What’s the best recovery drink? The answer is actually pretty complicated. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all post workout beverage. Hydration is important no matter what but how you exercise, when you exercise, and what you eat can dictate which drink you should be reaching for.
There’s no disputing the importance of good old H20. Aqua should remain your primary vehicle for hydration ALL. DAY. LONG. With proper fueling, water may be all you need during and after shorter duration workouts.
Pressed for time and don’t want to miss your recovery? Chocolate milk can buy you some time as a snack until that meal is upon you. Chocolate milk is one stop shopping for the fluid, electrolytes and macronutrients (carbs and protein) that your body desperately needs following a workout. Chocolate milk also offers up calcium and vitamin D – important bone building nutrients most folks don’t get enough of.
I’ll set the scene – you had an intense, sweaty workout and you are notably dehydrated (i.e you feel super drained and your pee is bright yellow). You were able to have a proper recovery meal but want to get some extra electrolytes to help replenish sweat losses and fortify that post workout muscle recovery. Add some electrolyte powder to your water bottle and get to sipping during those critical post workout hours. These types of products are almost always sweetened with artificial sweeteners (and that includes things like monk fruit and stevia). Since everyone tolerates these ingredients differently, be on the look out for any tummy issues and choose a product you digest comfortably.
Resort to supplemental protein when your workout ends at a nontraditional meal time. While food is always preferred, shakes can offer up a good option for workouts that end between meals or late in the evening. There is such a thing as too much when it comes to the doses of many popular powders, 30 to 40 grams of protein is all you need (because it’s all you can use!). LOOK for a good quality protein powder – NSF certified is preferred! And don’t skimp on the carbs, your muscles can’t use the protein without them. Blend/shake with a carb-rich liquid or eat carbs along with your shake.
This is not a sponsored post but there’s a reason I am on the Gatorade Sports Science Institute Speakers’ Bureau – I believe in it! Sports drinks offer the ideal combo of optimally absorbable carbs (they aren’t all so easy to absorb), electrolytes and fluid! Because of these offerings, sports drinks may come in handy before, during or after a workout. Reach for a sports drink for longer duration activities (it is my go-to for ½ marathon training) and/or when the conditions are hot and humid and sweat losses are fierce. When using sports drink as part of your recovery routine, be sure to get some protein in along with it!
There you have it. Take advantage of ALL of these options to truly give your body what it needs after workout. Proper recovery helps to ensure you can get the most out of the NEXT time you train.