Recovery Drinks - 4:1 Carb / Protein Ratio

I prefer chocolate milk when I can, because it really does seem to be the cheapest option, but I’ve found Mike’s Mix to be the cheapest per serving that I can carry in a shaker bottle with me:

That said I’m looking into starting to just combine protein powder and sports drink powder, because my one complaint with MIke’s Mix is that I generally need more electrolytes post ride (well, constantly, but that includes post-ride).

The recovery drinks have so much sugar in them. Is that good or bad? I typically try and limit my sugar intake when I’m off the bike.

SISCP25 gives you 25% off at SIS.

My current setup is:

  1. post evening workout, SIS Overnight
  2. post day workout, SIS Rego (or a few single sachets of Skratch recover I have floating around)
  3. breakfast or mid morning snack at work when I’m avoiding the bad food at work - Gold 100 or something

I found (and shared in a thread) a 40% off coupon, which makes myprotein about 1/2 the cost of SIS.

So longertern, I’m going to have just myprotein (not sure which one of theirs yet), and mix in my own carbs if it’s a daytime workout, and do just protein if it’s a night workout that finishes 8pm+. I went a bit nuts recently, as training a lot and short on time. If money no object, then I would SIS Overnight + Rego as my two options.

I’ve usually mixed my own whey protein isolate w/ whatever else (carb drink mix) to get a 3:1 ratio. At Interbike the folks @ Tailwind Nutrition (4:1 ratio) gave me a LOT of their recovery mix – it uses rice protein as opposed to soy (people have issues with this), pea (takes like gross), hemp (kind’ve low on BCAAs) or whey (a no-no if you’re lactose intolerant or a vegan).

I don’t have a sensitive stomach and I’m ok with exploiting animals so whey did me just fine. But since I’m a quest for a decent placement @ DK200 and BWR I figured why not experiment a bit. I found that the stuff from Tailwind (chocolate… skip the vanilla) seemed to do really well with me – at the very least it’s not worse than any whey mix I’ve tried (home brew or otherwise). Added bonus: the GF likes it because I toot less.

I just ran out of Tailwind and started trying some Vegan Recoverite (Hammer Nutrition 3:1 ratio) – same deal: was given a bunch of samples @ CABDA West. I don’t have enough to really “test” it but I can say this definitively: 1. VEGAN CHOCOLATE TASTES LIKE GROSS; 2. the orange-vanilla is actually pretty ok; 3. the texture of the pea protein is definitely evident.

Hope this helps.

If going for weight loss does it still make sense to do a 4:1 carb/protein ratio? I currently don’t do any recovery drinks (or really anything different than normal eating) after a workout and have lost a good bit of weight. However lately I have felt that I am exhausted part way through rides that I know I should be able to do, so I am thinking it is because I am not recovering enough. From a recent podcast I know I need to start doing a protein drink at a minimum, and a recovery drink sounds like a good idea to both get protein as well as energy (carbs), but I worry with a 4:1 ratio that it is a lot of carbs that would stall my weight loss. Does it make sense to go with say a 2:1 ratio if weight loss is a concern or do the benefits of a 4:1 ratio override that?

Not a drink, but I enjoy a recovery yogurt. I mix 175g of 0% Greek yogurt, 50g Sultana raisins, and 1 table spoon of bourbon barrel aged maple syrup. It’s about a 3:1 ratio and 298 calories, 58.5g of carbs, 18.3g of protein. I suppose I could double up the maple syrup to get closer to 4:1. It’s a bit of a more satisfying small meal if the end of the workout falls in between reasonable main meal times.


The goal of the recovery drink is to restore muscle glycogen and prepare you for your next workout. Even if you are worried about the total number of carbs you consume in a day, I really don’t think you should worry about the carbs consumed in support of that workout, because they are either burned pretty much immediately (if consumed during the workout) or sent straight to the muscles’ glycogen stores (recovery drink).

I actually think that if you are otherwise aiming to lower your carb intake, and eat at a caloric deficit, a maximally effective recovery drink is even more important, because it will be the only time of the day that your body will be prepared to shunt them into the muscles. The rest of the day, between the lower carb intake and overall reduced calories, your body will not be inclined to “save them for a rainy day” and will instead burn them immediately.

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I used muscle milk, now I use simple low fat chocolate milk, it works great! Pour your self a glass and drink.

+1 Recoverite

I was using GNC whey protein (3:1 ratio) for years. They changed their flavoring formulation (tastes awful; lots of negative reviews) so I switched to Hammer Nutrition’s Recoverite (also 3:1) about 2 years ago. I don’t know if there is any real testing comparing 4:1 to 3:1 formulations (@ambermalika - have you seen any?), but there is certainly a lot of empirical evidence to support that 3:1 works (10s of thousands of endurance athletes over 20 years have been using Hammer’s Recoverite).

The only thing that I have read about why choose 4:1 (or greater) vs 3:1 is that carbs are less expensive to manufacture than protein and 3:1 is what is needed, minimally, for the body to absorb the protein.

@tofel Regarding Casein: following Coach Chad’s comment in podcast #187 about consuming Casein in the evening prior to bedtime due to its slow overnight absorption, I posted a thread asking other TR Forum users if they used it. The feedback was not very positive . . .


Two comments on pricing:

  1. I believe that the relative comparison you should do when comparing products is $/gm of protein, regardless of whether you consume your recovery drink in powder form, liquid (e.g. chocolate milk) or home made. Most of us are concerned about the amount of protein we consume during the day, including both during recovery and the remainder of the day. Carbs are easy and inexpensive to meet your needs; protein is not.

  2. Nutrition companies LOVE cycling clubs and provide large discounts to its members. Our 200 person club has had a multi-year relationship with Hammer Nutrition. While I can’t quote the discount here, suffice it to say that what most of us have saved on Hammer product pays for our club membership many times over during a year. So, if you belong to a cycling club, you should inquire. If not, might want to seek out the clubs in your area to see what their sponsorship benefits are (of course, in addition to all of the other benefits of joining a club).

Shelf stable chocolate milk

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Since I have protein powder and sports drink powder handy, I went ahead and did the math to figure out what I’d need to get a 4:1 ratio with “about” 10g of protein. I was really happy with how inexpensive Mike’s Mix is, but whey + sports powder is right about half the price - and includes a lot more sodium, which is a bonus as far as I’m concerned.

Exactly what I take after a race, or hard training session away form home.

So I’ve seen in a number of places including this forum optimal protein intake is 20-30g so would an “optimal” post ride shake be say 25g of whey protein and 100g of carbs like say maltodextrin? (seems like a lot of sugar!)

Hammer Recoverite is closer to 3:1 with 66g carbohydrate (Maltodextrin) and 20g protein (Whey) per serving. They call it “complex carbohydrates” and “ Precisely formulated to restore muscle glycogen, help rebuild muscle tissue, and reduced post exercise soreness”. They also add L-glutamine, L-carnosine and electrolytes.

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Endurox R4 (orange flavor) for me. It actually tastes good.

Or if I don’t have any available I’ll stop in a gas station for a chocolate milk and mix itwith a huge iced black coffee.

I’ve tried Recoverite, Skratch Labs, FE Ultragen, and currently Endurox R4. I tend to prefer chocolate flavor and usually mix with almond milk. The best tasting is Skratch but also the most expensive and smallest packaging. Endurox R4 and Recoverite also tastes very good. I found Ultragen had a bit of a metallic taste that I didn’t like. I’m also starting to experiment with making my own with maltodextrin and whey.

@MI-XC thanks! Thanks, I’m sure for my “massive” workouts anything in that range will do. I’m going to make my own. I just bought a 25kg bag of maltodextrin off Amazon and I’ll mix it with some whey powder

Admittedly my contribution is a high calorie option, but it’s delicious, and it works for me. I usually limit it to big time workouts (1000cal+) and I certainly don’t add dextrose unless it’s at least an hour or more of intensity. For stuff like Pettit, I’ll just drink tart cherry juice and eat my normal breakfast which has pretty good protein. Stolen from Paleo Diet for Athletes, and modified:

8oz OJ
8oz tart cherry juice (usually from concentrate)
1 medium banana
1 scoop vanilla whey protein isolate
(Optional: additional TBSP of dextrose, I do 1 per hour of intensity, tempo plus)
Dash of salt


450 cal without added sugar. Each additional TBSP of dextrose is +35 cal. Basic recipe is about 3:1 ratio. Add two scoops of dextrose and you’re close to 4:1.

Reduce the juice by half or drop the banana and do a half scoop of protein powder and you’re under 300 cal and 4:1.

I may play around with chocolate milk and/or Recoverite for a lower cal option, but I generally like real food options as much as possible. I used EnduroxR4 for a long time, but I don’t like paying that much for stuff and again like real food as able.

Sis recovery is 1:1 carbs to protein so I’m surprised it keeps getting brought up.