The Best Post-Workout Supplements For Muscle Recovery, Mass Gain, And More

Discover which post-workout supplement can help you get the most out of your training.

When it comes to your nutrient intake throughout the day, what you ingest right after your workout ranks among the most important nutritional choices you can make. Although overall caloric intake is king when it comes to gaining or losing weight, optimizing your post-workout nutrition could be the key to maximizing your recovery.

That said, with so many products available — each promising to help you run faster, grow more, or recover quicker — discerning which one to spend your money on can be daunting. If you’re really trying to put on weight, the right mass gainer could be a game changer. If you know you won’t be able to catch a meal right after you leave the gym, a BCAA powder might be perfect for you. We’ve unpacked some of the best post-workout supplements to help you find the missing piece in your nutritional puzzle. 

Best Post-Workout Supplement Picks

Best Post-Workout Supplement Overall

Even if you’re hitting all your nutritional benchmarks every day, you can still get value out of a post-workout supplement that isn’t loaded with calories. This is where Jacked Factory shines — each scoop has zero calories, but is packed to the brim with helpful ingredients that can aid in reducing soreness and increase the rate of muscle repair. 

Jacked Factory Growth Surge

Like many of Jacked Factory’s products, Growth Surge is light on fluffy ingredients or synthetic additives and heavy on the nutrient content that actually matters. High doses of creatine and betaine may help with strength, power, endurance, and muscle growth. Additionally, l-carnitine can potentially reduce tissue inflammation and increase recovery rates — plus, it can also play a role in fat loss if you’re interested in shedding a few pounds. This formula comes in four fruity flavors, and an unflavored option. However, if you’re looking for a post-workout supp that will replenish carbs or provide some nourishment, you may want to opt for a protein shake or meal replacement instead. (1)

Jacked Factory Growth Surge
Jacked Factory Growth Surge
Jacked Factory Growth Surge

This post workout supplement from Jacked Factory boasts a dose of creatine for muscle growth, l-carnitine l-tartrate for muscle recovery, and betaine anhydrous for power output. It also comes in a variety of flavors, from Watermelon to 'Swoleberry'.

Who Should Buy Jacked Factory Growth Surge

  • Athletes who have their primary diet in order but still want to go the extra mile for recovery and muscle gain.
  • Those who train hard enough to experience regular soreness or noticeable muscular fatigue will like the ingredients list here. 
  • If you’re looking to stay consistent with creatine and want to take it post-workout, this is an ideal supplement for you. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Jacked Factory Growth Surge

  • Buyers who are in the market for a supplement that satisfies one particular nutritional need — this product has many potential benefits. 
  • Anyone who is looking for a post-workout supplement that can provide more of a meal should opt for a protein powder or meal replacement. 

With a strong dose of creatine and carnitine, this blend can help with power, muscle growth, and recovery if you stay consistent. 

Best Post-Workout Supplement for Muscle Recovery

For the majority of gym goers, bouncing back from grueling workouts is the number one priority when considering a post-workout supplement. Kaged Muscle delivers on that front with ingredients that are tailor-made for getting your muscles back in the game after a tough day at the gym.

Kaged Muscle Re-Kaged Recovery

Kaged Muscle Re-Kaged Recovery provides a solid 28g dose of whey protein isolate, and six grams of BCAAs, both of which can help with muscle growth during recovery. The creatine can help with your strength and power throughout your workouts, so long as you remain consistent with your supplementation. And glutamine has been linked to expedited recovery rates and reduced inflammation in athletes, making it an ideal remedy for muscular fatigue. Plus, this pick contains ProHydrolase®, which can help break down this supplement for better absorption, and it comes in three flavors — Strawberry Lemonade, Iced Lemon Cake, and Orange Kream. 

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Kaged Re-Kaged Protein Fuel
Kaged Re-Kaged Protein Fuel
Kaged Re-Kaged Protein Fuel

This formula packs 28 grams of protein into each scoop. It also contains ingredients that can help with strength and recovery, like three grams of glutamine, 1.5g of betaine anhydrous, six grams of BCAAs, and 1.5g of creatine.

Who Should Buy Kaged Muscle Re-Kaged Recovery

  • Lifters or cross-trainers that include a lot of resistance training in their exercise regimes may like this supplement with multiple ingredients that can help reduce inflammation. 
  • Anyone who feels particularly susceptible to muscular soreness following a workout.
  • Folks who prioritize digestion will like the additional ProHydrolase here to potentially help with absorption. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Muscle Re-Kaged Recovery 

  • Recreational fitness enthusiasts taking it easy in the gym may not need a supplement targeted at muscle recovery.
  • Anyone who wants a recovery supplement that is lower in calories can find ones that aren’t protein-based.

Re-Kaged Recovery can help fight both muscle soreness and inflammation. Plus, its three tasty flavors make it easy to stick to a consistent post-workout regimen. 

Best Supplement for During and Post-Workout

If you’re looking for a supplement you can sip both during and after your workout to replenish lost nutrients — like carbs — Huge Supplements has you covered. 

Huge Supplements XII Intra & Post Workout

For those who would rather keep the nutrients flowing both during and after their gym session, this Intra & Post Workout supplement can help — it’s got 10,000mg of Cluster Dextrin, which is a carb supplement, a key nutrient we lose when we exercise. It also has 5,000mg of Organic ModCarb, 3,200mg of Beta-Alanine, 3,000mg of Betaine Anhydrous, 150mg of Potassium Citrate, and 5mg of Bioperine, which can help you absorb all these nutrients. This supplement is a bit pricey due to its high dosages, but it does come in two unique flavors — Candy Apple and Tropical Blast. 

Huge Supplements XII Intra & Post Workout
Huge Supplements XII Intra & Post Workout
Huge Supplements XII Intra & Post Workout

This supp contains 10,000mg of Cluster Dextrin, 5,000mg of Organic ModCarb, 3,200mg of Beta-Alanine, 3,000mg of Betaine Anhydrous, 150mg of Potassium Citrate, and 5mg of Bioperine, which can help you absorb all these nutrients. It comes in Candy Apple and Tropical Blast. 

Who Should Buy Huge Supplements XII Intra & Post Workout

  • Folks who are looking for a high dose of carbs to replenish what is lost during and/or after their workout will like the Cluster Dextrin in this supplement. 
  • If you’re worried about absorption, Huge Supplements included 5mg of Bioperine, which can help. 
  • Anyone looking to try a unique flavor will like the Candy Apple and Tropical Blast options here. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Huge Supplements XII Intra & Post Workout

  • Buyers on a budget will want to opt for a less expensive option on this list. 
  • If you’re not looking for a post-workout supplement with a lot of carbs, you can find better options out there. 

Huge Supplements XII Intra & Post Workout is made for the athlete who wants to carb up during and after their workout — plus, the unique flavors stand out from your average “berry” mixes you consistently see across the market. 

Best Post-Workout Creatine

Creatine is one of the most widely-used supplements on the market due to its long list of scientifically-backed benefits, including increased strength, better blood flow to muscle tissue, and even improved cognition.Though timing your creatine intake isn’t particularly important in the grand scheme, the inclusion of HMB makes Transparent Labs a solid pick for those who prefer to do so after their session. 

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

Though creatine is offered in some form by almost every nutritional company out there, Transparent Labs goes the extra mile by including β-Hydroxy β-methylbutyric acid (HMB) into the mix. HMB shows promising indicators when it comes to recovery rates and future performance, particularly with aerobic exercise (2).

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

We like that this product includes hydroxymethyl butyrate, the main metabolite in leucine that prevents muscle protein breakdown. Plus, the blue raspberry flavor is tasty, and the blend contains no artificial sweeteners.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

  • Buyers interested in a creatine supplement that isn’t full of additives or spare calories.
  • Those who mix resistance training and cardio and want to cover both their bases with one recovery product.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

  • Anyone with financial constraints who only wants to pay for creatine monohydrate itself.
  • People trying to gain weight that want a post-workout supplement with more nutritional value.

This creatine is sure to boost blood flow and improve cognition — and though you don’t have to take it after your workout to reap the benefits, with Transparent Labs’ inclusion of HMB, it is a great time to do so. 

Best Post-Workout Protein Powder

When considering post-workout nutrition, many think of protein powders first and foremost. A good whey or casein supplement can ensure you bounce back from a heavy day of squatting at the gym. Jacked Factory stands above the crowd with its whey protein, providing the optimal nutrition needed to get back into fighting shape. 

Jacked Factory Authentic Whey

A well-made whey protein can help replenish lost nutrients and fuel tired muscles after a workout. Jacked Factory Authentic Whey accomplishes both with 24 grams of protein and doses of calcium, iron, sodium, and potassium. This is a viable go-to for anyone seeking a pure, reliable whey powder that’s a blend of both whey isolate and whey concentrate, making for a lean and filling post-workout supplement.

Jacked Factory Authentic Whey Protein Powder
Jacked Factory Authentic Whey Protein Powder
Jacked Factory Authentic Whey Protein Powder

Jacked Factory’s protein contains 24 grams of protein, two grams of fat, three grams of carbs, and contains just eight ingredients in total. This formula is lean and clean.

Who Should Buy Jacked Factory Authentic Whey 

  • Buyers looking for a protein supplement that isn’t bogged down by spare carbs or fat — this product only has 3g of carbs and 1g of fat.
  • Anyone who prioritizes having added minerals in their protein powder will like the calcium, iron, sodium, and potassium here. 
  • Those in the market for a whey that comes in a variety of unique flavors — aside from vanilla and chocolate, this powder comes in Salted Chocolate Caramel and Orange Ice Cream. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Jacked Factory Authentic Whey

  • Consumers who prefer a calorically dense protein powder — there’s only 120 calories per serving here. 
  • Folks who are looking for a product that’s higher in carbs to supplement what was lost during their workout. 

Without the extra carbs and fat you may find in some protein powders, you’re getting 24 grams of protein per serving here, along with added micronutrients that will work straight toward your recovery. 

Best Post-Workout Greens Powder

Most of us were probably forced to eat vegetables at dinner growing up, and at the time, we probably didn’t enjoy it. If you still don’t — but understand that the benefits of including veggies in your diet are functionally endless — picking up a greens powder like Green Surge is an ideal solution. 

Jacked Factory Green Surge

Jacked Factory Green Surge is packed with 15 ingredients fit for both general health and athletic performance. From probiotics and digestive enzymes to spirulina powder and carrot root powder, this list of nutrients can help with gut health, immunity, and even the regulation of oxidative stress, which is key in recovering from high intensity workouts. This fruit and veggie powder comes in both Mixed Berry and Unflavored varieties, so you can drink it alone or pop it in a smoothie with other ingredients without disrupting the taste. 

Jacked Factory Green Surge
Jacked Factory Green Surge
Jacked Factory Green Surge

Jacked Factory Greens Surge delivers 535.26mg of a probiotic and inulin blend, 150mg of digestive enzymes, and 500mg each of spirulina powder, spinach leaf powder, collards leaf powder, wheatgrass powder, and apple fruit powder.

Who Should Buy Jacked Factory Green Surge

  • Athletes who want to ensure all aspects of their health are bolstered by a dietary supplement will like this robust greens powder. 
  • Anyone following a restrictive or specialized diet that may not include many whole vegetables on a regular basis.
  • Those who want to regulate oxidative stress after intense exercise may benefit from this product’s superfoods, like the broccoli and spinach leaf powders. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Jacked Factory Green Surge

  • Those strictly adhering to a vegetarian or vegan diet who already include a high volume of whole food greens daily.

While you can take this supplement morning, noon, or night, it’s specifically great post-workout for regulating the oxidative stress that can increase with intense exercise.

Best Post-Workout EAA 

Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) are aptly named, since they are highly important for tissue repair, but must be ingested from food or external supplements. Since it can be difficult to ensure you’re checking every box with your regular diet, Transparent Labs can help fill your EAA gaps.

Transparent Labs Intra Workout EAA

Transparent Labs brings a buffet to the table with its Intra Workout EAA, including all nine of the major acids in abundance. These nine amino acids can help with tissue repair, nutrient delivery, and reducing soreness post-workout. This product is also sugar free and vegan-friendly, making it an attractive option for just about anyone. You can buy one, two, or three tubs of 30 servings at a time, and choose from the Strawberry Lemonade and Blue Raspberry flavors. 

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Transparent Labs Intra Workout EAA
Transparent Labs Intra Workout EAA
Transparent Labs Intra Workout EAA

Transparent Labs Intra Workout EAA not only contains the three BCAAs, but it also contains the six additional EAAs. This product includes 6.7 grams of EAAs, as well as two grams of citrulline malate and one gram of ElevATP. 

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Intra Workout EAA

  • Anyone concerned that they may not be getting enough EAAs from their standard diet will like that this product contains all nine. 
  • Keto or paleo enthusiasts who want to avoid synthetic additives. 
  • Dietary perfectionists who want to make sure they’re getting everything they need on a daily basis.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Intra Workout EAA

  • Consumers that already have a protein supplement that contains all essential amino acids in sufficient quantities.
  • Those on a robust dietary plan with a lot of varied, whole-food protein sources.

For heavy lifters who are extra concerned with tissue repair, Transparent Labs Intra Workout EAA is a great option for ensuring you receive a solid dose of the nine essential amino acids that can assist with the recovery process and decrease soreness. 

Best Post-Workout BCAA

While a solid whey powder all but ensures you get most of what you need in terms of post-workout macronutrients, there is definitely a good case to be made for including a BCAA supplement, as well. Not every whey powder available will contain all the amino acids your body requires, but dedicated supplementation from something like Swolverine BCAA 2:1:1 Powder can help make sure all your bases are covered. 

Swolverine BCAA 2:1:1 Powder

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) help facilitate muscle protein synthesis both during and after strenuous activity, but aren’t necessarily present in sufficient quantities in certain whole food sources or protein powders. Swolverine BCAA 2:1:1 Powder packs in ample amounts of leuicine, isoleucine, and valine which, collectively, have been shown to increase glucose uptake in muscle tissue (3), as well as promote fat oxidation during fasted exercise (4). 

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Swolverine BCAA 2:1:1 Powder
Swolverine BCAA 2:1:1 Powder
Swolverine BCAA 2:1:1 Powder

Swolverine BCAA 2:1:1 Powder packs leuicine, isoleucine, and valine, which can help increase glucose uptake in muscle tissue, and promote fat oxidation during fasted exercise. It comes in a tangy Lemon Lime flavor. 

Who Should Buy Swolverine BCAA 2:1:1 Powder

  • Anyone concerned with making sure their post-workout protein intake is as comprehensive as possible can benefit from adding this BCAA powder. 
  • Vegetarian or vegan practitioners whose protein sources may not contain sufficient amounts of BCAAs.
  • Athletes who want to get more out of their fasted training sessions.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine BCAA 2:1:1 Powder

  • Anyone who already takes a supplement with sufficient BCAA content on a daily basis.
  • People who regularly eat high-quality fish, poultry, or red meat who may not need additional BCAA supplementation.

While many protein powders do offer a dose of amino acids, Swolverine’s dedicated amino acid supplement hones in on BCAAs to make sure you have all the nourishment you need for post workout muscle protein synthesis. 

Best Post-Workout Mass Gainer 

Mass gainers are second to none when it comes to convenient calorie consumption. If you’re trying to gain weight fast but find it difficult to eat enough complete meals in a day, a good mass gainer can get you where you need to be nutritionally. While many common mass gainers can try to pack too much into their tubs, this pick does not fall into that category.

Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

Transparent Labs Mass Gainer delivers 730 calories, 53 grams of protein, and 109 grams of carbohydrate per serving without excessive sweeteners, dyes, or dairy products. On top of that, its oat and sweet potato powders pack in 6g of fiber for satiety. Overall, this mass gainer is a simple, clean, and effective way to secure some extra calories

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Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

With nothing artificial, whey from New Zealand, a good amount of fiber, and little sugar, this mass gainer will satisfy most athletes. It's a clean mass gainer that focuses on simplicity over added bells and whistles.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

  • Trainees looking to pack on pounds of lean muscle or move up a weight class in their sport.
  • Anyone who values purity and wants their protein sources to be 100 percent grass-fed.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

  • Those who need a truly mountainous amount of calories in their mass gainer — there are more calorically-dense options out there. 
  • Buyers looking for a specific flavor — options for this mass gainer are limited.

If you aren’t getting enough calories or nutrients in your diet throughout the day, this mass gainer will fill the gaps, and help you gain weight more efficiently.

How We Decide the Best

With a seemingly infinite amount of products on the market today, how exactly did we arrive at a list of the best post-workout supplements? Here are the three main things we considered before pulling together our favorite buys.

Lifestyle Factors

We’ve taken into account the variety of ways athletes like to approach their nutritional needs. If you’re meticulous about your calorie and macronutrient intake, a zero-calorie option from Transparent Labs may be ideal. If you’re always on the go and don’t have the time for a home-cooked meal, grabbing a mass gainer could provide the extra calories your body needs to pack on a few pounds. The selections here are versatile enough that you’re almost guaranteed to find something that suits your particular training goals.. 

Research

The supplement industry is rife with bad faith advertising and loose interpretations of data. Since we have no interest in making recommendations that can’t stand on their own merit, we’ve vetted and cross-referenced these products with the literature itself to ensure that none of the companies featured on this list are dishing out hollow promises.

Additives

We made sure to mention when supplements had artificial sweeteners and when they didn’t. Some products also contain extra ingredients like digestive enzymes, fatty acids, and more that can boost post-workout recovery. 

It is a common practice in the supplement industry, however, to load up a product with these extra ingredients as a means of justifying a higher price tag. Since post-workout supplements can be especially prone to this, we’ve gone out of our way to avoid making recommendations that come with too many frilly extras.

What to Consider Before Buying

When it comes to post-workout fuel, you can pack in a lot of nutrients with just a few products. But before you swipe the card on a bunch of new supplements, take a moment to consider all the factors involved. 

Manage Your Expectations

Perhaps the most important thing to bear in mind while shopping for supplements is that all companies are making a targeted effort to pitch their products to you, the consumer. This sometimes means advertising lofty promises and exaggerated benefits. 

While the claims made by the selections in this article are widely backed by scientific literature, nothing is a cure-all or a magic bullet. Make sure you’re reading the ingredients and doing your own research as well before making a final decision.

Don’t Major in the Minors

It can be easy to get caught up in the flashy spectacle of supplements and lose track of the meat and potatoes of a proper diet. Ensuring your caloric needs are laced up and your rest patterns are properly managed are the major keys to reaping the benefits of your workouts long term. Supplements can help shore up weaknesses or account for limitations, but try to avoid leaning on them too much. 

The Right Tool for the Job

It’s important to be conscious of your individual needs when it comes to nutritional supplementation. If you’re steadily gaining weight from your primary diet, you probably don’t need to add a mass gainer supplement. If you’ve been a devoted practitioner of veganism and still crush it in the gym, you may not need a greens powder. 

It is always wise to take stock of where you stand in terms of managing your wellness and performance before grabbing a new supplement, so you don’t end up spending money where you don’t need to.

Final Word

While all of these options superbly satisfy their respective niches, it is important to remember that no individual supplement can make up for things like sloppy training, a careless diet, or poor sleep. More isn’t always more when it comes to supplementation, and overstuffing your cabinet can definitely have diminishing returns.

That said, if you know where your interests lie and are in the market for something that properly augments your existing diet while also speeding up the recovery process, you can certainly find the right tool for the job, and may even start bouncing back from your workouts faster than you were before.

FAQs

Is there really a post-workout anabolic window?

Yes and no. While the body is more primed for nutrient uptake and protein synthesis following a bout of resistance training or intense cardio, it is not a tightly-defined timeline. While chugging a shake or getting a meal in shortly after training is ideal, the difference between half an hour and two hours afterwards is negligible.

Do I need a post-workout supplement if I eat after training?

If the whole food you consume after you leave the gym is well balanced and full of the right nutrition, you don’t technically need additional supplementation. However, getting quality protein, amino acids, and good carbohydrates all in one meal is easier said than done, so a pill or powder could be beneficial.

Is protein wasted if I eat too much of it at once?

This is somewhat contentious in the literature, but broadly speaking, not really. It is possible that if you consume a truly enormous amount of protein-dense food all at once, your body may not be able to fully utilize it before it is passed. But in practical terms, this shouldn’t be a relevant concern for most people.

References

  1. Volek JS, Kraemer WJ, Rubin MR, Gómez AL, Ratamess NA, Gaynor P. (2002) L-Carnitine L-tartrate supplementation favorably affects markers of recovery from exercise stress. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. Feb;282(2):E474-82. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00277.2001. PMID: 11788381.
  2. Lamboley, C. R., Royer, D., & Dionne, I. J. (2007). Effects of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate on aerobic-performance components and body composition in college students. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 17(1), 56–69. 
  3. Doi, M., Yamaoka, I., Fukunaga, T., & Nakayama, M. (2003). Isoleucine, a potent plasma glucose-lowering amino acid, stimulates glucose uptake in C2C12 myotubes. Biochemical and biophysical research communications, 312(4), 1111–1117. 
  4. Achten, J., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2004). Optimizing fat oxidation through exercise and diet. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 20(7-8), 716–727. 
  5. Pavan, R., Jain, S., Shraddha, & Kumar, A. (2012). Properties and therapeutic application of bromelain: a review. Biotechnology research international, 2012, 976203.
  6. Lopresti, A. L., Smith, S. J., Malvi, H., & Kodgule, R. (2019). An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Medicine, 98(37), e17186.