The post workout supplements available over the last 20 years have varied greatly, but the fail-proof science of post workout nutrition hasn’t flinched. In a nutshell, you’ve got to eat enough food after your workout to promote growth, otherwise, you won’t grow. Easy as that.
So when to comes down to it, what exactly do you eat after your workout; and what post workout supplements should you consider? Additionally, exactly how important is this post-workout period and does it change person to person or goal to goal?
To understand how important the post workout anabolic window is to you, we recommend giving this a read – The Anabolic Window: Fact or Fiction. In this article, we basically go over how it all comes down to your total daily nutrient intake.
If you are not getting enough protein, fats, and carbs in your daily diet, then the post workout window will be much more important for growth than it is for the guy getting a perfectly balanced diet.
All this aside information, everyone can benefit from a little protein and hydration post workout. On top of that, if you like to up your gains with creatine or other supplements – then post workout is often the best time by far to pursue these.
So with that being said, Let’s get back to post workout supplement criteria
The best post-workout supplements often include four essential ingredients to maximize gains; protein, carbohydrates, creatine, and glutamine.
Below you will see many different variations of this, but many of these core concepts remain. For more information, continue reading about post workout supplements below the top 5 list!
5 Best Post-Workout Supplements
When you’re looking to build muscle, lose fat, boost your physique, and the overall best results from all of your hard work in the gym, we highly recommend adding one of our recommended best post-workout supplements to your supplement / nutrition regimen! Also, we highly encourage taking a look at our best pre workout supplements, as they tend to go hand-in-hand with these post-workout supplements!
#1 Best Post Workout Supplement: High-Quality Whey Protein Powder
If we had to pick a singular supplement to add to your post workout regimen, whey protein would be it. But not just any whey protein on the market. We’re talking a high-quality whey protein that delivers what it advertises.
For this purpose, we recommend looking towards whey proteins from companies who have not been convicted for amino acid spiking their supplements. Of the remaining options, look towards whey isolate proteins with a high protein to total volume percentage (aka no filler).
Currently, the protein supplement with the highest protein percentage per serving on the market is Transparent Labs 100% Grass fed whey. We feature it as the #1 option on our best 10 protein powders. Go check out that list to see 100% Grass fed whey along with all 9 runners up.
#2 BCAA Supplement with 6+ Grams BCAA in 2:1:1 ratio
This is what we like to call, plan B. If taking whey protein is the absolute best thing you can do post workout, then this is the second best under most circumstances (but the best under others).
So, the exciting part first – when is taking a massive BCAA supplement the best option?
Like we mentioned at the beginning of this article, really, the whole day is the ‘anabolic window’. But, if you don’t eat correctly, there is a whole lot more importance high-quality protein in post workout.
But, if you are eating a great diet, and planning your meals (or your mother/wife/girlfriend is a food making beast) then you don’t need to stress as much. Instead, you can take a high-quality BCAA and get great muscle building benefits without a full stomach.
Though, picking the right BCAA isn’t always easy. Quite frankly, most of the supplements on the market are crap. This is where we mention Transparent Labs again, because they have the highest dosage of BCAAs in a single serving, coming in at 7 grams, plus 5 grams of glutamine which is perfect for recovery.
To get the whole scoop on BCAA supplements, you’re going to want to view our 10 best BCAA supplements. It’s worth the read if BCAAs interest you.
#3 Do You Even Chipotle, Bro?
Indeed this list is meant to be about supplements. But honestly, if you’re not eating real proper food… Your supplements are only going to work part-way. So, do yourself a favor – eat properly man!
Not only will eating right improve your body’s natural ability to respond to exercise in a brilliant way (gains), but it will also make you feel better and 10X your post workout supplement effectiveness (more gains).
More powder in your diet isn’t always the solution. Try to add in real food to meet the macros that matter.
#4 Creatine is King Post Workout
Not everyone takes creatine, and that’s fine with us. But boy does it help a body grow and get strong! If you take creatine or consider taking it – do yourself a favor and take it post workout. When you take it, you can either pair it up with food, whey protein, or BCAAs. Heck, some guys take it straight!
No matter how you do it though, make sure it is fully dissolved in water. That extra stir/shake time matters, and makes all the difference for absorption.
What type of creatine do we take? Creapure Monohydrate all the way, with added HMB to be exact. It has a bit of character to its taste, but the strength is off the chain. For all the details check out our best creatine supplements list.
#5 Mass Gainer Shakes – for the Hard Gainer (No, not everyone is a hard gainer though)
Yes, hardgainers do exist. Those guys that literally need to eat twice as much as the average man in order to gain some muscle. While most guys that think they are hard gainers simply don’t meet the average metabolic standard to gain mass – for the hard gainers we have a recommendation to make.
That recommendation is mass gainer shakes post workout.
Mass gainer shakes are by no means a magic bullet. In fact, they are rather unhealthy in general.
BUT, for what they lack in ‘healthy’ whole-food sourced nutrients, they make up for in raw macros. We’re talking massive protein quantities, massive carb quantities, and sometimes even fat!
Those my friends are the highly sought after 3 categories that the hard gainer must eat as much of in order to gain mass. And mass gainer shakes are pretty much the most convenient way to get 1,000 calories of that madness down in one fowl swoop. To continue the trend, view our top mass gainer supplements to learn more about these brutes (yes, we have a ton of articles).
Concluding the Top 5 List
Above we’ve laid out for you the 5 best post workout supplementation options. Clearly, eating some real high quality food is the best bet. But, who are we kidding – that’s rarely going to go down according to plan.
So, in the meantime, make due and gainz-on with our recommendations that will have you performing better than the other guy who simply slacks off.
Why Post-Workout Nutrition is Important
When you workout, your body starts a process known as proteolysis, which involves the breakdown of proteins into smaller polypeptides or amino acids. Clinical research shows that the proteolysis effect rapidly accelerates after you’ve completed a workout, or any type of significant physical exertion.
Simply put, when muscle breakdown exceeds the amount of protein synthesis, the result is muscle loss. Conversely, when the body is able synthesize more protein than it breaks down, the result is muscle growth.
With this in mind, it makes sense that our post-workout goals involve the stimulation of protein synthesis, while simultaneously minimizing muscle breakdown.
By understanding the fundamentals of your body’s post-workout processes, it’s clear how imperative proper post-workout nutrition becomes, whether you’re an athlete, body builder, or simply a novice fitness enthusiast. Within the best post-workout supplements, as mentioned above, there are a number of elements that we’re specifically looking for, which includes the amount of carbohydrates and proteins that each provide.
The Importance of Post-Workout Protein
- By taking protein after your workouts, it helps to stimulate protein synthesis, which helps to halt muscle breakdown and initiate further muscle growth.
- Protein ingested post-workout stimulates higher degrees of protein synthesis than protein ingested during a state of rest.
Our most common question, in terms of post-workout nutrition is often a variation of, “How much protein should I take post-workout?” And while we always recommend eating/drinking at least 40-50 grams of protein to maximize protein synthesis, everybody’s body is different, and thus requiring varying amounts of protein.
Variables include a number of things, but most noticeably how much lean muscle you have, how active you are on a weekly basis, your age, and your anabolic hormone levels.
The Importance of Post-Workout Carbohydrates
- Carbohydrates increase insulin levels and help to keep them elevated for longer periods
- Increased “glycogen” levels, which helps to improve performance
Though simple statements, working out does put your body in a state of “carb deficiency” due to energy expenditures during training. Carbs are definitely worth including as a main part of your post-workout nutrition regimen!
Post-Workout “Maximum Protein Synthesis” Window
Significant research has shown that protein ingested within 1-2 hours after a workout will have the most optimal effects in terms of muscle growth and protein synthesis. We recommend taking a look at this piece of research, which states, “Our result imply that protein intake immediately after exercise may be more anabolic than when ingested at some later time.”