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FitTips for One and All - Vol. II, No.7

FitTips for One and All
Volume II, Number 7

Presented by Fitness for One and All
Director: Gary F. Zeolla

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Post-Workout Drink

Part Two: Optional Ingredients

By Gary F. Zeolla

Part One of this article looked at the importance of using a post-workout drink and of including carbs and protein in the drink. Maltodextrin and whey protein were stated to be the best form of carbs and protein to use, respectively, with Optimum's 100% Whey Protein being named as a particular good source for the whey protein.

Carbs and protein are the "essential" ingredients to include in a post-workout drink. And consuming a drink with just these two ingredients immediately post-workout will aid greatly in recovery from that workout. But there are many other ingredients that one might want to include in a post-workout drink that will further aid in recovery and in ones training progress in general.

I have spent a lot of time researching and experimenting on myself as to which such ingredients work best. So I will discuss these ingredients in this second half of this article. Many of these ingredients are discussed in more details on the Web site. Follow the respective links for these discussions.


Safe, effective, and inexpensive. These three qualities are hard to find in a supplement. But creatine fits all three of these. It is in fact the premier supplement for strength athletes. But how best to take creatine?

Research and experience has shown that creatine is best absorbed when taken with a high-glycemic carbohydrate. I have also found that it is best absorbed post-workout. And since one should already be consuming high-glycemic carbs in one's post-workout drink, then creatine becomes an ideal ingredient to add to the drink.

Doing so will enable the body to replenish creatine phosphate stores in the muscles cells. This should then lead to greater energy for the next workout. And I have found this to be the case.

I mentioned in part one of this article that at one time I used orange juice in my post-workout drink, but later I switched to using maltodextrin. And when I did, I found that I had greater energy for my subsequent workouts and was able to go through my workouts at a faster pace. I stated then that it was most likely was due to greater glycogen storage. But greater storage of creatine was possibly also a factor. The maltodextrin is a better carb for increasing creatine uptake than fruit juice is.

But how much should be used? General recommendations are for anywhere from 2-10 grams. Personally I use about 5 grams. But the reader will have to experiment to see what works best for you.

However, one final point should be mentioned; creatine is only effective for strength athletes, those engaging in high-intensity, short-term activities like powerlifting, bodybuilding, football, or track events like the shot put or discus. It is not effective for endurance athletes.

One point to note though, purity can be an issue when it comes to creatine. Some products can contain impurities that might lead to problems. So I would recommend sticking with pharmaceutical grade creatine products. The best such brand I have found is by Jarrow Formulas.


Glutamine is an often recommended ingredient to be used in a post-workout drink. There are several reasons for this. First, many find that it reduces post-workout soreness. Second, research has found that glutamine can reduce the colds and flu's that many experience as a result of the immune system being depressed from intense exercise. And finally, many athletes find they recover quicker with glutamine use.

At one time I included 5 grams of glutamine in my post-workout drink. And I found it did provide all of the above benefits. But then I read that glutamine is best taken on an empty stomach. I also read that glutamine can interfere with the absorption of creatine. So rather than using glutamine in my post-workout drink, I started using it after I had showered and driven home from the gym, which is about an hour after consuming my post-workout drink. And I found I could get the same effect taken in this way but with only using 2 grams.

I've also found additional benefit by taking 2 grams of glutamine pre-workout, again, on an empty stomach (about 1.5 hours after my pre-workout meal). I also take 2 grams on an empty stomach at other times.

So if possible, the reader might try taking glutamine on an empty stomach rather than with your post-workout drink or with meals. You might find that by doing so the same effect can be attained from a smaller amount.

Like creatine, quality can be a problem when it comes to glutamine. And after much experimentation, I have found that Jarrow's pharmaceutical grade glutamine works best.


Arginine is another amino acid that is often recommended for use both pre- and post-workout. But again, as with glutamine, it is best to take arginine on an empty stomach.

The main purported benefit for arginine is that it increases nitric oxide, which acts as a vasodilator, increasing blood flow to the muscles. Many report feeling a greater "pump" during and even after their workouts while using arginine. But more importantly, the increased blood flow is supposed to aid in recovery by increasing the flow of nutrients to the muscle cells.

I recently started using Met-Rx's Glutamine NOS (Nitric Oxide Support). It is a combination of glutamine and arginine. Glutamine NOS does seem to a high quality product, and I feel like I am attaining greater benefit from using it than by using glutamine alone.

Vitamin C

Research has shown that taking vitamin C post-workout reduces post-workout soreness and cortisol levels. Cortisol is a catabolic (muscle-destroying) hormone that is released during and after intense exercise. So reducing it as soon as possible after a workout is imperative.

Many vitamin C products are available. And one could easily just take a vitamin C tablet post-workout. But I have found it best to use powdered vitamin C and to mix it into the drink. That way, I won't forget to take it. And the best product I have found for this purpose is again Jarrow's pharmaceutical grade powdered vitamin C. I use ¼ of a teaspoon, which is about 1000 mg of vitamin C. And I definitely notice a reduction of post-workout soreness when I use this product.

Sodium and Potassium

Sodium and potassium are electrolytes that are lost in sweat. This loss is especially significant if one is exercising in hot weather, or as I do in a gym that is not air-conditioned in the summer (well, it's supposed to be air-conditioned, but it doesn't feel like it!).

That said, since a loss of such electrolytes can lead to cramping and other problems, replenishing them is a good idea. There are a lot of different products that can be used for a source of sodium and potassium, but I have found one of the cheapest is Morton's Lite Salt.

Lite salt is composed of half sodium chloride and half potassium chloride. It is mainly designed for those who are trying to cut back on their sodium intake. But here, I am mainly looking at it as source of both electrolytes.

I use ¼ teaspoon in my post-workout drink, which contains 290 mg of sodium and 340 mg of potassium. Morton's Lie Salt should be available at most standard grocery stores.

Jarrow's Multi-Easy Powder

I mentioned in part one of this article that the reason I at one time used OJ in my post-workout drink was because it provided vitamin C, potassium, and other nutrients while a carb source like maltodextrin would be nothing but "empty calories." And this is true. Maltodextrin is pure carbs with no nutrient value otherwise. But given it's much greater capacity for replenishing muscle glycogen stores and increasing the uptake of creatine, this is one time when avoiding "empty calories" should not be the main concern.

However, there is a great demand for nutrients post-workout. And nutrients besides vitamin C, sodium, and potassium can provide specific benefits post-workout.

For instance, the reason vitamin C is valuable is because it is an antioxidant. This means it can neutralize free radicals that are created during an intense workout. Free radicals are possibly involved in post-workout soreness and fatigue, and are implicated in various health conditions like cancer. So neutralizing them as soon a possible is beneficial.

But there are antioxidant nutrients besides vitamin C, namely, beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A), vitamin E, and selenium. So the use of these post-workout along with vitamin C would be beneficial.

Also, along with sodium and potassium, calcium and magnesium are two electrolyte minerals that can be loss in sweat. So replenishing them along with sodium and potassium can be beneficial.

And many nutrients, like the B vitamins, are simply used in great amounts during a workout. So providing a source of these can aid in recovery as well.

A simple way to provide all of these would be to take a multiple vitamin mineral product post-workout. And there are many such products available in tablet or capsule form. But again, I tend to forget to take tablets or capsules post-workout.

So I have found it best to use a powdered multi and just to mix it in with my other post-workout drink ingredients. And the best such product I have found is Jarrow's Multi Easy Powder. It contains a wide range of nutrients in highly absorbable forms, but is still relatively inexpensive as compared to other powdered multi products.

I use half a scoop (half a day's serving) of the Multi Easy in my post-workout drink. And it should be noted this is addition to the Jarrow Multi 1-3 I take on a daily basis.


The main benefit of HMB (beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate) is to reduce muscle damage incurred during and after a hard workout. This in turn reduces post-workout soreness and increases recovery rates. And I have found HMB to be effective in this regard.

But HMB is the most expensive supplement to be discussed in this article. So it would be best to experiment with the above ingredients first. And if you get the results you looking from them, don't bother with the HMB. But if post-workout soreness is a major problem for you, then HMB might be worth a try.

However, HMB needs to be taken not just post-workout but throughout the day on both workout and non-workout days in order to keep levels elevated. 3.0 grams a day is the generally recommend amount. However, some authorities believe the dosage should be bodyweight dependent, namely 38 mg per kilogram of bodyweight (or about 17 mg/ pound).

HMB is best taken with protein and in several divided doses to increase absorption. But post-workout, there is a greater need and thus absorption. So more can be taken at that time.

Personally, since I only weight about 120 pounds, using the bodyweight formula, I only need about 2000 mg. So I take that much on a daily basis. But I take an additional 1000 mg post-workout.

Since HMB usually comes in capsule form, again I could just take the capsules post-workout. But so I don't forget, I usually open up the capsules and mix the contents into the other dry ingredients when I am making up my post-workout drink.

Other Possible Ingredients

There are many other supplements that can be found in various recovery products and which are recommended for post-workout recovery. Among these are alpha lipoic acid, ribose, taurine, branch chain amino acids, and many others.

I've tried many such products but have not found them helpful. The above discussed ingredients are the ones that I have found to provide the most benefit. But the reader will have to experiment to see what works best for you.

Post-Workout Meal

Even with the carbs, protein, and other ingredients in a post-workout drink, it is still important to eat a regular meal not too long after finishing a grueling workout. However, it is best to wait long enough to allow the post-workout drink to digest before eating. So most generally, it would be best to eat a meal about 1-2 hours after consuming your post-workout drink.

For the meal, I would recommend again consuming a source of carbs. Only at this point, healthy complex carbs would be best. As stated in part one, complex carbs are best for restoring muscle glycogen stores. Good sources of such carbs would be potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and other whole grain products.

Next, it would be important to include a high-quality, low-fat, protein source, like lean meat, chicken, turkey, or fish. Also important would be vegetables, lots of them, to provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.


Proper nutrition is vital to progress in an exercise or training program. And one very important nutrition step is consuming a post-workout drink with the appropriate ingredients to aid recovery. I hope this article has given the reader the knowledge to help you decide what you will work best for you in your post-workout drink.

Note: All company and product names are registered trademarks of the respective companies.


New on Fitness for One and All

Diet Evaluation:  6/7-13/04 is a new article.

IPA World Powerlifting Championships - 2004 is the promised contest report for my most recent contest.

Summary of Powerlifting Contests, Records, and USA Ranking has been updated.

Training Routines and Drop Reps  (7/16/04 - 11/12/04) details my new training routine that I will use to prepare for the IPA National Championships, November 12, 2004.


Also by Gary F. Zeolla:
Darkness to Light Web site and Darkness to Light newsletter.
Christian Theology, Apologetics, Cults, Ethics, Bible Versions, and much more!


Disclaimer: The material presented in this newsletter is intended for educational purposes only. The director, Gary F. Zeolla, is not offering medical or legal advice. Accuracy of information is attempted but not guaranteed. Before undertaking any medical treatments or diet, exercise, or health improvement programs, consult your doctor. The director is in no way responsible or liable for any bodily harm, physical, mental, or emotional, that results from following any of the advice on this newsletter.

All material in this newsletter is copyrighted © 2004 by Gary F. Zeolla or as indicated otherwise.