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.

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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

In the world of fitness, much ink has been spilled on the subject of post-workout nutrition and supplementation. Even if you’ve already got the nutrition aspect down, there’s always some room for improvement and optimization. That’s where Huge Supplements comes in with their Formula XII Intra & Post Workout formula. It’s packed with helpful ingredients that may aid in reducing soreness and kick-starting your recovery for the next session.

Huge Supplements Formula XII Intra & Post Workout

This product from Huge Supplements combines 12 potent, high-quality ingredients in clinical doses, which might help your recovery begin immediately. Coming in at 31g per scoop, this product features a full five-gram serving of creatine monohydrate, 10g of Cluster Dextrin, and 3.2g of beta-alanine. Cluster Dextrin is a patented form of carbohydrates that can potentially replenish depleted glycogen stores that are lost during intense exercise faster than other carbohydrates. (1)

The name of the game is quickness with this formula as it’s designed to get you on the road to recovery fast. Formula XII also includes betaine and l-ornithine, which may help improve athletic performance and endurance. You can choose from two flavors — Tropical Blast and Candy Apple. 

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 Formula XII Intra & Post Workout

  • Athletes who have their nutrition on lock, but still want something to help them finish their longer workouts strong will like the big dose of beta-alanine in this product.
  • Those who train hard enough to experience regular soreness or noticeable muscular fatigue will like that l-ornithine is included in this product. 
  • If you’re looking to stay consistent with creatine and want to take it intra or post-workout, this may be a good choice. 

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

  • Buyers that are looking for a post-workout supplement that includes protein. This has carbs and other recovery ingredients, but no protein.
  • 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. 

Formula XII comes with a strong dose of creatine, betaine, and beta-alanine, which may help you push through longer workouts. The included 10g of fast-digesting carbs from Cluster Dextrin can be a helpful way to get the muscle recovery process going, and may help reduce soreness, as well.

Best Post-Workout Protein Powder

When considering post-workout nutrition, many think of protein powders first and foremost. A good whey or casein supplement might help you bounce back from a heavy day of lifting at the gym. This protein powder from Swolverine has solid protein content without a lot of extras to get in the way of your recovery. 

Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

Having a high-quality protein powder after crushing a hard workout can potentially help to replenish the nutrients you used up during the workout and kickstart muscle repair. Swolverine’s whey isolate has 26g of protein as well as electrolytes, which can help replenish what you burned during the workout. What’s not included is also important — this protein powder is lean, and only has a half a gram of fat and one gram of carbs per serving. This means the 110 calories it provides are nearly all from protein.

Aside from a recovery-friendly macronutrient profile, Swolverine added in 10mg of digestive enzymes, which may help to get the protein to your muscles faster. Digestive enzymes may also help to reduce gastric distress and bloating, which is a welcome benefit after a hard workout. Choose your favorite flavor from Vanilla, Chocolate, Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter, and Mint Chocolate Chip to get your recovery started. This protein is a bit on the pricey side at $2.09 per serving, but we think the high quality whey isolate and ingredient list make it worth the money if you can afford it.

Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

This whey protein formula delivers 26 grams of protein with just 0.5 grams of fat, and one gram of carbs. You’ll also find 10mg of digestive enzymes, and a decent number of micronutrients.

Who Should Buy Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate 

  • Buyers looking for a protein supplement that isn’t filled with extra carbs or fat — this product only has one gram of carbs and half a gram of fat.
  • Anyone who has trouble digesting protein will appreciate the added digestive enzymes. 
  • Those who are looking to lose weight or don’t like to drink a lot of their calories. This protein powder is lean and has only 110 calories, most of which come from the whey protein isolate.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate

  • Consumers who prefer a calorically dense protein powder — there are only 110 calories per serving here. 
  • Folks who are looking for a product that’s higher in carbs to supplement what was lost during their workout.
  • Anyone on a tight budget may want to look at other, more cost-effective options.

With this protein powder, you’re getting 26g of high-quality whey protein isolate along with 10mg of digestive enzymes to potentially help break that protein down more efficiently. On top of that, this protein powder is quite lean and diet-friendly for those looking for some recovery help without blowing up their caloric intake.

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.

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 for Carbs

If you’re hitting the gym hard and putting in the work, but neglecting your post-workout nutrition, you’re likely leaving gains to be had. Carbohydrates are important for post-workout recovery — almost as important as protein. Help replenish the carbs you burn during a tough workout with our pick for best post-workout for carbs.

Xwerks Motion

Most people will tell you about protein’s importance after a workout, but fewer will mention the crucial role that carbs play in helping you perform during a workout and recover after. That’s where Xwerks Motion comes in.

This product also boasts 25g of Cluster Dextrin, which is a patented carbohydrate supplement that digests and breaks down quicker than other versions of carbs (1). The formula also includes a solid dose of 3g of BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio, which may help kickstart the recovery and muscle building process.

It’s important to note what this doesn’t include, and that’s fat. Xwerks Motion has zero grams of fat to get in the way of digesting the all-important BCAAs and carbs that may help get you on your way to recovering quicker and stronger. Xwerks Motion comes in two flavors — Raspberry Lemonade and Watermelon.

Xwerks Motion Carb Supplement
Xwerks Motion Carb Supplement
Xwerks Motion Carb Supplement

Xwerks contains three grams of BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio. Plus, there’s an added dose of calcium, magnesium, and sodium for hydration to make sure you’re hitting all your marks during and after your workout.

Who Should Buy Xwerks Motion

  • Anyone who wants a large amount of carbs for their post-workout shake. This packs 25g of carbs per scoop. 
  • Those who are busy and need a convenient way to get post-workout nutrition. If you don’t have the time to cook or eat something, a scoop of this may help get the ball rolling on recovery.
  • Athletes who want a solid dose of BCAAs with their post-workout supplement. Motion has 3g of 2:1:1 BCAAs per serving.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Xwerks Motion

  • Anyone with financial constraints who only wants to pay for a carbohydrate powder itself. This is $1.53 per serving, and a carbohydrate powder can be as low as $0.63 per serving, but it won’t have the BCAAs.
  • People looking for a lot of flavors to choose from may want to look for another product since this is only available in Raspberry Lemonade and Watermelon.

This post-workout supplement from Xwerks has the ingredients you need to help you recover thanks to the inclusion of high-quality and patented ingredients like Cluster Dextrin, electrolytes, and a 2:1:1 ratio BCAAs. Some people even combine this with a protein powder for a potentially better effect.

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. After protein, creatine may be the most utilized supplement to help promote muscle growth. We love this product for its simple yet effective formula.

Swolverine Creatine Monohydrate

Swolverine delivers a simple, straightforward, and effective creatine product. It’s 5,000mg of pure creatine monohydrate which may help with delayed onset muscle soreness and strength gains (2).

This unflavored powder contains no other ingredients and can be taken alone or can be stacked with your other favorite post-workout supplements to potentially aid in recovery and growth. At $0.88 per serving, this creatine is relatively inexpensive while still maintaining a proper dosage that may increase recovery and strength improvements (3). 

Swolverine Creatine Monohydrtae
Swolverine Creatine Monohydrtae
Swolverine Creatine Monohydrtae

Swolverine's Creatine Monohydrate is 5,000 mg of pure creatine with nothing else added. This unflavored powder is easy to mix into any beverage for pre or post-workout enjoyment and benefits. 

Who Should Buy Swolverine Creatine Monohydrate

  • Buyers interested in a creatine supplement that they can take alone or with a stack of their other favorite supplements as this is straight-forward creatine.
  • Anyone who likes unflavored supplements will like that this is unflavored and easy to mix with your beverage of choice.
  • Folks on a budget will love that they don’t have to compromise integrity for a reasonable price point.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine Creatine Monohydrate

  • Anyone looking for a wider range of ingredients to complement their creatine such as a protein powder or BCAAs will have to look elsewhere as this is straight 5,000mg of Plain-Jane creatine monohydrate. 
  • Those who prefer creatine in pill form or a powdered flavor — this formula is unflavored powder.

This creatine is a straight-forward formula with 5g of creatine and nothing else to get between you and your best potential post-workout recovery and gains.

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 Athletic Greens AG1 is an ideal solution. 

Athletic Greens AG1 Greens Powder

Athletic Greens AG1 contains a massive amount of vitamins and minerals sourced from whole foods — 75 to be exact. Just toss one 12g scoop into some water, mix, and you’re ready to go. This product is formulated for both general health and athletic performance. From probiotics and digestive enzyme/super mushroom complexes to antioxidants and superfoods, this product has it all.

Athletic Greens AG1 is a great post-workout choice since it may help to regulate oxidative stress that can result from intense exercise with its superfood blend, which includes spirulina and broccoli. It’s diet-friendly since it’s vegan, paleo, keto, and contains no lactose, egg, corn, or artificial ingredients. This greens powder from Athletic Greens is naturally sweetened with pineapple and vanilla to give it a light and fresh flavor.

Athletic Greens AG1 is quite expensive, but it’s a top-tier supplement that can replace nine separate products, like a multivitaminprobiotic, and mineral product. AG1 is designed to promote gut health, support immunity, boost energy, and help with recovery.

Athletic Greens
Athletic Greens
Athletic Greens

This nutritious greens powder is NSF certified for sport and includes 75 absorbable ingredients and is free of gluten, sugar, dairy, eggs, and nuts. It is compatible with vegan, keto, and paleo diets.

Who Should Buy Athletic Greens AG1 Greens Powder

  • Athletes who may be picky eaters or have dietary restrictions, but want to ensure all aspects of their health are bolstered will like this robust greens powder. 
  • Anyone following a restrictive or specialized diet that may not include many whole vegetables regularly. This contains 75 whole-food ingredients.
  • Those who want to regulate oxidative stress after intense exercise may benefit from this product’s superfoods, like spirulina and broccoli powders. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Athletic Greens AG1 Greens Powder

  • Those strictly adhering to a vegetarian or vegan diet who already include a high volume of whole food greens daily may not need something quite as robust as this greens powder.
  • The price is quite hefty for this product at $99 for 30 servings, so if you’re on a tight budget, this may not be the right product for you.

You can easily add this supplement into your morning, noon, or nightly routine. It may be best to ingest this directly post-workout to support the regulation of oxidative stress that can result from intense exercise. 

Best Post-Workout for Sleep

Getting a good night of sleep is an extremely important part of the post-workout recovery process. This product contains six ingredients that may benefit better sleep, a relaxed mind, and aid those who suffer from insomnia.

FOCL Night

If you’re training hard and trying to make changes to your body, sleep is a necessity for recovery— and it is often underutilized. One study that was conducted on sleep and athletic performance suggested that athletes who suffer from sleep deficiency have a higher likelihood of injury (including traumatic sports injury) and chronic illness (4).

FOCL’s night pills have 20mg of CBD, 50mg of 5-htp, and five botanicals that are all geared towards better sleep. At $1.63 per serving, this sleep aid is a bit more expensive than some of our other picks, but we think its stacked ingredient list makes up for it. 

FOCL Night Sleep Supplement
FOCL Night Sleep Supplement
FOCL Night Sleep Supplement

FOCL Night Sleep Supplement was designed with ashwagandha, CBD, and other botanics to aid you in your best night of rest. This product is vegan, cruelty-free, Non-GMO, and THC free --- meaning you won't get high from it.

Who Should Buy FOCL Night

  • Athletes who want to potentially optimize their sleep with soothing botanicals, 5-htp, and CBD. 
  • Those who like to take their supplements in pill form will be happy with these two pill serving sizes. 
  • Folks who like a multitude of ingredients that may promote better sleep will like this impressive list. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy FOCL Night

  • Those on a budget may want to look for a sleep aid with less ingredients or without CBD which may make the price less expensive. 
  • Folks who don’t like taking pills and would prefer a powder or gummy will have to look elsewhere. 

This sleep aid has a roster of ingredients like CBD and 5-htp that may lead to better sleep, help with insomnia, and lessen anxiety symptoms.

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 (5), as well as promote fat oxidation during fasted exercise (6). 

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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. 

flexed back muscles
Image from Shutterstock/Viktor Gladkov

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. Wilburn, D., Machek, S., & Ismaeel, A. (2021). Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin and its Ergogenic Effects in Athletes: A Brief Review. Journal of Exercise and Nutrition4(3).
  2. Rawson ES, Volek JS. Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Nov;17(4):822-31. doi: 10.1519/1533-4287(2003)017<0822:eocsar>2.0.co;2. PMID: 14636102.
  3. Examine.com. (2022, July 7). Creatine – health benefits, dosage, side effects. Examine.com. Retrieved July 28, 2022, from https://examine.com/supplements/creatine/ 
  4. Copenhaver EA, Diamond AB. The Value of Sleep on Athletic Performance, Injury, and Recovery in the Young Athlete. Pediatr Ann. 2017 Mar 1;46(3):e106-e111. doi: 10.3928/19382359-20170221-01. PMID: 28287684.
  5. 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 communications312(4), 1111–1117. 
  6. Achten, J., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2004). Optimizing fat oxidation through exercise and diet. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.)20(7-8), 716–727.