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Quite often, when an industry leader like Optimum Nutrition brings out a new product, they make sure everyone knows about it through fanfare, bells, and whistles. However, for some reason, Optimum were strangely quiet with the release of their recovery and post workout protein, 2:1:1 Recovery. The funny thing is, it’s not because 2:1:1 is a bad product. It is in fact one of the best supplements of 2014, and quite possibly the most underrated product in the whole Optimum line-up.

2:1:1 Recovery Highlights

  • Well researched recovery protein formula
  • Completely complementary ingredients including hydrolysed whey, casein, and egg protein.
  • Quite possibly the best product in its class

2:1:1 Recovery Ingredients

When it comes to recovery, manufacturers can make their products as simple or as complicated as they want. 2:1:1 Recovery falls somewhere in between. It is essentially a carbohydrate and protein blend in a 2:1 ratio. However, it has a little more to it than just that. The carbohydrate matrix consists of 2 parts maltodextrin and waxy maize starch, 1 part sucrose, and 1 part fructose. The protein matrix contains 2 parts hydrolysed whey, 1 part micellar casein, and 1 part egg albumin. Finally, there is a BCAA matrix containing 2 parts leucine, 1 part isoleucine, and 1 part valine. With all these 2:1:1 ratios, it’s not hard to see where the name “2:1:1 Recovery” comes from.

Each 57g scoop of 2:1:1 Recovery contains 210 calories, 17 g protein, 35 g carbs (18g of which are sugars), and 0 fat. But let’s face it, more likely than not, the average athlete will be using from 1.5 to 2 scoops per serve.

2:1:1 Recovery Effectiveness & Pros

With the known importance of the anabolic window, it is therefore imperative that you use the best possible combination of nutrients at this time to maximise recovery and muscle growth. This is where 2:1:1 really shines. Its high carbohydrate content with a strong focus on fast digesting carbs and sugars is designed to replenish muscle glycogen. The protein blend, which may seem unusual, is actually based on some solid scientific research. Hydrolysed whey is really the epitome of protein technology. It is much more rapidly absorbed than ordinary whey protein (Morifuji et al, 2010), meaning it can get to your muscles when it is needed most. However, simply flooding your body with amino acids for a short burst isn’t enough. Another study has found that blending whey with slower digesting and complementary proteins from alternative sources yield further benefits for muscle building (Reidy et al, 2013). That’s where the casein and egg protein come in. Finally, there are the added free-form BCAAs. There are countless studies touting the benefits of BCAAs, namely leucine in their ability to promote muscle protein synthesis (Koopman et al, 2004) and recovery. In short, the formula for 2:1:1 is bullet proof because Optimum have done their homework.

The high carb and calorie density for this product makes it ideal for anyone who is in their bulking phase. For these people, they can look at it as a purpose designed post workout mass gainer. For extra performance boosts, stack 2:1:1 with Optimum Micronized Creatine. 2:1:1’s insulin spiking ingredients will significantly improve the absorption of creatine.

Fast recovery means being able to train harder and more frequently. This in turn leads to maximum gains and improved performance. However, the average gym-goer overlooks this crucial step, which leads to a general lack of good recovery formulae on the market. As such, this reviewer is particularly glad to see the arrival of 2:1:1 Recovery, which is by far, the best and most effective recovery product to date. After using this product, the reviewer experienced significantly less muscle soreness and improved recovery that has not currently been surpassed by other products in the same category.

2:1:1 Recovery Negatives & Cons

Let’s cut straight to it, 2:1:1 is not for everyone. If you are a physique athlete doing his contest prep, the 70 g carbs and 420 calories from a full two scoops would make your stomach churn. For these people, something like Optimum Platinum Hydrobuilder would be a more sensible choice. Instead, 2:1:1 is a speciality product that targets those who care about performance, recovery, and only those things. Its hard hitting formulation makes no compromises and is designed to get the job done, full stop.

A criticism for 2:1:1 is that it is only available in a 1.6 Kg tub. If you’re a big fella and use two scoops per session, you will find yourself running out after about 14 training sessions. A bigger economy tub would be much welcomed, especially for such a great product that lends itself to repurchasing.

2:1:1 Recovery Taste & Mixability

Because of its high sugar content, 2:1:1 does not use a lot of artificial sweetener. Instead, its flavour tastes rich and natural, with no aftertaste. It is only available in chocolate and vanilla, and is unlikely to see more flavour additions. Out of the two flavours, chocolate would have to be the pick. It has been described by some as “liquid cake”.

Its texture is more on the thicker side, while mixability is not completely smooth. This is undoubtedly due to its casein and waxy maize content which are two ingredients that are notoriously hard to work with. Regardless, 2:1:1 is by no means clumpy or gluggy.

If you’re not one for a thick sweet shake, we recommend using more water than indicated.

2:1:1 Recovery Verdict

When it comes to purpose designed recovery proteins, your choices are quite limited. However, if you are serious about your recovery and training, you can thank your lucky stars that Optimum have brought out this quiet hero. 2:1:1 Recovery is simply the best recovery protein on the market and does what it is designed to do. If you’re after a 100% uncompromised recovery formula, you simply cannot go past Optimum Nutrition 2:1:1 Recovery!

Koopman et al (2004), Combined ingestion of protein and free leucine with carbohydrate increases postexercise muscle protein synthesis in vivo in male subjects. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 288(4): E645-53
Morifuji et al (2010), Comparison of different sources and degrees of hydrolysis of dietary protein: effect on plasma amino acids, dipeptides, and insulin responses in human subjects. J Agric Food Chem, 58(15): 8788-8797
Reidy et al (2013), Protein blend ingestion following resistance exercise promotes human muscle protein synthesis. J Nutr, 143(4): 410-6

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