol consumption can help the liver heal.
The healthiest way to bulk up is to forgo cycling entirely in favor of a healthy diet rich in whole foods. Getting plenty of sleep, doing yoga, and getting out in nature can help, too. Eliminate refined sugars, cut out alcohol, and reduce stress to gain muscle mass naturally.
Gary David is the founder and CEO of CrazyMass, one of the nation’s leading supplement companies. Before starting CrazyMass in 2006, Gary was a bodybuilder and personal trainer for several gyms throughout Northwest Michigan, helping clients meet their fitness goals. Gary happily worked in this profession for over 15 years. He saw that most weight gaining products to increase muscle were made with ingredients that were dangerous or of poor quality. He knew there was a safer and healthier way to do this, so he created a special blend of herbs, amino acids, and nutrients to help bodybuilders slim down and gain muscle.
Although Gary no longer participates in bodybuilding competitions, he continues to be involved in the community, helping others prep for shows and attending events where he can advertise CrazyMass products. When Gary isn’t working long hours, he likes to spend his time working out at the gym, boating on Lake Michigan, traveling the trails around Northern Michigan by four-wheeler, and spending time with his family. He also loves to take a yearly trip to Europe with his wife and children.