Nutrition

4 Best Muscle-Recovery Drinks

Curb exercise-induced soreness by gulping down these proven recovery beverages.

4 Best Muscle-Recovery Drinks

Your time spent in the gym will inevitably put wear and tear on your muscles, making it harder to bounce back for your next sweat session. But it’s the hours in between your workouts when you can really maximize your recovery. These four drink choices can help speed up your comeback and build on your efforts.

SEE ALSO: Satisfying Shape-Up Smoothies

Chocolate Milk

Not just a kid’s classic, chocolate milk is an optimal recovery drink, delivering close to 9 grams of protein and essential amino acids in an 8-ounce serving. The simple sugars that make up the carb profile help restore glycogen levels post-exercise. One recent study from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, found that college athletes who had low-fat chocolate milk after rigorous training had lower levels of creatine kinase (CK), a sign of muscle damage, compared with those who consumed a high-carbohydrate recovery drink.

TRY THIS: Organic Valley’s organic low-fat chocolate milk is ultrapasteurized, so you can throw it in your gym bag unopened without having to worry about refrigeration. (organicvalley.coop)

Tart Cherry Juice

Cherry juice contains powerful antioxidants with proven anti-inflammatory properties, helping to neutralize workout damage. Most of the evidence is based on tart (unsweetened) cherry juice. One study found that distance runners who drank tart cherry juice twice daily for seven days had less muscle soreness and inflammation. Another found subjects who took a tart cherry powder for 10 days pre-workout had lower levels of creatinine (a marker of damage) for 48 hours after they lifted.

Did you know?

Tart cherry juice is packed with anti-inflammatory nutrients that can minimize exercise-induced muscle damage.

TRY THIS: An 8-oz Cheribundi bottle contains 50 cherries. (cheribundi.com)

Watermelon

This favorite summer fruit is great for enhancing blood flow during exercise, thanks to its high levels of arginine precursor L-citrulline. “Watermelon has a unique combination of amino acids and antioxidants like lycopene, which may help reduce oxidative stress,” notes Amy Ellis, Ph.D., R.D., a researcher at the University of Alabama.

TRY THIS: Wtrmln Wtr uses cold-pressed melons that deliver six times the electrolytes of coconut water. (wtrmlnwtr.com)

Maple Water

During winter, maple trees accumulate a nutrient-rich water that includes minerals like calcium, manganese, and magnesium, as well as polyphenols, prebiotics, and electrolytes. Yet, it has less sugar than coconut water. Plus, the polyphenols it contains may be especially good for recovery: One study found athletes who used a polyphenol blend pre-workout had less muscular stress 48 hours later.

TRY THIS: A 12-oz bottle of DRINKmaple water has just 30 calories and 5g sugar. (drinkmaple.com)

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