Post-Workout Shakes: Beneficial or Not?

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I can remember, pre-pandemic, venturing over to a friend’s house to workout together. She suggested we do an intense HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout regimen. I knew right away that this workout would leave me a victim of D.O.M.S. (Delayed onset muscle soreness). Although hesitant, I acquiesced. 

The workout was as intense and laborious as I had imagined it would be, but as I reached for my water at the conclusion of the workout, she reached for her post workout recovery shake. Being a good friend and hostess, she offered me one, but I quickly declined. I have never been a fan of protein shakes and was reluctant due to my sensitive gag reflex and thoughts of a repugnant aftertaste. However, the next day, as I could barley walk or get out of bed, I laid in bed wondering, “do recovery shakes really work?” 

First you may be asking, “what is a recovery shake?” Good question. A recovery shake or drink is generally anything that you drink post-workout to speed up the body’s recovery after a workout. The purpose of it is to decrease your down time from your last workout (whether it’s due to muscle soreness, fatigue, etc.), so you’re more prepared going into your next workout. According to an article published by the University of Wisconsin, “you are able to get food and nutrition into your system fairly quickly post-workout and it can be much easier on the stomach vs solid foods. Plus, it can assist hydration.” 

What makes a good recovery drink? According to my research, for a recovery drink to be effective it should contain: 

• Protein 

• Carbohydrates 

• Electrolytes 

Some articles suggest the recovery shake should be consumed within 60-90 minutes after your workout, but doesn’t necessarily mean you need to drink one after every workout. While others believe that as long as you have it within the first 20-30 minutes after your workout you will respond well. 

So, when should you use a recovery drink? One article, written on trainright.com, suggests you should consume a recovery drink, “if you are training or competing more than once in a single day, a recovery drink after your first session is a good idea. If you are riding back-to-back days of long miles (like during a bike tour, cycling camp, or stage race), then it’s a good idea as well.” 

But do they work? Well, the verdict is still out on this for me. Some articles swear by the effectiveness of recovery drinks, while others imply that your body will naturally recover as long as you are eating a healthy diet. Regardless, one thing is certain, after a tough workout your body has lost hydration and energy sources. So, no matter if you decide to drink a recovery shake or stick to your normal routine (whatever that may be), keep in mind that your body needs to be rehydrated and hydration and daily nutrients are key ingredients to living a healthy and fit life, whether consumed in liquid or solid form.

Article by Carolyn Miller  

References:

1) UW Health Sports The Rules of Recovery Drinks Universityofwisonsinhealth.org Date posted: 10/11/2017 

2) Chris Carmichael Top 3 Myths About Post-Workout Protein and Recovery Trainright.com

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