Reviews Supplements

8 Best Post-Workout Drinks in 2024

Unlock your full potential by engaging with our experts and community! Have questions about your fitness journey or looking for expert advice on weightlifting techniques? Don’t hesitate — leave a comment below and Jacek Szymanowski will provide a personalized answer and insights to help you reach your goals.

Torokhtiy is reader-supported. Some links are affiliate links, and we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. See our disclosure page for details.

Looking to start taking a recovery drink after your workouts? In this article, we’ll be covering the best post-workout drinks available today, and why you should consider implementing this supplement into your routine.

Recovery is one of the most important aspects of working out. After a tough bout of exercise you need to rehydrate, refuel, and repair to maximize strength and muscle growth. One of the most convenient ways to do this is through a post-workout supplement. Keep reading to find out your best options for a delicious and high-quality after-workout recovery drink.

best post workout drink

Top 8 Best Post-Workout Drinks Reviewed

  1. Post by Transparent Labs – Top Pick
  2. Recharge Post-Workout – Best Creatine-Based
  3. Post Jym
  4. Jacked Factory Growth Surge – Best Flavor Variety
  5. Muscle Milk Pro Series – Best Option with Macros
  6. Cellucor Whey Sport – Best Value for Money
  7. Mass Gainer by Transparent Labs – Best for Bulking
  8. Vegan Protein by HUGE – Best for Vegans
ProductTotalIngredients BreakdownTaste/FlavorTextureNutrition Label TransparencyValue for Money
Transparent Labs4810910109
Legion47.58.51091010
Bcaa47101098.59.5
Jacked Factory46.58.5109910
Muscle Milk469.591098.5
Cellucor45.58.591099
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer458910108
Huge Supplements44.589.5999

1. Post by Transparent Labs – Top Pick

Post  workout supplement from Transparent Labs
  • Form: Powder
  • Type: Post-Workout
  • Best for: Cutting
  • Flavor: Black Cherry, Orange, Strawberry Lemonade
  • Key Ingredients: L-Glutamine, Betaine, Beta-Alanine
  • Additional Ingredients: L-Carnitine, Tart Cherry Powder
  • Package Information: 1.04lbs
  • Serving: 15.7g
  • Price per Serving: ~$1.67
  • Company Founded: 2012
  • Recommended by Athletes: Hafthor Bjornsson, Paul Sklar, Sean Harris

Starting off our list of the best post-workout recovery drinks is Transparent Labs with their Post supplement. If you’re familiar with our lists, you’re probably already aware of the consistent quality associated with Transparent Labs. Let’s see why their post-workout supplement earned its spot at the top of our list. 

As you’ll notice across our list, there’s several types of supplements that can be classified as post-workout drinks, namely protein powders, mass gainers, and pure post-workout formulas like this. The difference is that post-workout formulas are typically low calorie and more focused on active ergogenic ingredients rather than macros like protein and carbs.

The main active ingredients found in this supplement are betaine, beta-alanine, and l-glutamine. Betaine supplementation has been shown to increase force production and improve endurance. Keep in mind that you probably need to take the ingredient consistently to maximize these results. Betaine also may help with recovery through osmolytic effects that improve hydration. Beta-alanine has also been shown to increase power output and reduce fatigue while working out. Finally, L-Glutamine supplementation appears to increase time to exhaustion, as well as improve overall recovery after exercise. However, these effects will likely be minimal at best if you’re getting adequate protein throughout the day. The supplement contains solid doses of all 3 ingredients with 2.5g of beta-alanine, 2g of betaine, and 5g of l-glutamine. The combination of these 3 ingredients provides a powerful blend that will not only improve performance in the gym, but help your recovery as well.

Additional ingredients in Transparent Labs include L-Carnitine and Tart Cherry Powder. While L-Carnitine is frequently marketed as a weight loss supplement, it does not appear to provide any real value in this area. However, current research suggests that L-Carnitine is effective in assisting with recovery, making it an excellent addition to a post-workout formula like this. Transparent Labs contains a solid 2g per serving. Post also contains 500mg of Tart Cherry Powder, which is thought to help with inflammation. Current research suggests that Tart Cherry Powder has a small to moderate effect on training and strenuous exercise recovery. 

At around $1.67 per serving, Transparent Labs is the most expensive pure post-workout formula on our list, but it is a very high-quality product. It comes in 3 separate flavors, and like all of Transparent Labs supplements, it’s made with all-natural ingredients.

48 EXPERT SCORE

Fasting from Transparent Labs is the best post-workout recovery drink with key active ingredients such as betaine, beta-alanine and L-glutamine.


Ingredient Breakdown:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • High doses of betaine and beta-alanine
  • Good amount of l-carnitine
  • Made from all-natural ingredients

Could be better:

  • Not too many flavor options
  • No creatine for those looking for a nutrition supplement it doesn’t contain any protein or carbohydrates

2. Recharge Post-Workout – Best Creatine-Based

Recharge Post-Workout
  • Form: Powder
  • Type: Post-Workout
  • Bestfor: Cutting
  • Flavor: Unflavored, Sour Candy, Strawberry Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Watermelon
  • Key Ingredients: Creatine
  • Additional Ingredients: L-Carnitine
  • Package Information: 0.51lbs
  • Serving: 7.65g
  • Price per Serving: ~$1.33
  • Company Founded: 2014
  • Recommended by Athletes: Gage Clark, Grant Tinsley

Next on our list of after-workout drinks, we have Recharge Post-Workout from Legion. Similar to Transparent Labs, Legion has an excellent reputation for consistently delivering some of the most effective supplements on the market. Let’s see how their post-workout compares. 

Similar to Transparent Labs, this is a pure post-workout formula, focusing on active ingredients to help boost performance and improve recovery. While some people may be looking for a nutritional supplement like a protein powder, this type of active ingredient-based supplement will be ideal for those already getting enough calories, carbs, and protein throughout the day. 

legion
Photo by @legion

The main active ingredient in this formula is creatine. If you’re unfamiliar with creatine, it is one of the most highly-researched and popular sports supplements around. It’s shown to specifically help with high-intensity exercise performance above all else. The generally accepted recommended daily dose is 3-5g, and with 5g per serving, Legion contains an optimal amount for performance benefits.

Similar to Transparent Labs, Legion also contains L-Carnitine, which as we’ve mentioned, likely provides some advantages to the body’s recovery process. Legion contains ever-so-slightly more L-Carnitine than Transparent Labs with 2.1g per serving. 

This is a slightly cheaper option than Transparent Labs as well, coming in around $1.33 per serving. Legion also has a solid 5 different flavors to choose from including an unflavored option. Also similar to Transparent Labs, Legion’s products are made with completely natural ingredients. 

47.5 EXPERT SCORE

Fasting from Transparent Labs is the best post-workout recovery drink with key active ingredients such as betaine, beta-alanine and L-glutamine.


Ingredient Breakdown:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Optimal creatine content
  • Good amount of l-carnitine
  • Good value for money

Could be better:

  • Could benefit from more active ingredients
  • Doesn’t contain any protein or carbs which may be better for those looking for a nutrition-based supplement

3. Post JYM

POST JYM
  • Form: Powder
  • Type: Post-Workout
  • Best for: Cutting
  • Flavor: Lemonade, Blue Arctic Freeze, Mandarin Orange, Rainbow Sherbet, Green Apple Gummy, Fruit Punch, Watermelon
  • Key Ingredients: Creatine HCL, Beta-Alanine, Betaine, L-Glutamine
  • Additional Ingredients: L-Carnitine, BCAAs
  • Package Information: 1.3lbs
  • Serving: 20g
  • Price per Serving: ~$1.40
  • Company Founded: 2013
  • Recommended by Athletes: Jim Stoppani, Breanna Cortez, Isaiah Miranda

Next up on our list we have Post Jym, another pure post-workout formula. Let’s see how this supplement is able to compare with the previous 2 entries on our list. 

In terms of active ingredients, this is arguably the most complete supplement we’ve covered so far. It contains 2g of creatine HCL, 3g of l-glutamine, 2g of beta-alanine, and 1.5g of betaine. Because this supplement contains creatine HCL, probably a smaller dose should go further than standard monohydrate. HCL is typically way more expensive than monohydrate, but Post Jym is still rather affordable despite this. While these doses are slightly lower than what you’ll find in the previous 2 entries, Post Jym separates itself by having all 4 of these active ingredients in its formula. 

POST JYM instagram
Photo by @grayskull316

Post Jym also has a similar amount of L-Carnitine to the other 2 supplements with 2g in each serving. This is also the first supplement on our list to contain BCAAs with 6g per serving. While these may be useful for those that are deficient (some vegans and vegetarians), they likely won’t provide much benefit to those that get enough protein in their diet already.

At ~$1.40 per serving, Post Jym is right in between the 2 previous entries on our list in terms of price. It comes in a very solid 7 different flavors, just keep in mind it is formulated with several artificial ingredients. 

47 EXPERT SCORE

Post Jym - pure post-workout formula active ingredients, this is arguably the most complete supplement contains 2g of creatine HCL, 3g of l-glutamine, 2g of beta-alanine, and 1.5g of betaine.


Ingredient Breakdown:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Contains a complete set of active ingredients
  • Contains solid dose of Creatine HCL
  • Solid variety of flavors

Could be better:

  • Some ingredient doses could be higher
  • Contains several artificial ingredients which some people will prefer to avoid

4. Jacked Factory Growth Surge – Best Flavor Variety

Jacked Factory GROWTH SURGE
  • Form: Powder
  • Type: Post-Workout
  • Best for: Cutting
  • Flavor: Grape, Sour Peach Ring, Strawberry Lemonade, Cherry Limeade, Watermelon, Swoleberry, Blue Raspberry, Fruit Punch, Blueberry Lemonade, Unflavored, Black Cherry
  • Key Ingredients: Creatine, Betaine
  • Additional Ingredients: L-Carnitine
  • Package Information: 300g
  • Serving: 10g
  • Price per Serving: ~$1.33
  • Company Founded: 2006
  • RecommendedbyAthletes: Morgan Mac, Mike Oliver, Bhuwan Chauhan

Next on our list we have Growth Surge from Jacked Factory. This is the final pure post-workout formula we’ll be covering on our list, so let’s see how it compares to the previous 3 products. 

Similar to Legion and Post Jym, this supplement also features creatine. Its dose is solid with 3g of creatine monohydrate per serving, which is on the lower end of the daily recommended dose. Also like Post Jym and Transparent Labs, Jacked Factory has a solid dose of betaine with 2.5g per serving.

Also, at 2g of L-Carnitine per serving, Jacked Factory offers a similar dose of this ingredient to the previous 3 products on our list. At around $1.33 per serving, this is roughly the same price as Legion’s product, making it a great budget choice for a pure post-workout formula. With 11 flavors to choose from, Jacked Factory also easily has the best variety on our list. Just keep in mind it is formulated with several artificial ingredients. 

46.5 EXPERT SCORE

Growth Surge from Jacked Factory - supplement which features creatine and dose is solid with 3g of creatine monohydrate per serving, which is on the lower end of the daily recommended dose.


Ingredient Breakdown:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Strong doses of creatine and betaine
  • Excellent flavor variety
  • Good dose of L-Carnitine

Could be better:

  • Creatine dose could be higher
  • Contains several artificial ingredients, which some people will want to avoid

5. Muscle Milk Pro Series – Best Option with Macros

Muscle Milk Pro Series
  • Form: Powder
  • Type: Protein Powder
  • Best for: Build Muscle
  • Flavor: Knockout Chocolate, Slammin’ Strawberry
  • KeyIngredients: Milk Protein Isolate
  • AdditionalIngredients: Maltodextrin
  • PackageInformation: 5lb
  • Serving: 82g
  • Priceper Serving: ~$2.29
  • Company Founded: 2000
  • Recommended by Athletes: Charli Collier, Alex Silver Fagan, Andrew Stern

Next up on our list, we have the first protein powder on our list. This means instead of focusing on ergogenic ingredients for its recovery benefit, this product contains protein and carbohydrates to help your body refuel and recover. Let’s take a look at the product's nutrition breakdown and see how it compares to the other products on our list. 

Of course, because this is a protein shake, this would make a great post-workout meal to help hit your protein and carb goals for the day. While the previous products on our list will help you recover as well, they are very low in calories. 

Muscle Milk contains a very high 50g of protein per serving, giving you a solid chunk of the protein you need for the entire day. It also contains 17g of carbohydrates from maltodextrin to help you refuel your depleted glycogen stores. Keep in mind that overall quantity of carb intake through the day is more important than timing. It’s worth mentioning that this is a fairly high calorie shake with 310 calories per serving making it a solid choice for bulking. 

Muscle Milk Pro Series
Photo by @klts77

On top of this, Muscle Milk contains a dense micronutrient profile, featuring all kinds of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, and magnesium. This makes it a great choice for a meal replacement drink as well as a post-workout shake. 

At around $2.29 per serving this is significantly more expensive than the pure post-workout formulas on our list. This is to be expected considering it is a very different kind of post-workout drink. It comes in 2 standard protein powder flavors, chocolate, and vanilla, and it is made with several artificial ingredients as well. 

46 EXPERT SCORE

Muscle Milk Pro Series - first protein powder which contains protein and carbohydrates to help your body refuel and recover.


Ingredient Breakdown:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Very high protein content
  • Solid carbohydrate content to help refuel after a workout
  • Great micronutrient profile

Could be better:

  • Only comes in 2 basic flavors

6. Cellucor Whey Sport – Best Value for Money

Cellucor Whey Sport
  • Form: Powder
  • Type: Protein Powder
  • Best for: Build Muscle
  • Flavor: Chocolate, Vanilla
  • Key Ingredients: Protein Blend 
  • Additional Ingredients: Creatine, L-Glutamine
  • Package Information: 873g
  • Serving: 46.5g
  • Price per Serving: ~$1.67
  • Company Founded: 2002
  • Recommended by Athletes: Brittany Ann, Scott Mathison, Demi Bagby

The next post-workout drink for muscle recovery we’ll be covering is another protein powder, this time from Cellucor. You may already be familiar with Cellucor because of their iconic C4 pre-workout, so let’s see how their post-workout protein powder stacks up with Muscle Milk’s product. 

This product has a significantly different macronutrient breakdown compared to Muscle Milk. It has 30g of protein per serving, which is solid, but much lower than Muscle Milk’s 50g per serving. It also does not contain nearly as many carbohydrates with only 5g per serving. Finally, its micronutrient profile isn’t as dense, although it still contains a decent quantity of calcium. 

Cellucor Whey Sport Instagram
Photo by @cellucor

Where Cellucor separates itself from Muscle Milk is its solid active ingredients. It contains 2.5g of creatine, and 2g of L-Glutamine per serving, putting it on par with some of the pure post-workout formulas covered earlier in our list. This makes Cellucor a great choice for those looking for nutrition and ergogenic ingredients at the same time.

Also, at only around $1.67 per serving, Cellucor offers some of the best value for money on our entire list regardless of product types. With that being said, it does only come in the same 2 basic flavors as Muscle Milk – chocolate and vanilla – and does contain some artificial ingredients as well. 

45.5 EXPERT SCORE

Cellucor Whey Sport - protein powder which contains 2.5g of creatine, and 2g of L- Glutamine per serving, putting it on par with some of the pure post-workout formulas covered earlier in our list.


Ingredient Breakdown:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Solid protein content
  • One of the only protein powders on our list with any active ingredients
  • Great value for money

Could be better:

  • Low carbohydrate content might be an issue for some
  • Only comes in 2 basic flavors
  • Creatine content could be higher for optimal results

7. Mass Gainer by Transparent Labs – Best for Bulking

POST by Transparent Labs
  • Form: Powder
  • Type: Mass Gainer
  • Best for: Building Muscle
  • Flavor: Chocolate Glaze Donut, Sweet Vanilla
  • Key Ingredients: Grass-Fed Whey Protein
  • Additional Ingredients: Maltodextrin
  • Package Information: 6.42lbs
  • Serving: 194g
  • Price per Serving: ~$5.33
  • Company Founded: 2012
  • Recommended by Athletes: Hafthor Bjornsson, Paul Sklar, Sean Harris

Next on our list we have the only mass gainer on our list from Transparent Labs. If you’re unfamiliar with this product type, it contains high protein and carbohydrate content along with a very high calorie content making it a great choice for bulking. Let’s see how it stacks up with the other post-workout products on our list. 

The reason mass gainers are so great as post-workout supplements are their high protein and carbohydrate content. Transparent Labs offers a solid 53g of protein, and a very high 110g of carbs for a total of 750 calories per serving. If you’re looking for a lower calorie shake, you may be better off with Muscle Milk as it has a similar amount of protein for less than half the calories. Transparent Labs has a fairly sparse micronutrient breakdown as well as no additional active ingredients.

As you may expect with such a high calorie product, this is the most expensive supplement on our list so far at well over $5 per serving. It comes in the same 2 basic flavors as Muscle Milk and Cellucor – chocolate and vanilla – but like all of transparent labs products, it’s made with no artificial ingredients whatsoever. 

45 EXPERT SCORE

MASS GAINER by Transparent Labs it contains high protein and carbohydrate content along with a very high calorie content making it a great choice for bulking.


Ingredient Breakdown:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • High carbohydrate content may be great for those looking to bulk
  • Very high calorie count makes it great for bulking
  • Made with all natural ingredients

Could be better:

  • Most expensive product on our list by far
  • High calories won’t be suitable for everyone, especially those on our cut

8. Vegan Protein by Huge – Best for Vegans

VEGAN PROTEIN by HUGE
  • Form: Powder
  • Type: Protein Powder
  • Best for: Cutting, Recovery, Building Muscle
  • Flavor: Birthday Cake, Cookies and Cream, Cinnamon Crunch, Graham Cracker, Marshmallow Madness
  • Key Ingredients: ProVega Complete Protein
  • Package Information: 822.5g
  • Serving: 30g
  • Price per Serving: ~$1.80
  • Company Founded: 2019
  • Recommended by Athletes: Matt Greggo, Tren Twins, Max Taylor

Finally, we’re closing off our list with another protein powder. This is the only vegan protein on our list, coming from Huge Supplements. This makes it the best choice for any vegans looking for a high quality recovery protein powder. 

As you may expect from a vegan protein powder, Huge does have a slightly lower protein content when compared to the dairy based shakes on our list. It only has 20g of protein per serving, which is still a decent amount for a plant-based shake. It also only has 3.5g of carbs per serving, which still may be a good option if you’re on a cut. This is also the lowest calorie protein shake on our list with only 110 calories per serving.

At around $1.80 per serving, this is also a fairly budget-friendly option, having a comparable price to Cellucor. It does also have an excellent flavor variety with 5 unique options to choose from, just keep in mind that it does contain several artificial ingredients.

44.5 EXPERT SCORE

VEGAN PROTEIN by HUGE - vegan protein and best choice for any vegans looking for a high quality recovery protein powder.


Ingredient Breakdown:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Good protein choice for vegans
  • Great flavor variety
  • Low calories and carbs make it a solid choice for cutting

Could be better:

  • Relatively low protein content compared to similar products
  • “Just” a protein powder compared to others on our list

Experts Who Contributed To This Article

Sergii Putsov

Sergii Putsov

20 years of Oly Lifting & Training experience

Ernesto Mendez

Ernesto Mendez

Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS)

Dina Al-Rubaye

Dina Al-Rubaye

Professional Nutritionist and Certified Coach

Torokhtiy Logo

Why Is Post-Workout Nutrition So Important?

Post-workout nutrition is ideal if you want to maximize your results in the gym. Especially if you’re looking to build muscle, prioritizing recovery and fueling your body properly are some of the most important things to consider. If you’re working out regularly, it’s important to eat plenty of carbs and proteins throughout the day to replenish your body’s glycogen stores and improve the repair process of broken down muscle fibers. If you don’t fuel your body properly, you will have a worse recovery process, which will lead to worse results over time.

You will also want to rehydrate after a workout to restore your electrolyte balance that is lost when you sweat during a workout. While drinking water after a workout is important, you should absolutely be drinking water before a workout. If your workouts are longer than an hour, you should probably be staying hydrated during your workout as well.

Sergiy Putsov added: 

"I regularly use post-workout drinks as they're crucial for efficient muscle recovery and growth. They provide rapid replenishment of nutrients and hydration lost during intense sessions, which aids in muscle repair and prepares the body for future workouts."

On top of getting the proper macronutrients and rehydrating after a workout, it may also be worth investing in a post-workout formula that contains active ingredients to help your performance. While these aren’t necessary, they may improve your body’s ability to recover sufficiently, which is especially important if you’re working out almost every day.

oleksiy torokhtiy with protein after training

What Can Serve as a Post-workout Drink?

There are 3 different types of supplements we covered on our list that can count as post-workout drinks. These include pure post-workout formulas, protein powders, and mass gainers. Here they are covered in more detail below.

Type of SupplementMain PurposeCommon IngredientsBest For
Post-Workout FormulasBoost recovery through active ingredientsBeta-alanine
Betaine
Creatine
L-Carnitine
Those who already have their diet in order
Protein PowdersBoost recovery though proteinProtein sourced from dairy, or other plant-based sourcesThose who struggle to get enough protein
Mass GainersBoost recovery through a combination of protein and carbohydratesProtein sourced from dairy, or other plant-based sources
Carbohydrates, usually sourced from maltodextrin
Those who struggle to get enough protein and total calories

1. Post-Workout Formulas

The first half of our list was dedicated to post-workout formulas which focus on active ingredients to help your body’s recovery process, as well as aiding your performance in the gym. Some of the best ingredients you can find in these formulas include Betaine, Beta-Alanine, Creatine, and L-Carnitine. All of these ingredients have their individual advantages for recovery and performance. Just keep in mind that these drinks often contain little nutritional value, so you’ll have to eat a balanced meal with carbs and protein after your workout on top of these supplements. 

Subscribe!

The latest reviews of must-have home gym training equipment, apparel, and supplements that will enhance your performance and bring you new results.

2. Protein Powders

Arguably the most common post-workout supplement is a protein powder. These are most commonly made from whey, but they can also be derived from vegan ingredients like brown rice or peas. While protein is important for helping your body rebuild muscle, carbohydrates are important post-workout for helping your body refuel its depleted glycogen stores especially when you train more than once a day. Otherwise just make sure you are eating enough throughout the day. If you’re looking to put on muscle, we recommend opting for a higher carbohydrate protein powder such as Muscle Milk to ensure you’re reaching a small caloric surplus. 

dumbbells workout

3. Mass Gainers

Finally, if you’re looking to maximize your protein, carbohydrate/calorie intake after a workout, then you may want to consider a mass gainer shake instead of a protein powder. While these certainly aren’t for everybody, those looking to bulk up quickly will appreciate how easy it is to get hundreds of calories in with a mass gainer shake. The main downsides here are that high calorie shakes aren’t suitable for those looking to cut or even maintain weight, and they often come with a fairly hefty price tag. However, if you’re looking to put on weight, and don’t mind paying a bit extra, mass gainers can make a great post-workout drink. 

How to Choose the Best Post-Workout Drink?

best ingredients for post-workout

1. Active Ingredients

One of the main factors you’ll want to consider is the active ingredients found in a post-workout drink. If you already eat a solid diet, you may want to prioritize active ingredients to help with your recovery and improve your performance in the gym. For recovery, we recommend prioritizing L-Carnitine, Betaine, and Tart Cherry Powder. If you’re looking to boost your performance, focus on ingredients like beta-alanine, betaine, creatine.  

Ernesto added: 

"The choice of post-workout drink may depend on the nature of one's workout. Guidelines suggest 10-20 grams of protein, 20-60 grams of carbs, 500-700 mg of sodium, and 100-300 mg of potassium."

2. Nutritional Value 

If you struggle to get enough (or don’t) protein in your diet, or to eat a balanced meal after your workout, we recommend considering getting nutritional value from a post-workout drink. This means either choosing a protein powder or mass gainer. We recommend finding a product that suits your dietary needs, helping you get the macros you may be missing, whether they be carbohydrates or protein. Of course, if you’re eating in a strict calorie deficit or following a keto diet, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to a lower carb protein powder. 

Post-Workout Drink In The Gym

What Are the 3 Key Nutrition-Related Factors That Play the Greatest Role in Recovery?

1. Rehydrate

First, it’s critical to hydrate properly before, during, and after a workout. This is because when you sweat during a workout, your body is losing water with electrolytes that need to be rebalanced through hydration. While it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day, it’s especially important if you’re working out regularly. Luckily, drinking a post-workout beverage is a great way to get some fluids in while also getting active ingredients and nutrients in as well.

2. Refuel

When working out, your body is depleted of its glycogen stores. This is why it’s so important to eat enough carbohydrates throughout the day. Eating carbohydrates leads to insulin secretion, which then causes glycogen synthesis. Glycogen is partly what powers your muscles through your workouts, so to recover effectively and to have the best performance possible we recommend eating a healthy balance of carbs, fats, and protein to hit your caloric goals throughout the day. Of course, if you follow a keto or low-carb diet, this advice may not apply to you! While carb-rich diets are ideal for exercise performance, many people prefer low-carb diets in order to restrict their calories to lose weight, but keep in mind - to lose weight you need to be on a caloric deficit regardless of what kind of macro-split (high carb/low fat or low carb/high fat) you are following.

athlete squat workout

3. Repair

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is repairing your muscles with protein. When you workout, you’re breaking down your muscle fibers with the goal of having them repair stronger than they were before. By eating enough protein, you’re giving your muscles the amino acids they need to be repaired effectively.

3 keys to post-workout nutrition

Why Are Supplements From Completely Different Categories Included in This Rating?

The reason we included 3 different supplement types in this article – post-workout formulas, protein powders, and mass gainers – is because everyone will have slightly different requirements for what they need in a post-workout drink. For those who already eat proper post-workout meals rich in proteins and carbohydrates, they will be better off with a post-workout formula focusing on active ingredients instead of macronutrients. However, if someone struggles to eat enough protein or get enough calories in, they will be better suited to drinking a protein powder or mass gainer. Post-workout drinks are not one-size-fits-all. Consider what your unique needs are, and decide which post-workout drink is right for you accordingly.

How Important is the Timing of Post-Workout Carbohydrate and/or Protein Intake?

You may still be wondering about the difference between eating a meal immediately after your workout compared to waiting a few hours. Below we’ll be comparing situations where you’d want to eat immediately after your workout vs when it’s not as important. We’ll also be going over whether or not protein is necessary immediately after exercise. Let’s get into it!

Our expert Dina Al-Rubaye shared her own tips and favorites in post-workout drinks:

“A post-workout drink can be recommended for individuals engaged in heavy and high-intensity exercise, such as athletes and bodybuilders. For the average person who plans to have a balanced post-workout meal rich in protein and carbohydrates, a drink may not be necessary, as they can obtain these nutrients from food. It's essential to select post-workout supplements carefully, considering your specific fitness goals and dietary requirements. While I personally like fairlife drinks, I would recommend exploring different brands and products to find the one that suits your needs best.”

1. Situations that Require Consumption of Carbohydrates Immediately After Training

The main reason someone would need carbohydrates immediately after working out is if they have another workout to do in a few hours. In this case, their post-workout meal is doubling as a pre-workout meal. Because of this, refilling their glycogen stores as quickly as possible will be ideal to maximize performance in the next workout. Next one is if you have one session in the evening and the next day in the morning. Basically when there is less than 24h between sessions you may benefit from post-workout carbs.

Drinking Post Workout Drink

Beyond this, there aren’t many scenarios where consuming carbs directly post-workout will be necessary. For most people, waiting a little while won’t make a major difference in their recovery, provided they’re still eating enough total carbs throughout the day. 

2. Situations where immediate consumption of carbohydrates after exercise is less important

It’s also worth noting that someone looking to put on muscle will likely want to consume a full meal immediately after their workout. While this isn’t as important as fueling up for a second workout, it will still be ideal to get enough calories in to promote recovery, weight gain, and muscle growth.

Especially for someone who has very high daily calorie needs, eating a carb-rich meal directly after a workout will likely be optimal to maximize total caloric intake. However, someone could still reach a caloric surplus without eating directly after a meal, making it less important than the example listed above.

3. Situations in which the consumption of carbohydrates immediately after training is not of significant importance

Really, unless you’re a professional athlete, if you have 24 hours between your workouts and sufficient caloric intake throughout the day, there’s no need to consume carbs immediately after your workout. 

belt press workout

The main reason someone may choose not to take in any carbs after a workout is if they’re looking to lose weight, especially on a keto diet. When eating in a calorie deficit, it’s common to restrict carbohydrate intake. Limiting carbohydrate intake post-workout may help people maintain a caloric deficit, even though it will likely negatively affect their performance in the gym.

While we can’t fully recommend this approach to post-workout nutrition because of its effects on performance, it may be beneficial if your main goal is to lose weight. Overall, the vast majority of people do not have to worry about consuming carbohydrates immediately post-workout.

4. What about post-workout protein?

Overall, getting protein in immediately after your workout isn’t nearly as important as getting enough protein in throughout the day. Unless you're a professional bodybuilder, As long as you’re getting enough total protein throughout the to stimulate muscle growth, there’s no need to worry too much about when you’re consuming it.

transparent labs protein powder supplements

With that being said, especially if you’re on a cut, you may want to prioritize protein intake after a workout. This is because protein is the most satiating macronutrient, and it will likely keep you feeling fuller for longer when compared to an equivalent amount of carbs.

FAQ

Are Post Workout Drinks Necessary?

Not necessarily. While you can rehydrate, refuel, and repair effectively through water and food alone, a post-workout drink is a convenient way to assist your recovery process. Especially if you’re looking for some active ingredients to help you recover and perform better, a post-workout drink may be a great investment. 

What Is the Best Drink After Exercise?

While the healthiest post-workout drink is probably water, if you’re wondering what to drink after workouts, there are several supplements we covered in this article that may benefit your recovery process as well. These include post-workout formulas, protein powders, and mass gainer shakes. 

Should I Drink Juice After Working Out?

Juice can be a good recovery drink after workouts because of its high carbohydrate content. Just keep in mind that juice may be very high in sugar, and doesn’t contain any protein. While it may be helpful for replenishing your body’s glycogen stores, any of the supplements on our list are likely better options for overall recovery. 

What’s the Best Post-workout Drink for Females?

There’s no real difference between men and women when it comes to what makes a great post-workout drink. Each supplement type on our list has its own unique purpose, so this will all come down to a matter of what your specific goals are. 

Conclusion

Sports recovery drinks can be a convenient way to improve your body’s recovery process, and to get some essential nutrients in. The 3 supplement types we recommend are post-workout formulas, protein powders, and mass gainers, which all have their own unique advantages. If you’re looking for a post-workout formula, we recommend POST by Transparent Labs. For a great protein powder, we recommend Muscle Milk Pro Series. Finally, for a high quality mass gainer, you should go with MASS GAINER by Transparent Labs. All the products on our list have their own advantages, so check out the other products to see which one’s the best muscle recovery drink for you!

Let us know if you try out any of the supplements on our list. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Also read:

References:

  1. Apicella, Jenna M., "The Effect of Betaine Supplementation on Performance and Muscle Mechanisms" (2011). Master's Theses. 109. https://opencommons.uconn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1078&context=gs_theses
  2. Eric T Trexler, "International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine," National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26175657 (accessed Jul 15, 2015).
  3. Piattoly, Tavis Joseph, "L-glutamine supplementation: effects on recovery from exercise" (2005). LSU Master's Theses. 3783. 
  4. Amirhossein Ramezani Ahmadi, Elham Rayyani, Mehdi Bahreini, Anahita Mansoori , "The effect of glutamine supplementation on athletic performance, body composition, and immune function: A systematic review and a meta-analysis of clinical trials," Science Direct, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0261561418301730 (accessed June 3, 2019).
  5. C. Snoke, G. Agnesse, K. Boles, J. Daniels, A. Holum, J. McKenzie, "EFFECTS OF ACUTE L-CARNITINE SUPPLEMENTATION DURING LOW-INTENSITY TREADMILL EXERCISE," Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA, https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijesab/vol8/iss9/15/ (accessed 9, 2021).
  6. Jeff S Volek, William J Kraemer, Martyn R Rubin, Ana L Gómez, Nicholas A Ratamess, Paula Gaynor "L-Carnitine L-tartrate supplementation favorably affects markers of recovery from exercise stress" National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11788381/ (accessed Feb, 2002).
  7. Jessica Amie Hill, Karen Mary Keane, Rebecca Quinlan, Glyn Howatson, "Tart Cherry Supplementation and Recovery From Strenuous Exercise: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis," International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, (2021): 154–167.
  8. Richard B Kreider, Douglas S Kalman, Jose Antonio, Tim N Ziegenfuss, Robert Wildman, Rick Collins, Darren G Candow, Susan M Kleiner, Anthony L Almada, Hector L Lopez "International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine" National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28615996/ (accessed Jun, 2017).

Why Trust Us?

With over 20 years in Olympic Weightlifting, our team does its best to provide the audience with ultimate support and meet the needs and requirements of advanced athletes and professional lifters, as well as people who strive to open new opportunities and develop their physical capabilities with us.

All products we select are primarily approved and tested by the Olympic Weightlifting Champion Oleksii Torokhtiy. Under his guidance, we provide honest and reasonable assessments of the products we review by checking their characteristics, packaging, design, comfort and durability features, and general product rating. We select products from only high-quality and trusted sports brands, thus vouching for their quality.

The product testing process is described in more detail here

Jacek Szymanowski

Author: Jacek Szymanowski

Certified Nutritionist,
M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology
Performance Architect,
Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Experience: 20 years

With over 30 years of fighting experience, specialization in nutrition coaching for athletes, and expertise in metabolic health and dietary strategies, Jacek offers a comprehensive approach to optimizing your performance and well-being. Backed by a Master of Science degree in Biotechnology, Jacek remains at the forefront of scientific advancements, ensuring that his coaching is always evidence-based and up-to-date.

View author’s page


If you have any questions/suggestions/any other inquiries considering product reviews, you can reach out to us via email – [email protected]

Still have questions after reading our article? Unlock your full potential by engaging with our experts and community! Don’t hesitate — leave a comment below and Jacek Szymanowski will provide a personalized answer and insights to help you reach your goals.

Ask Expert

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Similar Posts