I've been recommending John Berardi's formula for post-workout nutrition for years, ever since he first introduced his research at T-Nation. Now his ideas are reaching into the mainstream of sports physiology with a recent article published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Fortunately for us, it's an open source journal.
Here is the abstract:
See the whole (provisional) article here as a PDF.
Recovery from a cycling time trial is enhanced with carbohydrate-protein supplementation vs. isoenergetic carbohydrate supplementation.
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2008, 5:24doi:10.1186/1550-2783-5-24Published: 24 December 2008
In this study we assessed whether a liquid carbohydrate-protein (C+P) supplement (0.8g/kg C; 0.4g/kg P) ingested early during recovery from a cycling time trial could enhance a subsequent 60 min effort on the same day vs. an isoenergetic liquid carbohydrate (CHO) supplement (1.2g/kg).
Two hours after a standardized breakfast, 15 trained male cyclists completed a time trial in which they cycled as far as they could in 60 min (AMex) using a Computrainer indoor trainer. Following AMex, subjects ingested either C+P, or CHO at 10, 60 and 120 min, followed by a standardized meal at 4h post exercise. At 6 h post AMex subjects repeated the time trial (PMex).
There was a significant reduction in performance for both groups in PMex versus AMex. However, performance and power decreases between PMex and AMex were significantly greater (p<0.05)>
Under these experimental conditions, liquid C+P ingestion immediately after exercise increases fat oxidation, increases recovery, and improves subsequent same day, 60 min efforts relative to isoenergetic CHO ingestion.
So what does any of this mean? Well, Berardi has been recommending a specific formula for the post-workout feed for years - 0.8g/kg C; 0.4g/kg P - which means that for each kilogram of body weight (pounds divided by 2.2), we need .8 grams of carbohydrates and .4 grams of protein.
That's the simple version.
The more complex version is that we want fast acting carbohydrates that can raise insulin levels significantly and quickly. Further, we want easily and quickly digested protein sources so that the insulin increase can force those amino acids into the muscle where they can begin the healing process following the workout.
For carbs, the ideal source is a mixture of dextrose and maltodextrin. While maltodextrin is generally thought to be low-glycemic, it is actually high insulinemic (it boosts insulin levels sharply), making it ideal for post-workout nutrition. For protein, whey is the standard source, but whey-protein hydrolysate with BCCAs is the better option, although it tastes like shoes.
While I am sure there are various products on the market that fit this profile, only one was developed by Dr. John Berardi with the exact nutrient profile and the ideal sources of both carbs and proteins, Biotest's Surge.
I make my own mixture of plain whey, BCAAs, and dextrose - I add unsweetened Kool Aid for flavor. So I while I do endorse Surge, I also realize a lot of people don't want to spend that kind of money on a recovery drink.