Many athletes and people who train take a post-workout shake immediately after a workout.
Getting optimal benefits from your exercise or training routine isn’t just a matter of putting the work in.
Between protein, carbohydrates, amino acids, and all sorts of other nutrients, it can be hard to tell what’s important when it comes to a post-workout supplement.
Fortunately for you, we’ve analyzed the best post-workout supplements on the market and ranked them right here.
Our advisory panel and our research team rank the best health products and supplements based on performance, label accuracy, and the efficacy of the ingredients in the products.
Last updated: November 8, 2022
Post workout supplements considered: 29
Hours of research: 51
Experts reviewed: 13
Scientific papers referenced: 19
1. Performance Lab SPORT Post-Workout
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2. Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine
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3. Vintage Build
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4. BSN Amino X
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5. Evlution Recover Mode
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6. JYM Supplement Science POST
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7. Legion Recharge
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9. Growth Surge
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10. Progenex Recovery
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1. Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine
Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine focuses on recovery and increased performance using a potent recovery matrix. Along with fermented BCAAs and glutamine, this product also contains coconut water extract.
This product has no artificial coloring, no artificial sweeteners, is artificial preservative free, gluten-free and non-GMO. It comes in powder form and it comes in four flavors that taste amazing making this a great way to finish off your workout routine.
The clean formulation and excellent ingredient quality make Transparent Labs our top overall pick.
2. Vintage Build
The clean, focused design of Vintage Build is a nice contrast against other post-workout supplements that throw just about everything short of the kitchen sink into their supplement.
The key ingredients here are branched-chain amino acids, creatine, and L-glutamine for muscle recovery and immune function. Beyond this, the supplement is flavored and colored naturally with stevia and cherry coloring.
3. BSN Amino X
BSN Amino X is unique in that it’s formulated more towards speed, power, and endurance athletes than for pure strength athletes.
As the name suggests, you’ve got your usual branched chain and regular amino acids, but what makes BSN Amino X special is its inclusion of the buffering agents citrate and sodium bicarbonate.
These can be used by your bloodstream to fight off anaerobic fatigue in the short term, and restoring your body’s stores of these after an intense workout like HIIT training can help improve your performance the next time around.
4. Evlution Recover Mode
When it comes to post-workout supplements that take a comprehensive approach as opposed to a minimalist approach, nobody does it better than Evlution Recovery Mode.
It has everything you know you need in a post-workout supplement: branched-chain amino acids, regular amino acids, and creatine.
In addition, it has all of the extras you like to see: beta-alanine to boost muscular carnosine content, a robust mix of electrolytes to replace what’s lost in sweat, L-glutamate for better muscle recovery and immune function, and BioPerine to boost absorption.
5. JYM Supplement Science POST
POST is JYM Supplement Science’s answer to the post workout supplement question. It’s a more comprehensive approach than many of its competitors; it has the basics, like branched chain and regular amino acids.
It also has some cutting edge ingredients like beta-alanine, which can boost your muscular carnosine content, and taurine for extra energy.
To boost absorption, it also includes the proprietary black pepper extract, BioPerine. If you want a complete post-workout supplement that’s optimized for both strength and power, this is an excellent choice.
6. RSP AminoLean Recovery
RSP’s post-workout supplement provides a solid range of amino acids, plus trace electrolytes lost in sweat, like calcium and magnesium.
It gives you an added recovery and immunity boost thanks to zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D, which makes this a nice pick for athletes training hard in the winter, when infections are common.
The formulation is pretty clean, too, without much in the way of binders or synthetic flavors.
7. Do Vitamins PostPump
Do Vitamins PostPump is an incredibly clean and focused supplement that provides only the most important building blocks for recovery.
Here’s what’s inside: L-carnitine plus BCAAs for muscle recovery (in a 2:1:1 leucine, isoleucine, valine ratio), creatine for strength and power gains, and betaine for more anaerobic power output.
Beyond that, there are no additional ingredients. While that makes the taste pretty bland, for hardcore purists, this supplement is tough to beat.
8. Legion Recharge
Legion Recharge is a surprisingly simplistic post workout supplement. Among the active ingredients, all it delivers creatine, L-carnitine, and banaba leaf extract.
A super-simple supplement like this can be nice, but the disappointing thing about Legion Recharge is that there are a lot of unwanted extras like artificial flavoring and several different non-caloric sweeteners.
Despite this downside, it’s still pretty good for those in the minimalist supplement camp.
Powerbuild delivers a few branched-chain amino acids, beta-alanine for muscular power, and creatine for muscular strength.
It’s also got BioPerine, a.k.a. Black pepper extract, to boost your absorption of the amino acids in the supplement. It’s a little bloated with extras, which knocks it down a few spots in the rankings.
10. Jacked Factory Growth Surge
Jacked Factory Growth Surge is designed pretty much exclusively for strength athletes. It’s really more of a creatine supplement than anything else; it doesn’t even have a full complement of branched chain amino acids.
While it has BioPerine, there aren’t really enough ingredients for it to boost absorption and bioavailability, so it seems like an afterthought ingredient. On top of this, it’s a bit bloated with artificial ingredients, making it hard to recommend unless taste matters most to you.
Best post-workout supplement overall: Transparent Labs BCAA + Glutamine
Transparent Labs makes a great all-around post-workout supplement thanks to the killer combo of branched-chain amino acids plus glutamine, another potent muscle recovery enhancer. Whether you’re doing a tough HIIT session or lifting heavy, Transparent Labs is hard to beat.
Best post-workout supplement for men: Vintage Build
Men get extra benefits out of the creatine and electrolytes in Vintage Build for extra muscle gains and better rehydration. It’s an obvious choice for men looking for a post-workout supplement.
Best post-workout supplement for women: Transparent Labs BCAA + Glutamine
For women who are serious about gaining strength and power, Transparent Labs BCAA + Glutamine is the way to go. It’s an ultra-simple combination of some of the most important components for post-workout recovery: branched chain amino acids and glutamine, both of which promote strength gains and prevent soreness.
Best post-workout supplement for bodybuilders: Vintage Build
Vintage Build has a few key ingredients for adding muscle mass that you won’t find in run-of-the-mill post-workout supplements, like creatine and glutamine. Plus, thanks to the electrolytes, it’s even a good option for cardio days.
Best post-workout supplement for athletes: BSN Amino X
If you’re an athlete, you want a post-workout supplement that’s specifically targeted towards enhancing speed, power, and endurance. Enter BSN Amino X, with amino acids, anaerobic power enhancers, and buffering agents. It’s definitely the best option for competitive athletes looking to maximize their recovery.
Best post-workout supplement for sore muscles: Transparent Labs BCAA + Glutamine
If your primary goal is treating or preventing muscle soreness, you want as high of a dose of BCAAs and glutamine as you can manage. Transparent Labs makes a fantastic combo product that’s perfectly suited for fighting post-workout soreness.
Who should buy a post-workout supplement?
If all you do is go to the gym to keep in decent shape, a post-workout supplement probably isn’t necessary, but if you are reading this, chances are you are a serious athlete. Here’s who should consider taking post-workout:
People who work out to improve their peak performance. Since the real key to improving strength, speed, power, endurance, and muscle mass is to do hard training, then recover well afterwards, taking care of your post-workout nutrition is a no-brainer if you are looking for improvement.
After finishing a workout session, you have damage to your muscle fibers, you’ve sweated out a lot of electrolytes, your body is fatigued from putting out a high amount of power, and your muscle and liver glycogen stores are depleted.
All of these things need should be addressed for getting your recovery optimized after a tough workout session.
Athletes who periodically do very tough training sessions. When going for a one-rep max, getting after it in a HIIT session, or pushing your overall training load to new highs, you should be extra focused on recovery.
A post-workout supplement makes it easy to cover all of your bases after a workout: these supplements feature essential amino acids, branched chain amino acids (aka BCAAs), and other supplements to maximize gains, like creatine or beta alanine.
The right post-workout supplement can boost your recovery, and thus your improvement. Don’t forget, though, that you need to do the hard training first: a post-workout supplement without a solid workout prior is not going to do you much good.
How we ranked
Separating high-quality post-workout supplements from mediocre and mid-tier offerings is tricky. Here’s how we did it:
Primary focus on compounds proven to boost recovery. Based on a review of the sports science literature, we generated a list of all essential nutrients that are beneficial for workout recovery.
These included essential amino acids, and in particular the branched chain amino acids, for muscle fiber repair; creatine or beta alanine for restoring your body’s anaerobic energy production abilities, and electrolytes to replace those lost in sweat.
If a post-workout supplement didn’t contain at least some of these critical ingredients, we eliminated it from consideration.
Correct dosage was critical. We evaluated the remaining products on their dosage levels, rating highly those that delivered these critical ingredients at efficacious doses, and dropping those that had insufficient doses.
Bonus points for high bioavailability and added extras. From the remaining products, we analyzed the benefits of any additional ingredients beyond the basics. Products that used black pepper extract (a.k.a. piperine) to boost the absorption of key ingredients gained extra points, for example, as did products that had L-glutamine to boost muscle protein synthesis.
Transparent and clean ingredients list. We had a strong preference for products whose ingredients were plain to see, instead of being mixed together in a “proprietary blend.”
Great taste from all-natural flavors. Next up, we looked at the other ingredients. You want a post-workout shake that tastes good, but a product with too much sugar is bad news for your body.
Likewise, we were also looking for products that did not have a lot of artificial colors and flavors. Post-workout supplements that didn’t measure up on either of these fronts got eliminated from the field. Products that used natural sweeteners like stevia scored better and remained in consideration.
Finally, we looked at the overall purity and quality of the products: anything that was bloated with fillers, binders, and stabilizers got eliminated, leaving us with our final list of the best post workout supplements of the year.
Q: What is a post-workout supplement?
A: Post-workout supplements are formulations that are specifically designed to boost your body’s recovery following a tough session at the gym.
They include protein as a basic macronutrient to kick-start muscle repair and synthesis, and include specialized ingredients like branched chain amino acids and creatine to make sure your body recovers to a state that’s stronger than before.
Unlike a pre-workout or intra-workout supplement, a post-workout supplement isn’t going to include caffeine or other stimulants to boost your workout performance today. Rather, the intent is to recover well after your training session so you will ultimately be stronger, faster, and more powerful in the future.
Q: What is the best supplement for muscle recovery?
A: For boosting muscle recovery, it’s hard to beat a combination of protein, BCAAs, and creatine. The amino acids in protein (plus BCAAs, all of which are essential amino acids) are critical building blocks for repairing muscle fibers and synthesizing new muscle tissue.
On top of that, creatine is one of the most heavily-studied and rigorously proven supplements for boosting muscle growth. Deliver these two in combination, as many top post-workout supplements do, and you have a winning formulation for muscle recovery after challenging workouts.
Q: What’s the best post-workout supplement for weight loss?
A: If you are trying to lose weight and maintain workout gains, you have to navigate a narrow path: you obviously need to be in a calorie deficit, but you also want to maintain muscle mass and muscular strength to the greatest degree possible.
Choosing a post-workout supplement that focuses mostly on amino acids and not so much on creatine or total protein content is a good choice, because amino acids will help maintain and repair muscle tissue, but not add too much to your total caloric intake.
You’ll definitely want to avoid post-workout supplements that use sugar for flavoring, since these will add unnecessary carbs to your diet and will make it harder to drop fat mass. You might consider a dedicated weight loss supplement if your goal is to burn off as much fat as possible.
Q: What should you look for in a post-workout recovery shake?
A: We recommend using a similar process to what our research team did to formulate our rankings. The key ingredients you should be on the lookout for are a source of protein (either a high-quality protein like whey protein or a large amount of individual amino acids), sufficient amounts of all three branched chain amino acids, and possibly beneficial extras like creatine and beta alanine.
Creatine is particularly important if you are looking to maximize strength and muscle mass gains, while beta alanine is most useful for boosting your anaerobic power.
Make sure the post-workout recovery shake that you choose avoids excessive amounts of sugar (opt instead for a natural sweetener like stevia), unless you are explicitly looking for a recovery shake that uses carbs to restore your muscle glycogen.
Q: What’s the best supplement for muscle building?
A: For building muscle, you want pretty much the same ingredients as muscle recovery: protein and especially creatine. While creatine helps with muscle recovery, it’s even more important for maximizing muscle building.
Even when your dietary intake of protein is quite high, supplementing with creatine is an effective way to increase your muscle gains even more.
Of course, if you have insufficient protein intake, that should be addressed as well, so don’t forget about protein and amino acid content in a post-workout supplement if you are aiming to build muscle. Without this basic building block, you won’t be able to max out your muscular strength and muscular size gains.
- Pre-workout supplement
- Intra-workout supplement
- BCAAs for women
- Protein shake
- Testosterone booster
- Bulking stack
- Cutting stack
When you choose the right post workout supplement, you stand a good chance of boosting your body’s ability to recover.
This means that you’ll get a greater benefit from a given workout, and it also means you can push a little harder in your toughest and most challenging workouts because you know that your body’s ability to recover is elevated.
Pretty much all athletes should be on the lookout for branched chain amino acids in their post workout supplement. Athletes focused on raw strength and short-term power (less than ten seconds of effort) should look for creatine as well.
Athletes who need to be able to produce power for anywhere from 60 seconds to several minutes should try to find a post workout supplement that also includes a muscular power booster like beta alanine if they want to fuel up their muscles for optimal performance.
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 post-workout supplement recommendation, click here.