We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links. The LA Times newsroom or editorial staff was not involved in the creation of this content. Learn more

The Best Recovery Drinks For Your Overall Health

If you are a hardcore weightlifter or just your average gym enthusiast who knows how to take care of yourself when exercising, you’ll know the importance of a recovery drink. Usually, in the form of a shake or smoothie, recovery drinks are full of essential amino acids and proteins which are slowly released into the body over several hours, aiding your recovery and turning your body into an efficient, muscle-building temple.

If your aim is to tone up, post-workout recovery drinks should be a compulsory part of your exercise routine. Not only do they help you build muscle, but they also boost your immune system and even improve your bone structure. Of course, you can make your own shakes with supplements, powders, and natural foods. But who has time for that? Many companies provide pre-made recovery drinks which give you absolutely everything you need with minimal fuss.

Need help choosing the perfect drink for you? We’ve compiled a list of the very best recovery drinks in 2021, as well as some nifty tricks for choosing the right recovery drink on the fly.

Best Recovery Drinks Worth Considering in 2021

FITAID Glucosamine Recovery Drink

FITAID is officially the #1 post-workout drink in the US according to the brand. With over 100 million cans sold to fitness enthusiasts across the country, there must be something in this recovery drink that keeps consumers coming back for more. With all your essential BCAAs, this recovery blend keeps you feeling fresh and ready for your next workout. The recovery drink contains lots of electrolytes to help you replenish and rebuild. The FITAID Recovery Blend also includes glutamine and glucosamine, 45g of natural caffeine, and green tea extract. Plus, each serving only contains 40 calories, which is perfect for anybody watching their caloric intake.

  • Very good for people who are watching their caloric intake
  • Tastes great
  • Lots of anti-inflammatory benefits
  • No protein

DripDrop ORS Recovery Drink

As well as having a great name, DripDrop ORS is perfect for anybody who wants a recovery drink created by a medical professional. DripDrop ORS contains a patented blend of electrolytes and glucose to hydrate you after a difficult workout. The drink contains potassium, magnesium, Vitamin C, and other vitamins and minerals to help boost your immunity. With over 3x the electrolytes and half the sugar of most energy drinks, this is a decidedly more health-conscious choice compared to similar products on the market. It's perfect for sipping between workouts, and it works just as well to relieve dehydration caused by travel and illness.

  • Thumbs up from those in the medical field
  • Lots of flavors to choose
  • Excellent for those with illness and exhaustion as well
  • Fewer servings compared to others

XTEND Original BCAA Recovery Drink

The Xtend Original Recovery Drink is an incredibly popular BCAA supplement thanks to its highly effective 2:1:1 ratio blend of BCAAs. Most consumers are attracted to the zero sugar, calories, and carbs guarantee, but you’ll likely end up staying for the numerous great-tasting flavors. Each one offers wonderful hydration and muscle growth properties, and is great for recovering from an intense workout. Simply add water and enjoy!

  • Flavors are different from every other recovery drink
  • Absolutely no calories and carbs - great for keto
  • Approved by third-party testers
  • If you want more protein, you’ll have to add additional protein powder

BSN Amino X Recovery Drink

BSN Amino X Muscle Recovery & Endurance Powder is a superb choice for anybody who needs to support muscle recovery and growth after a grueling workout. It contains 10g of micronized amino acids in every serving, and it contains no sugar or caffeine that other products use to "cheat" your body into feeling better. You’ll find this product mixes very easily and doesn’t clump, unlike some other recovery drink powders. BSN offers the Amino X powder in Grape, Watermelon, Blue Raspberry, and Fruit Punch flavors, though it should be noted that the latter two are artificially flavored. You can purchase BSN Amino X in either a 30 or 70 serving container depending on how much of this product you tend to use.

  • Loaded with amino acids
  • Plenty of variety in terms of flavor
  • Very easy to mix
  • Not calorie-free

Amino VITAL Rapid Recovery Drink

Amino VITAL's Rapid Recovery Drink is a great choice for anyone looking for extra convenience because they come in handy travel packets. Each tub contains 14 packets, and you also have the option of purchasing a 2-pack which doubles that number to 28. Because each packet is designed for a single serving, you can take them with you to the gym and mix your drink there, rather than worrying about spills in your sports bag. This product is completely vegan and each packet contains only 60 calories and 2g of sugar. As an added bonus, the drink is completely gluten-free and contains zero caffeine.

  • Low in sugar and great for dieters
  • Plenty of plant-based BCAAs
  • Totally vegan
  • Not sugar-free unlike other recovery drinks on our list

Vega Sport Recovery Drink

Another vegan recovery drink in our recommendations, the Vega Sport Recovery comes in a very sleek tub, proudly bearing its plant-based properties front and center. The drink comes with 16g of functional carbs for fast absorption, as well as plenty of electrolytes and B Vitamins. The powder also mixes easily with water and plant-based milks, which is great if you want to add some additional protein to make your own complete post-workout smoothie or shake.

  • Cruelty-free and plant-based
  • Lots of vitamins
  • Mixes very well
  • Apple Berry flavor can feel quite heavy after a workout

Legion Natural Muscle Builder Recovery Drink

If you are looking for a 100% natural recovery drink, look no further than the Legion Recharge Post Workout Supplement. This drink comes with 5g of creatine monohydrate which aids in muscle building. Legion infuses their recovery drink with natural sweeteners such as Stevia to make sure it tastes great as well. We cannot get enough of the Strawberry Lemonade flavor, although their Fruit Punch is great. Another great option is their Unflavored which you can add to your protein shake without changing the flavor profile.

  • Lots of natural goodness
  • Strawberry lemonade tastes particularly good
  • Amazing for muscle gains
  • More flavors would be nice

Buyer's Guide

We have done everything possible to ensure that our list of recovery drink recommendations covers all bases. If you are based in the US, you’ll be able to find all our suggestions with relative ease.

However, we understand that everybody is different. What works for one person’s recovery drink may not work for you. As such, we think it is very important for you to make up your own mind and pick a recovery drink based on your own body’s needs and preferences. That is why we have included a list of factors you may want to check before making your purchase.

There are countless recovery drinks currently on the market - be sure to use the information below to make an informed decision.

Things to consider before buying a recovery drink

There are a number of things to consider before making your next recovery drink purchase. We don’t want you to waste your hard-earned money on a product that does not benefit you. Make sure you keep the following factors in mind when choosing your recovery drink. Remember - no two recovery drinks are exactly the same!

Hydration

One of the most important things to consider with any recovery drink is how well it hydrates you. People lose a lot of water through sweating when they work out. You want to adequately replace these fluids to avoid any negative effects as you go about your day post-workout.

We suggest weighing yourself before and after exercise. For every pound you lose, drink around 3 cups of fluid. You may also want to ensure your recovery drink doesn’t contain added sugars. They may give you a superficial boost in energy, but they often prove detrimental to your recovery process.

Electrolytes

Any good recovery drink should contain ingredients that help you replenish vital electrolytes.

For those who are unaware, electrolytes are a group of nutrients that include calcium, potassium, and sodium. You lose a lot of these when you exercise, which is why you see many people take a banana or two to the gym with them - that’s not just a lucky mascot! These electrolytes regulate the way in which other nutrients reach your cells. They also help your circulatory and nervous systems function in the way they are supposed to.

Make sure your post-workout recovery includes a drink that contains plenty of electrolytes, particularly if you’ve been doing a lot of cardio training.

Carbs

For a lot of people, carbohydrates are the devil’s work and should be exiled from existence. However, your body will be craving the energy after a rigorous workout routine. Make sure you pick a recovery drink that replenishes your glycogen stores.

You want to take in around 1.5 grams of high-glycemic carbs per kilogram of body weight. You should also look for important carbohydrates such as dextrose and maltodextrin. If you don’t get enough carbs after your workout, you’ll end up feeling fatigued and sore.

Protein

If you are serious about building muscle or improving as an athlete, you’ll need a recovery shake that is loaded with protein. You can find recovery drinks that include fast and slow-digesting proteins which release amino acids to your muscles at varying rates. This is how your muscles rebuild to become stronger after every workout. Look for a drink with at least 20 grams of protein. This is easier to do if you make your post-workout drink yourself. However, you should be able to find a prepared recovery drink with a sufficient amount of protein with little effort.

Overall taste

Obviously, you want to choose a recovery drink that gives you all the benefits listed above and tastes great. I don’t know about you, but I’m particularly sensitive to taste after a workout. If I’ve been giving 110% in the gym, I already feel like I’m about to throw up. Make sure you find a recovery drink that makes you look forward to the end of your gym session. You don’t want to hold your nose and force it down.

The best way to do this is by checking customer reviews and also going with your gut instinct. You know your own taste buds better than anybody!

Recovery drink price range

As expected, most recovery drinks are going to cost you more than your average pre-prepared refrigerated milkshake. They’ll even end up costing more than if you were to make your own post-workout drink at home. However, you are paying for convenience. Typically, most recovery drinks bought in a packet will cost around $25-40. You can find more expensive varieties with specialized properties, but you probably don’t need to spend this much unless advised by a nutritionist or dietician.

How we choose our recovery drink

In order to come up with a reliable and trustworthy recovery drink buying guide, we have to consider a number of important factors, many of which we have already covered above. We make sure we take into account things like taste, macro content, overall cost, packaging, and whether a product is suitable for vegans or other specific dietary requirements. Each recovery drink has to meet our own high standards.

We also check out a massive amount of customer reviews to ensure the overall consensus is overwhelmingly positive. Rest assured, all our recovery drinks get the thumbs up from most consumers.

Recovery Drink FAQ

Q: How can I make my own recovery drink at home?

A: It is really easy to make your own recovery drink at home, especially if you already have an array of nutrient-rich ingredients at your disposal. You don’t have to purchase an already prepared recovery drink from a store. Just make sure you follow our rules on electrolytes, carbs, protein, and hydration. Go wild and experiment with the flavor.

Q: Can I get fat by drinking recovery drinks?

A: You can get fat consuming anything if you don’t put in the effort when working out. If you are pushing yourself during exercise, your recovery drink should replace what you have lost and help you gain muscle rather than fat.

bestcovery team.jpg
Our research team searches out the best of everything so that you can confidently pick the perfect products and services for your needs.
Related Content
Go to top