As an avid runner, I have always been on the lookout for the best workout recovery drinks. Sometimes water just won’t do the trick after a tough workout, and we need another drink to give us some nutrition. The problem is a lot of sports drinks on the market contain less than superior ingredients, like artificial dyes and processed sweeteners. I am happy to say that I have finally found seven of the most natural, portable, and all around best workout recovery drinks.
1. Coconut Water
Fresh coconut water is absolutely one of the best workout recovery drinks there is. It is rich in potassium (an electrolyte) and has about five times more than the artificial, store-bought alternative! Also, it contains some sodium which is lost during the hardest of workouts. These two key ingredients are naturally occurring in coconut water, and are not natural in man-made sports drinks. Although fresh from a young coconut is best, boxed coconut water is still amazing and is relatively cheap as well. The boxed varieties come in so many delicious flavors: mango, pineapple, pink guava, and even chocolate!
2. Tart Cherry Juice
There has been a lot of research done lately about the benefits of consuming tart cherry juice after your workout. It is beneficial because tart cherry juice is rich in anti-inflammatory flavonoids and antioxidants. It can dramatically help reduce muscle soreness, so I highly recommend this after a tough session. Tart cherry juice thus creates a quicker recovery, and a quicker recovery means that you can work out more often and with more intensity. Who can complain about that?
3. Homemade Sports Drinks
Freeze – before you guzzle that sport drink after your workout, read the ingredients list. Do you even know what all of those ingredients (food dye, sucrose, monopotassium phosphate) are? I can assure you that they are not ingredients you want to be putting in your body, especially when it’s crucial to get nutritious drinks after working out. Instead, try making your own sports drink. Make it using freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice, water, a little sea salt, and a touch of raw honey. The raw honey contains many enzymes and carbohydrates that provide a quick burst of energy, so it is a perfect quick recovery option.
4. Protein Smoothies
If you choose the right ingredients for a smoothie, it can be the perfect post-workout recovery drink. So what ingredients are the ‘right’ ones? Well, I always include a protein source, fruit, liquid, and vegetables. For protein you can use protein powder or raw nuts; either one will help replenish the protein your body craves after a workout. Fruit such as pineapple or papaya contain natural anti-inflammatory enzymes that help with the inflammation caused by exercise. Any liquid you use is fine, and leafy greens like romaine and spinach contain an abundant of vitamins and antioxidants to help prevent damage from the stress of exercise. I promise you won’t even taste the vegetables and you’ll be doing your body a favor!
5. Green Tea
Green tea: you either love it or you hate it. I happen to love it, but I especially love the Yogi brand Muscle Recovery green tea. It is so delicious, even if you don’t like plain green tea you will love this! Green tea contains many antioxidants that can help with the stress caused by working out. The Yogi tea takes it to another level by adding in Yucca Root, turmeric, and Ginseng for recovery. Another option if you don’t like the taste of green tea is to add it chilled as a liquid in a smoothie or protein shake.
6. Chocolate Milk
Chocolate milk has been receiving attention recently as a great workout recovery drink, and for a good reason: it contains just what your body needs after a workout – protein and carbohydrates. This is needed to replenish glycogen stores in our muscles, which are depleted after working out. What’s so important about the chocolate part? Chocolate milk generally has a lot more carbohydrates and protein than regular milk, which means a quicker recovery for you. Depending on the duration of your workout, one or two cups should do the trick.
7. Chia Fresca
For those of you who have never heard of chia seeds, let me be the one to tell you that they are a nutritional powerhouse. They contain an abundant amount of essential fatty acids and protein. The protein will aid in muscle recovery, and the EFA’s will reduce inflammation in the body. This is especially helpful because working out creates a lot of stress and inflammation on our bodies! Chia Fresca is made with chia seeds mixed or blended with water and fruit. For an extra recovery boost, use a recipe that contains strawberries or watermelon. Strawberries are surprisingly high in omega 3’s like chia seeds, and watermelon has such a high water content that it will easily help replenish lost fluid due to your workout.
I have found each of these workout recovery drinks to be refreshing and nourishing after a workout, and I hope you do too! They are all natural and packed full of nutrients and antioxidants our bodies need to recover. What’s even better is that they don’t contain artificial anything or unnecessary ingredients. What is your go-to post workout recovery drink?