Speed up your recovery and supercharge your training with a well-timed recovery drink. Not all drinks are made equal, however, so make sure you’re consuming a drink with the optimum ratio of recovery-enhancing ingredients.
Choosing the right protein source is key. Whey contains more branched-chain amino acids than casein and most other proteins (meaning it’s absorbed quicker by the body), which is what you want to fast-forward muscle recovery after stress.
Studies have shown that the optimum ratio of carbs to protein is 3:1, with maltodextrin and fructose or similar being ideal types of carbs to complement the protein. If you have a hard time getting in your vitamins, look out for a drink that includes added vitamins and minerals to aid general recovery and wellbeing, just be sure to avoid those overly packed with sugar.
The best recovery drinks in 2021
High5 Protein Recovery
- £41.99 (1.6kg)
High5’s protein recovery drink contains 18g whey protein and 37g carbohydrate (dextrose, maltodextrin and fructose) per 60g serving, which works out at 27 servings per tub for £1.55 per drink. Whey protein’s what you’re looking for in a recovery drink as it’s loaded with muscle-repairing amino acids and digests far quicker than casein protein. This is important to maximise protein synthesis, which is at its highest for two hours after exercise.
The chocolate flavour is arguably the nicest on test. High5 suggest you can consume with water or milk, but we’d advise taking with water as the body can struggle to digest milk after intense exercise and it slows down the absorption of the drink’s ‘goodness’. It also keeps costs down.
Verdict: simple, tasty and effective recovery drink 82%
Buy from www.chainreactioncycles.com
SiS Rego Rapid Recovery
- £38 (1.6kg)
Rego contains a near identical split of carbs (maltodextrin and fructose) and whey protein, which conflicts textbook ‘ratio’ advice; but many experts suggest protein quantity is more important than ratios and the 20g per serving is ideal for a longer session. Importantly it contains 2g leucine, a branched-chain amino acid that isn’t degraded by enzymes in the liver, so enjoys greater freedom to enter the body’s tissues and stimulate muscle growth. It also moderates insulin sensitivity and burns fat.
The ingredients list is enormous. On the positive, it stems from supplying a staggering 16 vitamins and minerals. The strawberry flavour is okay. More impressive is the price – £1.19 per serving.
Verdict: we’ve tasted better but plenty of goodness 83%
- £19.99 (500g)
Torq’s tasty strawberries-and-cream recovery drink comprises a 3:1 mix of carbs (maltodextrin and fructose) and whey protein. At those quantities, studies have shown not only the stimulation of muscle repair but also accelerated uptake of glucose into muscle and liver cells. It also features a 0.1% vitamin mix that covers 13 essentials.
Standout science is the introduction of L-Glutamine and D-Ribose, proven to prevent muscle breakdown and speed up the restocking of glycogen. This increases the price, and that’s especially true if you’re tall and heavy. Up to 50kg, you can get away with a 75g hit (approx. £3 per serving). But over 80kg and you’ll be looking at a 150g serving, which is around £6 per drink. That’s pricey, even for a drink containing only natural ingredients.
Verdict: the best recovery drink here but far too pricey 80%
Powerbar Recovery 2.0
- £26.99 (1.144kg)
PowerBar’s Recovery 2.0 delivers either 10g or 20g whey protein, and 29g or 58g carbohydrate (maltodextrin and oat flour), depending on whether you mix 44g or 88g serving of raspberry cooler powder. That’s because PowerBar recommend one 44g scoop for light training (£1.05 per serving), or two scoops (88g) for moderate to intense training.
Mix one scoop with water and you enjoy a subtle raspberry flavour; double the intake and it’s much sharper, but still palatable. Vitamin and mineral content is minimal – just magnesium and zinc to reduce fatigue and strengthen immunity, respectively. PowerBar argue that antioxidants remain absent due to potentially hampering physiological adaptation.
Verdict: a solid product at a good price 81%