A good post workout helps with muscle recovery and growth. And the key to maximizing muscle recovery and growth is both rapid and prolonged amino acid delivery to the muscles.
A good post-workout will have all of your essential amino acids (EAAs) in it. While these can come in the form of whey (a complete protein source), it does take a while for your body to break down whey in order to utilize the amino acids.
To get rapid delivery of amino acids to your muscles post-workout, your best bet is free form EAAs.
To get prolonged delivery of amino acids to your muscles post-workout, your best bet is whey.
Recent studies (1) show that a combination of free form EAAs and Whey are the best post-workout combination for maximizing recovery and muscle growth.
Are BCAAs Enough?
There is evidence that the most critical amino acids for post workout is Leucine and so many pre-workout products include heavy doses of L-Leucine often in the form of BCAA. However, the emerging evidence is that Leucine works better in the presence of a full compliment of EAAs rather than on its own.
How About Glutamine?
Glutamine is another common ingredient that gets loaded into post-workouts. The evidence of Glutamine’s ability to enhance the anabolic state as an isolated amino acid are sparse. Instead, it seems that Glutamine again, like Leucine, is more effective when working in conjunction with other amino acids.
Is Creatine Important for Post-Workout?
Creatine is one of those ingredients where the timing doesn’t matter much. If you take it during post-workout, that’s fine. Just make sure to take 5-10g per day and you’re good. Some people take it in pre-workout, others in post workout. Just get your daily dose to maximize your body composition and recovery.
The Final Verdict
The best post-workouts enable both the rapid and prolonged delivery and absorption of amino acids to the muscles. Free form essential acids work best for rapid delivery (and work best together versus as isolated amino acids). Whey protein works best for extended delivery during the first hour after working out. And your diet, which should be high protein, comes into play after the first hour.
- Park et al. (2020) Anabolic response to essential amino acid plus whey protein composition is greater than whey protein alone in young healthy adults. JISSN
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