What makes a recovery shake an actual recovery drink?

Everywhere you look, there’s yet another new recovery shake on the market. But how to tell them apart? Which is best for you? Here we sum up briefly, clearly and scientifically what a recovery shake does and what to look for when choosing that perfect one for your specific needs.

1. Why take a recovery shake?

Before you start looking for a good recovery shake, you should be aware of why you would use it. A recovery drink has three main objectives for athletes:

  1. Muscle recovery and building: it supplies proteins to help recover your muscles from their efforts, as well as to faster build muscle mass.
  2. Replenish supplies in your body that have been depleted from exercise.
  3. Condition building: by strategically planning “muscle recovery/building” into your training schedule, you can more smoothly build up your condition.

The best recovery shakes provide not only protein and nutrients but also sufficient carbohydrates. This gives you extra energy for a faster, more effective recovery.

2. Real recovery

Here’s how to recognize the best recovery shakes for athletes:

1. Look for whey protein concentrate (for muscle recovery/building)

  1. Whey is the highest quality protein source available. No protein has better power to recover muscles as quickly and effectively.
  2. Be sure to look not only at the total amount of protein, but at the amount of whey protein in particular.
  3. The best recovery shakes contain more than 45 grams of protein, including +25 grams of whey protein.

2. Leucine is boss! (for muscle recovery/building)

Forget super amino acids: long live leucine! BCAAs are often wrongly given credit for too many properties and effects. In fact, according to the latest studies, BCAA leucine is the most important of these as it has the power to boost muscle growth and recovery/repair.

  • The more leucine, the better. The best recovery shakes contain at least 5grams of leucine. Ideally, your recovery shake should contain 6 grams of leucine per serving.
  • If your recovery shake also contains 2 – 3 grams of isoleucine, you have the ideal recovery drink. Isoleucine has a similar effect as leucine and can be absorbed simultaneously without limiting each other.
  • For full recovery effect, be sure to also look for BCAA valine in your recovery drink.

3. Must contain extra nutrients

For a full recovery after a workout, your recovery drink should also contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will have been used or lost through sweat. (NOTE: you sweat more than you think, even on cold days!)

  • When these nutrients are taken directly after exercise – within the first half hour, they are most easily absorbed by the body.
  • Look for these key vitamins: B1, B12, B2, B6, vitamin C
  • Look for these key minerals: Chlorine, Potassium, Sodium, Phosphorus, Zinc

These five different vitamins will also noticeably increase your energy levels. A boost you’ll feel within a half hour after drinking the shake.

4. Must have a neutral pH and double buffer for creatine

  • A neutral pH is the gold standard for a quality recovery shake: The proof that no additional flavorings or acids have been added. This makes the drink incredibly easy to digest – even after your hardest efforts. Substances are absorbed much faster for a better, more noticeable effect. It also makes it extremely suitable for people with sensitive stomachs.
  • Creatine (muscle building): usually present, but be sure that it is a double buffered creatine. That way everything you drink will also be effectively absorbed. If this double buffer (a protective layer to protect against your body’s acids) is not present, the creatine will break down more quickly and be absorbed up to 60% less.

Based on studies we conducted with our pro athletes, we found that with regular use of the unique-blend Pro-Elite Recovery shake, there is noticeable increase in fitness, strength and endurance.

5. Choose smart: An all-in-one recovery shake is not always necessary!

For those times when your workout was not too strenuous and shorter than two hours, you may want to instead opt for leucine only. Leucine is tops when it comes to recovering and building muscle. In addition, with regular use (starting at the 3-week mark), you will enjoy an extra boost to your fitness level. We developed leucine in capsule form, making it easy to take.

For efforts that are low or last less than 2 hours, a recovery shake is often not necessary and you can work with separate leucine. For efforts of less than 2 hours, we have therefore developed Leucine separately in a capsule. Of course, this is not a total recovery as a recovery shake, but it is ideal to use after short and non-intense efforts.

Did you know?

As leucine is the most expensive ingredient in a recovery shake, many commercial brands choose not to use enough of it, deeming their shakes utterly useless for recovery. While other brands opt not to sell leucine on its own because it is commercially more attractive to sell expensive recovery shakes.

The best full recovery shake, developed for active bodies

Neapharma’s Pro-Elite Recovery shake comes in two flavors: fresh Orange, light Forest Fruits.

Don’t miss out on your recovery

Convinced you’re missing out on something? Test it for yourself! Check out all Neapharma recovery products to figure out what suits you best. Optimal recovery doesn’t have to be expensive, so make sure you don’t train in vain. Build your fitness, and your muscles.