I’m sure that you’ve bought a gigantic tub of protein at some point.
There isn’t quite anything like the feeling of cracking open a brand new tub of protein only to spend the next 10 minutes searching for the scoop that’s hidden somewhere in that sea of powder.
News flash… It’s always in the bottom of the tub.
Once you’ve successfully completed this mission, you throw a scoop of protein in your shaker bottle and toss it in your gym bag to make sure you can gulp it down the second you finish your last set.
Inevitably, life gets in the way and you forget to pre-pack your shaker bottle.
After leg day… of all days.
All you can think about is how disappointed Arnold would be in you if he knew that you missed your anabolic window.
I mean, you might as well have just skipped the workout altogether, right?
Post-workout supplementation is definitely important but feverishly chugging down your shake 10 seconds after your workout isn’t really a necessity.
Want to know what matters a lot more than the number of seconds between your last rep and your first sip of that post workout shake?
The answer lies in what is actually in your shake.
The quality of your post-workout supplement means a lot more than the exact timing of it.
Let’s go back to that giant tub of protein you sifted through for 10 minutes. Do you know what kind of supplement you even bought?
There are a bunch of different protein powders.
Whey concentrate, whey isolate, casein, pea, beef?
There’s also a bunch of different amino acids and other ingredients in there too.
Leucine, glutamine, digestive enzymes, creatine… the list could go on forever.
Those all exist, I swear.
Aside from existing, they all do different things for you.
We’ve done all the heavy lifting for you (excuse the pun) and put together a list of the top 5 post-workout supplements to get you jacked.
As always… This list comes with a caveat.
Post-workout supplements are only a small piece of the puzzle. In order to maximize your mass, you have to take care of the big rocks like nutrition, sleep, stress, and actually lifting on a regular basis.
Now that we got that out of the way, here’s the list of the best post-workout supplements.
Re-Kaged contains whey isolate and leucine to stimulate protein synthesis and digestive enzymes to aid in digestion. The combination of these ingredients provides a high-quality clean protein that will get to work quickly without wreaking havoc on your stomach.
The folks at Kaged also made the intelligent decision to include creatine in their formulation to help aid in muscular endurance and strength.
It also boasts glutamine to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. That achy muscle feeling that kicks in a day or two after a hard workout (DOMS) shouldn’t be nearly as bad due to the additional glutamine.
Finally, Re-Kaged contains a solid dose of Betaine. Betaine is a molecule that can also be found in foods such as beetroot. It may help increase endurance but the research on this is very limited. At this point most evidence points to it having little to no effect at all (especially if you’re also taking creatine), but it certainly won’t hurt performance.
Also, these flavors are absolutely on point. I’ve made some of the most delicious smoothies ever with all three of their flavors. Orange Kream is my favorite, though.
Kaged also has some of the strictest third-party testing around, and Re-Kaged NSF-Approved For Sport.
None really. Re-Kaged is so much more than a protein shake. It’s an all-in-one post-workout recovery formula, and that’s why Re-Kaged is our #1 pick for the best post-workout supplement.
Muscletech is an established brand with a good history of quality products. With 30 grams of whey protein (97% of which is isolate), 3.2 grams of leucine and 3 grams of creatine, Nitrotech Whey Protein does nothing to tarnish the Muscletech name. The dosage of whey and leucine will trigger protein synthesis to promote recovery, while creatine will work to help aid in energy and prolonged time to fatigue when taken long term.
The only downfall of Nitrotech Whey Protein is that it does not contain any additional glutamine than what is naturally found in whey. Not a huge deal, you’re just enduring a bit more of that annoying muscle pain than you have to if glutamine was included.
Platinum Hydro Whey contains 30 grams of whey protein per serving. Even though there is no additional leucine included in the product, the 30 gram serving size of whey means that there is approximately 3 grams of leucine in the blend, which is just enough to reap the benefits of increased protein synthesis and absorption after a hard workout.
The whey found in this post-workout is a blend as opposed to pure whey isolate. Essentially this means that the protein quality is not quite as pure as it would be if it was 100% whey isolate.
It’s still good quality protein, just not top tier.
Optimum Nutrition also failed to add in any creatine for increased endurance or additional glutamine to alleviate muscle soreness and fatigue. These are pretty minor issues, especially if you’re already getting creatine from a separate supplement.
Clean source of whey protein isolate with essentially zero other ingredients. The fact that it is a whey isolate means that approximately 10% of the protein content will be leucine. IF you’re having a single scoop (27 grams of protein) that means that you are getting roughly 2.7 grams of leucine, which is just below the threshold for the 3-5 gram “trigger” that increases protein synthesis.
Does not contain creatine or additional glutamine or leucine. You won’t be getting the reduction in muscle soreness, fatigue or protein synthesis that you would if these ingredients were included.
Optimum Nutrition has been around forever. They’re one of the most recognized names in the supplement game and that won’t be changing anytime soon. With that being said, their Gold Standard Whey leaves a lot to be desired.
The taste is fantastic, and a big reason for its enduring popularity. It also comes in over a dozen flavor options.
This is truly a bare-bones post-workout supplement.
Sure, it has whey protein…
But even that is a blend of whey isolate, whey concentrate, and whey peptides.
This essentially means that the whey you’re ingesting isn’t quite as clean as a supplement that is strictly whey isolate. At only 24 grams of protein per serving, you’re also missing out on the additional protein synthesis trigger from leucine.
There also isn’t any creatine for additional increases in endurance & energy long-term or glutamine for acute reductions in fatigue and DOMS.
This isn’t a terrible supplement but at this price point, you’re definitely paying for the name instead of the quality.
In short, protein is made of amino acids and acts as the building block of muscles. Whey protein is actually derived from coagulated milk that’s leftover when making cheese. Sounds nasty, but it’s not… I promise. There are actually 2 different types of whey powders.
Whey concentrate: This is the more raw form of whey. It will have more fat and carbs included.
Whey isolate: Isolate is the purer form of whey. Very little fat or carbs are left at this stage in the filtering process. Just pure protein, baby.
What… being one of the purest, leanest forms of protein out there isn’t good enough for you?
Ok, ok… I’ll give you another reason.
Whey contains an immaculate profile of amino acids that are practically perfect immediately following a workout.
It naturally contains leucine which will help kickstart muscle protein synthesis to help rebuild all the muscle damage we just caused in the gym. It also has a healthy dose of naturally occurring glutamine to help reduce soreness and fatigue after a heavy lift.
25+ grams/serving is usually the sweet spot here. It’s worth noting that even though leucine and glutamine occur naturally in whey isolate, their dosage usually needs to be bumped up a bit to gain the benefits in a post-workout supplement.
We’ll talk about them in more detail next…
You’ve probably heard the term BCAA’s thrown around. BCAA stands for branch chain amino acids and consists of leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
Of these 3, leucine is the one that will have the most potent effect on activating muscle protein synthesis, allowing us to absorb protein more efficiently. This can be very beneficial in kick-starting the recovery process in the hours following a hard workout.
We need about 3-5 grams of leucine per serving in order to activate what we’ll call its “anabolic trigger” that allows for increased protein synthesis.
Approximately 10% of whey protein is made up of leucine. That means that we would need 1 of 2 things in a post-workout to gain the benefits of the “anabolic trigger”:
Creatine is a molecule that is naturally found in the body. It can be found in a number of foods (primarily meat) or supplemented.
Will help increase energy levels, which will then allow us to do more work in the gym and reap more rewards for that work.
The timing of creatine doesn’t matter as much as making sure that you’re getting an adequate amount of it on a daily basis. If you take creatine separately or in another supplement, it does not have to be consumed post-workout. If you would rather not have to worry about taking it separately, grabbing a post-workout supplement that contains creatine is an easy way to make sure you’re getting it in.
Glutamine is another amino acid that can be found in various foods (primarily meat products).
A quick google search will bring up a bunch of articles claiming that glutamine is a miracle supplement that will help increase strength.
Don’t listen to those articles. There’s very little research showing that it does anything for strength or size.
Its primary benefit for the everyday lifter is reducing muscle soreness and general fatigue. It definitely won’t reduce soreness completely, but it might be just enough to get through the day without getting DOMS so bad that you can’t walk up a flight of stairs.
Approximately 3-6 grams/day
Ready to optimize your pre-workout supplementation as well? Check out our guide on the best non-stim pre-workouts.
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