You've probably seen bodybuilders in the gym fill up their shaker with powder and drink it all in one go right after their workout? Have you ever wondered what exactly this powder - called post workout - is? Well, we have the answers to your questions.
Welcome to our big Post Workout Test 2022. Throughout this article, we will provide you with all the information you need about Post Workout at the click of a button. You will learn what types of post workouts there are and what you should look for when buying one. You will also learn why the post workout is considered so important.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Summary
- 3 The Best Post Workout: Our Picks
- 4 Buying and evaluation criteria for Post Workouts
- 5 Guide: Frequently asked questions about post workouts answered in detail
- 5.1 What is a post workout and how does it work?
- 5.2 When and for whom does it make sense to take a post-workout supplement?
- 5.3 How much do Post Workout powders cost?
- 5.4 What types of post workout are there and which one is right for me?
- 5.5 How should a Post Workout be dosed?
- 5.6 What are the possible side effects of taking a Post Workout?
- 5.7 What are the alternatives to Post Workouts?
- Post workout describes the first intake of nutrients after exercise. This often takes the form of a post workout shake, which contains various essential nutrients to replenish the body's energy stores.
- Post-workout shakes can either be bought as ready-made all-in-one powders or mixed together individually.
- The effect and necessity of taking a post-workout shake and the supplements it contains after intense physical exertion is controversial in science and has not yet been sufficiently researched in some cases.
The Best Post Workout: Our Picks
In the following we have put together our personal favourites:
Buying and evaluation criteria for Post Workouts
When buying post workouts, you can pay attention to various aspects. These aspects are:
By making the right choice for you, you can save money and also ensure that you don't give your body anything it doesn't need or could even harm it. Therefore, always look for high quality and ask to see the manufacturer's certificates if necessary.
A post workout or post workout powder can consist of various supplements. The classic post workout shake starts with the so-called whey or protein powder.
However, in addition to proteins, other supplements can also play an important role in your post workout shake and be helpful for regeneration and muscle building.
Apart from short-chain carbohydrates such as maltodextrin or dextrose, the following supplements can be helpful in your post workout:
- Creatine monohydrate
Your post workout shake does not necessarily have to contain all of these supplements. However, we will explain in more detail in our guide what effect the respective supplements are said to have and why they can be helpful in your post workout shake.
In addition to these supplements, artificial additives are often found in post workout powders. These additives are often used to enhance the taste or colour of the shake.
In addition to artificial sweeteners, the powder may contain artificial colours or flavours. Preservatives are also often found on the list of ingredients.
Not every artificial additive is necessarily bad for your body, but it can be said that the more natural the ingredients and the shorter the list of ingredients, the better the shake is tolerated by your body. Of course, there are exceptions, for example in cases of allergies and intolerances. We'll get to that later.
Almost every taste can be catered for with post workout powders. The most common flavours include vanilla, chocolate and hazelnut, as well as fruity alternatives - usually a mixture of different fruits.
Depending on the manufacturer, the same flavours can taste different. From a subtle, natural taste to a strongly sweet taste, everything is there. Individual preference plays the decisive role here.
Post Workouts that are manufactured abroad may contain substances in the list of ingredients that are not permitted in Germany. These are usually substances that have not yet been sufficiently researched in Germany.
However, there are also substances that can cause serious damage to health and are thus classified as dangerous by the German Consumer Agency.
Particularly often, the affected products are offered via internet traders and come from the USA, Canada, Asia or Eastern Europe.
It happens that they are described as "natural, but extremely effective". In reality, however, they are "adulterated" products that do not contain any declared pharmacologically active pharmaceutical substances.
When buying your Post Workout, you should therefore always pay close attention to the seriousness of the seller. Check the ingredients with the help of the EU catalogue, which you can find on the website of the consumer advice centre, or if in doubt, opt for a German, tested and certified manufacturer.
Intolerances & allergies
In the meantime, there are also suitable post-workout supplements for allergy sufferers and people with food intolerances. People with a lactose intolerance, milk protein or chicken egg protein allergy, for example, can choose from a wide range of vegan post workouts.
Vegans who suffer from a soy intolerance can turn to alternatives with rice or pea protein. People with a nut allergy or fructose intolerance should opt for flavours without the corresponding ingredients. Here, too, there are a number of different choices.
If you are not sure whether your chosen post workout supplement is compatible for you, ask the manufacturer about the exact ingredients. Especially if you have a severe nut allergy, you should make sure that your post workout supplement does not contain any traces of nuts.
In addition to ingredients and taste, quantity is also important. The more often you train, the larger the amount of nuts in your post workout should be.
After all, you don't want to have to order a new supplement every week. From small 15 gram packets to try out, to 2 kilogram buckets, everything is available.
Guide: Frequently asked questions about post workouts answered in detail
In order to inform you comprehensively about the effectiveness of post workout shakes and to give you an understanding of the current state of science, we have summarised all the important information in the following sections.
What is a post workout and how does it work?
The powder can be composed of different supplements. Each supplement can have a different function and effect in the body. In the following we explain what effects the individual components can have.
Effect of protein powder
In the fitness sector it is generally known that protein - whether in powder form or in the form of food - is supposed to support and promote muscle growth. But what does science say about this?
Basically, protein plays a crucial role in the human body. Among other things, it is responsible for building new cells and repairing existing cells. They are therefore also important for building and maintaining muscle in our body.
However, since our body breaks down proteins and excretes their building blocks every day, our reserves need to be replenished regularly.
A literary review of various studies found that protein supplementation can increase both muscle mass and performance, provided the training stimulus is sufficiently high and the dietary intake is consistent with the recommendations for the person training. (2)
Effect of short-chain carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for our bodies and are therefore crucial to replenish our glycogen stores after a strenuous workout. Short-chain carbohydrates play a special role here, as they can be processed more quickly than long-chain carbohydrates.
The most common short-chain carbohydrates used in post workout are maltodextrin and dextrose.
Scientific studies found that the addition of carbohydrates should be considered as part of post-workout supplementation to promote greater muscle strength during prolonged resistance training. This is especially useful if the next training session is already within the next 24 hours. (3, 4)
However, again it depends on the intensity and duration of the training session. After a workout that lasted less than an hour or a low-intensity workout, additional supplementation of carbohydrates is not absolutely necessary. A well-balanced meal is sufficient.
Effect of creatine monohydrate
Creatine is a component of a balanced, mixed diet and is also produced in the human body. Nevertheless, the additional intake of creatine has proven to be quite useful in some sports.
A 2018 study concluded that creatine supplementation in combination with complex training in various strength sports improves maximal muscle strength and reduces muscle damage during training. (5)
Since vegetarians and vegans have a limited dietary intake of creatine, creatine supplementation is generally recommended in this case, especially for competitive athletes, to enhance muscular and neuropsychological performance. (6) However, the maximum recommended dose should not be exceeded.
Effect of BCAAs
BCAA stands for "Branched Chain Amino Acids". BCAAs consist of the amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are absorbed directly into the muscles via the intestine, unlike other amino acids that first make a diversion via the liver.
Branched-chain amino acids are considered unique energy donors and are used especially in the field of strength and endurance sports.
Results from a study conducted on rats suggest that BCAA requirements are increased by exercise. In addition, BCAA supplementation before and after exercise has positive effects on reducing muscle damage caused by exercise and promotes muscle protein synthesis. (7)
Another study found that BCAA supplementation may reduce muscle soreness, but does not make much difference when dieting with adequate protein intake. (8)
Another study confirms this, but adds that repeated pre-workout supplementation with BCAAs does have a beneficial effect in reducing muscle soreness. (9)
Effect of L-glutamine
L-glutamine is an amino acid that helps transport nitrogen and carbon around the body. In addition, it also plays a significant role in nerve and intestinal function. For this reason, it is often said to have a strengthening effect on the immune system.
Since L-glutamine is produced in our muscle tissue, it is classified as "non-essential". This means that it does not necessarily have to be taken in with food. However, during heavy physical exertion, the body may need more glutamine than it is able to produce itself.
Scientists suspect that this is a possible cause for the training-related immune deficiency and the increased susceptibility to infections of athletes. (10)
However, a 2019 study concludes that glutamine supplementation generally has no effect on athletes' immune systems or performance. However, it does show that glutamine can lead to greater weight loss in some cases. (10)
Effect of magnesium
Magnesium helps maintain normal nerve and muscle function. It strengthens the immune system, and promotes calcium absorption. It is especially important for athletes as it relaxes our muscles and prevents muscle cramps.
There are indications that even a slight magnesium deficiency can impair physical performance and increase the negative consequences of strenuous training, but there are hardly any scientific studies on this topic that provide sufficient evidence.
For athletes in particular, however, it is often difficult to take in the recommended daily dose solely through the diet. In this case, supplementation can be useful.
When and for whom does it make sense to take a post-workout supplement?
The anabolic window
The theory of the anabolic window is explained in fitness circles as follows:
- In order for the body to be able to provide the necessary performance during training, it needs energy. Carbohydrates play an important role in energy production, as they are provided by the body's own glycogen stores and used in the mitochondria to produce energy.
- During high and prolonged exertion, these stores empty more quickly.
- In addition, intensive training leads to overloading of the tissue structure, which can also lead to minimal tears in the muscle tissue, among other things. These can be repaired by proteins.
- The body is therefore in a so-called catabolic - i.e. degrading - metabolic state during training.
As part of this, many in the fitness community claim that catabolic processes need to be stopped as quickly as possible by nutrient supplementation, and then anabolic regeneration can be reintroduced. At this point, however, they begin to disagree.
A common myth in fitness circles is that the body's ability to absorb nutrients is highest in a period of about 30 minutes after training. For this reason, it is imperative to take a post-workout supplement of protein and carbohydrates during this period.
Several researchers have pointed to an anabolic "window of opportunity", where a limited amount of time is supposed to be available after training to optimise training-related muscle adaptations.
However, the importance - and even the existence - of a post-workout window would depend on a number of factors. However, recent findings have directly challenged the classical view of the relevance of post-exercise food intake in relation to anabolism. (11)
Although one study was able to prove that a balanced meal immediately after physical exertion can effectively suppress muscle protein breakdown in the morning (12), this study does not specify exactly what "immediately" means. Furthermore, there is no mention of a post-workout shake, only a post-workout meal.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition states in a report that early timing of energy intake and the ratio of certain ingested macronutrients may well improve recovery and tissue repair and increase muscle protein synthesis. (13)
However, it must be noted here that individual authors of the report received funding from companies selling dietary supplements to evaluate efficacy. A few were even on the scientific advisory board of sports nutrition companies themselves at the time. (13)
Ongoing, independent studies are already working to shed light on the myth surrounding the anabolic window.
Who can benefit from a post workout?
Competitive athletes in particular, who train daily, sometimes even several times a day, should make sure they have a sufficient supply of nutrients to provide their body with the energy it needs to do so.
Since it is often difficult for them to take in the nutrients exclusively through wholesome meals, support in the form of a post workout shake makes perfect sense.
For recreational athletes who may not be able to eat a full meal in the foreseeable future due to time constraints, it is also conceivable to help out with a post workout.
However, you should remember that a Post Workout is only a nutritional supplement and can complement a balanced, healthy and wholesome diet, but should not replace it!
How much do Post Workout powders cost?
|Scope of ingredients||price for 1000 grams|
|Protein powder||approx. 15 to 30 euros|
|Amino acid combination powder||30 to 50 euros|
|All-In-One powder||20 to 40|
Although buckets of protein powder are cheaper on average, these powders usually only contain the protein in question.
Some powders also contain carbohydrates, but no amino acids or other supplements that are contained in the All-In-One powders. All-in-one powders are more expensive, but offer more nutrients in one powder than the alternatives.
Basically, buckets with more content are usually cheaper in the long run than smaller ones, at least for frequent use.
What types of post workout are there and which one is right for me?
|All-In-One Post Workout Powder||The Post Workout All-In-One Powder combines, as the name suggests, all supplements in one powder. It just needs to be mixed with water or milk and is then ready for consumption.|
|Self-prepared Post Workout||A self-prepared Post Workout can consist of the same supplements as the All-In-One powder. However, it must be mixed together before consumption.|
We will explain the advantages and disadvantages of both options in more detail in the next few paragraphs.
All-In-One Post Workout Powder
All-In-One Post Workout Powder is available in different flavours. You can fill the powder into an empty shaker before training and then fill it up with cold tap water after training.
Fruity flavours taste particularly refreshing this way. Alternatively, you can prepare your post workout shake at home with milk. Flavours like chocolate, vanilla or banana are particularly suitable for this.
The All-In-One Post Workout Buckets usually come with a small portioner that you can use to easily dose your powder. It is important to shake the shaker well so that the powder can dissolve completely and does not settle at the bottom of the shaker.
The compact powder has the following advantages and disadvantages:
Now that we've introduced you to the All-In-One Post Workout, let's take a look at the alternative.
Self-prepared Post Workout
You can easily make your own Post Workout Shake. All you need are the supplements of your choice, the appropriate portioners and a shaker. Not all supplements necessarily have to be in powder form.
You could also mix protein powder with maltodextrin and creatine in the shaker and take the magnesium and BCAAs in the form of capsules.
To make the taste as pleasant as possible, you should make sure that the individual supplements are either tasteless or have the same flavour.
This is especially easy if you use the capsules and powder variant, as creatine is usually tasteless and the capsules do not have a strong flavour. This way, you taste the unchanged flavour of your protein powder when you drink it - either with milk or water.
Of course, the homemade variant also has its advantages and disadvantages:
Whether you choose a compact package or make your own, the important thing is the right dosage.
How should a Post Workout be dosed?
If you want to be on the safe side, you can use the following information as a guide:
- Protein: 0.4-0.5 grams per kilogram of body weight (14)
- Short-chain carbohydrates: 0.4-0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (15)
- BCAAs: 3-5 grams
- Creatine: 3-5 grams (16)
- L-glutamine: 5-10 grams
Magnesium can be added to your post workout if needed, but you should not exceed the maximum daily dose of 250 grams. We will explain why in the next section.
What are the possible side effects of taking a Post Workout?
Possible side effects of protein supplementation
The few studies that exist on the disadvantages and side effects of protein supplementation either do not provide sufficient evidence or have not created adequate conditions for the tests to be conducted. (17)
However, it should be kept in mind that protein supplements are processed materials and often do not contain other essential nutrients needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. (17)
It is therefore recommended to obtain the required daily protein intake from natural food sources and only resort to protein supplementation when there is not enough protein in the normal diet. (17)
Possible side effects of short-chain carbohydrates
The short-chain carbohydrate maltodextrin is generally well tolerated. However, at very high doses, it may cause mild gastrointestinal discomfort.
Possible side effects of creatine monohydrate
Creatine is a relatively safe supplement with few side effects. The most common adverse side effect is temporary water retention in the early stages of supplementation. (16)
However, in combination with other supplements or in higher than recommended doses over several months, there have been cases of liver and kidney complications with creatine. (16)
Possible side effects of BCAAs
In principle, taking BCAAs is considered to be risk-free. Amino acids that the body can no longer absorb are simply excreted again via the gastrointestinal tract. (18)
If necessary, it can lead to stomach and digestive problems, whereby these are mostly due to an interaction with lactose and subside as soon as the substances have been excreted from the body again. (18)
Possible side effects of L-glutamine
Scientists suspect that high glutamine consumption over a long period of time can lead to various side effects:
- Because glutamine shares transport materials with other amino acids, increased glutamine intake can affect the distribution of amino acids in the tissues and their absorption in the intestines and kidneys.
- Glutamine supplementation may impair the synthesis of endogenous glutamine and increase glutamate and ammonia production. In addition, it may impair ammonia detoxification and negatively affect the role of glutamine as a carrier of ammonia between tissues.
- Due to the adaptive response of the organism to increased glutamine consumption, withdrawal of glutamine may increase the risk of health problems resulting from glutamine deficiency. (19)
However, there are no reliable long-term studies that can confirm these assumptions. Therefore, L-glutamine remains a poorly researched food supplement.
Possible side effects of magnesium
In the case of food, there is basically no concern about an oversupply of magnesium and the associated side effects. However, if food supplements are taken in addition, it can quickly happen that the maximum dose of 250 grams per day is exceeded. (20)
In the case of an overdose, diarrhoea and gastrointestinal complaints can occur. (20)
What are the alternatives to Post Workouts?
You can use your shower to prevent muscle soreness. You should not only take cold or hot showers, but also combine both.
A cold shower after exercise can help reduce inflammation in muscles, joints and tendons. A warm shower can improve the recovery of muscles and joints. The change from cold to warm can also help with possible stiffness, for example after a heavy leg workout.
Light stretching can also contribute positively to muscle recovery. However, too much intensity can also cause minor damage to the muscles, so it is better to use passive stretching - i.e. no pulling or pushing - and to hold each exercise for no longer than 60 seconds. (21)
Massage with a fascia roller can also prevent muscle soreness and relax the muscles after training. (22)
Getting enough sleep plays a big role in recovering from a strenuous workout. There are clear negative effects of sleep deprivation on performance, including reaction time, accuracy, strength and endurance. Cognitive functions such as judgement and decision-making also suffer. (23)
In addition to getting enough sleep and various post-workout relaxation techniques, proper nutrition and sufficient fluids play an important role. An alternative to the Post Workout Shake is the so-called Post Workout Meal, i.e. the first real meal after training.
What do I have to bear in mind with my Post Workout Meal?
You should not wait too long before eating your meal. It's best to eat it within two to three hours after training. This will give your body the energy it needs to boost muscle recovery and replenish its stores.
The most important nutrient for athletes is carbohydrates, closely followed by proteins and fats. The need for carbohydrates increases dynamically with the intensity and duration of physical exertion. An adequate supply is crucial for achieving peak performance in training. (24) Easily digestible carbohydrates are suitable for a quick effect.
Protein is crucial for building muscle and can also help with weight loss. Current recommendations for protein intake for weight loss in athletes are around 1.6 to 2.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. (25)
The exact protein intake depends on the size of your calorie deficit and the type and intensity of your training. It is important that you always use high-quality protein sources. (25)
Even though fats are usually portrayed as bad for the body, one type of fatty acid is not only good, but even important for the body. Basically, there are three types of fatty acids: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. (26)
In the case of polyunsaturated fatty acids, a further distinction is made between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These unsaturated fatty acids are vital because they are responsible for numerous hormone functions in our body. Fats are also an important component of energy reserves for muscle performance. (26)
Which foods are best for a Post Workout Meal?
In order to cover all the important nutrients in one meal, we have put together a small selection of foods in the respective categories:
|Carbohydrates||Pasta, wholemeal bread, oatmeal, potatoes, rice|
|Protein||Eggs, chicken, cottage cheese, tofu, chickpeas, kidney beans|
|Unsaturated fatty acids||Salmon, avocado, flaxseed, walnuts, rapeseed oil|
Even with this small selection, dishes can be prepared for people with mixed dietary requirements as well as for vegetarians and vegans. Even gluten-free and soy-free versions are possible.
Image source: puhhha / 123rf
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