Not since “Body For Life” has there been a diet and exercise program as popular as P90X. If you have watched the P90X videos you've probably heard about the recovery drink. After I had previously wrote a Shakeology review I became interested in the P90X results and recovery formula, which is one of the P90X supplements sold on the Beachbody website. Is it better than other health and fitness shakes? I write these words as someone who has no vested interest in Beachbody, P90X or any P90X supplements or products so that you have the facts you need to make a decision that is right for you.
Basically the P90X recovery drink is a meal replacement shake in the sense that it is to be used after exercise as a more convenient alternative to eating food. Because it's a liquid, in theory, the nutrients might be absorbed quicker, fostering faster replenishment of muscle and liver glycogen (carbohydrate reserves) and superior muscle protein repair. This, so the logic goes, theory might help people recover faster after exercise.
P90X Recovery Drink Ingredients
2 scoops (60 grams/about 2 oz) has 220 calories
|Total fat||2 g 3% DV|
|Saturated fat||0.5 g 2.5 DV|
|Cholesterol||30 mg 10% DV|
|Sodium||150 mg 6% DV|
|Potassium||147 mg 4% DV|
|Total carbohydrate||39 g 13% DV|
|Dietary fiber||<1 g 3% DV|
|Vitamin B 12||30%|
|L Arginine||700 mg|
|L Glutamine||500 mg|
|Creatine (creatine monohydrate)||500 mg|
The calories, fat and saturated fat are similar to other fitness and recovery drinks.
Most of the vitamins and minerals in the P90X Recovery Drink are found in other fitness shakes so I want to focus on just a few of the more interesting ingredients.
Protein. The recovery shake only has 10 grams of protein. That's not much considering the recovery drink is being marketed to people who strength train. Even Ensure has more protein than the P90X drink.
To stimulate muscle protein synthesis – which is needed for muscle recovery – various studies find that anywhere from 20-60 grams of protein may be required after exercise. Using 10 grams might als0 work, but I suspect not as well – especially for those engaged in intense strength training.
Vitamin C. Why is there so much vitamin C in the P90X drink? The label says there is 750% of the RDA for vitamin C. I can only think of 3 reasons why so much vitamin C would be in a health drink:
1. vitamin C is an antioxidant
2. to help immunity which might be weakened by too much exercise
3. to decrease muscle soreness
While vitamin C is an antioxidant, such things work best when they are used in conjunction with other antioxidants. As for helping immunity, vitamin C might do this but there is no good proof of it in healthy people.
Can vitamin C reduce muscle soreness? This is a big claim that made by Beachbody when they market this product. There is some questionable research on this topic but most research finds vitamin C doesn't help DOMS. I see no good scientific proof that the P90X drink reduces muscle soreness (DOMS).
On what research does Beachbody base their claim that their recovery drink reduces muscle soreness?
The recovery drink also contains 500% of the RDA for vitamin E. Again I have to ask the question why? Vitamin E is an antioxidant but where is the proof that 500 % of the RDA does anything special? Also, what type of Vitamin E does it contain? It's probably alpha tocopherol since that's the most plentiful in the body but the other types help us also.
Notice that the P90X drink nutrition label does not tell us the actual amounts of vitamins and minerals. Rather we are only told the percentage of RDA of each nutrient. That's odd; Every nutrition label I've ever seen gave both the amount AND the percent of RDA.
Why does the P90X recovery drink contain arginine? If you ask most fitness people they'll tell you arginine improves blood flow. This is supposed to help muscle recovery and repair and is the reason that arginine is the principle ingredient in those nitric oxide supplements you may have heard of.
While this logic kind of makes sense, here are some facts about arginine that nobody wants you to know:
- Arginine is a non-essential amino acid. Our bodies make this stuff.
- Nonessential amino acids do not help build muscle like essential amino acids do
Arginine plus the supplement HMB (which the P90X recovery drink doesn't have), might help reduce muscle loss in people who have HIV and AIDS.
But, as for healthy people who workout…the combo doesn't work.
Force factor has arginine also. Check out that review for more insights.
Also when we are speaking about increasing muscle mass in those with HIV and AIDS, 14 grams of arginine was used successfully in research. The P90X recovery drink only has a piddly 700 mg (less than 1 gram).
Here is the big reason why you dont need arginine. The research on arginine supplements stems mostly from its use in 2 groups of people:
1. Men who have erection problems
2. People who have heart disease
Nitric oxide is related to how Viagra works. See my review on erection supplements for more info.
If this is so – and it is – why is arginine in a recovery drink that's marketed to healthy people? Does that make sense? It doesn't to me.
Now let's shed light on glutamine. The P90X recovery drink contains 500 mg of glutamine. There is indeed research on glutamine – but not on who you think…
Glutamine is also a non essential amino acid – so you and I make it.
Glutamine is often said to help people recover from intense stress. Truth be told, glutamine does appear to do this. Glutamine has been shown to help recovery in:
Much of the glutamine research also use intravenous glutamine – not glutamine supplements. IV glutamine is not the same as an orally taken glutamine supplement.
But what about weight lifters and bodybuilders? They need glutamine right? Bodybuilding magazines want you to think so but I can't find any published peer reviewed evidence that glutamine supplements help recovery healthy people or bodybuilders or weight lifters. Research, so far, finds that glutamine supplements do NOT help weight lifters.
Glutamine supplements might improve immune systems in hard core aerobic athletes (think Lance Armstrong). But the amount is much more than is in the P90X recovery drink.
The amount of glutamine used in strength training research has been 3 grams a day -which is more than the 1/2 gram that's in the P90X recovery drink. Taking 3 grams doesn't work either – so why does Beachbody think 500 mg will work?
For more insights read my glutamine review.
So, if the glutamine research is mostly on sick people and to a lesser extent on elite, aerobic athletes, why is glutamine in a recovery drink marketed to healthy people who probably are not running the Iron Man Triathlon?
When it comes to muscle building supplements creatine is king of the mountain – and that's why it's in the P90X recovery drink. The recovery drink only has 1/2 gram of creatine per serving. That's not as much as a bodybuilder might take (3 – 5 grams is the traditional “maintenance” dose). Still, it's possible that muscle creatine levels would be depleted after exercise so the addition of creatine does make some sense.
Remember that that creatine will cause you to gain weight. It's not muscle – its water. Water weight retention is the most consistent side effect of creatine supplements.
The recovery drink uses creatine monohydrate and that's good. Creatine monohydrate is the type that has been used in 99% of creatine studies over the last 30 years.
So do you need the P90X recovery formula? When I checked, the recovery drink cost about $50 a month. That's a lot to pay for what is basically a creatine supplement with a little carbs and protein tossed in.
What do you think?