Recovering from your workouts the right way is just as important as hitting the gym regularly — and recovery starts with a good protein powder. Protein is by far the most important macronutrient when it comes to your muscles recovering from a workout. Taking it shortly after a workout aids muscle recovery as well as muscle growth, an imperative step for anyone with a firm fitness goal.
There are a variety of brands on the market that utilize a wide array of base ingredients and grams of protein per serving to cater to different goals. The best way to supercharge your recovery routine is to make sure you’re not just taking any protein after your workouts but rather one that suits your needs and gets your body primed to bounce back for your next session.
Personal trainers spend hours in the gym and work with clients to help them achieve their goals, meaning they likely know how different body types react to proteins — and more importantly, which ones taste the best. We spoke with five personal trainers about the powders they love and their recipes for success (literally).
MFL Muscle Hydrolyzed Isolate Protein
Trainer, stuntman and cirque performer Brennan Mejia is generally skeptical of protein powders and aims to hit most of his macros through food rather than supplements. “Since supplements are not typically regulated by the FDA, I’m always hesitant to rely on them too heavily,” he says. However, when he needs to hit his protein goal for the day and food hasn’t gotten it done, Mejia turns to MFL Muscle Hydrolyzed Isolate Protein. “It’s manufactured in a good manufacturing practice (GMP) facility that is also inspected by the FDA, is free from a lot of artificial ingredients found in other protein powders and uses stevia as the sweetener.” His go-to mixing method when using MFL’s protein is blending their Strawberry Cake flavor, which comes in at 30 grams of protein per scoop, with almond milk, blueberries, a banana and almond butter.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein
Joshua Habeck is a longtime trainer at Root 18 Crossfit who keeps his protein fix simple: “I’ve stuck with Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein for about four years now. It’s the product I recommend to most of my clients.” The reason is simple: the price. “They provide a high-quality product at a relatively low price, which is pretty huge for me at the rate I go through the stuff.” Habeck also keeps it basic when it comes to preparation, usually taking it with water or sprinkling some on his oatmeal in the morning.
Editor’s note: We’ve been using this stuff lately with our signature recipe, blending six ounces of iced coffee, a chopped-up frozen banana, a scoop of powder and a scoop or two of powdered peanut butter. It’s pretty tasty.
Vegan fitness buffs will appreciate trainer Ryan Foray’s powder of choice. A powerlifting and strength training specialist, Foray is picky about his protein. He believes a lot of products are more filler than substance, but his surefire go-to is PlantFusion’s Complete Protein. The protein is plant-based, vegan and non-GMO, which helps him recover well. “Most of the time I’m just mixing it with water on the go, but if I have time, it’s almond milk,” he says. “Chocolate is my go-to — gotta feed the sweet-toothed monster in me.”
Editor’s note: We’ve been testing PlantFusion’s Peptide Protein as well and are pretty impressed. It’s worth pointing out that it blends up pretty thick. If you like your shake closer to a Frosty than a glass of chocolate milk, you’ll be stoked.
Vega One Organic All-In-One Shake
Dominick Popolo is a bodybuilding trainer who needs a protein that will help build as much lean muscle as possible without making him put on unnecessary weight. He’s also been vegan for the past year or so. Consequently, Popolo sticks with Vega Organic All-In-One Shake, preferably the French Vanilla flavor. “I feel the ingredients are less harsh on my stomach than other powders,” he says. Dominick’s go-to Vega smoothie consists of almond milk, strawberries, bananas and Vega protein — with a bit of creatine for a boost in the gym.
Apollo Pure Protein Powder
Sometimes massive size gains aren’t the goal with a fitness routine or the accompanying recovery regimen. Certified trainer Neil Thomas, who specializes in conditioning, boxing and kettlebell training, knows this well. Because he’s rarely trying to build size (and tries to avoid whey product when possible), he usually recovers with BCAAs rather than protein; they help him build strength without bulk.When he does incorporate whey protein into his recovery, he’s a big fan of products made by Unico Nutrition. “Their stuff is by far the tastiest,” Thomas says. “Their transparency in regards to ingredients is great to see, too. While I’m not really opposed to putting terrible chemicals in my body for physical gain, it’s nice to know I can get the results I want without them.”
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