I vividly remember a summer a many years ago that peaked my curiosity for recovery drinks. After a monumental ride one of the strong guys had some in the boot of his car, strange looking and fussy he chugged it down. At first I infrequently used drinks, and then years later I started using them routinely after workouts with the idea that it would help me be stronger and faster.
I used quite a few different products over the years and didn’t question too much what was going on, probably because they felt like they were doing something. This leads me to now with deeper thoughts about recovery products, but first its important to remember these three things:
Athleticism is not free – maybe obvious, maybe not – when you ask your body to perform work above normal, it takes energy, it depletes your body and creates fatigue. You take something from your body so so why shouldn’t you give back to your body? The general idea behind any recovery drink is to give back. There have been many scientific studies* showing the benefits of carbohydrates and protein intake after a workout.
Mind over matter, if you are training and demanding a lot from your body, the simple notion of having a recovery drink that you like / look forward to mentally sets you in a good mind-frame to have a good ride or do really well in a workout. This small psychological difference is important.
Recovery mode switches on, post workout a recovery drink helps trip the body into the recovery mode. It becomes habit forming and ensures your body makes that switch from catabolic (breaking down to produce energy) to anabolic (maintaining and building muscle)
I’m going to look at five manufacturers Tailwind, ScratchLabs, Floyds , Science In Sport (SIS) and Osmo – I have tested these now for a few months now and to be fair I have been using SkratchLabs for many years, but recently introduced the other products into the rotation. All have a slightly different angle, ingredients and features. Yet all aim t0 improve recovery and be great enough to be part of your routine.
You can see below that the products are quite different. If you have specific needs such as vegetarian or vegan, they can be accomplished. Also if you have allergies or react to different proteins there is still a solution for you.
|Tailwind||SIS Regro||Skratch Labs –|
|Floyd’s – Recovery Protein||OSMO|
|Protein Type||Rice 11g||Soy 20g||Whey 8g||Soy 27g||Whey|
|Carb / protien ratio||4:1||1:1||3:1||1:3||1:1|
|Potential allergens||coconut||milk||milk soy||milk soy|
|Extras||probiotic BC30||25mg CBD|
|Approx. cost per drink||$2.60||$1.90||$2.75||$3.00||$2.50|
|made in||CO, USA||UK||USA||USA|
Protocol : I used all drinks after moderate to hard trainer workouts, body temperature and level of energy spent were similar, I mixed all my drinks with cold water, in a glass jar and hand shaken per qty’s given on packaging. I also did a couple of mixes with 2% milk and took notes.
Period: I used all products for 6 weeks on a 6 day a week training plan. rotating the nutrition during that time.
Tailwind – chocolate
This was the only product in the test with a true traditional 4:1 carb protein mix. A ratio that 90% of science experiments are conducted with. It has a smooth consistency with no grain, easy to mix. Has a slightly creamy mouth feel but isn’t frothy or thick. Chocolatey but not an distinct or overwhelming chocolate taste.
In Use: Comes in a bag, somewhat similar to the SkrachLabs bag, in size but feels different in hand and has no issues sealing. My bag also had my name handwritten on it, which is a nice touch.
- Tailwind – Rebuild Recovery
- $39 – 15 servings / $2.60 per serving
SIS Rego – chocolate
Slightly grainy texture with a little bit of a chemical aftertaste, I think it might be the reduced fat cocoa powder or sucralose (artificial sweeter) listed on the ingredients. The chocolate tasted slightly nutty and had a frothy in mouth feel. Even though the words “chemical aftertaste” sound harsh it was very palatable, just not as nice as some of the others on test.
In Use : The powder comes in a small easy to use tub, which enables you to recycle vs trashing a thin film bag. The tub is handy and can easily be transported since I had the smaller size (10 serving tub). It comes in a few sizes and individual servings should you require.
- SIS – Rego
- $19 – 10 servings / $1.90 per serving
SkratchLabs – chocolate
A smooth consistency with no grain, and easy to mix. The chocolate is not mind blowing with water, but the Horchata and the Coffee varieties are up the list as being a nice tasting drink. The mix is not frothy and had a decent in mouth feel with no strange aftertaste. You can also mix this with milk if desired and tastes amazing!
Scratchlabs do mention they have a probiotic ingredient in their drink mix to help with digestion, this is a pretty unique feature. :
+Probiotic BC30: 1 billion active cultures per serving. BC30 supports an overall healthy digestive system, healthy immune system, and enhances protein utilization. Not all probiotic strains are the same – BC30 delivers live cells 10 times more effectively than common probiotic yogurts.
In Use – The powder comes in a bag which has an attractive matte finish but by far the worst for usability, most of the time the seal doesn’t actually seal, so you have to double bag it or use a separate container (which is a major pain). This particular packaging is the worst on test.
Floyd’s – chocolate – $18 – 6 packs / $3.00 per
This product reminded me the most of gym shakes, due to the waft of whey protein smell when opening. The chocolate taste has a little bit of nutty to it, in a nice way. The mix is smooth with no grain, froth or texture. The chocolate overall is pretty mild.
By far this product has the most protein, at 27g.
In Use – I did find this to be a good drink if used post workout later in the day / evening, as the CDB content seemed to calm my muscles before and when in bed.
- Floyds – recovery protein
- $18 – 6 servings / $3.00 per serving
OSMO Rapid Recovery – $35 – 14 servings / $2.50 per
OSMO is the only product here that has Micellar Casein (a form of protein). Regular whey proteins release the amino acids into your body for up to 4hrs. The Micellar casein releases amino acids a lot slower over a longer period giving your body better opportunity to use them. The idea being that as you sleep and longer the benefits are slowly released and feed your body.
In Use: This product has a really strong chocolatey smell in the container, more so than the others. It also touts the use of organic cocoa. Easily mixed and to a smooth consistency. When mixed with water it has a bit of a funny aftertaste, burnt notes. The only thing I can put this down to is the Green Tea Leaf extract that they use. This was different from the nutty aftertaste of SIS, and to be honest I didn’t enjoy the taste of this product that much, it was bearable but i don’t look forward to drinking it.
- Osmo – Rapid Recovery
- $35 – 14 servings / $2.50 per serving
Just a quick note, but wanted to say all products mixed easily and there was no significant difference in mixing. While I would love to say… the “X Product” performs the best, that’s not the case with this test. I suspect they all helped (given the numerous scientific performance studies) and maybe in subtly different amounts, but there wasn’t one that made me feel better the next day or even week.
Going back to scientific studies* on controlled athletes using 4:1 ratio products, there is evidence that recovery drinks do make a difference in performance. It should be noted that that ratio (not to discard others), aligns with products ScratchLabs and Tailwind since they have carb / protein ratios that are close.
Taste: My choice is SkratchLabs or Floyds with Tailwind a close second.
Mouthfeel : They are all somewhat similar. The main difference here is weather you mix with milk. (SIS advise not mixing theirs with milk as it slows digestion)
Affects: I did mention that I liked Floyds because I do notice the effect of CBD. (this will obviously vary person to person depending on their sensitivity to CBD)
Unless you have a particular preference for ingredient, protein type or attribute, I say choose by flavour. This has the biggest psychological affect for an after a “crazy hard ride” drink. If you are Vegan, the pickings are slim, but Tailwind will work for you.
You might ask about my mixing apparatus… After many a plastic shaker container thingamy, I now use a Wide Mouth Ball Mason Jar. It mixes very well and they clean very easily, you can fit a sponge and hand in them no problem, without all the strange plastic gubbins.