- The Best Post-Workout Supplements for Weight Loss
- Buying Guide for Choosing Post Workout Supplements to Lose Weight
- The Bottom Line
People who get the best results often do something a little different after workouts. I'm talking about post workout supplements that encourage weight loss. Yes, some high-quality supplements on the market today can actually help to activate the body's own natural fat-burning abilities to give you better results.
Success comes down to the ingredients in these supplements. Be warned that not every company puts the same level of quality into its products. As a registered dietitian, I'm getting questions daily about which supplements actually work. That's why I want to take some time to dive into the best post workout supplements for dropping pounds.
The Best Post-Workout Supplements for Weight Loss
The supplement industry has come a long way when it comes to offering products that actually help to promote natural, appropriately paced weight loss. I've selected what I consider to be the best of the best in terms of ingredients, quality, and efficacy. Take a look!
#1. Whey Protein Isolate
Whey protein is a mix of proteins isolated from the liquid part of milk called “whey.” It's bursting with quick-absorbing essential amino acids and protein. You may have thought that whey protein isolate was just for getting “pumped up.” While this can be a great tool for gaining muscle, it's also beneficial for dropping fat.
The protein infusion that comes from whey protein isolate supplements helps you to burn more fat both inside and outside of the gym by helping you to build more lean muscle. As you may know, muscle burns more calories than fat even when you're at rest. However, the benefit goes deeper. Studies confirm that whey protein isolate can assist with muscle gains that contribute to fat loss. Introducing a high amount of protein into your diet through whey protein isolate can also help to speed up your metabolism.
Check out my favorite whey protein isolate supplements that are gaining popularity right now!
Offering 20 g of protein for just 100 calories, this stack helps to restore glycogen in the muscles during workouts to aid in faster recovery. It comes in eight different flavors that can easily be stirred into homemade protein shakes.
Available in seven dessert-like flavors, this powder is sourced from 100% grass-fed American cows. It provides 28 g of protein per serving for 120 calories.
This is a grass-fed whey protein isolate that also mixes in Himalayan rock salt. It offers 25 g of protein for 100 calories.
Read our top post-workout protein powders, as we get more in-depth on what to look for and which products are best.
Glutamine is something that excites nutritionists because it allows us to recommend something that is actually an amino acid that is found naturally in many foods. What's even more exciting is that the mechanism that causes glutamine to assist with weight loss likely has to do with the way it alters the microbiome's composition to reduce inflammation. In a 2014 study, glutamine was shown to have an effect on reducing waist circumference and belly fat. Another big benefit of glutamine is that it's been shown to improve blood sugar control.
I have a few picks for glutamine supplements that offer a clean way to get the benefits of this amino acid.
1st Phorm's glutamine supplement features 5 g of L-glutamine per serving. It's designed to help boost immune function while assisting with recovery.
This one packs in much more than glutamine for the ultimate post-workout recovery blend. In addition to packing in 5g of L-glutamine per serving, it also serves up Vitacherry®, L-carnitine, and L-tartrate to help repair muscle and soft tissue quickly after workouts. It comes in three sweet flavors!
This supplement offers 500 mg of fermented L-glutamine per serving. Why fermented? There's evidence that suggests that fermented glutamine is easier for the body to absorb.
Read our top glutamine supplements to learn more about the benefits and which products are best for you.
“L-carnitine supplementation provides a modest reducing effect on body weight, BMI and fat mass, especially among adults with overweight/obesity,” according to the findings of a 2020 study. L-carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid that has been shown to supercharge the cell mitochondria to create more usable energy for the body. Research on the effects of L-carnitine on the brain show that it may actually boost cognitive function. It's also credited with helping to stave off age-related cognitive decline.
Looking for a supplement that can help your body to burn fat while also potentially making your brain work better? Check out this list of quality L-carnitine supplements.
Available in six sweet flavors, this powder blends 1,500 mg of L-carnitine with B6, B5, green tea extract, and fruit extract. The dash of green tea is great for boosting both energy levels and metabolism.
Offering 330 mg of L-Carnitine, this capsule formula is pure and clean. It's free of any extra ingredients, dyes, or flavors.
This is a good pick if you're going really hard in the gym. In addition to the 2.1 g of L-carnitine packed into every serving, you're also getting 5 g of creatine to aid with muscle gain, strength, and endurance.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) refers collectively to three of the nine essential amino acids that are called leucine, isoleucine, and valine. What makes them important is that they cannot be produced by the body. That means that you're only getting the benefits of the BCAAs that you consume. BCAAs are commonly found in eggs, meat, dairy, and other high-protein foods. Many people take powders containing BCAAs to enjoy the muscle-building benefits. In studies, BCAAs have been shown to assist with muscle growth. BCAAs have also been shown to alter hip-to-waist ratios to be leaner in studies.
Here's a look at some great BCAA supplements.
This formula combines BCAAs with B3, B6, B12, and potassium. It also enhances the power of the BCAA amino acids by joining them with the amino acids of L-taurine, L-tyrosine, L-glutamine, L-citrulline, and agmatine sulfate.
Available in five fruity flavors, this powder adds glutamine and coconut water to BCAAs for a refreshing, invigorating jump on your energy levels. It also contains 1,700% of your daily vitamin C requirement.
This powder uses 600 mg of fermented BCAAs per serving for better absorption. It offers an ultra-clean formula that consists only of the three BCAAs.
“The combination of creatine supplementation and resistance training may decrease fat mass more than resistance training alone,” according to a 2019 study. While people know creatine as a supplement, it's actually found naturally in muscle and brain cells. Creatine is actually one of the body's main natural sources of muscle energy for contractions. The caveat with creatine is that you have to be in muscle-building mode to enjoy its fat-burning benefits.
Looking for creatine supplements to help you burn fat? Check out the best ones.
This pure formula contains nothing more than 5 mg of creatine per serving! It has thousands of positive reviews from real customers who are eager to show off pictures of their results.
Available in more than a dozen flavors, this powder gives you 65% of your daily need for vitamin D to go along with your 5,000 mg of creatine. It also contains B-hydroxy and black pepper fruit extract. B-hydroxy is known to help build muscle.
This unflavored powder contains 5,000 mg of creatine per serving with nothing else added.
#6. Essential Amino Acid Supplement
As a dietician, I see essential amino acids as building blocks to health and wellness. Our bodies literally use amino acids to build tissue, cells, proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters. Supplementing with amino acids has been shown to help with everything from athletic performance to mood. Getting the right balance of amino acids can also help with weight loss. In fact, a 2020 study looking at amino acids and obesity treatment found that amino acids could have positive effects on body composition, metabolic syndrome parameters, and appetite regulation in obese patients. While there are 20 amino acids that the body uses, only histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine make up the list of the nine essential amino acids.
Which amino acid supplements out there are great for supporting weight loss and muscle building during your workouts? Take a look!
This is a comprehensive supplement that gives you amino acids with the added benefits from vitamin c, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and caffeine. It's available in five sweet flavors.
This is a nourishing formula that combines the nine essential amino acids with taurine, coconut water, peat, apple extract, and citrulline malate. The overall effect is very nourishing and replenishing for muscle tissue.
This is another highly nourishing blend that combines nine amino acids with citrulline malate, taurine, and coconut water. It comes in five sweet and refreshing flavors!
Have you been hearing the buzz about collagen lately? There's been a flood of new collagen products on the market promising to do everything from smoothing your wrinkles to giving you energy. The truth is that collagen is a very powerful supplement. While the body makes tons of collagen when we're young, collagen levels begin to dip drastically before we even reach age 20. While collagen is often talked about from a “vanity” perspective due to its role in keeping skin supple, the reality is that collagen is also important for keeping joints and muscles “young.”
Collagen can also help us to lose weight. A study from 2019 shows that collagen peptides can assist with reduction of body fat in overweight adults. Why does collagen help you lose weight? The mechanisms aren't totally clear right now. However, it likely has something to do with the way collagen peptides can create feelings of satisfaction that reduce cravings. The energy boost from collagen may also allow people to work out harder without pain.
There are some really great collagen supplements on the market today! Let's take a look at the solid ones that aren't just riding the fad.
Available in five flavors, this powder offers pure bovine, chicken, fish, and eggshell collagen without additives. It has thousands of positive reviews from happy customers who love stirring it into drinks. You're getting 16.7 g of collagen with the bonus of 15 g of protein per serving.
This chocolate formula impresses with its 10 g of protein to accompany the 11 g of collagen per serving you're getting. It features 100% bovine collagen.
Primal Harvest is a leading supplement brand, and one of their hottest selling items is their collagen powder. It's packed with types I, II, & III bovine collagen and has many potential benefits such as losing weight, building muscle and providing more energy.
Buying Guide for Choosing Post Workout Supplements to Lose Weight
Let's cover what you need to know before diving into the world of post workout supplements. There are just too many ineffective supplements out there to be casual about how you shop.
What to Look For
The good news is that you only have to worry about checking off a few key points to know you're getting a good supplement. I've put together a rundown of exactly what to look for. If you're not in the mood for detective work, you should know that all of the products I reviewed above already check every box on my need-to-know list.
The brand you buy from is almost as important as the specific supplement you choose. That's because established, transparent brands have already put years into developing quality methods for sourcing ingredients. I really want to stress that you should only be buying from brands that clearly list all ingredients right on the packaging. They should also be putting everything on display on their websites to allow you to make informed purchasing decisions.
Quality of Ingredients
Avoid filler! Yes, that is my two-word lesson for you when it comes to how to shop for trustworthy supplements. Keep in mind that some of the flavored powders out there will contain small amounts of flavoring or sweetener. This is completely justifiable because some people will only take supplements if they are enjoyable. However, you want the rest of the ingredient list to look very clean. This is exactly what you'll see if you dive into the individual products covered on my review list above.
Third-Party Tested Supplements
Good brands aren't hiding anything! That's why you'll see that they use third-party testing for potency and authenticity instead of keeping their lab results secret. Most of the good brands actually post the results right on their websites. However, you should at least be able to request a copy of the latest batch results even if you don't see a link to download them on a brand's website.
High Rating With Customer Reviews
This is something I always look for because I think that reviews provide great snapshots into the reality of products. Nothing tops real customer reviews. While some smaller brands might not have thousands of reviews, you still want to look for a decent number of positive reviews from customers who are satisfied.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let's cover the questions I always get from my clients whenever the topic of weight loss supplements comes up.
What should I take after a workout to lose weight?
It's not technically necessary to take anything after a workout to lose weight. However, post workout supplements containing whey protein isolate, creatine, amino acids, and collagen have been shown to boost weight loss and muscle gain in studies. The best ways to get these supplements can be through powders and capsules because you aren't adding unnecessary calories the way you would be with something like a protein bar.
Are post workout shakes good for weight loss?
It depends on what kind of shake you're having! I generally advise against shakes after workouts because I think they can add unnecessary calories, fat, and sugar that the average person doesn't need to recover from a workout. However, I love the idea of a post workout shake that you make yourself that contains nothing other than pure whey protein isolate, collagen, amino acids, L-carnitine, glutamine, or creatine. Stirring in your own powder gives you control over what you're actually consuming.
What should I eat after working out to lose belly fat?
You don't necessarily have to eat anything. If you do want to eat following a workout, I recommend meals and snacks full of lean protein. This can look like a hard-boiled egg, some boiled chicken, a salad with tuna, or cottage cheese. Taking supplements with glutamine following workouts has been linked with reductions in belly fat in some studies.
What should I drink after a workout to build muscle and lose fat?
Consider stirring some L-carnitine, glutamine, whey protein isolate, collagen, amino acid, or creatine powder into a glass of water if you want a supplement that will help you to build up muscle, lose fat, and recover faster without necessarily taking in lots of calories.
The Bottom Line
Post workout supplements come in many forms! I hope I've done a good job of outlining what are considered to be the best natural ingredients to supplement with following workouts if your goal is to lose weight, gain lean muscle, and recover quickly. All of them offer similar benefits as far as fueling your muscles to help you get your desired results. However, I encourage you to read through the ingredients using the links I provided for the “best of the best” in each category to get a feel for which one is the most compatible with your unique goals. I will say that I think you can get results using any of the options I shared as long as you're consistent.
Tips for Success from the RD
Post workout supplements are great. However, they aren't replacements for eating a balanced diet. You still need fuel for your workouts even when you're getting a “boost” from supplements that supercharge your body's fat-burning abilities. Stick with lean proteins, leafy greens, juicy fruits, and whole grains to feel your best without undoing all of the hard work you're doing in the gym!