10 Best Post Workout Shakes Reviewed

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You’ve just run until your lungs burned. Your legs are screaming for mercy. Sweat is dripping down your face. What does your body need after such a tough workout? It needs to refuel. One of the most convenient ways to replenish your body after an intense workout is with a post workout shake. There are many varieties of post workout shakes out there, but they all have the same goal in mind: to give your body the nutrition to repair itself and regain energy after strenuous exercise.

Last Updated: April 16, 2017

As an important topic to many runners, we have updated this buying guide with a whole bunch of helpful information, just below our new list of the top picks for runners.

We have also done even more research, and added a great set of frequently asked questions near the bottom of the page.

PlantFusion Complete Plant Protein
  • PlantFusion Complete Plant Protein
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 19g Protein
  • Lactose Free
  • Gluten Free
  • GMO Free
  • Price: See Here
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FitPro! Go
  • FitPro! Go
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 35g Protein
  • Lactose-Free
  • 18 Vitamins/Minerals
  • 200 calories
  • Price: See Here
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Bolthouse Farms Plus
  • Bolthouse Farms Plus
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 64g Protein
  • 170-210 Calories (Flavor)
  • 5g Fat
  • 25g Carbohydrates
  • Price: See Here
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Our Top Picks For Runners

 

1. PlantFusion Complete Plant Protein

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PlantFusion Complete Plant Protein is a high-quality, vegan post workout shake that gives you 18-19 grams of plant based protein depending on the particular flavor you choose.
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Nutritional Content
This post workout shake by PlantFusion gives you 18 grams of plant-based protein from quinoa, amaranth, peas, and artichoke! These shakes contain no aspartame or preservatives and are also lactose-free, gluten-free, and GMO free.

Taste
PlantFusion ready to drink post workout shakes are available in vanilla and chocolate. Users report these shakes as having a great taste, and do not miss the manufactured protein taste one bit.

Value
These post workout shakes are about the average price of other post workout shakes.
Pros
  • All natural protein
  • Great taste
Cons
  • Only two flavors

2. FitPro Go!

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FitPro Go! is a magical, milk-based drink that is lactose-free (yes… milk-based AND lactose-free) because of a specially developed ultra-filtration process. FitPro Go! comes in four dessert-like flavors.
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Nutritional Content
FitPro contains 35 grams of protein and is gluten- and lactose-free, kosher, and contains 18 vitamins and minerals. These post-workout shakes are sweetened with organic stevia. The four flavors of FitPro Go! have an average of 3 grams of fat, 200 calories, and 10 grams of carbohydrates, providing all of the good stuff your body needs to refuel post-workout.

Taste
FitPro Go! is available is four dessert-themed flavors: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate chip cookie. Users rate their favorite flavors as either chocolate or vanilla. Users rave about the lack of manufactured protein taste because of the all natural ingredients that make up this post-workout shake.

Value
This post workout shake, with all of its goodness, does come with a price. It is a bit more expensive than other RTD post workout shakes.
Pros
  • Lactose free
  • Natural ingredients
  • Delicious flavors
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Milk base may still be an issue for some users

3. Pure Protein 35

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One can of the Pure Protein 35 post-workout shake has (you guessed it) 35 grams of protein. These shakes are one of the least expensive ready-to-drink post-workout shakes, so you are getting a good bang for your buck.
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Nutritional Content
Not only do these shakes have 35 grams of protein, they also have only 2 grams of carbs, loads of calcium, and only 1 gram of fat. The protein in these post-workout shakes is a combination of milk and casein proteins.

Taste
Users report loving the taste of all of the flavors of Pure Protein 35 shakes. These post-workout shakes are available in chocolate, banana, cookies and cream, strawberry, and vanilla cream flavors. One user even recommended pouring the vanilla cream flavor over cereal or oatmeal!

Value
Much less expensive than your average ready-to-drink post workout shake
Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • High in protein
  • Blended protein types
Cons
  • May contain too much protein or calories for some diets
  • May be too low in carbs 

4. Orgain Organic Nutritional Shake

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Orgain Organic Nutritional Shake is the world’s first doctor-developed ready-to-drink shake and is certified organic, non-GMO, and is gluten-free. It comes in four flavors, so you are sure to find one that satisfies your cravings.
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Nutritional Content
In addition to being organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO, Orgain Organic Nutritional Shake is a great post workout choice, because it packs in 16 grams of organic plant protein, 21 vitamins and minerals, is high in fiber and has added organic fruits and veggies. Plus, all four flavors have less than 260 calories, which will refuel you after a tough workout without attacking your waistline.

Taste
The four flavors available in the Orgain Organic Nutritional Shake line are Creamy Chocolate Fudge, Sweet Vanilla Bean, Iced Café Mocha, and Strawberries and Cream. Users of these shakes brag about how delicious the flavors are, even saying that the Sweet Vanilla Bean tastes just like ice cream.

Value
These shakes are a little more expensive than other post workout shakes, mainly because organic ingredients generally a little more expensive.
Pros
  • Organic
  • Doctor-developed
  • Great taste reported by users
Cons
  • Expensive

5. Met-Rx RTD 51

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This post-workout shake packs the most protein by far - a whopping 51 grams! This shake will definitely give your muscles what they crave to rebuild and repair.
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Nutritional Content
In addition to 51 grams of protein, this post-workout shake is low in fat, has less than 300 calories, and is full of good-for-you nutrients like amino acids and BCAAs. The proteins in RTD51 are a combination of whey protein and casein protein, which means that the proteins take longer to break down, offering extended muscle support.

Taste
Users report that the chocolate flavor is better than the vanilla flavor, and that overall these post-workout shakes are extremely thick and become hard to drink if you don’t drink them quickly. Users also reported feeling like there was a coating covering their mouths after drinking this shake.

Value
Even though they have an above-average amount of protein for a ready-to-drink post workout shake, they still have an average price.
Pros
  • Most protein in a ready-to-drink shake
  • Average price
Cons
  • Can be so thick they are hard to drink
  • Leave a coating inside of your mouth after drinking

6. CalNaturale Svelte

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Available in five flavors, the CalNaturale Svelte protein shake provides an organic, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher way for you to refuel after a long run.
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Nutrition Content
With 260 calories, 16 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fiber, the CalNaturale Svelte protein shake is off to a good start. Add to it a soy milk base, 8 vitamins and minerals, 35% of your RDV for calcium and 30% of your daily value for Vitamin D, this shake will definitely give you a healthy recharge post workout.

Taste
CalNaturale Svelte is available in chocolate, French vanilla, cappuccino, banana crème, and spiced chai varieties. They are lightly sweetened with Stevia to make them extra tasty. According to users, these shakes have a satisfying taste and texture, are best when refrigerated, and many find cappuccino to be their favorite.

Value
These are a little less expensive than your average post workout shake.
Pros
  • High in fiber and calcium
  • Naturally sweetened
Cons
  • Refrigeration required

7. FRS Healthy Protein

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FRS Healthy Protein is a whey protein-based post-workout shake that comes in two flavors, each with 25 grams of protein.
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Nutrition Content
FRS Healthy protein has only 190 calories per bottle, making it one of the lowest-calories protein shakes. It offers 25 grams of protein, plant-based antioxidants, and is sweetened naturally with stevia and grape juice concentrate. This post-workout shake also contains 7 grams of the prebiotic fiber called inulin, which helps your stomach produce healthy bacteria.

Taste
FRS Healthy Protein is available in orange cream and blackberry acai flavors. This post-workout drink is more like juice, so it can be consumed much more quickly than protein shakes. Users report that these must be chilled before drinking or the flavor is not appealing.

Value
Average cost for a ready-to-drink post workout shake.
Pros
  • Contain prebiotics
  • Low calorie
Cons
  • Must be refrigerated or will taste bad

8. OhYeah!

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The OhYeah! ready-to-drink post-workout shake packs in 32 grams of protein and 5 grams of carbs per bottle. It is available in 5 flavors.
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Nutritional Content
This shake is high in protein, low in carbs, but also high in fat compared to other protein shakes. It has 9 grams of fat, which may not fit into some users diet regimes. OhYeah! shakes are lactose-free and contain only 3 grams of sugar. Users also report that this shake is very filling.

Taste
OhYeah! Shakes are available in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, cookies and cream, and banana flavors. Users report enjoying all of the flavors, but highest reviews have been for the chocolate and cookies and cream flavors. Users also report these shakes having a milkshake-like consistency, but if they are not well shaken prior to drinking, the protein can be lumpy.

Value
These cost about the average for a shelf-stable post workout shake.
Pros
  • Very filling
  • Low in sugar
Cons
  • High in fat

9. Odwalla Super Protein

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Odwalla Super Protein is a tropical-flavored, soy-protein post-workout shake make with natural ingredients. It packs in 19 grams of protein for your post-workout fix.
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Nutritonal Content
Odwalla Super Protein is one of the few post-workout shakes that contain real fruit, including apples, banana, and orange. The combination of protein and fruit, however, does result in a high calorie content. Odwalla Super Protein has 350 calories per bottle. These shakes are also vegan, gluten-free, and have some non-GMO ingredients.

Taste
Users report that these shakes do have a slightly tropical taste, but aren’t as flavorful as they would expect. They also report the shakes being thick and sometimes having a powdery or chalky consistency.

Value
These shakes cost about the same as other refrigerated post workout shakes you will find in your grocer's produce section.
Pros
  • Real fruit
  • Vegan and gluten-free
Cons
  • High calorie content

10. Bolthouse Farms Protein Plus

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Bolthouse Farms Protein Plus is available is 7 flavors, so you are definitely going to find one that tickles your fancy. Each shake contains 4 servings, 16 grams of protein per serving to refuel your body post-workout.
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Nutritional Content
An 8 ounce serving of a Protein Plus shake will have somewhere between 170-210 calories, depending on the flavor you choose. Per serving, in addition to the 16 grams of protein, these shakes also have an average of 5 grams of fat and 25 grams of carbohydrates, plus loads of vitamins and minerals. However, these shakes are high in sugar. Each has approximately 56 grams of sugar!

Taste
Users report these shakes as being extremely sweet. However, they did enjoy the smooth texture.

Value
These are a lower cost post workout shake that can be found at most grocery stores.
Pros
  • Widely available
  • Good flavor
  • Contain real fruit
Cons
  • Extra high sugar content
  • May contain too many carbs for some users

Criteria for picking the Best Post Workout Shakes

Post work out shakes were known to be used by only those involved in hardcore weight lifting and possibly pro sportsmen and women. But then things have changed over the years and the market of sports supplement has boomed so much that the supplements are available for use by everyone. Protein powder is able to provide the body with large amounts of protein nutrients that the body needs as part of its balance diet. Once the protein has been consumed, its digested into the body and the protein is then broken down into various amino acids. The amino acids then built into new proteins to help the red blood cells in the body and also build the muscles and contribute to other functions of the body. For any runner or a sportsman or sportswomen it’s very important to have a post work out milkshake after any exercise as this helps the muscles to recover and grow.

While picking out the top 10 best post work out shakes we considered the following things:

Quality is key

Always give attention to the quality as this will determine how you achieve your workout goals. It is definitely better to pay more for a protein supplement that is pure and natural. Its highly recommended that you make it a habit of reading the label, before choosing a post workout shake, to ensure that it doesn’t contain too many ingredients. While looking at the ingredients it’s good to counter check and see if the ingredients are organic. Be cautious of adverts that will say that the supplement has extra ingredients, which will be useful in fast muscle development. This can be just a marketing strategy and its best to do a thorough research on the best post work out supplement for you. Don’t go around spending so much on a supplement while you can still achieve muscle growth and recover at a much more affordable rate. Consider the quality, noting that expensive doesn’t always mean high quality and just because it works on someone else then that’s the best supplement for you.

Checking Fundamental Ingredients

The ingredients used are very important, they determine the quality of the supplement and whether it will work for you in terms of muscle recovery and growth. The best ingredients are the ones that are organic, and also a supplement doesn’t need to have too many ingredients for it to work. Just the ingredients that are useful in muscle repair and growth should be in the ingredients. Below are some of the most important ingredients to look out for while checking out a post work out supplement. And also how you can blend these ingredients with other natural ingredients to have an ultimate post work out shake.

Replenish electrolytes

Electrolytes, including calcium, potassium, and sodium, are crucial for post-workout recovery. They regulate the flow of other nutrients to your cells, as well as allowing your heart, circulatory, and nervous systems to function properly. Bananas are a good source of potassium, and can easily be blended into a post-workout recovery drink. Also Green juice from fruits and vegetables or coconut water also contains plentiful electrolytes

Calculate the amount of carbs you need

Your muscles get much of the energy they need to work from stores of glycogen. These stores are depleted when you exercise, and should be replenished as soon as possible post-workout. You should be tracking your calories (and macro-nutrients like carbs) to ensure you are getting the amount you need to stay healthy without going overboard and gaining weight. Important carbohydrates include dextrose and maltodextrin. Make sure that your post workout supplement has these carbohydrates, they are very important especially when dealing with strenuous exercises. Low carbs can result in increased fatigue and muscle soreness.

Identify which carbohydrates to include

For a post-workout recovery drink that you’re consuming within 15 to 20 minutes after your workout, you want simple carbohydrates that can be digested quickly. For optimal recovery, you want to replace the carbs you’ve burned as quickly as possible. Complex carbohydrates take too long for your body to digest and may actually hinder your recovery. You can blend the following ingredients into your post work out supplement as they are a good source of carbohydrates: bananas, nuts(walnuts) and seeds (pumpkin seeds, flax seed). The nuts and seeds are also rich in fatty acids. Fatty acids are useful after working out as they provide the energy needed by the body to recover after a workout.

Combine carbohydrates with protein

Protein is fundamental to any post-workout recovery drink. A fast-digesting protein will get the proper amino acids to your muscles quickly, allowing them to rebuild bigger and stronger after each workout. If you’re making your own post-workout recovery shake, consider buying whey protein powder. Whey is a good complete source of protein and provides all the amino acids your body needs for an optimal recovery.

Ingredients That Should not be Included in Protein Supplements

Now that you know what ingredients your protein supplement should contain, it’s time to move on to the ingredients to avoid. Proteins that have been treated with acid or heat are of little use, because this processing method severely denatures the protein. Proteins containing maltodextrin should be passed over. Likewise, if you notice sucralose, saccharin or aspartame on the list of ingredients, move on. Studies indicate that these artificial sweeteners can cause weight gain and health problems. Also, if your protein supplement has soy in it, you should pick a different supplement straightaway. Although soy protein is commonly regarded as healthy, it can lead to many problems in both women and men. The vast majority of American produced soy is genetically modified. Foods like this, which are chemically altered, have unknown toxins in them. Just like artificial additives, your body is not prepared to cope with these unnatural components, so consuming them can damage your health over the long term. Worse still, even if you stick to soy that is not genetically modified, there is still cause for concern. Soy also contains phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that function like estrogen inside the body. Due to this, reduced levels of testosterone in men are thought to have been caused by the soy protein concentrates and isolates used in several protein supplements.

Proven Track Record

Do a back ground check on the product and the company? This is very important when picking a post work out supplement, research how long the product or manufacturer has been in existence. It’s best to stick to the supplements that have been in the market for long also, you can check at the customer reviews of the supplements before buying one. Usually, if a supplement is still around after a few years, it is due to the fact that it works well.

Caution with Advertisements

Makers of protein supplements are renown for marketing their products with outrageous promises and claims. Don’t pay attention to all that drama especially when the supplement has exaggerated high prices. Though it doesn’t mean that because a supplement is over advertised, it’s not good. Though it’s good to do intensive research on the product before spending your money. Since advertising is all about making the product look the best it’s good not to use it as a means of picking out your post work out supplement. Before buying the supplement make sure the company is rated and has good ingredients as those are the most important factors. Don’t be shocked if a supplement from the local company in your area works best for you and not the big names in the market.

Know What Supplements you need

Supplements differ to a great extent. Some of them are designed to help people pile on the pounds, and these contain fat and carbohydrate – as well as protein. These types of supplements are better suited to ectomorphs, who struggle to gain weight. Nonetheless, inexperienced gym goers, who have mesomorphic or endomorphic body types, frequently commit the error of buying one of these products, without realizing that they contain more than protein. Consequently, many of these people end up gaining fat, due to the surplus calories. The supplement you buy should normally contain about one to five grams of fat, twenty to thirty grams of protein per serving, and one to five grams of carbohydrate. That’s why when making any purchase of your post work out supplement make sure it’s in line with the objective of your workout and training.

Know the Different Types of Protein

It’s important to know the different types of protein also, this is because the type of protein you use matters with regards to achieving your fitness goals.

  • Casein protein takes longer to digest than isolate or concentrate proteins. Serious athletes and bodybuilders often consume casein protein before going to bed. This protein delivers a consistent supply of amino acids during the night, while you sleep.
  • Isolate whey protein is absorbed fairly quickly, and is better to take straight after a workout. It directs amino acids and proteins into your depleted muscles. Concentrate protein powder is digested at a medium pace. Generally, this is most suitable to take in between meal times.

 

Other Factors Worth Considering

Consider Other Supplements

Vitamin C

Take Vitamin C if you cough or wheeze after exercising. Adding Vitamin C to your post-workout recovery drink typically won’t hurt you. At the same time, it’s not a necessary supplement, unless you have breathing difficulties. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help your body recover after stress, including a strenuous workout. A Vitamin C supplement may be more important for your recovery if your workout takes place outside, or if you’re participating in endurance activities such as long-distance biking or running.

Tart Cherry

Add tart cherry if you experience post-workout inflammation. Studies have shown a correlation between consuming tart cherry or ginger and reduced muscle inflammation after strenuous exercise.

Creatine

Include creatine if your goal is to increase muscle mass. Creatine is favored by body builders because it can increase muscle mass by as much as 10 pounds and increase strength by 10 percent. You may want to consult your doctor before you add a creatine supplement to your post-workout recovery drink. If you are engaging in endurance activities such as long-distance running or biking, creatine typically won’t provide you with any significant benefits. If you decide to add creatine to your post-workout recovery drink, avoid consuming it in combination with caffeine. Caffeine may counteract any benefit you would realize from the creatine supplement.

Anti-Oxidants

Use antioxidants to enhance recovery. While antioxidants aren’t strictly necessary in a post-workout recovery drink, they promote overall health and can help increase energy and stamina. Turmeric, which commonly occurs as a bright yellow spice and is used in curry, is a member of the ginger family. This root vegetable has antioxidants that can decrease inflammation and assist in recovery. Maca is a Peruvian root plant found in high elevations in the Andes. Its antioxidants maintain overall good health while increasing energy and stamina. These foods and others are available in powdered form and can easily be blended into a post-workout recovery shake. Follow package suggestions for servings as well as taste in determining how much of these powders you should add to your drink.

Focus on hydration

Strenuous exercise causes your body to lose a significant amount of fluids. Failure to properly hydrate yourself during and after your workout can have a detrimental effect on your recovery. If you’re unsure about your hydration needs, weigh yourself immediately before and immediately after exercise. The difference between your weight before and after your workout is the amount of fluids you lost during your workout. This represents the amount of fluid you must replenish to remain fully hydrated. Keep in mind that your fluid loss should never be more than 2 percent of your body weight. At that level, you’re not maintaining safe hydration levels during your workout, and are at risk for injury. If you’ve decided to rehydrate with a sports drink, check the label for added sugars. Sugar can derail the recovery process.

When you workout, your body burns calories and uses up lots of energy. Your muscles stretch and strain and need to rebuild and repair.  In order to do this, you need to give your body the proper post-workout nutrition. To rebuild muscles and promote growth, your body needs a good dose of protein after a workout. To replenish your energy, carbohydrates will do the trick. A little bit of fat is good after a workout, too, because it’s great for your brain, skin, and many other body systems. Fiber will help keep you feeling full, and vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant can help with other workout-related issues like pain and inflammation. We hope you find this list useful, and make your workouts count!

 

FAQ

 

Q. What is a Post Workout Drink?

What-is-a-post-workout-drink-best-post-workout-shakesA. Post workout drinks, also referred to as recovery drinks, are made to refuel your body.

They contain the protein, carbohydrates, and other nutrients your body craves after extensive and taxing physical activity. Additionally, they are highly portable, so they are great for people on the go, that workout on location, or even as a quick meal replacement if you are in a rush.

However, not all post workout drinks are created equal, so reading the nutrition label will help you choose one that meets your dietary needs.

 

 

Q. When to take post workout shakes

A. Below is a simple guideline on the perfect time to take the post work out shakes.

  • For highest protein synthesis, drink your post workout shake within an hour of working out. This includes high aerobic activities, including running.
  • Research shows that post-workout shakes that are high in protein still have an effect up to 24 hours after a workout

When-to-take-post-workout-shakes-best-post-workout-shakes

Q. How Much Post Workout Protein is necessary?

A. A simple guide below will be useful.

  • Research shows that about 20 grams of post workout protein is most effective.
  • Doctors say amount of protein intake post workout is more important than timing.
  • Overall diet matters, too. Protein intake should continue throughout the day.

How-Much-Post-Workout-Protein-is-necessary-Best-Post-Workout-Shakes

Q. When to drink them?

A. The most important time to drink a shake is right after you exercise.  This is when your muscles have been broken down from exercising and in desperate need of protein to rebuild.  I always drink a shake right after exercising.  However, don’t think one shake a day will do it unless you’re eating high protein foods throughout the day.  You want to provide your body with protein every three hours so it always has a constant stream of “building blocks” to use on those muscles.

Q. How Long After You Work Out Can You Have a Protein Shake?

A. When you work out regularly, your nutrition plan becomes all the more important to provide the fuel you need for both exercise and recovery. Proper nutrition can maximize the effort you put into workouts and even increase your gains in strength, performance and lean muscle. To that end, it can be beneficial to have a protein shake shortly after you exercise, just as your muscles are about to begin the recovery process.

Q. Shakes Vs. Food?

A. Protein shakes have many benefits for active people, including convenience and specially formulated nutrient mixes. If you can get your pre- and post-workout protein from whole foods, though, you may be doing your body a greater favor. According to the MD Anderson Cancer Center, natural foods contain protective antioxidants, phytonutrients and other substances that supplements can’t offer, and they are better all-around nutritional choices. The International Society of Sports Nutrition also recommends that active individuals get protein from foods rather than supplements whenever possible.


Here are some sources we used while conducting our research:

Sources

  1. K. Aleisha Fetters, 12 Post-Workout Shakes for Maximum Muscle, Fitness Website,
  2. Bret Contreras, Why You Don’t Really Need a Post-Workout Protein Shake, Fitness Website,
  3. Chris Aceto, No Time to Eat? Shake Things Up, Fitness Website,
  4. Mike Samuels , Should You Drink a Protein Shake Before or After a Workout?, Health Website,
  5. Jessica Girdwain , The Truth About Post-Workout Shakes and Protein Timing, Health Website,
  6. Editorial Team, PlantFusion Complete Plant Protein Powder Review, Consumer Website,
  7. Summer Banks, Plant Fusion Review - Does This Protein Powder Work?, Fitness Website,
  8. Editorial Team, Pure Protein Ready to Drink Shake 35 Grams Protein Review, Fitness Website,
  9. Summer Banks, Pure Protein Review - Do These Supplement Really Work? , Fitness Website,
  10. Editor, Orgain Protein Powder – Best Purity You Can Buy?, Consumer Website,
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