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To get the body and shape you want, you should be following an excellent programme, consistently. You’ll need a weight lifting regime that continues to challenge you and works your whole body. Lots of different programmes exist, and it will depend on you and your genetics to a certain extent as to how you get on, but something that involves squatting, deadlifting and bench presses (with variations) is suitable for beginners and the more advanced.

The nutrition side is vital. Most of us have heard the saying “you can’t out-train a bad diet” (and we’ll all know someone who has tried their darnedest – hey, it might even be you!), but the facts remain. Muscle building, fat loss and serious physique shaping are best accomplished by targeted nutrition.  Your body is 80 percent what you put in your gob.

Which brings us in a round-about way to post workout nutrition and supplementation. Exercise – and particularly tough exercises such as heavy lifting routines and endurance sports – put your body under lots of strain. A healthy diet and good supplement choice can give your body the energy and resources it needs to fuel your muscles and make sure they can recover and repair properly afterwards.

Post Workout Meals And Nutrition

When you exercise properly, your body exerts itself. It burns lots of calories, uses water to cool down (through sweating) and depletes the stories of amino acids and other nutrients so it can build and protect its muscle content. Replacing those lost nutrients immediately after exercising better protects the body and makes muscle maintenance and growth more effectively.

Bodies signal what they need in a basic way through thirst. Few of us make it through a workout without downing half a litre of water, for instance. It’s good to keep up rehydration afterwards too, and a meal with plenty of protein and slow-digesting carbohydrates will be useful too.

Protein is essential because it’s comprised of amino acids. Your body needs these for rebuilding muscles, repairing cells and performing other basic bodily functions. You can get plenty of good-quality protein from your diet – chicken, fish, steak, eggs cottage cheese, legumes and others.

But if you’re weightlifting and bodybuilding, sometimes it can be hard to fit in the recommendations, which are generally two to three times the amount for the non-exercising community. It might get to the stage where you want to fling the next chicken breast you see half-way into the ocean.

Protein shakes can give you a decent dose of protein. You’ll get a steady dose of amino acids to help your body recover. Many post workout supplements contain other ingredients that help the body, rewarding it for its hard work.

Post Workout Recovery Supplements And Shakes

post workout nutritionMost post workout supplementation comes in the form of powders that you mix with water. You can also mix them with other liquids such as coconut water or fruit juice. They are designed to be digested and absorbed quickly to maximise the benefits to your body. Some post workout supplements come in capsule form. It can be useful if you’re sick to death of drinking shakes, and bars.

Almost every nutritional supplement brand includes a post workout product. They all trying to persuade that their post workout supplement is the BEST. Their product, not anyone else’s, is going to make you recover faster, perform better next time and turn you into a sex god in no time. (Okay, we exaggerated the last bit, but you get the gist.)

So, where to start?

Firstly, we examine the benefits and must have ingredients. Then we answer the question: How to choose the right supplement?

Benefits Of Post Workouts

Post workout supplement benefits can include:

  • Reduced recovery time
  • Reduced muscle soreness and breakdown
  • Increased endurance
  • Improved muscle growth
  • Decreased risk of dehydration
  • Help to maximise your workout

In other words, a good post workout supplement helps your body recover, while maximising the effort you’ve just put into pushing yourself in the gym. If you don’t leave a weight training session feeling awful (and you don’t feel too stiff and sore the next day) chances are you’ll be more willing to do it again, right?

Who Can Benefit From A Post Workout Shake?

That ain’t for me, you say. I’m just an ordinary dude, gal, non-bodybuilding type (stroke out which one doesn’t apply). We hear you! But there are good reasons for taking the supplement even if you fall into those categories.

Bodybuilders and weightlifters

For them, post-workout supplements make 100 percent sense. If you’re lifting heavy and hard, you’re putting your body under immense strain. You need to replace those lost nutrients and facilitate recovery as quick as possible with a post-workout supplement.

Frequent trainers

Again, these are the folks who’re being hard on their bodies. If this is you, you might find a post-workout shake helps your body recover faster. Another workout? Bring it on…

Women

We know, ladies. The marketing around nutritional supplements tends to focus on men. But you can take this stuff too. Lots of you fit into the above two categories (and women often over-train to beat themselves up). You can get brands that are targeted at women, but you don’t need a gender specific product. Any old post-workout supplement will do.

Dieters

Trimming down body fat for a competition or a school reunion? Post-workout supplements can help ensure your protein intake is decent, preventing muscle breakdown.

Athletes

Sprinting, jumping, throwing, etc.? Post-workout supplements will help you recover faster and reduce any associated muscle soreness. You can continue to perform.

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Must Have Ingredients Of Post Workout Supplement

1. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)

Branched chain amino acids are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These three amino acids are essential for building and preserving healthy muscles. They can help increase the amount of protein your body can use effectively.

2. L-Glutamine

Glutamine is the primary energy source for the immune system. It is useful for maintaining muscle mass while cutting. It is depleted during a workout.

3. Beta-Alanine

This is an amino acid that gets taken up by muscle fibres and mixes with histidine (another amino acid) to form carnosine. Carnosine can delay muscle fatigue, and boost fat loss and muscle growth.

4. L-Carnitine l-Tartrate

The above ingredient helps increase recovery post training as Carnitine boosts nitric oxide production and increases blood flow to muscles.

5. Taurine

A specific amino acid that’s vital for endurance and muscle strength. It also supports nitric oxide production. Exercise depletes taurine levels.

6. Betaine

Betaine is a modified version of the amino acid glycine. Clinical studies have suggested this can support muscle strength and endurance.

7. Creatine

It’s rare the post-workout shake without creatine, the number one favourite for recovery and energy. If you’re already taking this, you might not need it in your post-workout supplement.

8. Vitamins C, D, E, B12 Complex

The magic mix for supporting energy levels, and healthy immune systems.

9. Electrolytes

To perform and recover, you need to maintain electrolyte levels for proper hydration and muscle contractions.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Branched chain amino acids shouldn’t cause any side effects. Creatine can cause bloating and temporary weight gain because it increases water retention, but this will wear off. Always drink plenty when you are working out and afterwards too.

How And When To Take Them?

post workout recovery shakeThere’s a window of opportunity that’s best for your post-workout shake. You might, for example, forget to take it to the gym with you.

What then? Will it be too late by the time you get home?

Generally, post workout supplements are best taken as soon as you’ve finished your exercise. You can even take them during it. However, there is a 45-minute window so in the case where you’ve forgotten to bring it with you, you probably have time to take it when you get home unless you live a serious distance from the place you work out.

Even then, there are still benefits to taking your post-workout supplement outside of 45 minutes. It just won’t work as well as it would when taken when it was designed to be consumed.

The easiest way to remember is to keep a blender bottle and portions of the shake in your kit bag permanently. That way, when you open your bag to put your dirty stuff in you’ll see it. Another idea is to make up the shake and keep it in the car to drink on your drive home.

What To Look For In Post Workout Supplements?

Your choice will depend on your needs and your budget. When choosing a product, have a think about:

The ingredients

Most nutritional supplements offer clear transparent labelling that allows you to see what is in the product. You can look up individual ingredients to see the scientific rationalising that argues why they are of benefit. Remember to think about what else you are taking too. Do the ingredients in one supplement overlap with something else you are taking, such as our pre-workout shake? Does this mean you’ll be taking in an awful lot of one ingredient?

Value for money

As we said, the budget is a big driver behind many people’s purchasing decisions. Powders can sometimes appear brilliant value, but what if you need lots of scoops per serving? It is the cost per serving that will determine the actual value of the supplement.

Brand

What the company is like. Look for extras, such as third-party testing and the reviews. Who is behind the company? Are they in the health and fitness industry themselves?

Taste/flavour

This is an individual thing. There are people out there who hate the flavour vanilla, for instance (we promise you this is true). Look for the reviews of post-workout shakes as most reviewers will comment on the taste. The best ones are obviously those that don’t taste too sweet or artificial, that mix well and easily and come in flavours you like.

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Final Thoughts

Remember, as with any nutritional supplement product follow the dosage instructions! If you consume more than the recommended amount, then gastro distress might be the least of your problems. You must also look at everything you take together, to avoid over consumption of one ingredient.

We reviewed an extensive range of nutritional supplements and chose top 10 post workout supplements. We think about every budget, so check the list carefully and choose what works for your price range and goals. The supplement industry is a rapidly evolving beast, and products are evaluated and added all the time. Bookmark this page so you can stay up to date with what’s happening.

References:

  1. Zoeller, R; Effects of 28 days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on aerobic power, ventilatory and lactate thresholds, and time to exhaustion.; Department of Exercise Science and Health Promotion, Florida Atlantic University; 2007; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16953366
  2. Hobson, R; Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis.; Biomedical, Life and Health Sciences Research Centre, School of Science and Technology, Nottingham Trent University; 2012; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22270875
  3. Hoffman, J; L-alanyl-L-glutamine Ingestion Maintains Performance during a Competitive Basketball Game. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 9.1 (2012); Retrieved from http://www.jissn.com/content/9/1/4