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Which Shake Are You?

30 Sep 2011

Now that a couple studies have touted Chocolate Milk as the ideal recovery drink after a vigorous training session, it’s easy to forget the drink avid exercisers and athletes relied on for so long: the post-workout shake. Seasoned trainees have been experimenting for years with different shake brands: from Designer Whey to Optimum Nutrition and everything in between. This entry will focus on a few brands.

One of the first things to keep in mind about recovery drinks is when to have it. Not every workout calls for an immediate snack; it takes an intense one to require a replenishing of energy stores. Think of a long run, a Spinning class, an intense martial arts lesson. Not: a stroll with your dog, a light lifting day, or an active recovery session. Consider one of the studies testing chocolate milk as a recovery drink: participants were given a dose of chocolate milk after a THREE-hour workout and another allotment before completing an athletic test (timed cycling trial).

So depending on your training goals and regimen, a recovery drink may not be appropriate for your daily workout. Your best bet may be to time your workouts so that you are ready to prepare a meal afterwards. You can actually substitute a shake for this meal, which we’ll get into in this entry, too.

Once you’ve determined which workouts are most appropriate to follow with a recovery drink, what should you have? After an intense workout, you’ll need a balance of protein and carbs — this is probably the best time of day to get in your simple carbs (think, higher glycemic) because your body will most likely need to use those sugars right away! The best time for a recovery snack is within 30-60 minutes after your workout, when your system is primed to take in replenishing nutrients. So you may want something that is readily, if not already, prepared.

Here’s a summary of nutrition data for a few popular post-workout & meal-replacement options:

Name Calories Carbs/Sugars Protein M-R P-W
Chocolate Milk 160 26/25 8 *
Jay Robb Vanilla 110 1/0 25 * *
EAS Myoplex Lite – Vanilla 190 20/4 25 *
P90x Recovery Formula 220 40/26 10 *
P90x Shakeology 140 19/11 16 *

M-R denotes Meal Replacement
P-W denotes Post Workout
Note: Nutrition is per serving.

Jay Robb
The nutrition facts above are for the vanilla whey protein shake flavor. Jay Robb’s mixes can be used for both post-workout and meal replacement purposes. The mix uses stevia as a sweetener, so you’ll want to add fruit and milk if you’re using it for post-workout recovery.

As a meal replacement, you can use the Jay Robb whey mix as the protein base for your meal, using your favorite recipe. Overall, the Jay Robb mix is a good post-workout option and meal replacement supplement for those that are watching their intake of process sugars. So if your goal is making weight for a sport or personal weight loss, this alternative may be good for you.

In terms of price, the per serving cost for the whey protein mix is about $1.90 – $2.00. It’s usually sold in 12-oz and 24-oz containers for roughly $23-25 and $44-48 each, respectively.

EAS Myoplex (Lite)
Myoplex shakes come in both RTD and shake mix form. As far as RTD shakes go, Myoplex Lite tastes pretty good and you can find it for a decent price online and at discount stores, making it a convenient and affordable option.

With 20-42g of protein per serving, Myoplex is typically used as a recovery drink. The Lite version has about 20-25g of protein, the Original up to 42g. This shake can also be used as a non post-workout snack replacement.

FYI: Calorie count gives the Myoplex Lite a nutrition grade of A. It’s a low-sugar drink with protein, fiber (5g), calcium, potassium, and vitamin A.

P90x Recovery Formula
The P90x Recovery drink is a delicious post-workout shake that stirs in easily with water. Beachbody recently released a new version of the drink with less sugar: the original formula had 36g of sugar per serving, the new one 26. This is good since the original formula may have had too much sugar. If you have some of the original formula left, it may be a good idea to use ½ – ¾ of a scoop.

As a recovery shake, if you have a sweet tooth and you don’t have to worry about your sugar intake, you may prefer this over Myoplex Lite. You may not be able to get the Recovery Formula in RTD form for as little as $1.25 per serving like you can Myoplex Lite, but 30 packets at $55 each is still a reasonable price at about $1.83 per serving.

Shakeology is a meal replacement drink that stirs in easily, but tastes better when blended. It’s relatively low in sugar with 8-9g per serving and very high in micronutrients, phytochemicals, and digestive enzymes.

Shakeology is a good meal or snack replacement drink all by itself. For a meal replacement, you can add more calories and protein with fruit and yogurt or cottage cheese. The one thing about Shakeology is that it’s somewhat pricey for a nutrition drink. A 30-day supply is roughly $120 plus shipping, so about $4 per shake.

What’s Best for You?
The right shake is completely up to you, based on your goals, preferences, and health history.

If you’re watching your sugar intake, the Jay Robb whey protein shake may be best for you as a post-workout drink and protein base for a meal replacement. If you’re looking for an affordable RTD or easy-to-prepare recovery shake, Myoplex or the P90x recovery formula may be your pick. Lastly, if sugar isn’t an issue and you’re looking for a convenient, snack/meal replacement, try Shakeology.

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