Drawing from my years as a senior coach, I've recognized the need for a deeper understanding of post-workout nutrition.
Collaborating with fellow trainers, we dedicated over 175 hours to researching the best recovery products available, and I've personally tested some of these with a group of my clients.
Here are the top post-workout supplements we endorse based on our comprehensive analysis.
The Best Post-Workout Recovery Supplements
- Best Overall Post-Workout Drink: Transparent Labs
- Cheapest Post-Workout Drink: PROGENEX Recovery
- Best Fast-Absorbing Post-Workout Drink: Jacked Factory
- Best Post-Workout Drink for Muscle Gain: BSN Amino X
- Best Keto Post-Workout Supplement: Vintage Build
- Best Drink for Post-Workout Muscle Recovery: Transparent Labs
- Best Post-Workout BCAA Powder: Optimum Nutrition
- Best Post-Workout Drink for Endurance: JYM Post-Workout
- Best for Stacking Post-Workout Drink: BSN Amino X
- Best Tasting Post-Workout Drink: BSN Amino X
Our Top Post Workout Supplements (December 2023)
1 - Transparent Labs Post Workout (Best Overall & for Muscle Recovery)
I've personally tried a myriad of post-workout drinks, but this one stands out. Its well-balanced blend of amino acids genuinely seemed to speed up my recovery and reduce muscle soreness after those grueling leg days.
Some of my clients have been drinking it after every training session, as it seems to help repair and rebuild damaged muscle tissue a lot faster.
- Main Ingredient: L-Glutamine 5,000 mg
- Claims to have a scientifically chosen blend of amino acids for faster muscle recovery
- A good dose of L-carnitine to help overcome fatigue
- Contains no fillers or artificial additives
- The cherry juice flavor is a bit too intense
The protein powder mixes easily with water, but the cherry flavor is a bit intense, so you might want to water it down a bit more.
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2 - Jacked Factory Growth Surge (Best for Energy Boost & Fast-Absorbing)
I remember when a fellow bodybuilder at my gym recommended the Jacked Factory drink. I gave it a shot, and it quickly became a staple in my post-workout routine, giving me that much-needed energy boost.
I noticed a lot of comments where people said that the ingredients it contains seem to be absorbed by your body pretty fast.
- Main Ingredient: Creatine 3,000 mg
- Seems to start working fast due to faster-absorbed ingredients
- Positive comments about the flavor
- Comes with a money-back guarantee for added peace of mind
- Just make sure you shake it well to avoid a lumpy texture
It doesn’t seem to be the easiest one to mix with water and will require a bit more effort in a shaker.
3 - Optimum Nutrition Instantized BCAA Powder (Best BCAA)
I've always been curious about BCAAs, so I decided to incorporate this one into my regimen. Not only did it give me an energy boost post-workout, but I also noticed an improvement in my endurance during my runs.
There are also plenty of positive reviews that the protein powder might repair muscles significantly faster than other supplement powders. But there are some considerations need when choosing between whey protein and BCAA's.
- Main Ingredient: BCAAs 5,000 mg
- Specifically formulated to provide important BCAAs for faster recovery
- Mixes very easily without the need of a shaker
- Also available as capsules for better convenience
- Some people found the flavors a bit fake tasting
The only thing I’d point out is that some of our clients thought the protein powder tasted a bit fake.
4 - BSN Amino X Powder (Best Tasting & for Muscle Gain)
During my quest for the perfect post-workout shake, I stumbled upon this gem. Its potent blend of essential amino acids made a noticeable difference in my recovery, especially during my bulking phase.
You’d really only need this post-workout nutrition amount if you’re going through a serious bulking phase since it promotes muscle growth.
A study in the National Library of Medicine points to significantly lower doses, but if you have this kind of requirement, then it’s possibly the best option .
- Main Ingredient: BCAAs 12,000 mg
- One of the more potent products for BCAAs
- Suitable for stacking with their other supplements
- Positive comments about the refreshing taste
- The company hides behind a proprietary blend
The only thing I didn't like about this post-workout recovery product is that you don’t get details about the breakdown of each ingredient due to a proprietary label.
5 - XTEND Sport BCAA
I was intrigued when I first heard about XTEND's focus on L-leucine, as according to the study in The Journal of Nutrition, it's proven to help post-workout recovery .
After trying it out, I could genuinely feel its impact on my post-workout recovery, making those morning-after aches a bit more bearable.
The company has also ensured that the fitness supplement doesn’t contain any sugar or other carbs that could end up messing with your diet.
You also get some electrolytes, including potassium, to bring your hydration levels to a healthy level.
- Main Ingredient: L-leucine 3,500 mg
- Provides a total of 7g of BCAAs for faster recovery
- Contains no sugar to avoid messing up your diet
- Provides added electrolytes that may help you rehydrate quickly
- Some users said the texture isn’t great
The downside I should mention is that this post-workout recovery supplement is not the smoothest texture even when shaken a lot.
6 - JYM Post Workout (Best for Endurance)
I've been hooked ever since. first trying this post-workout drink. Its suitable for both pre and post-training, making it an instant favorite in my workout routine.
It’s formulated by one of the leading brands in the bodybuilding industry, which should mean you’re buying something for high strength and endurance levels.
My clients have reported that they like the effects it has to avoid stiffness and cramps after particularly tough workout routines.
- Main Ingredient: L-glutamine 3,000 mg
- Formulated by one of the leading sports fitness experts
- Might work well to boost endurance as well
- Positive comments that it helps after high-intensity exercise and post-workout routine
- We found the flavor a little bit on the sweet side
Just keep in mind that the post-workout nutrition product tastes a bit sweet, so you might want to mix the powder with a bit more water or milk.
7 - MuscleTech Myobuild BCAA
I was drawn to this post-workout by its unique BCAA combination. The results? My muscles felt more rejuvenated, and I could genuinely sense a boost in protein processing.
This does seem to be backed up by research from health and fitness experts, and I found a lot of reviews about faster recovery.
- Main Ingredient: L-leucine 2,000 mg
- May help to keep you better-hydrated thanks to the included potassium
- Many users take it as a pre-workout for intense exercise
- Contains some taurine which may support a boost in mental endurance
- It’s not the strongest option so may not suit professional athletes
It’ll be fine for the average athlete, but professionals might find it’s not strong enough.
8 - Vintage Build Post Workout BCAA (Best for Keto)
During my stint with the Keto diet, I was on the hunt for a carb-free post-workout supplement. This one fit the bill perfectly, and even after transitioning off Keto, it's remained a staple in my routine.
I also like that the company has its products tested by a 3rd party to ensure and certify a certain purity and quality level.
- Main Ingredient: Creatine 3,000 mg
- Comes with a good dose of BCAAs in the right balance
- Claims to contain no sugar or fat making it Keto-friendly
- 3rd party tested for purity and quality
- You’ll want to give it a good shake to get the right texture
I did find that you’ll need to give the protein powder a powerful shake as the powder doesn't seem to mix that easily.
9 - PROGENEX Recovery (Cheapest)
I've always been a bit old-school, so I was drawn to this traditional protein supplement. Its high dose ensured that my muscles got all the nourishment they needed after each session.
It also uses hydrolyzed whey, which should provide you with the most important essential amino acids to allow your muscles to recover more effectively.
- Main Ingredient: Whey 23 g
- Uses hydrolyzed whey for faster absorption rates
- Positive comments about retained muscle mass
- The flavor is nice, and the texture seems smooth as well
- I’m not a big fan of powder in pouches as they tend to be a bit messy
The only thing I don’t like about this protein powder is that it comes in pouches, and I think those always end up being messy.
10 - Performance Lab Sport Post
Performance Lab became my go-to after just a few uses. The rapid replenishment of amino acids and reduced muscle soreness made my recovery days a breeze, and many of my gym mates felt the same.
Some of the bodybuilders I work with will take these capsules after training and wash them down with a protein shake. As such, this is the best post-workout supplement around.
- Main Ingredient: Creatine 1,750 mg
- Claims to work for avoiding muscle wasting
- It’s taken as convenient capsules
- Added beta alanine might help reduce muscle fatigue and damage
- The electrolytes could support your hydration levels after training
- Some people prefer a refreshing protein shake after an intense workout
If you’re not a fan of pills and capsules, then you might want to pick one of the powder options below.
How We Tested Post-Workout Drinks
Here's how we chose the best post-workout drinks.
1. Initial Selection & Criteria
We started by compiling a list of the most popular post-workout drinks in the market. This list was curated based on user reviews, expert endorsements, and the overall reputation of the brand.
We also set specific criteria, such as ingredient transparency and the absence of harmful additives.
With the help of certified nutritionists, we meticulously analyzed the ingredient list of each drink.
We looked for the presence of essential nutrients, amino acids, and the quality of protein sources, ensuring that the drinks were both effective and health-conscious.
3. Taste & Mixability Assessment
A drink's effectiveness is one thing, but its taste and how well it mixes are equally crucial. Our team conducted blind taste tests and evaluated the texture, flavor, and ease of mixing of each product.
4. Real-World Performance & Recovery
Our diverse group of testers, ranging from casual gym-goers to professional athletes, incorporated these drinks into their post-workout routine.
They provided feedback on muscle recovery speed, energy levels, and any noticeable differences in their post-workout state.
5. Cost & Value Evaluation
We assessed the cost-effectiveness of each drink by comparing the price per serving, the number of servings in each package, and the tangible benefits experienced by our testers.
1 - Pay Attention To The Types Of Protein
You need a specific amino acid profile to maximize muscle recovery.
Now, when it comes to the recovery phase after a challenging workout, you ideally want popular post-workout drinks that contain some extra BCAAs .
Your standard whey protein will contain some. But by adding an extra boost, it’s possible to speed up the recovery and muscle protein synthesis a bit more.
“BCAAs contain leucine, isoleucine, and valine, the three main amino acids that your body uses to repair muscle. After a tough workout, your muscles are torn up and in need of repair. They build back stronger, and you put on muscle — as long as you have plenty of those three special amino acids.”
- Dave Asprey, Health & Nutrition Expert
2 - Avoid Sugary Supplements
While some post-workout drinks may contain a high amount of carbohydrates derived from refined sugars, it's essential to avoid these as they can lead to a quick energy boost followed by a crash when blood sugar levels drop.
Here’s what I tell my clients.
You should feel drained and tired after your workouts. If you don’t, then you haven’t worked hard enough.
Instead of relying on sugar-laden drinks, choose supplements with a balanced mix of proteins, amino acids, and healthier carbohydrate sources.
For diabetics, it's crucial to opt for sugar-free protein powders to ensure effective recovery without compromising health.
If you are a diabetic check out these sugar-free protein powders.
3 - Be Careful With Stimulants
I generally advise staying away from post-workout supplements that contain caffeine.
Why? There are two reasons.
Firstly, many people train in the evening, and caffeine could mess with your sleep. And that would reduce your ability to recover from heavy workouts.
Worse, you'll actually feel more exhausted and unmotivated to continue with your exercise routine.
Secondly, they tend to give you a false sense of providing a boost. The stimulants from post-workout supplements will make you feel more alert, but your body is still missing the nutrition to repair properly.
4. Vegan vs. Dairy-Based Protein
Dairy-based proteins, like whey and casein, are complete proteins, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids required by the body. They are rapidly absorbed, making them effective for kickstarting muscle repair immediately after a workout.
On the other hand, vegan protein sources, such as pea or hemp protein, might lack one or more essential amino acids. However, they are often easier to digest for those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies.
Timing of Consumption
Often referred to as the "anabolic window," the period immediately following a workout is when the body is most receptive to nutrients, especially proteins and carbohydrates.
Consuming a post-workout drink within 30 minutes to an hour after exercising can maximize the body's ability to repair and grow muscle tissue, replenish glycogen stores, and reduce muscle soreness.
Delaying nutrient intake can hinder these recovery processes, potentially leading to decreased performance in subsequent workouts.
Are Post-Workout Drinks Necessary?
Yes, post-workout drinks are necessary if you want to achieve your goals faster. By helping your muscle fibers to repair faster, you should be in a good position to perform at a higher level in your next training session.
Is Coffee a Good Post-Workout Drink?
No, coffee isn’t a good post-workout drink as it might dehydrate you and make you feel jittery. It’s a lot more important to focus on protein to fuel a faster recovery process.
Our Verdict on the Best Post-Workout Drink
Having tried and tested numerous post-workout drinks over the years, Transparent Labs Post Workout stands out as the clear winner for me.
It's not just about what's on the label; it's about how it made me feel post-workout. The faster recovery, the reduced soreness, and the overall energy levels were unmatched.
It's the first supplement I recommend to all my clients and fellow trainers.
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