There are a lot of really great recovery beverages out there, in my opinion. Unfortunately, I cannot offer a recommendation on whether or not recovery beverages are right for you or anyone else–that would be a question for a registered dietitian or physician.
I can say that it is very important to supply your body with plenty of nutrients following any bout of physical activity. It’s best that a person gets, at a minimum, a sufficient amount of protein and carbohydrates preferably within 30-60 minutes after the conclusion of any workout. Your body is best able to accept “recovery nutrients” in this time frame. For some general information, I think LIVESTRONG is a good place to start:
As far as recovery beverages go, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the recovery drinks we’re interested in are ones that are marketed as protein drinks. I can’t attest to the efficacy or content of any of these drink mixes, however I can say that getting an appropriate amount of fast absorbing protein (like whey) may have immediate benefits over consuming foods that have mainly slower absorbing proteins like casein. In this case, both proteins are complete proteins, containing all the essential amino acids, the difference is that whey protein can be utilized more quickly in the body than can casein protein. This is why many heavy lifters prefer to use whey supplements or fast-absorbing protein supplements immediately following a training session, and they may also use a slow absorbing protein supplement (one with casein, for example) before going to sleep. There are also a number of mixes sold that mix fast absorbing and slow absorbing proteins together in one package. The key, in theory, is supplying your body with a continuous, and appropriate amount of quality nutrients so that your body can recover. We can also address glycogen replinishment, but for that I would suspect that actual food would be better. Glycogen replinishment was addressed in the first article^^. Also see what LIVESTRONG has to say about post workout muscle recovery drinks: http://www.livestrong.com/article/332755-post-workout-muscle-recovery-dr…
Are recovery beverages necessary? No, I don’t think they are absolutely essential in order to supply your body with quality nutrients. However, they MAY have the potential to offer benefits as nutritional supplements to help your body get everything it needs for adequate recovery. To determine whether or not a particular recovery beverage might have a role in your diet, consider consulting a registered dietitian in your area or your family physican.
Generally speaking, for most people, it’s a good idea. Mostly because we have trouble getting the nutrients we need to fully recover from an intense workout. A recovery shake or smoothie can help until you get actual food into your body.
That being said, be sure to have a doctor, nutritionist, dietician, certified health coach, etc., go over sound nutritional practices for you based on your current health and training objectives.
Oh, and I do have a recovery smoothie that is berry based on intense workout days =)
“Necessary?” Generally speaking NO. I just sat in on a webinar on this very subject. The speaker was Nancy Clark a renowned sports nutritionist and author. The gist of the webinar was that in most (if not all) cases, an “engineered” recovery meal or snack (which would include manufactured recovery beverages) are NOT necessary. What is necessary (or at least highly recommended) in the case of high-intensity, or long endurance workouts or competitions is that some sort of a recovery snack or meal is taken in.
While not “necessary,” of course, what is important after a high-intensity workout or competition is that you intake a recovery snack or meal that does the job. As Ms. Clark recommended, a combination of a carbohydrate for replenishing the depleted glycogen stores, and protein for repair to the muscles. The bottom-line is that whatever recovery snack or meal that a person takes in is entirely up to them (it’s more a matter of taste, and budget) – whether it is a commercial recovery drink, manufactured recovery snack, or actual food intended to enhance recovery. What’s most important is that they intake something to aid in recovery from their high-intensity workout.
I hope this helps.