The Best Post Workout Supplements 1

The Best Post Workout Supplements

The post workout period is an extremely important time for refuelling your body, no matter if you’ve been hitting the weights, went for a run or have spent an hour playing sports. The type of fuel your body needs can vary depending on the workout you’ve completed, and eating the right things post workout can help fuel muscle repair, replenish your energy and help build new muscle tissue.

Alongside eating the right foods and replenishing fluids, there are a number of supplements out there which look to help provide optimal nutrition following a workout. Here we’ll look at what happens during exercise, how the right nutrition can help and we’ll look as the best post workout supplements for fuelling your recovery.

The Best Post Workout Supplements 2

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Understanding Post Workout Nutrition

When you engage in intense exercise it causes micro damage to our muscles and uses your energy stores to help get through the workout. While initially it can seem like causing damage to your muscle tissue is a bad thing, it’s the process of repairing this damage which causes the growth of new muscle tissue.

The process is over called ‘protein turnover’, as it involved both the breakdown of damaged proteins and the building of new ones. There is significantly more protein breakdown during the workout process, and in order to create new muscle tissue we need to fuel the protein synthesis process once your workout is complete.

This is done by ensuring you get the right nutrients in your system during the post workout period, namely protein and carbohydrates. The addition of these macronutrients creates the metabolic environment required for muscle repair and growth, and are a hugely important part of the recovery process.

Ingesting protein post workout is important for the actual repair and growth of the muscle tissue. While during exercise the muscle tissue is being broken down, post workout protein and amino acids has been found to reverse this process, increasing protein synthesis and reducing protein breakdown.

Carbohydrates are also crucial during the post workout period, particularly when combined with protein. The intake of a large amount of carbohydrate causes a large insulin release, which is important for sending the carbs and amino acids into the muscle tissue as quickly as possible. This will improve your glycogen levels and accelerate the rate of protein repair, which combined with protein intake leads to the ideal scenario for recovery and growth.

Whole Foods v Supplements

When supplements enter the conversation, most informed people will you that nutritious, whole foods should form the majority of your diet. While it’s impossible to disagree with this viewpoint, there’s a place for dietary supplementation in everyone’s life, particularly those involved in regular exercise.

The key benefit of using post workout supplements is the speed and ease at which you can get the nutrition your body is craving right after your workout. Speed is key when it comes to maximising the benefit of your post workout meal, and very few people will have someone waiting with a plate of chicken and sweet potato the minute they put down the barbell.

Workout supplements such as whey protein provide quick, easy access to nutrition in a way that is often far more practical that eating a full meal after a workout. As we always say, use supplements alongside a healthy diet and you’ll get the full benefits of both.

Is The Post-Workout Window a Myth?

The old school bodybuilding wisdom suggests that the sooner you can get our nutrition after your workout the better, leading to the famed ‘anabolic window’ term. Various studies have looked into it with varying results, and there’s no real definitive answer to the question of the benefit of immediate post workout nutrition.

One study looked at all the major studies that had been completed on pre and post nutrition, and found that the post workout period is far more important for those who train fasted than those who consumed a protein-rich meal shortly before a workout. If you train first thing in the morning, on your lunch break before you eat or immediately after work then you’ll likely see a big benefit from focusing more on your post workout nutrition.

If you’re able to ingest some protein in the hour before your workout (20-40g is ideal) then your post workout nutritional window is a little longer, so you’re more able to make it home and cook something up while still getting most of the benefits of eating immediately after your training.

There is some validity to the notion of the anabolic window, but its importance and length change depending on how you eat the rest of the day. Either way you should be planning what you’re eating following your workout before you set foot in the gym to ensure you’re ready to fuel your recovery effectively.

What Post Workout Supplements Are Best?

When it comes to actually choosing a post workout supplement you need to ensure all the building blocks are there to ensure maximum benefit. As we’ve already covered in detail, protein and carbs are the essential components of post workout nutrition. There are other optional additions which have been shown to help improve recovery and performance, and while not essential they can be beneficial when incorporated in your post workout routine.

The best post workout supplements include:

Whey Protein

An easily absorbed, efficient and cheap source of protein that’s ideal for consuming post workout. Keep some in a shaker bottle, mix it with some water from the fountain once you’ve finished your workout and slam it down for a quick and simple protein hit.


Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are critical for the growth of new muscle and should be incorporated in your post workout nutrition. Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are all included, and leucine is now thought to be hugely beneficial for protein synthesis.

Fast Acting Carbs

In order to start the recovery process quickly, fast acting carbs are essential. Supplements such as dextrose and maltodextrin cause the kind of insulin spike we’re looking for in the post workout period, and are well worth adding to your post workout drink. A newer addition is waxy maize, a fast acting carb which doesn’t contain sugar, and it could be worth considering as well.


Creatine helps provide optimal strength levels and can help improve energy, and while it can be taken at any time of day it’s worth including in the post workout period. Uptake will be improved when taken alongside your other post workout supplements, so it will help you get the most from your use.

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