Every bodybuilding and athlete knows the importance of being able to recover and rebuild as efficiently as possible.
It doesn't matter how hard you train, without proper nutrition and sufficient nutrients, your progress will be slow.
So we went through the grunt work and found the top supplements for recovery…
You’ve just had a killer workout.
Your muscles are pumped, and tight and you are satisfied at a job well done.
Only problem is you’re not done – not even close.
You see, that muscle quivering workout hasn’t built up your body – it’s actually broken it down.
You’ve been placing stress on your muscle cells, which has actually caused microtears in your muscle fiber.
So, when you walk out that door you are weaker and in danger of losing more muscle than at any other time.
Unless you get your post-workout nutrition right, all of the hard work under the heavy iron will be undone.
Post workout nutrition will fuel your body with the nutrients that you need to renew and rebuild your body after the stress of working out.
But post workout nutrition is a confusing subject, largely because the supplement industry has made it that way in order to make as much money as they possibly can.
In this article, we provide a top 10 list of the best post workout supplements, followed by a complete discussion of post workout nutrition that you can use as a one-stop guide to nailing your after-exercise nutrition.
The Best Buying Guide To Post Workout Supplements
Recovery and post workout supplements can help speed up the rebuild process that occurs post-workout.
Now if you don't have a proper diet that supplies you the nutrition you need, then these supplements will not do anything for you other than burning a hole in your wallet.
Supplements do one thing and one thing only….
They supplement your diet.
This guide will help you decide which post workout is best suited for you.
We'll dive deep into the ingredients and reveal what they do and how they will help enhance the recovery process.
Top 10 Post Workout Supplements For Recovery and Muscle Growth
Growth Surge loads up on 3 simple but effective ingredients that’ll help recover and build muscle.
These 3 ingredients are constantly talked about as they are super effective at what they do.
It starts off with 3g of creatine, the same amount that’s found in Jacked Factory’s pre workout, Altius.
Next up is 2.5g betaine anhydrous, a strength and muscle builder that works well with creatine, which is also found in Altius.
And finally we have 2g of the super bioavailable form of L-Carnitine, which’ll help blood flow and recovery by increasing androgen density in muscles.
5mg BioPerine is included to help enhance bioavailability of all the ingredients,
This simple but very effective post workout is made well to enhance recovery and reduce soreness.
Whether you stack it with Altius or not, Growth Surge will go perfectly with any pre workout really.
Just like Kaged Muscle, JYM has cut down the dosages to sort of force you to buy their pre workout.
This is fine for most people as usually their pre / intra covers the other half of these dosages but it isn't nice to be “forced” to buy seperate products as they have split dosages.
But that aside, let's look at what Post JYM offers….
Glutamine is included here to ensure recovery as the body is made out of this essiential ingredient, though it is poorly absorbed without L-Alanine to help with bioavailability.
Luckily there is a solid dose of BioPerine to help with the overall absorption of this formula.
Creatine is dosed here at 2g, which is low but JYM is assuming you're using his Pre-JYM supplement to make up for the other half of this ingredient.
The 2g of beta alanine is included to increase recovery, strength but it gets better with regular use as your body becomes saturated with this lactic-acid buffering ingredient.
L-Carnitine L-Tartrate is present here to maximize testosterone production as well as increased vasodilation as it can help with blood flow.
Betaine is another strength builder that helps with ATP production and recovery.
The 1 gram of taurine is also included for maximum voluminzation and nutrient delivery.
Finally we have a solid 6 gram serving of BCAA's to help with reducing fatigue and increasing recovery through increased muscle protein synthesis.
Post-JYM seperates the carbs in case you'd like to control the carb serving.
Each serving contains 32 grams of fast absorbing dextrose to drive insulin up and increase nutrient absorption of the other ingredients.
Overall, Post JYM is a great post workout formula that is put together by the popular Jim Stoppani.
If you're looking for increased recovery and muscle growth, you'll get it with this supplement.
EVLution is known for their pre workout, ENGN, a top seller on bodybuilding.com but one that doesn’t exactly meet up to our standards due to its massive prop blends.
But RecoverMode, on the other hand, is fully disclosed and well ahead of ENGN because you know what you’re getting.
It has 5g BCAA’s, 3g creatine, 3g glutamine, 1.6g beta alanine, L-Carnitine L-Tartrate and all the nutrients needed to recover from a grueling workout.
Unlike most post workouts, it doesn’t have any carbs or protein, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your goals.
RecoverMode is a well designed post workout that is set with a fair price.
Optimum Nutrition has not only formulated a solid post workout supp but they also ensured that it was simple and effective.
It looks like a simple formula but it has premium sources of protein, BCAA's, and various sources of carbs to replenish glycogen stores.
These are the ingredients that make up Optimum Recovery…
These ingredients are based on the latest studies which has shown that blending different sources of carbs and proteins ensures maximum absorption.
The specific blends and ratios have been shown to increase repair and recovery.
The protein sources rang from fast digesting, to medium to slow so your body is constantly fed the fuel it needs to recover.
Carbs are a mix of types from simple to rapid digesting carbs which will help shuttle nutrients to where they need to go in the body.
The 5 grams of BCAA's are in a 2:1:1 ratio, so you'll get more leucine than isoleucine and valine.
On top of that, there's also 23 grams of amino acids that's already available in the protein.
You could take double servings (2 scoops) to double the doses there, but usually, if you're under 200 lbs you'll be find with 1 scoop.
Optimum 2:1:1 is a great post workout if you're looking for something proven to help with recovery.
Kaged Muscle covers everything from pre, intra and post.
Re-Kaged is your post workout supplement as it has everything you need to recover from a hard session.
But like JYM's post workout, it is meant to be stacked with their pre workout as it has the other “half” of the clincial dosages.
For example, Pre-Kaged has 1.5g betaine anhydrous, while the post has the other half, 1.5g.
This may be a downside but if you're already taking a pre workout with at least 1g of betaine anhydrous and 2g of creatine, then you're covered.
Each serving is packed with 47 grams of post-recovery goods though.
Just look at these ingredients:
Having 28 grams of whey protein isolate is a big game changer for a post workout as this category is filled with supplements that only have a few ergogenics and a whole bunch of carbs.
It's important to have this fast digesting form of protein as it contains all the amino acids (not just BCAA's) as well as ensuring your body gets the protein it needs as soon as you've finished training.
If you're training as hard as you should be, then you may be depleting yourself from glutamine, a essential amino acid that is available everywhere in your body but decreases after training.
It may be argued that glutamine isn't the most effective recovery ingredient as it may have trouble making it past our stomach, however combining it with L-Alanine is usually a way of overcoming this problem.
Next up is BetaPower, which is a patented form of Betaine Anhydrous, a strength enhancing ingredient that can also increase cell hydration and muscle protein snythesis.
There's 1.5g here, so if you're taking Pre-Kaged or any pre workout with at least 1g of betaine anhydrous, you're fully covered.
Creatine Hcl is up next and it is the same deal as it is only dosed at 1.5g so you'll need to supplement with bulk creatine to ensure you're getting at least 3-5g of creatine daily.
The last and final ingredient is Prohydrolase, an interesting ingredient that can increase absorption of protein by hydrolyzing it.
So whey protein isolate is absorbed just as quick as whey hydrolyzed.
Overall, this post workout is put together well but it is better if it's combined with their pre workout (Pre-Kaged).
Muscle Elements puts out solid supplements, from their complete pre workout, PreCre to their higher stim pre, PreCre XS.
This, like their intra-workout, is a complete supplement that offers everything that’s need after a workout and it is as delicious as it looks.
Post Pro is designed to replenish what you would deplete from hard training and will help you recover and grow.
It uses 25g dextrose, a simple sugar that’ll quickly replenish glycogen stores.
The 20g protein serving is made up of mostly whey isolate (11g) and the rest being whey concentrate (8g).
It also provides 5g glutamine, which has been proven to be useless due it it’s poor absorbability but it is converted into blood sugar, so you’ll get even more carbs on top of dextrose.
With 5g BCAA’s, and 5g creatine, you’re going to recover much more efficiently.
Post Pro also has extra ingredients like 400mg tart cherry powder, an antioxidant that’ll fight inflammation and help recover strength much quicker.
This is a heavy weight post workout supplement that contains much more than just whey protein.
If you take PreCre along Post Pro, then you’ll be getting loads of creatine as they both contain a 5g dose.
But otherwise, Post Pro is the perfect recovery supplement that’ll help speed up recovery and replenish nutrients lost during training.
AfterGlow has been a top post workout supplement for years now.
From joint health, to simple carbs, protein and nutrients from A-Z, it contains everything needed for recovery following a demanding workout.
This post workout tastes fantastic but the main reason why it’s here is because of it’s profile.
The formula is near perfect, aside from the prop blends, soreness will never be an issue after having this as your post workout shake.
It has 20g of protein, containing both whey concentrate and whey isolate, with isolate being a little faster absorbing.
The 30g carbs will ensure that your glycogen stores are replenished and the addition of joint support is nice to see.
The downside is that it can be expensive and the servings are limited to 16 and 32 (costing $35 and $49, respectively).
And the prop blends are way out of date as most supplements are generally fully disclosed.
Still, very few post workout supplements come close to this one.
Whether you want to put on muscle or recover quicker, you’ll like AfterGlow’s BioRythm.
It beats the other post supplements above this one because of the number of servings and price.
It has double the servings of Post Pro but at half the price!
If you weigh under 200lbs you’ll most likely benefit from half a serving, so you’ll make it last even longer.
From HemaVO2 to Max Out, iForce has always been putting out solid supplements that go above and beyond expections.
Here we have Finish Line, a packed and well thought out post workout formula that will help with recovery and allow you to come back to the gym refreshed and repenlished.
Finish Line stands out in that it doesn't force you to buy multiple products to get full doses of ergogenics, like Kaged Muscle and JYM would.
Look at these ingredients and their doses…
That is one solid looking formula…
All of those ingredients are provided with full clincal dosages so you are undoubtetldy to make the most out of your post-recovery.
With a 4:1:1 ratio of BCAA's, you'll benefit from reduced soreness, increased muscle protein synthesis and decreased fatigue.
Next we have an ingredient that's traditionally used pre-training, beta alanine.
It's dosed at 3.2g so you're going to feel tingles if you're not used to this ingredient but it does come with various benefits like increased muscle growth, reduced fatigue and increased strength.
You can take BA anytime so there's no need to worry about the timing here and it gets better with long-use as it builds up in the body.
Betaine is the next ingredient and it's another strength booster that is used to reduce soreness, increase protein synthesis and increase ATP production as well as increasing endurance.
Now for testosterone production and increased bloodflow, we have L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, a more bioavailable and better form of L-Carnitine.
It wouldn't be a complete formula without creatine, and what better time to replinish your ATP stores than post workout?
With 2g creatine Hcl and 1g magnesium creatine chelate, you'll benefit from increased muscle mass, strength and increased recovery.
Usually we see L-Glutamine on it's own but it's nearly useless without L-Alanine, which is why iForce has combined both of these ingredients in Finish Line.
Glutamine has a hard time getting past the stomach and into the intestines.
L-Alanine counters that by making glutamine much more bioavailable.
The only downside is that everything by iForce is usually tasty so you may get addicted to this post workout!
Everything they've made from pre's, intra to post is perfect so do expect this to really help with muscle growth and recovery.
Getting the most out of your post-recovery window is more than just consuming BCAA's, glutamine and a bit of ergogenics.
MyoGenix has an advanced formula put together that is made to enhance recovery, performance and reduce soreness.
After-Shock contains a wide variety of ingredients and nutrients, all of which are shown to increase muscle growth, replenish glycogen stores and enhance recovery.
So this is what's in every 80 gram serving…
Right off the top you can see that the carb to protein ratio is perfect for most people as it isn't overwhelmingly packed with carbs.
With 34 grams of fast digesting protein, you'll make the most out of your post workout supplementation as the protein source is made out of both hydrolyzed and whey isolate.
The addition of carbs will have the flavor tasting good without a doubt, and it's made out of maltodextrin, a fast digesting carb that is benefical to have post workout.
The amino acid blend is made out of patented and highly bioavailable ingredients, like magnesium glycyl glutamine and creatine chelate.
This blend will not only increase energy and ATP production but also recovery and muscle growth.
It wouldn't be complete without the fully packed 7 grams BCAA's and 1.5g joint support.
If you're training hard and putting your joints under stress with compound exercises, then you will surely benefit from all of these ingredients that MyoGenix has put together.
This is a packed post workout formula that has everything your body needs to recover fully.
By now you've probably heard of Transparent Labs.
There might be hundreds of supplement companies out there but Transparent Labs is one of the few that not only uses naturally sweetened products but also fully transparent labels with full clinical doses of ingredients.
Their low stim but awesomely packed pre workout PreSeries Bulk has landed quite high on our top 10 list as it's one of the most balanced out there (each serving is like a protein scoop!).
CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine has your recovery covered as it has fully dosed ingredients:
Starting with BCAA's, it's made out of 3 essential ingredients that is used to increase protein synthesis.
Muscles tissue is quickly broken down during intense exercise, which can be a bad thing if it happens too often.
BCAA's will help maintain lean muscle mass while decreasing soreness and increasing recovery.
Most products only contain 5g or less per serving, but here TL is going all out with 8 grams.
Next is Glutamine, an amino acid that is readily available throughout the body but it is easily depleted with intense exercise.
So this 5 gram dosage will help increase recovery and delay the onset of fatigue. Last but not least is coconut water powder.
If you've ever tried coconut oil before your workout, you'll know it energizes and increases endurance better than most things out there.
This full gram of coconut water powder contains electrolytes which will help maintain hydration during workouts.
This helps with many things including helping increase muscle contractions and reducing the risk of muscle cramps.
You'll get about 65mg potassium from this dosage.
This may look like a simple formula but really it's better than most post workouts as it contains 3 ingredients that are perfectly dosed for enhanced recovery and increased hydration.
If it was a just a little cheaper, we think it would be the best post workout supplement.
Use this 10% off coupon for maximum savings: FITFREK
When you see a NutraBio on a supplement, you know it’s going to be the highest quality.
Reload is no different.
It’s jam packed with high quality ingredients, ranging from BCAA’s, to glutamine and much more.
It has everything needed to recover from a workout, but it is different as it doesn’t have any carbs or protein.
Reload is fully disclosed, everything is revealed, including the “other” ingredients.
You won’t only feel recovered and less soreness with this post workout but steady strength gains are easily made, thanks to the strength support compounds.
This might a bit more expensive than other supplements but that’s because it is loaded with ingredients and properly dosed for results.
The quality is also excellent as it is with all NutraBio supplements.
Reload is easily one of the best post workouts we've ever seen.
The Benefits of Post-Workout Nutrition
Getting the right nutrients into your body after your training session will help to kickstart the repair process.
The most important nutrient that you need post workout is protein.
The reason is simple; protein (or, at least, the amino acids, that protein is made of) makes up the building blocks of the body.
It starts the process of protein synthesis, at the same time halting the process of catabolism, or muscle breakdown.
The benefits of post workout protein have been scientifically proven.
In a 1999 study out of the University of Texas, a group of weight trainers were given a heavy leg workout followed by a placebo.
Another group were given the same workout followed by oral ingestion of essential amino acids, while a third group were given a mixture of essential and non-essential amino acids.
Several hours later the protein balance of each group was measured.
The placebo group were in negative protein balance, indicating that they were losing muscle.
The two groups who had taken amino acids were in positive protein balance, showing that they were in an anabolic, muscle building state.
This post workout anabolic state will add a few grams of muscle to your frame after every workout.
When consistently done over a period of months, you will be piling pounds of extra muscle onto your body.
Of course, adding protein to your diet any time of the day will help to keep you in an anabolic state.
But, protein that is taken after your workout will boost protein synthesis more than protein that is taken at other times of the day.
In a 1997 study out of Shriners Burns Institute, six untrained men were given an infusion of amino acids both in the absence of exercise and post workout, following a leg workout session.
The protein taken after the workout led to a 30-100% increase in protein synthesis.
So, it’s pretty clear – post workout protein is essential if you want to build, rather than lose, muscle tissue.
But how much should you be taking?
This question was addressed in a 2009 study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The study involved six healthy young men who were subjected to intense leg training workouts.
After each workout they were given whole egg protein in the following amounts: 5,10,15,20 and 40 grams.
It was shown that protein synthesis was maximal at 20 grams.
At 40 grams, the group did not have any improved protein synthesis!
This study gives us a good baseline, but we cannot assume that it applies to everybody in every situation.
For one thing, the more muscle you are carrying, the more protein you are going to need.
You can actually work out your post workout requirement with the following formula:
Post workout protein requirement = lean body weight (lbw) x activity factor divided by 5
If you are training as hard as you should be in the gym your activity factor will be 0.7
Let’s say that you weigh 200 pounds and your bodyfat percentage is 15%. Your leaning body is going to 170 pounds (200 x 0.85).
Our equation becomes:
170 x 0.7 / 5 = 29 grams.
So, a 200-pound guy with 15% body fat should be taking around 30 grams of protein as part of his post workout supplementation program.
The most important types of amino acids that you should be taking post workout are branch chain amino acids (bcaas).
These are the three amino acids leucine, valine and isoleucine.
Of the three, leucine is the key player.
In fact, leucine is like the key that starts the ignition process of your car.
Leucine ignites the muscle protein synthesis process in your muscle cells.
It does this by activating a complex known as mTOR, which ramps up protein synthesis, which in turn leads to muscle growth.
Ensuring that you have 4-6 grams of leucine as part of your post workout formulation will give you an advantage in terms of protein synthesis.
In addition to sparking muscle protein synthesis, leucine also spikes post workout insulin levels.
It stimulates the pancreas to release more insulin, and helps to drive that insulin into the muscle cell to help stimulate muscle growth.
Insulin has the added benefit of decreasing the breakdown of protein.
Your post workout protein shake will include BCAA’s.
However, taking extra free form BCAAs will get these essential amino acids to your muscle cells faster, ensuring that your body has the prime tools it needs when it needs them most.
Take 5-10 grams of BCAAs within 30 minutes of completing your workout.
Use a protein powder as your main source of post workout protein.
The best form of protein to take is whey protein.
This is one of two types of milk protein, the other being casein.
Whey is the soluble part of milk protein.
As opposed to casein which makes up the 80% which is in globular form.
During the cheese manufacturing process, the whey is separated from casein.
It then undergoes a number of filtering steps.
During this time carbs in the form of lactose and fat is removed.
This improves the protein concentrate content up to around 80%.
It also includes the following micro fractions:
These micro fractions proved extra benefits such as antioxidant and immune boosting properties.
To get an even purer form of protein, the whey may go through a process involving microfiltration or ion exchange chromatography to get rid of all of the carbs and fat.
The resulting product is known as whey protein isolate.
A further process of hydrolyzation may be undertaken to break the long whey chains into much shorter chains, known as peptides.
This allows the protein to digest much faster.
Whey protein delivers its amino acids to the bloodstream much faster than casein.
In about 75 minutes the aminos will be available to the muscle cell to turn on muscle protein synthesis and start muscle growth.
This is vital after your workout as this is when your muscles need it the most.
4 Most Important Post Workout Nutrients
With dozens of ingredients in supplements, there are only a few that are really that important to have after a workout.
The following 4 nutrients are considered to be important if you're trying to make the most out of your training.
You may have to adjust according to your goals (cutting, bulking, etc).
Post Workout Carbs
You already know how important carbs are before your workout.
After all, they provide the fuel to power you through your training session.
But did you realize that they are also important as part of your post workout nutrition plan?
When you work out, one of the main fuel sources that your body uses is glycogen stored in the muscle cell.
At the end of your workout, your muscle glycogen levels will be depleted.
You need to restore them in order to reclaim the energy you need and to fill out your muscles.
In fact, if you don’t fill up on glycogen your muscle building potential will be compromised.
It appears that when your body’s energy levels are low, the natural preservative ability of the body will slow down any muscle building process, even if you have got ample supplies of amino acids to work with.
Glycogen also pulls water into the muscle cell.
This water increase makes the muscles look fuller and bigger.
Some evidence even suggests that more water in the cell actually stretches the muscle’s membranes, which turns on chemical pathways that trigger more protein synthesis.
The good news is that the best types of carbs to have post workout are those that are high on the Glycemic Index.
These carbs digest quickly and cause a spike in insulin levels.
We’ve already spoken about the benefits of spiking insulin levels post workout – it’s the only time of the day that it’s a good idea.
Insulin will help to get more creatine into your muscle cells, as well as the branch chain amino acids and beta-alanine.
The high glycemic index carbs are, of course, the ones that we are usually told to steer well clear of – things like gummy bears, white bread with jam or even the odd donut!
So long as you’ve earned them with a gut busting workout, they won’t harm you – in fact they will actually boost your gains.
Post Workout Creatine
Once it has gained access to the fiber, it gains a high energy phosphate to form phosphocreatine (PCr).
When you start lifting, the creatine will donate a phosphate to the muscle in order to form Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).
This is what provides the energy to fuel your training for that set.
So, the more phosphocreatine you have stored in the muscle fiber, the more reps you will pound out.
So, with creatine you can get more reps with a given as well as increasing your one rep max more than if you weren’t taking it.
Studies have also shown that creatine significantly increases lean muscle mass.
In a 1998 study by Kelly and Jenkins, a group of powerlifters taking creatine gained an average of over 6 pounds of lean body weight (with some gaining as much as 11 pounds) in a 4-week period.
Those taking a placebo had no change in body weight.
Creatine has even been found to actually increase the number of satellite cells in muscle fibres.
Satellite cells are like muscle stem cells.
Adding more of them will make you bigger and stronger.
In a 2006 study by Olsen, et al, it was seen that eight weeks of creatine supplementation, in conjunction with a workout program, resulted in a nearly 100 percent increase in satellite cells in their muscles than was seen in a placebo group.
You should take 5 grams of creatine before your workout to max out the levels in your muscle cells.
Taking another 5 grams post workout will allow it to be most effectively synthesized and replenish the levels that are lost during your training.
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid which is taken up by muscle fibres where it combines with the amino acid histidine to form the dipeptide carnosine.
Carnosine increases the muscle’s buffering capacity of hydrogen ions.
This allows you to maintain stronger contractions for longer periods for exercise.
The bottom line is that it will allow you to improve your strength and muscle gains in addition to losing more body fat.
Beta-alanine has been shown to work well with creatine.
In one study a group of weight trainers was given 10 grams of creatine daily along with 3.2 grams of beta-alanine over a 12-week period while another group was given only 10 grams of creatine.
The beta-alanine / creatine group added significantly more muscle mass while losing body fat.
The creatine alone group did not lose any body fat.
You should take 2 grams of beta-alanine prior to your workout and another 2 grams immediately after your session.
Glutamine is the most important amino acid in the body.
Glutamine helps you to lose weight, it detoxifies the liver, it boosts the immune system and it improves the digestive system.
It is also essential for the development of your body.
The four key training related benefits of glutamine are:
Have you ever had a few days off from training and then come back, feeling refreshed and full of energy, ready to kill it in the gym?
That is what full recovery feels like.
Most of us, however, rarely experience it.
Glutamine supplementation will allow you to have that feeling every day, no matter how hard the previous day’s workout was.
Taking glutamine after your workout protects your muscles from being eaten alive by the hormones that are released when you train hard.
Supplementing with glutamine was first used in the treatment of severe burn victims.
The stress of the burns created for these victims huge amounts of muscle consuming hormones circulating through their bloodstream.
Glutamine was used successfully to block those hormones and protect the victim’s muscle tissue from being destroyed.
When applied to the world of fitness and bodybuilding in the early 1960’s, the results were immediate.
Guys were able to recover from their workouts within hours, rather than days.
Back then they didn’t understand why – all they knew was that glutamine was the key to rapid recovery.
Research since the 1960’s has discovered that supplementation with glutamine acts as a cell volumizer.
It re-hydrates the muscle cell, transporting vital nitrogen and glycogen to provide the energy and muscle building nutrients that it needs to repair the damage done during the workout.
Glutamine supplementation has the added benefit of making your insulin process more efficient.
A study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, showed that the rate at which nutrients are absorbed into muscle tissue was increased by 25% when glutamine was supplemented.
This means that your body can absorb nutrients with less insulin.
Supplementing with glutamine will allow you to train hard, seven a days a week.
It will also put your body in an anabolic state, where it is in the best possible position to take advantage of the hard training that it has gone through on the gym.
Glutamine’s ability to enhance protein synthesis and boost nitrogen delivery to the muscle cell makes it an effective fat burner.
The more muscle that you build, the faster your metabolism will be, allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day.
Glutamine’s ability to enhance insulin ability to carry energy to our cells also slows down insulin release, which helps to control fat deposits.
A study published in the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition” in 2014 had obese women supplementing with glutamine for 4 weeks without making any other nutritional changes.
These women lost weight.
A control group who took a protein supplement did not lose weight.
Because glutamine is severely depleted from intense training, it is critical that you take a quality glutamine supplement as soon after your workout as possible, but definitely within 30 minutes of putting down the weights.
There are two types of glutamine supplements available on the market. Glutamine peptides bond glutamine to other amino acids, whereas free form glutamine is stands alone.
The majority of studies that show the benefits of glutamine in an exercise recovery setting use free form glutamine.
This is the most popular form of supplementation.
You should take 2-4 grams of glutamine after your workout.
Is the Post Workout Anabolic Window a Real Thing?
You don’t have to be around the iron game very long before you start hearing about the famed ‘anabolic window.’
This is a 30-45 minute period immediately following your workout which is supposed to be the critical time to get your post workout nutrition into your system.
If you miss it, you’ve pretty much just wasted the benefits of your entire workout.
So, does the anabolic window really exist?
To find out it will help for us to remember a couple of definitions:
Protein synthesis – this is the process by which amino acids are bound together.
This triggers a genetic response to build more muscle mass.
The process is elevated by a high protein meal and by your workouts.
Protein breakdown – the process by which amino acids are leeched off your skeletal muscle tissue.
It occurs either when you are deprived of calories or you have just worked out.
These two processes are constantly taking place and it is their interaction that determines whether or not you gain muscle mass.
Exercise induced protein synthesis elevation occurs every time you work out.
Let’s say that you are working your chest.
As a result, the protein synthesis for that particular muscle will be increased for 24-36 hours.
Peak synthesis will be at about 24 hours, and will slowly diminish.
So, as long as you are taking in a good amount of protein and are not in a calorie deficit, you will already be taking advantage of your anabolic window, which is not 30-45 minutes long, but 24 hours long.
The bottom line is that you don’t need to worry excessively about getting your post workout supplements in during a 30-45 minute anabolic window.
So long as you are getting in the nutrients that you need, you will be good to go.
When it comes to the research on this subject, the results are decidedly mixed.
There are some studies that show that taking your post workout nutrition within the supposed 30-45 minute anabolic window results in increased muscle growth than taking them later and others that show no difference.
The most important thing, of course, is to make sure that you are actually taking in the correct post workout nutrition as identified in the above sections, rather than the exact time that you are doing so.
Of course, for many people it is more convenient to take their post workout nutrition shortly after working out.
For others, the intensity of their workout prevents them from eating for a couple of hours (for example, after they’ve just compete a heavy leg session).
In these cases, taking in your nutrition two-three hours after training is the ideal scenario.
The exception to all of this is when it comes to refuelling your glycogen levels post workout.
You will want to get those high glycemic carbs into your body as quickly as you can after the workout is finished.
How To Take Post Workout Supplements
You may be tempted to go out there and buy each ingredient in your post workout nutrition arsenal separately.
This is perfectly fine, but it will prove to be pretty expensive.
You are better off looking for a combined post workout formula that includes the ingredients that we have identified:
You may also want to look for a product that includes fast acting carbohydrates.
These will usually be in the form of dextrose.
Alternatively, treat yourself to a well-earned small sweet treat post workout to replenish your glycogen levels and stimulate the pancreas to release insulin.
Are There Any Side Effects?
The post workout supplements that we recommend here are all completely natural.
As a result, they do not carry any major side effects.
However, there are some things that you should be prepared for:
Post workout jitters – if you are taking a post workout primarily to effect fat loss, be aware that a lot of products on the market include ingredients that are highly stimulatory.
As a result, they bring about a jittery, unnatural, wired sensation.
Dehydration – some post workout ingredients are designed to draw lactic acid away from the muscle cells.
The result can be dehydration. So, make sure that you are drinking plenty of water post exercise.
Bloating, flatulence – Some people find that creatine causes a measure of bloating and flatulence.
If you are taking your post workout shake with milk and are lactose intolerant you may also experience stomach discomfort.
In this case, try switching to soy milk or water.
For some people, the very idea of eating (even in liquid form) food after a workout is enough to make them feel like vomiting.
If you are one of them, wait for a couple of hours before taking your post workout nutrition.
What to Look for In a Post Workout Supplement
We have already identified the key ingredients that you need to look for in you post workout formula.
You may prefer to also get your post workout carbs in as part of your post workout formula.
If so, it should be in the form of dextrose.
If you are on a keto diet or otherwise wanting to keep down your carbs, take a small post workout high glycemic carb snack.
Other ingredients that are useful, but not essential in a post workout formulation are:
Beyond these ingredients, you should begin to become a little suspicious.
If you see listed ingredients that you’ve never heard of, or cannot even pronounce, you may want to give that product a miss.
You have worked too hard and your body is too important to allow artificial flavors or coloring into it.
When it comes down to the price of a supplement, rather than considering the total cost price, it is best to focus on the individual dose price.
You can do this by dividing the total cost by the number of servings listed on the container.
So, a post workout that provides 30 servings for $20 gives you a per serving cost of 67 cents.
That would represent great value in a post workout.
If you can get a reputable brand name which includes all of the ingredients above for less than $1.25 per serve, you should grab it.
The workout supplement market is extremely crowded with new players coming on board all the time.
What that means is that those who provide a quality product at a reasonable price, backed up with excellent after sales service will survive, and those that don’t won't.
Those companies that have established brand recognition have done so for a reason – because they offer the best products.
Some of the top players in the market are Optimum Nutrition, Muscle Tech, BSN and BPI Sports.
It doesn’t matter how good a post workout formula is for you, if you can’ stand the taste you aren’t going to take it consistently.
Taste is of course a subjective thing, so you may have to experiment to find the product that you like.
Of course, we need to be balanced here.
The key point of taking a post workout is function, not form. But it must be palatable at the same time.
Beware of the inclusion of artificial additives that have been used to provide the taste of the product.
The most important post workout macronutrient is protein.
Look for a formula that is 60% protein and includes 5-8 grams of BCAAs and 2-4 grams of glutamine.
Carbs should constitute 35% of your post workout formula (unless you are on a keto diet).
These should be simple carbs in the form of dextrose.
5% of your post workout shake should be in the form of fats.