Drinking a post-workout shake at the end of your workout is a very common practice, especially among athletes and those who train themselves regularly. Making sure you getting the best results from every training session is about more than showing up and performing the exercises.
With all of the nutrients your body needs like amino acids, carbohydrates, and protein, it’s hard to figure out which post-workout supplement is the best for your needs.
Top Post-Workout Supplements
We’ve looked into some of the most popular post-workout supplements and provided you with 10 of the top options to get you started.
1. Progenex Recovery
Progenex Recovery is more of a protein shake that it is a true post-workout supplement. Most of the other post-workout supplements on the market are formulated to deliver a pure dose of amino acids, but this one works a little bit differently.
Progenex Recovery has about the same amount of branched-chained amino acids as you would typically see in most whey protein isolates.
The flavoring for Progenex Recovery is designed naturally to avoid the use of artificial ingredients, and they made sure not to add a lot of extra sugar and carbohydrates. Unfortunately, it’s missing quite a few vital ingredients that would be needed to truly qualify it as a post-workout supplement and not just a protein shake. While Progenex Recovery deserves to be on this list, it’s not nearly as good as the other supplements below.
2. Growth Surge
This supplement does not contain the full set of branched-chain amino acids and really focuses primarily on creatine alone. It is designed for use by professional strength training athletes. It contains BioPerine, which helps the body to absorb nutrients and make them more bioavailable, but there aren’t really enough ingredients in this formula for it to be of much use. It also contains a good number of artificial ingredients.
If you’re not worried about your supplements being all natural and you’re only looking for a creatine-specific source, Growth Surge may be for you. Otherwise, read on for better recommendations.
3. BioRhythm Afterglow
BioRhythm Afterglow is a much more comprehensive supplement, and it contains most of the ingredients that you should be looking for when choosing a post-workout supplement, such as the full set of branched-chain amino acids. It also contains an eclectic collection of herbal extracts, vitamins and minerals.
This takes away from its ability to really stick to one job and do it well, and it seems like the company is just trying to include everything it can think of to make the supplement is effective. Supplements like this make it hard to know which ingredient is actually beneficial to your body, and since they all provide different nutrients it’s not exactly a pinpoint approach.
If you’re looking for one supplement that will do just about everything and you’re okay with giving up some potency as a trade-off, BioRhythm Afterglow might be worth looking into. If you’re looking for something with a more focused purpose that can provide boosted benefits, one of the supplements below may be a better choice for your needs.
Powerbuild has a few too many unnecessary extras, which pulls it down a bit in our rankings. Otherwise, it’s a good source of creatine to help build your strength, beta-alanine to improve your muscular power, and a few of the more vital branch chain amino acids. It also contains the black pepper extract known as BioPerine, which can increase your ability to absorb the supplement’s amino acids.
5. Legion Recharge
Legion Recharge is one of the simplest and most focused post-workout supplements on this list. The only active ingredients it uses are banaba leaf extract, L-carnitine, and creatine.
A lot of supplement users want to avoid having too much going on when it comes to active ingredients, and for those users, Legion Recharge wouldn’t be a bad choice. It does have a few too many unnecessary additives like sweeteners and artificial flavorings, but for many, these additives are acceptable in order to make the supplement easier to take.
6. JYM Supplement Science POST
JYM Supplement Science has a singular product that they consider the best post-workout supplement that can provide, and they call it POST. POST is a comprehensive and well-designed product that combines great ingredients without just throwing things together.
It contains regular amino acids as well as branched-chain amino acids, and it also employs more targeted ingredients like taurine and beta-alanine to provide you with more energy and increase your muscles’ carnosine content.
It also contains BioPerine, the black pepper extract we are repeatedly finding in many of the top post-workout supplements to improve absorption and bioavailability.
POST is a great option if you want a comprehensive supplement that provides you with both power and strength.
7. Sheer Strength Sheer Build
The design of Sheer Build is extremely focused, and every ingredient that it includes serves a specific purpose. The goal of Sheer Build is to provide the body with creatine for strength while also delivering the right branched-chain amino acids that can be absorbed quickly.
Because of this focus, there aren’t any fancy additives used to make the supplement taste better, which is good if you’re a purist who just wants to get the job done in the most effective way. Some of the more hardcore purists won’t like the fact that they do use artificial colorings to make it look more appealing, but that’s really the only complaint we can imagine.
8. Evlution Recover Mode
There are two different main approaches when it comes to post-workout supplements. Some users prefer a simple and targeted minimalist design, while others want a supplement that will be comprehensive. Out of all the supplements that try their hand at comprehensive design, Evlution Recovery Mode is possibly the best.
This product has pretty much everything you really need in a good post-workout supplement, creatine, branched-chain amino acids, and regular amino acids. It also has many other ingredients that are very helpful in a post-workout supplement, like BioPerine to increase bioavailability, L-glutamine to improve immunity and muscle recovery, electrolytes to keep your body nourished after losing them through sweat, and beta-alanine to increase the carnosine content in your muscles.
9. BSN Amino X
While most of the supplements on this list are designed to benefit strength training athletes, BSN Amino X is focused more on providing benefits for speed and endurance athletes. BSN Amino X contains the regular and branched-chain amino acids you will find in most other post-workout supplements, but it is unique because it also contains sodium bicarbonate and citrate, which act as buffering agents.
These buffering agents can improve your future performance when they are quickly restored after intense training sessions, and they also help to reduce anaerobic fatigue so that you aren’t so worn out every time you exercise.
10. Vintage Build
Vintage Build is another post-workout supplement that appeals to athletes who want to keep additives and extra junk out of their bodies. It has a clean and simple design that provides the body with L-glutamine for increased immunity and muscle recovery, creatine for strength, and of course a set of branched-chain amino acids.
Aside from this, the only other ingredients are natural colors and flavoring derived from cherries and stevia. That really is all there is to it.
Benefits And Side Effects
Being able to improve your post-workout recovery is almost as important as the workout itself. Having better recovery capabilities means that you can cope with your workout more efficiently and push yourself for more results because you won’t have to worry about crashing after the workout is over.
If you can find the right post-workout supplement for your needs, you can work harder and recover faster to improve your overall fitness routine.
There are some ingredients that you really want to look for when you are selecting your post-workout supplement, and what your training goals are will determine which ones are more important to you. Whether you are training for strength, endurance, power, or speed will affect which ingredients will be the most beneficial for your needs.
Branched-chain amino acids are the main ingredient that you should look for in any post-workout supplement. They are able to keep your muscles from being damages during workouts and they also help them recover faster after the workout is over.
Researchers in Japan published a scientific paper in 2006 in the Journal of Nutrition which explains how this works. In this paper, the scientist outline a study in which subjects who were given a supplement of branched-chain amino acids after performing squat exercises were shown to have lower instances of muscle soreness than those who were not given the supplement.
According to the authors of this study, branched-chain amino acids can help to reduce or prevent skeletal muscle from breaking down during exercise. This is because the body is able to use the supplemental branched-chain amino acids instead of having to break down muscle to access the amino acids that are stored there.
One specific BCAA known as Leucine has been shown to improve muscle protein synthesis after a workout, which means that any post-workout supplements that provide the body with leucine can help your body adapt more quickly to your training routine. This means you can push yourself during your training without the fear of working too hard or putting too much pressure on your body, and you can also gain more results from the same level of exercise that you could without leucine.
It’s pretty clear by now that if you are going to be taking a post-workout supplement, it’s very important that it contains a full complement of branched-chain amino acids.
If your training focuses more on power and included HIIT exercises, creatine is going to be a pretty important ingredient for your needs. Creatine is one of the industry’s top ingredients for boosting pure strength, and for good reason. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published a paper in 2003 that confirmed just how effective creatine is boosting strength.
This paper was effectively a review of multiple studies which dealt with the effects of creatine on strength training, and the researchers found that across all of these studies there was an average of 8% more strength increase among subjects who were given creatine supplementation over those who were given a placebo. Both groups did improve either way from strength training alone, but those who were given creatine simply improved more.
Beta-alanine is an important compound for athletes who perform exercises that are longer than HIIT routines, and which last at least 60 seconds each. Beta-alanine can improve your overall anaerobic power and boosts your muscles’ ability to keep going and power through the acidity buildup that is usually generated during longer anaerobic exercises. Beta-alanine is used by your body to create L-carnitine, which is a compound which acts as a buffer to protect your body from acidity while you work out.
The more acidity that you can buffer while you exercise, the higher intensity training you can maintain for a longer period of time. A 2014 study found that beta-alanine could be proven to provide better performance during high-intensity training. This performance boost is most efficient for training or sports that require a burst of power that is needed for 60 seconds or more and is least efficient for lower intensity activities like hiking or running a marathon.
Most of the primary ingredients in many post-workout supplements are completed natural and safe. Branched-chain amino acids naturally occur in a multitude of food sources and can only be considered dangerous in the case of massive overdose.
Creatine is also naturally occurring in foods, which is why it is such a popular protein supplement. The long-term use of creatine has been proven to have no negative side effects, as shown in a study from 2002 which reviewed the health of football players who had used the supplement of a long period of time.
The most obvious side effect of some post-workout supplements is caused by high doses of beta-alanine, which can cause minor short-term adverse reactions. The most common and relevant of these side effects is known as flushing, which causes blood to rush to your face and extremities and cause redness and a warming sensation.
This can be seen in people who take beta-alanine in large doses but has not yet been shown to cause any lasting or serious side effects.
Because most of the ingredients of post-workout supplements are natural, you can see a wide variation in their suggested dosage.
The most prevalent research on branched-chain amino acids sets the recommended dose between 3 grams and 18 grams a day. The most common dosage seen in supplements is between 6 grams and 9 grams a day, with higher dosages seen among athletes with a larger muscle mass.
Creatine dosage is often higher when you first start to take it and tapers off over time. The recommended dosage during the first few weeks of taking a creatine supplement is between 20 grams and 25 grams a day so that the creatine content of your muscles can increase. After the first few weeks, you only need to maintain creatine content and can move to a smaller dose of 5 grams a day.
Beta-alanine dosage is the opposite of creatine in that you need to start with a smaller dose and work your way up to gradually increase the carnosine content in your muscles. The suggested dose is 2 grams to 6 grams a day. This dosage can be split up and taken in smaller increments throughout the day to avoid flushing.
10 Best Post-Workout Supplements Of 2018 Final Words
If your training routine is on point, boosting your body’s abilities and the overall results of your training could be as simple as finding the right post-workout supplement for your needs. The right supplement can give you more benefits from the same workout, and it will also give you the ability to push yourself harder for more results.
No matter what type of training routine you have or what your goals are, any good post-workout supplement should contain branched-chain amino acids. If you’re interested in increasing your short-term power bursts or your raw strength, then creatine is a good ingredient to look for as well. For those who need to sustain high-intensity activities for 60 seconds or more, then beta-alanine should also be included to give your muscles the fuel they need for maximum performance.
Whether your goal is to be able to show off the biggest muscles, produce the most pure strength, sprint the fastest, or simply be in the best overall shape you can personally achieve, making use of the right post-workout supplement can almost certainly improve your results and get you to your ideal point faster and more efficiently.
As always, be sure to consult your doctor before making any major changes to your supplement or exercises routine to ensure that there are no complications from underlying illnesses or negative reactions with your medication.