Post workout nutrition is a vital component to any workout, training, or sporting event. Working out utilizes many resources within the body and takes its toll physiologically. Your bones are under stress, muscle tissues experience microscopic tears, and your cardiovascular system is working overtime to deliver energy dense glucose and oxygen to muscles.
After a workout your body needs to sort through the small incremental damages and repair it to better than it was before. This process constitutes the recovery phase and is what results in muscle gain and beneficial health outcomes associated with exercise.
The recovery phase is when you need to ensure your body has all of the necessary resources to rebuild and grow back stronger. Not having the needed nutrition and working out at a high level can have detrimental effects on your health.
Working out requires energy and resources from your body. Post workout meals are ideal, but sometimes workouts just do not line up with a meal and it can be difficult to prepare a meal in the middle of the day. Getting nutrition after a workout is still important and a post workout drink is a great alternative to a recovery meal.
With so many options for post workout drinks, it can be difficult to know what to look for and how to select the best post workout drink. Below are some things you should look for in a post workout drink.
Make sure it tastes good
One of the most important aspects of a post workout drink is that it tastes good to you. After a long and arduous workout, you deserve to have a drink that makes you feel like you deserved it. Many fitness buffs go for all nutrition and no flavor drinks. While this can be effective, there are ways that you can make a fitness drink more palatable and there is no reason to suffer through your post workout drink.
Determining what post workout drink tastes the best for you takes some trial and error to find the best one that meets your taste preferences. Many places offer single servings or sample packs so that you can determine which one tastes best to you.
While finding a good tasting post workout drink may not seem important, it is because the more you like it, the more likely you are to have it and not skip. The flavorless and often gross tasting workout drinks that some people consume may provide a fraction more nutrition, but its lack of palatability makes it more likely that you are to forego it which can hinder your recovery.
Watch for dietary restrictions
There are tons of diets out there that people claim to have great results from. Keto, vegan, vegetarian, Mediterranean, gluten free, and paleo are some of the more mainstream diets that people follow. These diets typically have some kind of restriction on what can and cannot be consumed.
One example of this would be someone who is vegan cannot have a post workout drink that contains animal products. Many post workout drinks contain whey as a source of protein and a vegan would need to find a drink that contains plant protein rather than dairy based protein.
Another example would be that an individual on the ketogenic diet would need to avoid recovery drinks that contain high amounts of sugar or carbohydrates. The ketogenic diet puts people in a state of ketosis in which fats are utilized as a source of energy rather than carbs. If you consume large amounts of carbs while in ketosis, the body switches back to utilizing the carbs as a source of energy and takes the body out of ketosis.
As a general rule of thumb, it is important to remember your dietary restrictions and check the food label to ensure it is compatible with your diet. No matter what diet you are on, there is most likely a post workout drink for you.
Eye the hydration factor
During a workout, quite a large amount of energy is lost in the form of heat. As you workout your core body temperature increases. To combat this your body releases water through your pores in a process known as perspiration. The water on the surface of the skin evaporates and in the process cools the surface of the skin.
While perspiration is a vital component to temperature regulation in the body, it does significantly increase the amount of water loss. Both water and salts are lost to the external environment due to perspiration. To combat dehydration, your post workout drink should contain plenty of water and electrolytes to restore fluid and electrolyte balance.
Many people bring plain water for a post workout. While water is effective in rehydrating your body, it does not replenish your body of lost electrolytes. A great natural way to get hydrated and replenish electrolytes is to have coconut water as a component of your post workout drink.
Go for natural ingredients
While there is a debate as to whether or not buying all natural is worth it, for a post workout it most certainly is. Many companies flaunt their specifically formulated concoction of molecules that are supposedly able to assist in recovery. While they may sound persuasive, all natural post workouts are a much safer bet.
All natural recovery drinks are ideal because all the nutrition you need after a workout can be found through natural foods. People who have post workout meals are able to consume all the nutrients they need to through natural means. Because of this, there isn't a large need to buy into man made compounds that may not be evidence based.
While taste is important, it is important to steer away from recovery drinks that have excessive amounts of refined sugar. Refined sugar is essentially pure sucrose and can have a large impact on your ability to maintain your blood sugar.
While refined sugar is best to be avoided, this isn’t to say that you should limit all sugars. During a hard workout, your body utilizes stores of energy made up of glycogen. After a workout your glycogen stores can be depleted and need to be replenished. Carbohydrates like glucose are helpful in the production of glycogen and are actually beneficial in a post workout drink in moderation.
Choosing a post workout drink that is sweetened naturally or utilizing natural sugar is a safer bet because these forms of sugar contain impurities like fiber that help reduce sugar spike and are more easily tolerated by the body.
In addition to taking a post workout, you can take MitoQ Blood Sugar to help support the optimal blood sugar balance in your body. MitoQ blood sugar contains research backed ingredients like chromium picolinate, zinc amino acid chelate, and cinnamon to help with the metabolism of sugars.
Working out puts quite the stress on your muscles. Each strand of muscle works together to help you lift a weight, do a squat, or run. Due to the high strain and tension involved in muscle contraction, tears can occur along an individual muscle fiber. These constitute what is known as microtears and are an entirely safe phenomenon. Micro tears are healed through the addition of new muscle cells and muscle growth.
To grow muscle and mend these micro tears, your body requires a steady supply of amino acids. In your diet, amino acids are derived from the protein that you eat. Finding a post workout drink that contains protein can help the process of muscle recovery after an exercise.
Caffeine is a molecule that stimulates the central nervous system and simulates the feelings of energy, alertness, and focus. It accomplishes this through the selective inhibition of the neurotransmitter known as adenosine which is responsible for facilitating sleepiness. While caffeine can provide short term bursts of these feelings, it doesn’t provide a real increase in energy.
Sleep is a necessary component to recovery and having a post workout drink with caffeine can decrease your ability to go and stay asleep due to its effects on the brain. Workouts are a natural way to have better energy levels and caffeine is simply not needed and can inhibit your body from going to sleep which is necessary to recover from physical activity.
There is no single best post workout drink available. Selecting the right post workout beverage is about finding the best one for you and your specific needs.
Ensure that you look at the label for the post work out and try your best to choose a drink that meets the requirements outlined above. Low sugar, no caffeine, all natural, high protein, and high in electrolytes are generally things you should check for. If it checks all of your boxes, give it a try and don't be afraid to try what's out there, you may find that you prefer one over the other.
There is very little commitment when getting a post workout beverage and experimenting with different beverages can help you to find the best one for you and your recovery.
Reviewed by: Kai Man Yuen/ BSc., PGDipSci., MSc.