Best recovery drinks 2014
Recovery is a huge part of training so the right post-exercise nutrition is crucial. Andrew Hamilton tests six drinks to get you back to full strength…
After exercise, your muscle glycogen stores are low and your muscles’ ability to soak up glucose (from carbohydrate) and amino acids (from protein) is temporarily increased.
Consuming a recovery drink within 30mins or so can provide an ideal ratio of these nutrients, along with fluid to rehydrate (and maybe electrolyte minerals too). Whey tends to be the protein of choice because it’s rapidly assimilated and is rich in the amino acid leucine, which is critical for muscle recovery.
Likewise, some quick-releasing carbohydrate is desirable to help spike insulin levels, which boosts uptake of glucose and amino acids into muscles. The consensus is that a carbohydrate/protein ratio of around 2-3:1 works well for endurance athletes such as triathletes.
USN Recover Xcell
Price: £29.99 from uk.usn-sport.com
Providing a 3.5:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein, USN’s drink also supplies generous levels of electrolytes to replace those lost from sweating, plus vitamin C. Carbohydrate comes courtesy of maltodextrin, waxy maize starch and corn syrup solids, with protein supplied by rapidly assimilated whey protein isolate.
Less-welcome ingredients are added colours (E100 and E103), along with artificial sweetener (sucralose). Mixing with water as directed resulted in a rather green-looking drink, but one with a refreshing, fruity and authentic tropical taste – albeit quite sweet. At 3p per gram the price is reasonable, but one downside was that mixing with a shaker resulted in copious amounts of froth.
Verdict: Well formulated, tasty and reasonably priced – 80%
High5 Protein Recovery Drink
Price: £41.99 from highfive.co.uk
High5’s drink supplies a blend of carbohydrate from maltodextrin and protein from whey protein isolate to provide a 2.3:1 carbs to protein ratio. Although there are no other added nutrients, this one’s free of all artificial colours, preservatives, flavours and sweeteners.
High5 recommends mixing with water for a rapid release of nutrients, or with milk for a more sustained release (before bedtime, for example). Either way, it mixed readily to give an authentic banana flavour, not too sweet and with a smooth consistency. We preferred it with skimmed milk, which gave it more body, making it very moreish. And, while £40+ sounds a lot per tub, 2.6p per gram is quite reasonable.
Verdict: No-nonsense, good-tasting drink that’s decent value – 85%
SiS REGO Rapid Recovery
Price: £31.80 from www.scienceinsport.com
REGO Rapid supplies a 2.4:1 ratio of carb to protein, with the protein coming, unusually, from soy protein isolate (a big plus for anyone dairy or lactose-intolerant), while carbs are supplied by a maltodextrin/fructose blend for rapid uptake.
Other ingredients include a generous sprinkling of vitamins and minerals, plus the sweetener Aspartame. Mixing as directed produced a smooth texture (albeit a little powdery), with a decent chocolatey flavour and nutty overtones. Add in an extremely competitive price of 1.8p per gram and it’s hard not to be impressed!
Verdict: Dairy-free, great price and good-tasting formulation – 88%
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