The best post-workout supplements to support recovery and muscle gains

Recharge, refuel and relax with the best post workout supplements for any level of gym experience

The best post-workout supplements of the year

by Ryan Houghton |
Updated on

After crushing an enormous workout session, it's vital to replenish and re-energise your body with the best supplements to repair and grow damaged muscle tissue. When it comes to finding exactly what post-workout supplement your body needs, however, it can become needlessly complicated and extremely pricey fast.

Fad diet supplements, products that aren't scientifically backed, and harmful chemicals that hinder your health and fitness progress - getting your hands on the perfect post-workout recovery can be both infuriating and discouraging.

The best post-workout supplements at a glance:

• Best unflavoured creatine: MyProtein Creatine Monohydrate - View offer on Amazon.co.uk
• Best whey protein powder: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein - View offer on Amazon.co.uk
• Best supplement for energy recovery: Applied Nutrition Carb X Cyclic Dextrin - View offer on Amazon.co.uk

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The best post-workout supplements of 2023

Best unflavoured creatine

MyProtein Creatine Monohydrate - unflavoured

Rrp: $39.99

Price: $24.97

If you're not a fan of flavoured creatine and want to create your own post-workout concoction - MyProtein's pure unflavoured creatine is the way to go.

Easy to mix, a ton of servings and made with high-quality ingredients - MyProtein's unflavoured creatine is perfect to use throughout the day, but it works especially well after a tough strength session.

Our advice, however, would be to take two servings rather than the admittedly small 3 grams of creatine suggested by MyProtein.

Pros

  • A great number of servings
  • Perfect for a post-workout drink
  • Easy to mix

Cons

  • Not a lot of creatine per serving

Best whey protein powder

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein
Price: $41.93
Alternative retailers
DICK'S Sporting Goods$44.99View offer

As fitness fanatics, we couldn't bring ourselves not to include Optimum Nutrition's protein powder. It boasts a blend of whey protein isolates, whey protein concentrate and whey peptides, ensuring a high-quality source of essential amino acids for muscle recovery and growth. What sets it apart is its commitment to purity, with minimal fats, sugars and carbs per serving.

Pros

  • The absolute best-flavoured protein powder
  • Packed with protein
  • Also contains BCAA

Cons

  • A small amount of servings per tub

Best post-workout supplement for energy recovery

When training, the most overlooked supplement just has to be carbs. Many fitness enthusiasts steer clear of carbs because of their infamous weight-gaining capabilities, but not all carbs are bad for you.

Cyclic dextrin carbohydrates are highly branched, complex carbs that are quickly used up by muscles to fuel growth and replenish stores of glycogen for your next workout, making sure you truly give it your all in your future sessions.

Affordable, plenty of doses, a powerful and instant source of explosive energy - Applied Nutrition has made one of the greatest post-workout supplements on the market that's absolutely worth a try.

Pros

  • Incredibly strong post-workout boost
  • Great for muscle growth
  • Can be taken before or after a workout

Cons

  • Not suitable for users attempting to lose weight

Best BCAA post-workout supplement

BCAAs are an essential amino acid that you can only get through food and supplements, but it is vital in building a strong, muscular physique.

While eating meat is a good source of BCAAs, for vegans and vegetarians, that option just isn't there. Enter, Iron Labs' BCAA - containing all the essential amino acids for huge gains or even the prevention of muscle loss (which can happen if you're daily routine isn't particularly active).

IronLab's BCAA capsules are great for regulating muscle growth and easing post-workout fatigue, they're easy to swallow, and the benefits are, while not immediately noticeable - definitely worth experiencing.

Pros

  • Great for more enhanced muscle growth
  • Excellent for vegans
  • Can be taken throughout the day

Cons

  • Not a huge dose

Best mass gainer

If you're struggling to see any significant gains, you might not be getting enough calories or protein for major muscle growth - enter USN's Chocolate mass gainer.

Containing a staggering 60g of protein, over 5,400mg of creatine and over 1,000 calories - USN's ultimate mass gainer has to be one of the best post-workout supplements on the market for incredible progress.

If you struggle to maintain mass, USN's Mass Gainer is the perfect answer.

Pros

  • Perfect for rapid muscle gain
  • Tasty flavour
  • Included creatine for increased muscle growth

Cons

  • Not a lot of servings, even in 6kg pack

Best flavoured creatine

When it comes to the most effective post-workout supplements you can possibly take - creatine has to be up there.

Many gym newbies make the mistake of purchasing unflavoured creatine and simply chugging it with gallons of water before a workout - leaving you bloated, uncomfortable and unlikely to try it again, but no more. Warrior Creatine comes in various fantastic flavours that give you a tasty punch of energy while also aiding in your gains during rest days.

Creatine is also an incredibly versatile supplement and can be taken before or after a workout - so you're not taking tonnes of supplements at once.

Pros

  • Powerful muscle growth boost
  • Great flavours
  • Can be taken any time of the day

Cons

  • Best not mixed with other drinks

Best vegan protein powder

If you're looking to make some big leaps with muscle growth while retaining a vegan lifestyle, it can be incredibly difficult to acquire the amount of protein your body needs, Vegolife protein powder puts an end to this common issue.

Loaded with 21 grams of protein, alongside green tea and acai berry extract for an antioxidant boost - this vegan protein powder is a great-tasting, powerful post-workout protein that's also great value, making it one of the best choices for vegan gymgoers available.

Pros

  • Fantastic vegan alternative
  • Great flavour
  • High protein content

Cons

  • Not as protein-packed as a vegetarian alternative

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Best post workout protein snack

Grenade High Protein and Low Carb Bar - Caramel Chaos, 12 x 60g
Price: $46.99

Sometimes, getting enough protein in your meals is - to put it bluntly, a complete nightmare. Many foods with plenty of protein tend also to be full of salt, fat and an excess of carbohydrates (and not the good kind).

Grenade's high protein bar simply has to be one the best quick-fix protein supplements on the market right now, not only because of its whopping 23 grams of protein but also because of the great variety of flavours.

Low carb, low sugar, and incredibly filling - Grenade is known for its excellent supplements, but its protein bars just take the cake.

Pros

  • Fantastic flavour
  • Packed with protein
  • A great alternative to protein shakes

Cons

  • Some reviewers say the bars have a little bit of an aftertaste

Best keto-friendly protein snack

Delicious, light, and filled with protein - The Curators' protein pork puffs are the answer to those endless snack cravings while dieting.

Made of 95 per cent pork rind, the Curators use fantastic ingredients to make a simply mouth-watering snack that's genuinely hard to top.

Its excellent quality does come at a price, however - they're fairly expensive at around £19 per multipack, and yet for great flavour, crunch and that incredible amount of protein - they're still absolutely worth it.

Pros

  • Delicious flavour
  • Perfect for keto diets
  • Low calories

Cons

  • Packaging can't be recycled

Best vegan high-protein snack

Despite the protein snack market being largely non-vegan, every now and then, you find vegan protein snacks that aren't just a glorified trail mix - they're actually delicious, packed with nutrition and fill you up.

Chia Charge's vegan protein bar is perfect for a big energy boost after a workout, as well as recharging and repairing muscles after a heavy pump.

Flavour, power, nutrition - it's an all-around perfect post-workout snack for vegans and even non-vegans.

Pros

  • Great source of protein
  • Filled with omega 3
  • Delicious flavour

Cons

  • Lots of sugar and fat

FAQs

What's the best post-workout supplements?

While there isn't a definitive 'ultimate' post-workout supplement, there are definite stand-outs.

A personal favourite of bodybuilders and athletes for many years has been protein powder - simple, delicious, effective at huge muscle growth, it's really the ultimate power-up after a tough gym session.

Are post-workout supplements worth it?

Post-workouts are more than worth it - they're essential for healthy exercise and muscle gains. An increase in nutrients boosts muscular growth whilst also easing aches and pains - allowing you to jump into your next workout with ease.

What is the most important nutrient for post-workout?

There are many excellent nutrients that you can start to introduce into your workout routine to boost muscle growth and give yourself a much more comfortable rest day, but by far, the most important nutrient you need is protein.

Protein is absolutely crucial for muscle repair and growth simply because muscle is protein. When you train hard, you are putting muscles under stress and slightly damaging the tissue - these are known as micro muscle tears - which sound scary but are necessary for the process of muscle growth.

Your body repairs these muscle tears with the new protein you've consumed, among other nutrients, repairing the damaged muscle fibre and causing them to grow.

What else is important for post-workout repair?

Another post-workout nutrient that is crucial is carbohydrates - you may be surprised by this, but yes - not all carbs are bad.

While exercising, your muscles deplete their supply of glycogen - the body's stored energy used for intense activities. Once your workout is over, your muscles are largely depleted of glycogen, which is not only important for future gym sessions - it's also essential for muscle repair.

Another popular post-workout supplement is creatine, which is a naturally occurring amino acid. Many athletes take creatine post-workout to increase lean muscle mass and muscular strength - which appears to work more effectively after an intense session. Creatine is one of the most science-backed pre-workouts you can buy. It can also be used as a pre-workout due to its energising and endurance-promoting qualities.

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How do I prevent bloating after taking post-workout?

First, you should hydrate well, avoiding sugary drinks and food that would further increase bloating. Don't gulp water, instead, take small sips to avoid being even more uncomfortable. You may also be experiencing stomach issues in reaction to certain ingredients, we'd suggest potentially trying some alternatives or consulting your doctor.

Ryan Houghton is a tech product writer and reviewer for What's The Best, specialising in PCs, smart tech, televisions and gaming. He also writes for Empire Online.

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