Working out is a great way to keep your body healthy, gain confidence in your appearance, and feel younger. However, what you do after an exercise session can be just as important as the workout itself. If you fail to refuel your body and replenish nutrients lost as you sweat and burn calories, your body will not be ready to perform its best at your next session. In order to give your body what it needs after exercise, you want to eat or drink something nutritious as soon as possible. Since eating whole foods takes time to digest, many top trainers recommend a liquid meal post-workout, a recovery drink.

Following a tough workout, your body needs the right mix of carbohydrates and proteins to start rebuilding and, in fact, increasing your muscle mass. Unfortunately, there is a great misconception among some people that what you need after your workout is pure protein. So, they try to cut out carbohydrates and make post-workout shakes with only egg whites, peanut butter, protein powder, and other low-carb high-protein foods. The problem with this is that carbohydrates are what our bodies use for energy. You use a lot of energy when working out and afterwards you will want to consume enough carbohydrates to replenish its energy stores.

So, what’s the right amount of carbohydrates and protein to drink after a hard workout? Well, experts say the ideal ratio is four parts carbohydrates to one part protein, or 4:1. This perfect balance can be hard to achieve when making a post-workout shake from scratch. That’s why many people have now turned to commercial recovery drinks that already have the 4:1 balance. For example, the highly acclaimed P90X Peak Recovery Formula uses this ratio, known as the Protein Efficiency Ratio, in its powdered drink mix.

There is more to a good recovery drink than protein and carbohydrates though. The best drinks also have vitamins and antioxidants that help muscles repair and grow stronger. When consumed in the first hour after your workout, these nutrients go to work right away and can help you speed recovery more than 100%. Workout recovery drinks also need to have the right amount of calories; enough to provide energy without ruining your diet.

Drinking a quality recovery shake after your workouts can make all the difference when it comes to enhanced performance. The right drink not only helps you build muscle and increase energy; it also reduces soreness and decreases your risk of injury, so you can workout more often. Plus if you pick the right drink it also tastes great! I personally favor the P90X Peak Recovery Formula, it tastes great, provides the 4:1 ratio I’m looking for, and allows me to get the necessary nutritional benefits as well. A very important part of any physical fitness program is nutrition. Food is fuel for the body, make sure you eat right, to keep yourself going at maximum efficiency.