The Best Post-Workout Supplements Are Free of These 3 Things
After an intense workout, it's important to refuel your body with carbohydrates and protein that stimulate muscle protein synthesis and facilitate muscle growth. Ideally, you'd eat a protein- and carb-rich meal immediately post-workout. But what if you can't?
Enter post-workout supplements. They're an easy way to get your post-exercise nutrition fix in place of (or in addition to) a well-balanced meal. These supplements come either in a capsule form or a powder you can mix with liquid.
So many post-workout supplements exist on the market, it's easy to get lost in the noise of empty, unfounded claims. Fortunately, we're here to help you navigate through it all.
In this article, we'll explain what to look for — and what to avoid — in the best post-workout supplements.
How to Evaluate Post-Workout Supplements
When choosing the best post-workout supplements, read the ingredients list carefully. Make sure your supplements are free of the following ingredients to optimize post-workout muscle-building and nutrient replenishment.
3 Ingredients to Avoid in Post-Workout Supplements
Understanding which ingredients to avoid in your post-workout supplements is just as important as knowing which ones are important to have. If your post-workout supplement contains any of the below ingredients, it may be wise to reconsider incorporating them into your regimen.
1. Artificial Sweeteners
To make post-workout supplements palatable in a "healthy" way, some manufacturers add sugar substitutes such as aspartame, acesulfame-potassium, and sucralose.
However, these artificial sweeteners may do more harm than good for your overall health. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found drinks flavored with artificial sweeteners are linked to a likelihood of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
2. Artificial Flavors, Colors, and Preservatives
Artificial flavors and colors are used to enhance the appearance and taste of powder supplements. Meanwhile, artificial preservatives are supposed to maintain a supplement's freshness. These may sound like harmless ingredients on the surface, but research shows these artificial additives won't do your body good.
Possible side effects of these additives include food allergies and health problems, food intolerances, according to a scientific review in the Asian Journal of Science and Technology. The review also shows that artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives may increase the risk of cancer and other diseases.
Some brands rely on fillers and unnecessary ingredients to create the illusion of a more robust post-workout supplement. For example, corn maltodextrin is a cheap carbohydrate powder used to inflate serving size.
Regular use of maltodextrin may break down your gut's microbiota and lead to digestive disorders, according to a study in the scientific journal Gut Microbes.
Caffeine is another ingredient manufacturers often include in large amounts. While drinking caffeine post-workout has its benefits, too much of it can leave you jittery before you inevitably crash.
What Else to Look For in Post-Workout Supplements
Transparency is crucial when it comes to selecting the best post-workout supplement for your needs. After all, shouldn't you know what you're putting into your body to help it recover? Be wary of any brand touting a "proprietary blend" in their product.
Look for workout supplements with clean, natural ingredients such as TransparentLabs' line of post-workout supplements. They're free of GMOs, unnecessary additives, and artificial sweeteners, and full of key nutrients at clinically effective dosages.
The Best Post-Workout Supplements for Training
There are post-workout supplements available to support muscle growth and recovery, fluid replacement, and nutrient replenishment. The best post-workout supplements for you depend largely on the type of physical activity you engage in and your body’s unique individual needs.
Creatine is a nonessential amino acid-like molecule your body uses to create chemical energy. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, a creatine supplement may help improve your performance during aerobic and anaerobic workouts.
Additionally, consuming creatine within 30 minutes post-workout can stimulate muscle glycogen resynthesis for faster muscle recovery.
TransparentLabs StrengthSeries Creatine HMB contains creatine monohydrate from Creapure®, which is the purest source of creatine. Combined with beta-hydroxy-beta-methyl butyrate (HMB), this post-workout supplement will enhance your strength and endurance.
2. BCAAs and Glutamine
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are made up of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAAs increase protein synthesis and decrease protein degradation in resting human muscle.
A study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition Exercise Metabolism says BCAAs may have anabolic effects on muscle during recovery from endurance workouts, leading to muscle growth.
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in your body. It plays a key role in protein synthesis and transporting nitrogen between tissues to help promote muscle growth.
Post-workout glutamine supplementation is linked to faster muscle recovery and reduced muscle soreness, per the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.
Combined, BCAAs and glutamine support effective post-workout and recovery and help you build muscle mass. TransparentLabs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine features a potent recovery matrix that stimulates muscle growth, reduces exercise-induced muscle damage, and decreases fatigue.
3. Protein Powders
Protein powder is one of the most popular workout supplements among gym-goers. It's easy to make and consume protein shakes on-the-go.
The two common types of protein found in protein powders are whey and casein, which both come from milk. Casein protein makes up 80% of dairy milk protein while whey protein accounts for the remaining 20%.
Ingesting whey protein or casein protein right after a workout yields net muscle protein synthesis for increased muscle growth, per a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
The quality of protein makes a difference in the quality of your post-workout recovery. For example, 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein — as found in TransparentLabs ProteinSeries Grass-Fed Whey Protein Concentrate — is unprocessed for a pure, high-quality protein source that will benefit your recovery efforts and muscle gains.
4. Carbohydrate Supplements
Incorporating carbs as part of your post-workout recovery process can benefit you as long as you select the right carbs. Cluster Dextrin®, also known as highly-branched cyclic dextrin, is an easily-digestible carbohydrate and does not overstimulate insulin production.
Consuming a carb supplement with a high-quality protein source post-workout can replenish muscle glycogen and lead to faster recovery, per research presented in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.
Speed up your post-workout recovery and increase your lean muscle mass with the TransparentLabs StrengthSeries Carb Powder. Combine it with the TransparentLabs ProteinSeries 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate for maximum results.
5. Comprehensive Post-Workout Supplements
The best post-workout supplements contain a blend of optimum ingredients to replenish lost nutrients, boost energy levels, promote muscle repair, and increase lean muscle mass.
An example of this is the new TransparentLabs CoreSeries Post-Workout recovery supplement, which contains:
- L-glutamine — Amino acid linked to faster recovery and reduced muscle soreness
- Betaine anhydrous — Reduces fatigue and triggers muscle growth response
- Beta-alanine — Delays neuromuscular fatigue from intense exercise
- L-carnitine L-tartrate — Increases oxygen supply to muscle tissue
- Tart cherry powder — Reduces post-workout muscle soreness and enhances muscle recovery
End Your Training Sessions With Proper Recovery and Care
It can be daunting to choose the best post-workout supplement, but knowing what to look for (and avoid) can make the process much easier. Seek products rich in all-natural, scientifically-proven ingredients, and avoid unnecessary fillers, artificial sweeteners, and other additives that could sabotage your progress.
TransparentLabs post-workout supplements are formulated with science in mind. True to our name, we're transparent in how our products are created and will always provide links to clinically-published research to back up our claims.Post-workout recovery is important. But you should also set the tone for a good training session with a high-quality pre-workout supplement to help keep you moving from start to finish.