After a hard workout, your body surely deserves some TLC. But with so many post-workout supplements to choose from, how do you know which ones could work for you?
To help you decide, we asked experts to recommend some of the best supplements out there and why they’re worth considering.
Personal Trainer | Weight Loss & Wellness Coach | World Champion Powerlifter
The best post-workout supplement is whey protein
It is fast-absorbing so it will get into the muscles quickly when they are most receptive and prevent catabolism and promote muscle growth and repair.
Take it with water to rehydrate. Add some creatine for its muscle-sparing effect and some carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen that was burned during the workout and to power everything and you will be well on your way to getting all the benefits from the adaptive response to the exercise.
Related: Best Tasting Protein Powders
Dr. Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) | Team Chiropractor, Blackthorn Rugby Team |
Owner, Montgomery County Chiropractic Center
Tart Cherry Juice
It is recommended to eat a light balanced meal one hour before your workout. Any foods high in fats or simple sugars will burn off too quickly and will affect the performance of your workout. Good pre-workout food ideas include a banana, oatmeal, or trail mix.
Drink 10z of tart cherry juice to help prevent inflammation and muscle damage. Studies have shown in the Scandanavia Journal of Sports Science that post-workout can have faster recovery times with the use of tart cherry juice, and can improve isometric muscle strength.
The addition of tart cherry juice demonstrated that lipid hydroperoxides and high-sensitivity C- reactive proteins were lower in the tart cherry group vs. the placebo group.
Dr. Gregory Funk
Owner, Hope N Wellness
It’s a dietary supplement, developed by Metagenics, that is packed with 23 grams of whey protein concentrate and 16 additional grams of protein per serving.
Aside from the protein mixture, this supplement also contains 3 different BCAAs to replenish your glycogen stores and fuel your muscles for your next intense workout.
It also contains 12 additional essential amino acids, 3 non-essential amino acids, and healthy amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium to contribute to strengthening your bones.
But, it doesn’t stop there. BioPure Protein contains a high amount of immunoglobulins, which help strengthen your immune system responses and improve the health of your stomach. It’s a great supplement to build lean muscle or prevent protein deficiencies that may arise in certain diets.
We also really enjoy this product because of the transparency in their production process. Metagenics takes great pride in how they manufacture their products, and BioPure Protein is no exception.
In their sterile laboratories, they take specific care to ensure the crucial proteins don’t break down or become inactive through a selective transfer membrane process in a temperature and pH-controlled environment.
You can rest easy knowing that this protein supplement contains exactly what it claims, and nothing more or less.
Health & Fitness Doctor | Author, The 10 Biggest Workout Mistakes
With regards to Post Workout supplements, there are 5 simple rules, but #1 is the most powerful in so many ways.
The workout is when you tear the muscles down. It is the Catabolic State. The quicker you can turn off the Catabolic State and activate the Rebuild/Repair phase, the quicker your results.
It is the Rebuild and Repair phase when you Release testosterone (TT) and growth hormone (GH). The problem for so many people who perform a moderate to intense workout is that they stay in that ‘catabolic’ phase by rushing out the door, a quick shower, get cleaned up and hurry to their next appointment.
When you do that, you are keeping your body in that Catabolic (fight or flight state), breakdown phase, which postpones the Rebuild and Recovery phase.
So, take five minutes after your workout to SLOW-DOWN, do some deep breathing, and relax. This helps all those elevated Stress Hormones drop back to normal so your body can Repair and Rebuild. The quicker you can do that after a workout – the better!
After a good workout and all the pounding you did on your body, you need to calm the body down. That is what magnesium does!
Calcium signals your muscle to contract, it’s Magnesium that relaxes the muscle, it counteracts the calcium. Stay away from cheap, poorly absorbed minerals such as Magnesium Oxide!
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
It could be fish oils, flaxseed, hemp seed… they are all good. All that pounding from your workout triggers inflammation and Omega-3 Fatty Acids are your bodies natural anti-inflammatory agents.
Please note, saturated Fats aren’t bad for you – it’s the ratio of saturated (omega-6) to unsaturated fats (omega-3) that keeps your body in a more inflamed state, as well as, more susceptible to heart disease.
Green Drinks with Added Antioxidants
Exercise is a form of stress and the additional stress from a workout causes more Free Radical Damage, which is simply the cells of your body dying off sooner than they should. So, protect all the cells of your body (liver, kidney, heart, muscles, SKIN, etc.) from dying off sooner than they should and a good green drink with added antioxidants will do that for you, most importantly it will help keep you looking younger.
It’s not how much protein. It’s “Are you absorbing and digesting the protein?”
Just because you ate it, doesn’t mean you absorbed it. If you get bloated or gassy soon after a Protein-rich meal, there is a good sign you are not producing enough Hydrochloric Acid, which is a must-have by the body in order to breakdown Protein. Your body can’t breakdown protein without acid, so if you are taking acid blockers or antacids….you’re working against how the body breakdown protein.
Personal Trainer | Founder, Jacked & Jill
Promix Protein + Carbs
I have been a trainer and supplement user for over 10 years now. The best type of post-workout supplement will have a blend of carbohydrates to restore glucose levels and protein for muscle recovery.
One of my favorite post-workout supplements is called Promix Protein + Carbs. This is because it has a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein.
Absolutely perfect for recovering after a workout. I take this supplement within 30 minutes of ending my workout, followed by a meal 1-2 hours later.
Clinical Nutritionist | Founder, Hudson Valley Nutrition and BuzzBright PR
Paleo Pro Recovery Powder
Sweet potatoes are the perfect carbohydrate source for post-workout/glycogen recovery – and now you can conveniently carry that goodness around with you!
Paleo Pro Recovery power also contains egg white protein, to supply fatigued muscles with the fuel and building blocks for growth and strength. Easy digestion and fast absorption, all in a great-tasting and convenient paleo recovery drink powder!
The high potency of vitamin A, rich in vitamins C & B12, a good source of protein, paleo ingredients, no soy or whey, totally delicious.
True Nutrition Hydrolyzed Whey Protein
True Nutrition’s Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Super Grade is a high-quality protein produced through a controlled enzymatic-treatment of whey protein, which has undergone 10% total hydrolysis to help support increased digestibility of the protein materials.
The concentration of pre-digested protein does result in a strong increased bitterness associated with the material. Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Super Grade provides 24g of protein per serving to help support muscle building in post-workout nutrition.
Certified Nutritional Consultant
It’s essential amino acids, not branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). These essential amino acids aid in muscle recovery, as well as support skeletal, enzymatic, nervous and hormonal systems of the body. They are called essential because your body can’t produce them on its own and they are crucial for the body.
Founder, Eu Natural
Evlution Nutrition’s BCAA Energy Powder or RSP Nutrition’s AminoLean
Natural supplements can have a huge impact on your personal health, especially if you’re trying to get back in shape. Because working out not only expends energy but can deplete your natural electrolytes, it’s important to give yourself a boost after your workout to replenish your energy.
Take supplements to give you back some of the salts that you’ve lost, the minerals that you’ve sweated out like magnesium, folate, the B vitamins, and even vitamin D.
The B’s are important for the skin, nails, and hair. D vitamins can have a huge impact on not only your mood but your metabolism also. Rhodiola can help with fatigue as can a reasonable amount of caffeine.
The biggest thing is to put back all those essential vitamins and minerals that you’ve spent time sweating out.
Consider taking Evlution Nutrition’s BCAA Energy Powder or RSP Nutrition’s AminoLean. These are helpful for people who are feeling especially fatigued after a workout, are not getting enough essential vitamins elsewhere.
If you’re looking for a vegetarian and vegan-friendly option, consider Eu Natural’s Vitality supplement, which has Rhodiola, magnesium, folate, and B12.
Medical Researcher | Chief Science Writer, Alex Fergus
Post-workout supplementation is riddled with pseudoscientific recommendations. Only a few supplements are backed by a sufficient number of scientific studies so that their recommendation can be merited.
I’ll consider 3 of them right here:
Many people have trouble consuming sufficient protein throughout the day to optimize their muscle and strength gains.
For muscle gains, you need up to 2.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (1.1 gram per pound of body weight). For fat loss, that number can be increased to 2.7 (1.22 per pound).
The benefit of whey protein is that it’s easily digestible, boosts your immune system which can be slightly impaired after very intense workouts and is quickly taken up into the bloodstream.
Because whey protein acts quickly, you’ll get a bigger peak in what is called “protein synthesis”. Protein synthesis is the degree to which the creation of new muscle mass is stimulated.
Creatine has thousands of studies backing its effects. Creatine mostly backs your “anaerobic” performance capacity – i.e., bodily exertion that does not depend on the transfer of oxygen.
It’s possible to use creatine both before and after a workout. Post-workout creatine usage will recover your bodily stores because creatine is used up during intense exercise.
Recovering your creatine stores improves your power output the next workout, aids in your hormonal profile (by boosting hormones such as testosterone and DHT), and helps build lean mass.
Additionally, creatine helps in blood sugar regulation and lowers your overall fatigue – allowing you to work out more quickly again.
Related: Best Time to Take Creatine
ZMA is a popular supplement and good reasons exist for that conclusion. ZMA contains the magnesium and zinc minerals plus vitamin B6 for absorption purposes.
Why use these minerals? Simple: in the general population, up to 80% of people are magnesium deficient and about half of these people are severely magnesium deficient.
You need magnesium for blood sugar regulation, relaxation, sleep quality, proper cell, and muscle functioning, and more. For athletes, the problem is even bigger because intense exercise depletes your magnesium stores.
Changing farming practices and depleted magnesium stores in the soil are the main reason food no longer contains adequate amounts of magnesium.
The issue with zinc is similar but less problematic. About 20-30% of people in developed nations are actually zinc deficient. You need adequate zinc stores, however, to ensure adaptations to intense workouts. Without adequate zinc, it’s hard if not impossible to gain large quantities of muscle mass.
Intense workouts also deplete zinc, and unless you’re eating lots of meat and shellfish you will become deficient if you’re training intensely for 3-4 days a week.
The bottom line
Every week a new post-workout supplement appears that claims to be better than all of the current offerings on the market. There’s a lot of hype around post-workout supplements, in part, because most people are very much willing to believe a “magic pill” will miraculously improve their workout gains. Nothing could be further from the truth though.
The 3 supplements listed above are inexpensive, very well supported by the scientific evidence, and actually give you great results. If you want an extra edge, look into a) sodium bicarbonate; 2) carnitine; 3) beetroot. These supplements also have good scientific backing.
CEO, Complete Nutrition
Post-workout recovery should be a part of every training plan. The recovery phase is essential in repairing and strengthening the muscles that were worked during a tough gym session, and it’s during this period where your muscles actually start building.
There are two important things to remember when considering a post-workout routine:
- Give your body enough time to recover the natural way.
- Fuel your body with essential nutrients like protein, creatine and amino acids to help the muscle growth process.
Ignite Series Rezzerect
I would recommend checking out Ignite Series Rezzerect ($34.99 on CompleteNutrition.com) because it contains 10 grams of whey protein isolate (one of the fastest digesting proteins on the market), creatine to help hydrate cells, and a 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs (branched-chain amino acid complex), which are essential for recovery.
Elite Gold Annex Zero Protein
Elite Gold Annex Zero Protein ($69.99 on CompleteNutrition.com) is also a great option, providing 23 grams of muscle-building whey protein isolate, five grams of BCAAs and glutamine that helps prevent muscle-breakdown common with exercise.
Whether you’re going on a long walk, running a marathon or lifting weights, post-workout recovery should always be part of your workout plan.
Fitness Content Director, Run Repeat
Swolly Post-Workout Amplifier
Everyone has a different goal they are working towards. Some people may struggle with putting on extra mass while others may be trying to drop some extra weight.
Regardless, getting in proper post-workout nutrition is crucial of achieving either of those goals, and everything in between which is why Swolly is such a great option.
That is because the product is can be used alone or added with a post-workout shake, meal replacement, or even your full meal. What it will do it help increase L-Leucine levels, which is key for muscle protein synthesis.
Then, the other ingredients like Aminogen, Chromium, and Amylopectin help in ensuring that you get the absolute most out of anything and everything you consume.
Helping you build muscle, recover faster, reduce soreness, and reach those goals faster.
Certified Personal Trainer | Health Expert, Maple Holistics
Naked Whey Protein Supplement
Naked Whey is a 100% grass-fed whey protein supplement perfect for your post-workout recovery. There are many concerns by consumers that the supplement industry pushes products that have been contaminated with other chemicals or contain unhealthy additives.
That’s where Naked Whey comes in and offers a product you can trust. Naked Whey eliminates any worries from the consumers, thanks to their pure Whey protein supplement that is sourced from local small dairy farms in California.