10 Best Recovery Drinks for Runners Tested & Compared

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Browse through our selection of best recovery drinks for runners and find out why or if each of these products make their worth right here in this review.

As an avid runner, your body goes through a lot of stress and quickly uses up a lot of its energy. While this might sound bad at first, it’s a simple fact that you have to deal with as a runner. And, for that matter, it’s something that everyone has to deal with when taking part in intensive and strenuous exercises. There’s nothing at all wrong with this, but it is something important that you need to keep in mind.

Our Top 3 Picks
Melissa's Mix
  • Melissa's Mix
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Formulated for women
  • Price: See Here
TRIFUEL
  • TRIFUEL
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Amino acids help recovery
  • Price: See Here
Gatorade Recover Protein Shake
  • Gatorade Recover Protein Shake
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Protein helps rebuild muscle
  • Price: See Here

There are tons of different options out there, and finding the best recovery drinks for runners can often prove to be a bit of a challenge. We are well aware of this issue facing runners looking to get recovery drinks for themselves, so we have created a list of the top 10 best recovery drinks for runners out there. There are the best of the best you’re going to find, so let’s go ahead and take a look at what the market has to offer.

10 Best Recovery Drinks for Runners

 

1. Melissa’s Mix Recovery Drink for Women

1. Melissa’s Mix Recovery Drink for Women
Melissa’s Mix is made by the same people who make Mike’s Mix, and as a result, we’re dealing with another extremely affordable product and certainly the number one on our best recovery drinks for runners list.
Pros
  • The serving sizes included for Melissa’s Mix are specifically designed to be the most effective for a woman’s body.
  • Greatly reduces the amount of stress and pain your muscles feel after an especially intense run.
  • Gluten-free.
  • Extremely great taste.
  • All natural ingredients and nothing more.
  • Super easy to blend when put in a shaker type of bottle.
Cons
  • As effective as this product is, it may not be suited for extremely intense running sessions.

2. TRIFUEL Endurance and Recovery Drink

2. TRIFUEL Endurance and Recovery Drink
Despite carrying the TRIFUEL name, this is still quite affordable when compared to the other products on our list.
Pros
  • TRIFUEL is the official drink of the Triathlon, so you can ensure that you’re getting a high-quality product from a very reputable brand.
  • All five of the electrolytes in your body will be replenished with this drink, resulting in you feeling more energized than ever.
  • In an effort to speed up the overall recovery process, the TRIFUEL Endurance and Recovery Drink is packed with amino acids.
  • If you’re on the hunt for gaining the best performance that your body is capable of, TRIFUEL won’t let you down.
Cons
  • This is by far from the tastiest recovery drink that you’re going to find, but it certainly is palatable.

3. Gatorade Recover Protein Shake

3. Gatorade Recover Protein Shake
Gatorade's Recover Protein Shake is a bit on the higher side, but there are a few major things you need to consider – the Gatorade name brand, the convenience that these shakes are grab-and-go, and the effectiveness of these shakes are some of the best out there. So while you are paying a higher price, you’re also getting an extremely high quality product.
Pros
  • Gatorade provides 20 grams of protein for every serving of this shake that you have, so you can rest easy knowing that you’re filling up your body with a healthy dose of the stuff every time you drink a bottle.
  • The shake itself is already made up for you, so you don’t have to worry about mixing powder or anything like that like you have to do with many other options on this list.
  • Some of the best taste out there that you’re going to find for a recovery drink for runners.
Cons
  • While the majority of users of Gatorade’s Recovery Protein Shake love the flavor that it brings to the table, some users have complained that the taste is far too sweet for them.

4. Mike’s Mix Recovery Drink

4. Mike’s Mix Recovery Drink
Once again, we’re looking at a recovery drink mix with some exceptional value. You’re getting an even better deal here than the previous drink we just looked at, so if saving money is a big concern for you, Mike’s Mix is absolutely going to be one of the best options for you out there.
Pros
  • Mike’s Mix uses all natural ingredients, so you aren’t dealing with any artificial sweeteners or colors, heavy metals, preservatives, or harmful additives.
  • Super easy to mix with your favorite drink.
  • Extremely great taste.
  • Features an exceptional amount of quality whey protein that allows for extremely efficient recovery of muscles within your body.
Cons
  • When mixing with water, Mike’s Mix has a tendency to clump up quite a bit.

5. Optimum Nutrition

5. Optimum Nutrition
While the upfront cost of Optimum Nutrition might seem high, you’re getting a bottle that weighs in at 3.73 pounds. That right there is going to last you for an incredibly long time, and it allows this to have an incredible bang for your buck.
Pros
  • Thanks to the 2:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio, your muscles will be able to regain the fuel they lost during your run at an incredibly fast and rapid pace.
  • GMP certified to ensure that you’re only getting the best of the best possible ingredients.
  • Very good taste when compared to the competition.
  • Extremely competitive price.
Cons
  • Because of the clumpy nature of the mix, it’s a bit difficult to mix with a regular spoon.

6. Powerbar Ironman Restore Beverage System

6. Powerbar Ironman Restore Beverage System
There are 864 grams in the bottle of Powerbar that you get, and one serving is identified as one single scoop. With that being the case, you should have plenty of mix here to add to your beverages for a long time to come. And, when you factor in the lower price, you’re looking at a pretty sweet deal for your money.
Pros
  • The mix that Powerbar has created does a great job at encouraging the amount of fluids that you’ll want to consume. This helps to promote fueling your body with the fluids that it needs, and is a great feature to have.
  • Improves your overall hydration levels when running on particularly hot and humid days.
  • Allows your muscles to recovery quicker and more efficiently to ensure that they’re always in the best shape and condition possible.
Cons
  • Not made with only natural ingredients

7. First Endurance Ultragen Recovery Drink

7. First Endurance Ultragen Recovery Drink
First Endurance has managed to keep costs considerably low with the Ultragen Recovery Drink, so if you’re looking to get an effective product without breaking the bank, this will definitely be something you’ll want to keep on your best recovery drink for runners watch list.
Pros
  • First Endurance’s Ultragen Recovery Drink comes with 0 grams of carbohydrates or fat.
  • After an extremely difficult run, the formula First Endurance has crafted has proven to be extremely effective for breathing new life into muscles that are completely worn out and exhausted.
  • If you want to get yourself back to running as fast as possible and don’t want to have to wait around too long for your body to full recovery, this is one of the best solutions out there for speeding up that recovery process as much as possible.
Cons
  • Some aren't too crazy about the taste

8. Hammer Recoverite

8. Hammer Recoverite
If you have a pretty flexible budget when looking for a runner recovery drink, then the Hammer Recoverite is certainly worth checking out. However, the cost of this drink is considerably more expansive than anything else on this list so far. If you have any form of a budget, you’re going to want to look elsewhere.
Pros
  • Gluten-free.
  • Helps to reduce the overalls soreness that your muscles feel after a good workout or running session.
  • Thanks to the why protein base, Hammer Recoverite is incredibly easy to digest. This isn’t something that every post-workout recovery drink can say, so that’s definitely a nice addition to have.
  • 3:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio for some of the most enhanced recovery out there.
Cons
  • Quite expensive

 

9. Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator

9. Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator
Each container will get you about 20 servings. The cost here is quite fair considering how well the product is advertised to work, but if you find yourself taking this frequently, costs could add up quite quickly.
Pros
  • Ingredients are entirely plant-based, ensuring that you’re getting some of the best and most natural ingredients possible.
  • 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio allows your muscles to effectively replenish glycogen more quickly and effectively than other brands.
  • Total of 23 ingredients to help increase the effectiveness of your post-workout recovery.
  • Vegan, glute, dairy, and soy-free.
Cons
  • Although the ingredients are plant-based, they are not organic or products of whole food.

10. Legion Recharge

10. Legion Recharge
Legion is one of the most recognizable brands out there, and as a result it carries a bit of a higher price. However, the extra cost seems to be well worth the overall functionality that Recharge is able to deliver.
Pros
  • Contains nothing but natural and healthy ingredients so you can rest easy knowing that you’re only putting the best possible substances into your body that you work so hard at maintaining.
  • Some of the most notable ingredients for Legion Recharge include creatine monohydrate, l-carnitine and l-tartrate, corosolic acid, and naturally sweetened flavors.
  • If you don’t completely love Legion Recharge, the company gives you 60-days to return the item for a 100% money-back guarantee.
  • Lass around 4 to 6 weeks depending on how often you drink it.
  • Has a great taste!
Cons
  • Gassy side effect

Since so much energy is used by your body after a long and intensive running session, you need to be sure that you’re refueling your body with the stuff that it needs to energize yourself once again after an especially long session. While not every run will require that you do this, ones that require you to work your body extra hard most definitely will.

So, with that being the case, just how can you go about ensuring that you’re keeping your body in the best condition possible after an especially difficult run? While there are many different ways to go about this, one of the most effective ones is by using recovery drinks. Recovery drinks have long been one of the most popular products for runners, as it helps to deliver your body with the nutrients and energy it needs after your most intensive runs.


The Criteria We Used to Find the Best Recovery Drinks for Runners

Mom always told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and to always eat your veggies. And mom is right! But if you are a runner (as well as an endurance athlete, or serious weight lifter) and are concerned with recovering your body properly and growing stronger and faster, you need to make sure you are also getting in the right amount of protein and carbohydrates, in the magical window of time following your tough workout. Nutrition is a HUGE component of muscle repair and body composition. In fact, you may have heard of the 70/20/10 rule when it comes to body composition – our diet makes up 70 percent of the reason our body compositions are what they are, with only 20 percent being from exercise and ten percent from genetics. The post work out recovery snack, meal, or drink can make all the difference in helping you reach your goals, and we have provided you a great list of some of the best recovery drinks to help you get started! Below are a list of some of the criteria we used to judge different recovery drinks when finding the right ones to include in our list.

1. Quality and Effectiveness of the Drink in Promoting Recovery

In order for a recovery drink to adequately do its job in helping you recover, a few essential things need to happen. First, timing is everything. Studies suggest that the golden window of opportunity to get the most out of your post exercise recovery drink or snack is within 20 to 30 minutes after completing your workout. The longer you wait to properly nourish yourself, the more your body’s ability to refuel and repair itself diminishes.  (And we all know what can happen to our moods and general demeanor when we let ourselves get overly “rungry”… the “hangry” becomes all too real!)

Secondly, it is all about what is going into your recovery drink, which in turn, goes into you! You might have heard of the 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, and were just never sure what exactly that meant. This ratio of 4:1 (though some studies suggest 3:1 works equally as effectively) is what allows for the most efficient recovery of the muscles and body after a hard workout, and refers to the totals (in grams) of each in your recovery meal. So, for instance, a post workout drink that contains 40 grams of carbs and 10 grams of protein fits well into the 4:1 ratio. But why this ratio? Well, both carbohydrates and protein help restore your energy levels. Energy is stored in the form of glycogen (“glucose”) which is part of the reason why more carbohydrates are necessary. Studies also show that protein, aside from directly growing and repairing the muscle fibers, actually assists in helping the body more efficiently absorb the energy from carbohydrate. One benefit of purchasing recovery drinks and protein powders is that they come conveniently pre-made with the proper ratio of carbs to protein – giving you the most effective post workout recovery fuel you can have. But it is also important to not settle for a recovery drink of subpar quality. Specifically, the drinks in our list use high quality protein and carbs. The best, most effective type of carbohydrates in a recovery drink are simple carbs (as opposed to complex) because they can be effectively digested in the short window of time after a workout that you should drink them. Check and see which type of protein is in your recovery drink as well. There are two types of protein that are most commonly consumed as post workout protein supplements, and both are natural dairy byproducts, derived from milk. (It is important to note that you can also consume other types of protein from other animal or plant sources in your recovery snack or drink and still reap the benefits of muscle recovery, healing, and repair. Milk proteins just happen to be the most commonly used in recovery drinks on the market today). The first, casein, is a slow digesting protein. Upon entering the acidic environment of the stomach, casein peptides become denatured and form a kind of gelatinous ball of casein. For that reason, many athletes choose to consume casein just before bed so that their bodies might have a slow digesting protein source to tap into to refuel and recover throughout the night while sleeping. The second, whey protein, is more commonly consumed as a post workout recovery supplement because it is emptied from the stomach faster and the body more readily absorbs it. Therefore, it works to recover and rebuild muscles more quickly because it has higher levels of leucine (an critical amino acid in building muscle). Whey also tends to be cheaper than casein. You also might see recovery drinks and protein powders that are marketed as containing “whey protein isolate.” This is just a “purer” form of whey protein, in that more fats, sugars, vitamins and minerals, and lactose are stripped out of the whey. So what if you want to reap the fast acting recovery benefits of whey and the slow digesting recovery benefits of casein, without having to remember to take multiple forms of protein and recovery drinks every day? Simply mix your whey protein powder with milk (in which casein is the most abundant protein) after a workout and speed up the refueling and healing process all day!

2. Other Ingredients That May Be In Your Recovery Drink

We have talked about the importance of the right amounts of protein and carbohydrates in your recovery drink to best help in healing and refueling your body, to get it ready for your next intense track workout or long run. But the best recovery drinks, like the ones included in our list, will also contain additional ingredients that further assist in the recovery process. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are specifically helpful in the recovery process, and many recovery drinks and powders are fortified with BCAAs. Having an efficient amount of amino acids in your diet (the building blocks of protein) ensures that your cells deliver these amino acids where they need to go during protein synthesis: to recovery muscle fibers to stimulate growth and repair after a workout. BCAAs are especially helpful amino acids in protein synthesis, as long as you have at least three grams present in your recovery drink. The three branched chain amino acids, isoleucine, leucine, and valine, are all found in milk products (another reason why milk derived proteins like whey and casein are the most common form of protein used in recovery drinks). When consumed with a carbohydrate, BCAAs are the most efficient amino acids to repair and refuel your body after a workout.  They also have been proven to decrease overall soreness caused by an intense run, and when paired with exercise, they may help promote fat burning and weight loss because leucine specifically helps you to feel fuller by improving your sensitivity to the hunger hormone leptin.

Aside from the ingredients that are good for you and that you definitely want to see listed on your label, there are some ingredients that you probably DON’T want added in your recovery drink. Added sugars, while they do provide a carbohydrate source, often times will just end up adding unwanted calories (that might just negate all the calories burned from your workout) and potentially have an overly sweet taste. You might also be trying to avoid sugar substitutes like sucralose and aspartame; even though they are calorie free, many people have a strong aversion to the taste, and some have experienced unwanted bloating, gas, and stomach cramping from sugar substitutes.

Sources

  1. Dr. Jeff S. Volek, Whey vs. Casein Protein: Which is Better for You?, Nutrition Express Health Article,
  2. Andrea Cespedes, Post Workout Carb to Protein Ratio, Running Nutrition Article , Sep 15, 2015
  3. Jan ANnigan, Does Protein Help Rebuild Muscle Tears?, SF Gate Nutrition Article,
  4. Colleen de Bellefonds, What Are BCAAs and How Do They Affect Your Workout? - Are BCAA Benefits Legit?, Women's Health Magazine Nutrition Article, Aug 02, 2016
  5. Thomas Ling, 7 Most Common Protein Shake Mistakes, Bodybuilding.com Nutritional Article, Oct 11, 2016
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