Hi Hayley,

I'm pretty confused about post-workout recovery drinks. I'm working on losing a significant amount of weight, more than 50 lbs, and focusing on 10 lbs at a time. So far I'm down 12 lbs! I am doing a lot of cardio to focus on fat burning as well as some weights for toning, but I hear varying opinions on recovery drinks.

Should I be drinking something post-workout to help my muscles recover? Or are the calories just sabotaging the work I just put in? What do you recommend for someone focusing on weight loss?

Thanks, E


One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight is adding meals, such as recovery drinks, to their day. When you are trying to lose weight your daily calorie intake is minimal, therefore every calorie you do ingest must be “worth it”. Recovery drinks can be upwards of 300 or more calories and if you are only consuming 1500 net calories daily, you do not have much room to spare.

Here is what I suggest, which I learned from a very good friend and dietitian Diana Steele. Instead of adding extra recovery drinks or bars to your day, plan your daily meals so that they can act as a pre-workout energy source or a post-workout recovery meal.

For example, if you workout first thing in the morning have a very quick and small breakfast before you head out the door -- like half of a banana -- and instead of a recovery drink afterwards, eat a nutritious breakfast (steal cut oats, scrambled eggs, whole wheat toast with almond butter or a smoothie).

If you are a lunch time mover then have breakfast first thing in the morning, a snack about 3 hours later, then plan to eat your lunch as your recovery meal just after your workout.

If you hit the gym later in the afternoon, plan to have a snack about an hour or so before your workout then eat your dinner when you get home. If you will not be eating dinner for a while you will want to get in some food pretty quick after your workout (about 20-30 minutes) so save some of your snack for after your workout. Having half of an energy bar before you work out then the other half after is a great way to split up a snack.

Recovery meals should not be added meals into your day so take a look at what and when you eat in a day and plan your meals around your workouts. Also, make sure what you eat before and after a workout is low in fat as the fat will slow down the absorption of the foods and you want to replenish your energy as quickly as possible to ensure you are ready for your next day’s workout.

Attached -- Joe Manganiello hits the gym.