The first 45 minutes after a workout is the most critical period for refueling your muscles with the nutrients they need to recover and grow. If you miss this window by not consuming what your muscles need, you’re compromising your ability to recover and make proper gains. Be sure to get in these four supplements ASAP after workouts by creating your own post-workout supplement stack or using a product that contains all of them in one scoop.

PROTEIN is one of the most critical nutrients to take immediately after workouts. Your muscles have been broken down and need amino acids to rebuild them bigger and stronger. You need a fast-digesting protein such as whey to get aminos to your muscles quickly to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and therefore recovery and growth. But you also need a slow and steady protein, such as casein to help prolong the muscle protein synthesis kick-started by whey. Combining fast-digesting and slow-digesting protein powders after workouts leads to greater muscle gains than either dose alone.

CARBS are also critical to consume right after workouts. After all, when you train you burn up muscle glycogen, which is the storage form of carbs in the body. Research shows that if you don’t get carbs to your muscles within 45 minutes after training, the amount of glycogen they can store for the next workout may be compromised. 

CREATINE is smart to take after workouts because during that 45-minute window the muscles are better primed for nutrient uptake than at any other time of day. Research shows that loading muscles properly with creatine can increase lean-mass gains by more than 10 pounds and muscle strength by 10%.

BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACIDS (BCAAS) are composed of the most critical amino acids for muscle growth—leucine, isoleucine, and valine. -Leucine directly turns on muscle protein synthesis. It also spikes insulin levels, helping to further drive more of those fast carbs, creatine, and amino acids into the muscle cells for enhanced recovery and muscle growth.  The BCAAs also work together to blunt levels of the catabolic hormone cortisol, which spikes after workouts.