Skip to content

The #1 Best Supplement to Take Post-Workout, Says Dietitian

Don’t wait! Jumpstart your recovery with this right away.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

The job of building strength or speed doesn't end with your last rep of bench presses or the cool-down jog after sets of sprint intervals. You may have hit the showers, but your body hasn't stopped working.

Post-workout is prime recovery time. When you exercise, you stress your muscles, causing micro-tears in the muscle fibers. During recovery, the damaged muscle fibers begin to heal and grow stronger than they were before.

You can speed up the process of healing and reduce soreness (called delayed-onset muscle soreness or DOMS) by refueling right after your workout with a post-workout recovery supplement, like a shake containing protein and carbohydrates. (Also, by avoiding these Four Eating Habits That Are Wrecking Your Workout.)

A One-Two Punch

assorted protein shakes

"The best nutrients to consume right after a workout are protein and carbohydrate to jumpstart recovery right away," says Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and consulting sports dietitian for Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves. "It doesn't make sense to wait to eat. The longer you wait, the longer you delay the start of that recovery period."

It's rarely convenient to sit down to a meal after a hard workout, so Spano recommends drinking a shake containing protein and carbohydrates. "Mix your carbohydrate-and-protein powdered supplement in water or another fluid," says Spano. "If possible, mix it in milk for the added nutrients and better hydration." Remember, you've lost a lot of fluids by sweating during a tough workout. Spano says milk replenishes your body better than water.

READ MORE10 Best Protein Powders For Weight Loss, According To RDs

"In all my years of nutrition practice in every major sport, I've found that athletes who consume protein and carbs either in the form of a meal or a recovery shake soon after a tough training session feel much better and less sore the next day," she says. "They also tend to have more energy."

If you prefer to get your post-workout booster shot of recovery nutrients through a meal, check out these 25 Perfect Muscle-Building Foods.

For more healthy eating news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read this next:

Jeff Csatari
Jeff Csatari, a contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, is responsible for editing Galvanized Media books and magazines and for advising journalism students through the Zinczenko New Media Center at Moravian University in Bethlehem, PA. Read more about Jeff