There is no doubt that recovery drinks can improve your performance, but with several different types on the market, how do you know which ones will benefit you?
Recover drinks laid bare...
Firstly it's important to understand what your body needs after a workout. The first and most important requirement is fluid - you need water as soon as possible.
Secondly, you need to replenish your glycogen sources - you burn energy when you exercise, and you need to replace that. Research shows that replacing that energy within the first thirty minutes following a tough workout is the most effective way to ensure that your muscles have the energy they need for your next workout.
Finally, you need to get some protein. Protein is the key building block of muscles, so if you have worked out hard you will need to rebuild your muscles - all progressive training is a process of tearing down and rebuilding your muscles. You need some protein to help your muscles rebuild.
Recovery drinks therefore need to include fluids, carbs and protein in order to help you recover quicker. Commercial recovery drinks are therefore souped-up sport drinks with some extra carbohydrates and added protein, usually in a ratio of about four to one (carbs to protein).
They are effective, but are they necessary - or is there a better, cheaper alternative? According to research conducted by Jason Karp at Indiana University, you can ditch the expensive commercial drink and replace it with something as simple as chocolate milk!
Like the recovery drinks, chocolate milk contains carbohydrates and protein in a ratio of around four to one, and when he tested it against a commercial recovery drink on a group of cyclists, he found that the cyclists who drank the chocolate milk were able to pedal just as long in a subsequent workout as those who had the recovery drink, indicating that they had recovered just as effectively.
Recovery is important - it's what allows you to train hard and make progress day after day - so be sure that you are getting the right nutrition after your workout.