Category Archives: Health

Beginners Guide for Body building With Supplements

unduhan-39If you’re new to bodybuilding or just want to gain an edge during your workouts, then supplementation is a no-brainer. With so many to choose from, it’s easy to become paralyzed by all the types, doses, companies, and, not to mention, promises. What’s a newbie to do?

It’s time to learn the basics. Here’s an uncomplicated beginner’s guide to what you need to get started. After a while you may experiment with others or simply stick to the ones listed here. But wherever your training journey takes you, rest assured that these make up the foundation of any healthy supplement plan.

First, some wise words of advice. The term supplement is roughly defined as “in addition to” not “in place of.” You should adhere to a balanced, healthy diet with ample supplies of protein, complex carbohydrate and fiber, and healthy fats. Without a solid, real food foundation in place, all the supplementation in the world won’t get you to your goals any faster. Eat first, then supplement.

1. WHEY PROTEIN

For the past decade or two, whey protein has established itself as the cornerstone to any supplement plan. Chock full of amino acids, it’s especially plentiful of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, isoleucine and valine. The BCAAs are vital in the protein synthesis process required to build new muscle tissue – especially leucine.

Used as a staple for pre and post workout nutrition, whey protein is a fast acting protein which is absorbed quickly due to its high filtration processing and small molecular make-up. It’s readily available to starving muscle cells when taken after a hard training session.

When and How Much?

The prime times to use whey protein powder are post workout and at other times when getting in a whole food meal proves difficult – such as after work and prior to your workout. Another critical time is for those who train first thing in the morning and don’t want any amount of solid food in their stomach for a lengthy digestion. Whey, with its fast digestion, fits that criterion quite nicely.

For most gym-goers, a single dose post workout could include anywhere from 20 to 30 grams per serving. If you are a heavier trainer who weighs north of 200 pounds, a slightly higher amount may be needed such as 40 grams.

2. CREATINE

The research on this wonder supplement continues to grow. No longer a freshman, creatine has affixed itself as the real deal. Supplement manufacturers have been scrambling for years to develop the “next creatine” but are still champing at the bit in the lab. Found as a naturally occurring substance in foods such as fish and steak, creatine works by helping to replenish adenosine triphosphate (ATP) stores during bouts of intense training.

It does this by “superhydrating” muscle cells full of fluid so other processes can take place as well like protein synthesis. This, in turn, will increase the rate of recovery between and during workouts. Initially, the bodyweight gained is mostly water, but over time your body will build new muscle easier and faster.

When and How Much?

There are two schools of thought regarding how much creatine to take. Originally, when it was new to the market, it was thought that you needed to load for five or so days in order for it to completely saturate your muscle tissue. This led to fast water weight gain and a positive sense of accomplishment.

Related: Should You Take Creatine Pre or Post Workout?

However, some experienced stomach pains and other gastrointestinal (GI) tract issues due to the amount taken daily. As time went on and more research was done, and it is now recommended that starting with a maintenance dose yields the same end results.1 Go with 3 to 5 grams pre and post workout for best results.

3. FISH OIL

Fish oil may not seem like a “sexy” choice for a supplement, but its benefits are long-term and vital to a healthy body. High in the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), fish oil is not necessarily an acutely effective supplement. Its main benefit has been found in reducing inflammation in the body.

So what, you say? Inflammation has been shown to be the instigator of myriad health problems including heart disease. For training purposes, inflammation can prevent the body from properly utilizing macro and micronutrients and hinder performance and recovery from training.

When and How Much?

With fish oil, taking in more isn’t a good thing as too much can lead to a higher risk of stroke. A moderate supplementation plan is the best route since you are using it more as a preventative measure versus an acute performance supplement. 2 to 3 grams per day is the normal recommended amount taken with a meal. Other forms of healthy oil, like krill oil, are available as well if you find fish oil gives you an unwanted aftertaste.

4. MULTIVITAMIN/MINERAL

Another “boring” but necessary supplement is the tried and true multivitamin/mineral. Although recent research has blasted its efficacy, the benefits of getting certain amounts of these vital micronutrients prove essential for optimal health.2 These nutrients are necessary for countless bodily processes and overall balance. For example, zinc is used in tissue (muscle) repair and magnesium helps the body get appropriate rest.

Why wouldn’t you want a little insurance since no one’s diet is perfect day-in and day-out?

When and How Much?

A simple name brand multivitamin/mineral supplement will do just fine. One with 100% of most vitamins and minerals listed is your best bet. Mega-doses don’t do much in the way of getting any healthier.

Hype or Help The Essential Supplementation

Let’s face it, the times are changing in the fitness and nutrition industry. Broscience, pseudoscience, and anecdotal lore are giving way to the white lab coats and data driven decisions.

So to search for new, effective supplements, we should turn to the scientists.

Related: Are BCAAs Effective? See What the Science Says

The mammalian target of rapamyocin (mTOR) is what all skeletal muscle scientists dream about. Why? It’s one of the key components of turning training into lean muscle tissue. If we boil it down to the basics, mTOR activation = muscle growth* and there is a newer supplement being utilized because it is a known activator of mTOR.

THE RESEARCH ON PHOSPHATIDIC ACID

Anytime you start looking at new supplements, you can actually use muscle cells, grow them in a lab, and give them the supplement and see how they respond. One of the first studies done on PA showed that giving muscle cells did increase the “grow” signal for muscles.2

For scientists, seeing a mechanism is a good sign that it might be something worth pursuing, and pursue it they did.

In a small study of well-trained men, the people who took 750 mg of PA for 8 weeks saw a 3.4% greater increase in their strength in the back squat and 2.5% greater increases in lean body mass than the subjects who didn’t take it.

Now 3% might not seem like a lot, but if you are squatting in the 300s, that is at least a 9 pound increase more than the the placebo and man, I would love an extra 9 pounds on my back squat. Additionally, an extra 2.5% of lean body mass might end up being around 2-3 extra pounds of lean mass, which is also something I would happily accept3.

You would think one study would be enough, but replication is critical. A follow-up study in 28 people done using the same dosage above (750 mg/day) showed that PA increased muscle size and lean body mass4.

So it does look like PA works, not only when scientists pump their pipettes, but also in normal people pumping the iron.

IS PHOSPHATIDIC ACI D SAFE?

Now I know most of us would sacrifice a lot of things (sleep, work, … maybe even dare I say women) in the name of gains, but we should probably also see if this thing is safe.

Well, it turns out that phosphatidic acid at efficacious doses, around 750 mg/day, is safe in young, healthy males5.

Phew, dodged a bullet there.

POTENTIAL PITFALLS

There is a mentality that more is better when it comes to muscle growth. More training, more food, more supplementation.  Specifically, people will often take multiple supplements that are “designed” to elicit muscle growth, assuming they will have additive effects.

Interestingly it appears that PA may actually have some interactions with whey proteinsupplements. In a study done with rats, taking whey protein and PA alone lead to increases in muscle protein synthesis but using them together actually reduced the effect of both, indicating they may interfere with each other6.

Now there are some definite caveats to this study as it was only demonstrating acute muscle protein synthesis in rats. And as we know, muscle protein synthesis is not a great indicator of long term muscle growth.

Branched Chain Amino Acids

Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are essential amino acids (meaning our body does not create them) that contain an aliphatic (branched) side-chain.

There are three BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids are key players in the regulation of muscle mass and must be consumed through your diet.

One interesting aspect of BCAAs is their metabolism in the human body. The breakdown of BCAAs is regulated through an enzyme complex known as the branched chain amino acid dehydrogenase complex, which we are going to shorten to something more manageable and call it BDC.

To take biochemistry from test tube to muscles, this means that when we have higher levels of BDC around, more BCAAs are broken down.

Levels of BDC in the human body are increased when we exercise, indicating that exercise promotes breakdown of BCAAs.

Another important aspect of this complex (which we will discuss later in this article) is that when the metabolites of BCAAs are present (i.e. the products of the breakdown), they inhibit the BDC complex. Which means if you have a lot of BCAA breakdown products around you preserve the currently available amino acids.

THE ANTI-FATIGUE HYPOTHESIS: BATTLING TRYPTOPHAN

Before we dive into the individual BCAAs and their functions, we need to cover one aspect of the collective group of BCAAs, their proposed ability to reduce fatigue.

There is a hypothesis about fatigue during training, it is called the central hypothesis of fatigue.

The Central Hypothesis of Fatigue states that elevated levels of serotonin in the brain caused by increased levels of tryptophan (tryptophan is converted to serotonin) during exercise induces fatigue.

BCAAs are thought to prevent this because they compete for the same transporter into the brain. So the hypothesis is that if you increase your BCAAs in the blood by supplementation, you prevent tryptophan uptake and thus reduce fatigue.

Now this sounds great as a biochemical and physiological theory. . . but unfortunately the research hasn’t created any promising results and any anti-fatigue effects of BCAAs by reducing “Central Fatigue” appear to be minimal if any.

VALINE: GLUCOSE CREATION

Valine is the least researched or well understood of the 3 BCAAs, and as such the currently known biological effects of it are minimal.

Valine is a glucogenic amino acid, meaning it can create and/or be converted into glucose1,2. The methyl carbons of valine can be utilized to produce glucose and ultimately glycogen.

This process of valine oxidation for glucose is increased in skeletal muscle following injury, which suggests that consuming extra valine in times of muscle injury (i.e. heavy training) might be beneficial for muscle recovery. Unfortunately for valine, it is far less effective at this than Leucine (a theme that repeats itself).

What is The Supplements You Should Be Taking

Whey protein, creatine, beta-alanine, caffeine, fish oil, vitamin D. . .  these supplements are the poster boys for places like GNC and online supplement retailers.

They are well known, effective, and are beneficial for most hard-training, health-minded individuals.

While we all love these popular supplements, there are some less well-known supplements that appear to be just as effective as the big hitters above.

Interestingly, a lot of these newer supplements appear to modulate your neurotransmitters and can be considered “nootropics”.

1. GLYCINE

Glycine is an underappreciated amino acid, perhaps because it is the smallest and not one of the sexy BCAA’s. However, it can serve as a neurotransmitter and supplemental glycine has been shown to be effective for improving sleep.

Glycine appears to be superior to nighttime carbohydrates, and even magnesium, for improving sleep quality. Did that blow your mind? It blew mine when I first read through the studies.

Most studies show that low doses of glycine appear to be the most beneficial. In humans who reported poor sleep, consuming 3 grams of glycine before bedtime improved their sleep, reduced daytime sleepiness, and improved performance of memory recognition tasks1.

Related: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Bodybuilding Supplements

In a double-blind cross-over study, 3 grams of glycine before bed improved fatigue and “peppiness” the morning following supplementation2. I know I would benefit from more morning “peppiness”.

Based on what we know at the current moment, it appears that 3 grams is the “magic dose” as a third study demonstrated that 3 grams of pre-bed glycine improved sleep and reduced fatigue and daytime sleepiness3.

2. TYROSINE

L-tyrosine, another amino acid, can be categorized as a nootropic. L-tyrosine primarily has effects on stress, well-being, working memory, and even cognitive function. Much like glycine, many of the benefits of L-Tyrosine have been repeated across several studies and it appears to be a safe supplement.

L-tyrosine works primarily by being a precursor to several neurotransmitters: dopamine, noradrenaline, and adrenaline.  In a group of young men, 2 grams of tyrosine was able to reduce stress and fatigue and improved cognitive performance.4

This has been repeated under different forms of stress where tyrosine prevented decline in cognitive performance during periods of sleep-deprivation (i.e. shift work or long hours of being on call as a health care worker)5.

Tyrosine has also been tested in a couple of the most unique but bizarre supplement studies (science does some wacky, but really interesting stuff sometimes).

Supplementing with tyrosine has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood after exposure to intense, prolonged cold6.  In another cold-exposure study, tyrosine supplementation reverse the “brain fog” that is observed under extreme cold exposure7.

Currently, it looks like the most effective doses ranges from about 1 grams to 2 grams and about an hour before an event seems to maximize the effectiveness of it.

3. ASHWAGANDHA

Ashwaganhda is commonly referred to as an “adaptogen”. It is a popular herb used in aryuvedic medicine and is typically used to reduce anxiety and stress, as well as alleviate insomnia. One of the lesser known features of ashwagandha is its effect on physical performance, specifically power output.

There are several studies to support the claims of ashwagandha as an anti-anxiety supplement and that it may be a helpful way to reduce stress during stress periods. In one study, ashwaganha was 77% more effective at reducing anxiety than a placebo8. In a group of people with moderate to severe anxiety, ashwagandha was 85% more effective than the placebo group9.

Based on the data we have right now it looks like ashwagandha is a pretty effective natural anti-anxiety supplement.

Now, these studies sort of knocked my socks off. I was not expecting these results. I guess the beauty of science is you learn things that often surprise you.

Supplementing with Ashwagandha has been shown in a couple different studies to improve velocity, power, VO2 max, and small increases in muscle size and strength10,11. I am guessing these effects are secondary to it reducing stress. Regardless of the exact mechanisms, it is really interesting!

4) GREEN TEA EXTRACT

When you look at the research, green tea is like the magical cure to everything. I am only half joking on that point. It displays a ton of really interesting properties and has motivated me to start drinking a little more of it.

When we really boil it down, the main effective ingredient in green tea appears to be a chemical we will refer to as EGCG.  Now let us begin the trek through what green tea has been shown to do.

Tips for Building muscle

Building muscle is generally the main motivation for getting into the gym in the first place.

Whether it’s to look better, develop more confidence, or to gain strength for preseason football training, the desired outcome is the same, more muscle and less fat.

Train for long enough and it becomes apparent that the key stimulus for unlocking serious muscle gains is to progressively increase the level of the intensity of your workouts.

All too frequently, guys will grab a training program, get into a pattern, and then flat line because their intensity doesn’t change.

There’s simply no substitute for increasing training intensity to spark continuous growth. Progressive resistance is the name of the game and without it you can forget about expanding those shirtsleeves.

While devoted trainees pound protein and carbs pre and post workout, a crucial step has unwittingly been missed. The intake of nutrients during training, intra-workout nutrition.

Fresh muscle gains have been the biggest casualty.

Smart trainees have finally caught on, but are they doing it right?

For those who have been neglecting intra-workout nutrition entirely, pay very close attention, this article will unlock the gains you’ve been missing.

MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT INTRAWORKOUT NUTRITION

The idea of nutrient consumption during workouts has been tossed around gyms for the past decade or so. That being said, many bodybuilders have forgone this crucial strategy. Why?

Many intra-workout misconceptions exist. The mechanical digestion of nutrients diverts blood from muscles and is energy-robbing.

Related: 4 Post-Workout Nutrition Myths (That Are Actually Relevant)

Certain compounds, notably caffeine, can dehydrate muscles and deplete training energy. The excessive intake of stimulants may over-stimulate the central nervous system and cause muscle fatigue.The intake of certain nutrients during training is time consuming and inconvenient.

While the above are true, they are also not the most effective intra-workout strategies. Unfortunately, the association they have with intra-workout nutrition prevents many from taking advantage of one of the most powerful growth determinants.

INTRAWORKOUT NUTRITION: THE MISSING LINK

Much of today’s muscle-building progress can be attributed to nutrition. In the not too distant past, workout nutrition was rather primitive. A meal one hour before training and a protein shake post-workout was about it. In recent years, supplement savvy lifters have taken a more scientific approach to “peri-workout” nutrition (the time before, during, and after your workout).

However, what is arguably the most important of the three nutritional windows, intraworkout nutrition, is still frequently neglected.

Engineering the perfect training experience and setting the stage for maximum muscle growth is all about timing and attention to detail.4 It’s not always what you consume but when you consume it that can make a significant difference to how the body responds to a given training stimulus.

Crudely ingesting a bunch of simple carbs (some even recommend straight table sugar or fruit) and a protein shake will not cut it. What is required is an array of specifically-engineered ingredients.

Take High Molecular Weight Carbs

images-19There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who want to be jacked and those I don’t associate myself with.

OK, maybe that is taking it to the extreme, but if you are reading Muscle & Strength I would bet my life savings (which I admit is meager) that you are the kind of person who wants to be jacked.

One of the things we know from decades of research is that your training volume is one of the biggest dictators of muscle hypertrophy (aka jackedness).

So if you want to get bigger and stronger then increasing your work capacity is essential.

Supplementing with carbohydrates before (or during) training is well known to improve work capacity and endurance. Additionally, post workout recovery is important for engaging in repeated bouts of exercise.

One of the rate limiting features of maintaining performance during long events (i.e. triathlons and ironman) is the ability of the gut to absorb nutrients at a high enough rate without cramping.

The mechanical composition of the meal (i.e. solid vs liquid) along with the chemical/physical properties (chemical structure and osmolality) greatly influence the gastric absorbance of nutrients taken in before, during, and after training.

When high molecular weight glucose polymers (vitargo and cyclic dextrins) are mixed in a water solution they provide a low osmolality liquid beverage. It is believed that consuming liquids with low osmolality will increase absorption, thereby providing more carbohydrates and improved performance.

WHAT THE RESEARCH SAYS

Studies comparing a high molecular weight glucose polymer (Vitargo) vs short chain glucose oligomers showed that Vitargo did indeed have better gastric empty than the glucose oligomers1.

Now I know what you are thinking, better gastric emptying? Who gives a rip? Well besides it reducing the “gut bomb” feeling of drinking a huge shake before or during training, the increased gastric emptying means more nutrients available to use for energy during training.

Every once in a while theory actually translates into practice. High molecular weight carbs are a perfect example of that. Not only does Vitargo empty the gut faster, it also has been shown to improve glycogen resynthesis rates after a glycogen depleting protocol in well-trained men2.

Ok, improving glycogen synthesis is cool, but will these fancy carbs improve my performance?  Based on recent research it looks like they are superior to other glucose sources.

In a well-controlled study, Vitargo supplementation showed improved recovery and performance on repeated bouts of intense cycling3. In the study, the Vitargo group saw a 9% greater work capacity than the standard glucose group and an almost 20% increase over the placebo group!

Now I don’t know about you, but I sure would like to be able to recover faster.

Vitargo isn’t the only high molecular weight carbohydrate on the market. High branched cyclic dextrins (HBCD) are a close cousin to vitargo and report similar results. For example, HBCD has been shown to have faster gastric emptying and fewer GI issues when consumed during repeated exercise bouts than traditional sports drink4.

Additionally, it has been shown ingesting HBCD increases tie to fatigue and result in higher blood glucose levels during intense training than traditional glucose5.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER CARBS?

Why spend fat stacks on high molecular weight carbs? I mean a banana or a sport drink should do the same right?

Not quite. In fact it turns out that when you take in something like a banana or a Powerade the fructose content of those carb sources is kind of useless in regard to providing energy for your muscle tissue while training.

A recent study by a friend of mine, Jorn Trommelen, showed that when you consume fructose in a peri-workout drink most of the fructose just gets burned by the liver and turns into lactate6.

This means less of it can go toward your training. From a performance standpoint, I would argue you are better off going with something lower in fructose or sucrose and higher in something that is just glucose.

Does The Workout Supplementation Works

What you consume pre- and post-workout is important. But to maximize your exercise performance, improve recovery, and decrease muscle damage, there’s another window of opportunity you may be missing.

Intra-workout supplementation.

Intra-workout supplementation is the scientific-sounding name for supplementation taken during your workout. So how important is it—and does it make a difference?

Given all the hype-driven product-pushing that exists these days, you might wonder if this is just another marketing-invented category of supplements with no real benefit.

The truth is, intra-workout supplementation is rooted in scientific data and highly beneficial to anyone looking to accelerate their progress and boost their recovery.

If you’ve been too skeptical to ever try an intra-workout supplement, or if you’ve tried an improperly formulated product, it’s time to learn what intra-workout supplementation is and why it works.

HOW INTRA-WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTATION HAS EVOLVED

Intra-workout supplementation started out as drinking water and staying hydrated, and that’s still absolutely essential for high performance. But, in the hopes of further improving performance and recovery, people started to explore other options for what they could drink during workouts beyond plain water.

Sports scientists began to research carbohydrates, adding different types and concentrations to water. They looked at how the human body metabolizes carbohydratesand measured performance outcomes and absorption rates into the blood.

The results: Adding carbohydrates to water—In specific ratios to avoid digestive discomfort—was more effective than drinking water alone.

Unfortunately, this area of sports nutrition stagnated for the next 30 years. At the time, sports performance nutrition science was a new concept and very slow to grow. Athletes, coaches, and nutritionists were also typically unfamiliar with exercise physiology and uneducated on the topic of supplementation.

Because of that lack of understanding, intra-workout supplementation was generally oversimplified. During training, the human body’s most efficient fuel sources are muscle glycogen (stored carbohydrates in the muscle), liver glycogen (stored carbohydrate in the liver), and glucose (sugar in the blood).

Both fat and protein are less efficient energy sources. With this knowledge, many people simply relied on carbohydrates for mid-workout energy, due to the common misconception that anything else would be less effective.

While technically true, this belief was too narrow in focus. Intra-workout supplementation involves a lot of other factors. To gain a more advanced understanding, those in the sports nutrition industry needed to ask (and answer) many more questions.

It wasn’t until the early to mid-1990s that this area of sports science experienced a renewed interest. Sports scientists began to study key research areas, such as:

  • The effect on our muscles’ structural protein components when they get worked out and overloaded.
  • How our muscles are broken down and how they can optimally build back up during the recovery process.
  • Other types of fatigue that are not caused by lack of carbohydrates and how to address them.
  • How different types of training and different nutritional needs should be taken into consideration when making intra-workout recommendations.

Carbohydrates improve performance and recovery, but they aren’t the only option—and they are often not the optimal one. To look beyond carbohydrates, we’ll explore the benefits of amino acids taken during a workout.

How to Reduce Inflammation With These Foods

Normally, short-term inflammation is a natural process that plays an important role in healing and cellular repair when you’re injured or sick.

However, it can also be bad, very bad, depending on the cause and duration.

This is known as chronic low-key inflammation, and plays an integrative role in diseases such as Arthritis, Obesity, Cancer.

It’s roots are often based in poor nutritional choices or other unhealthy lifestyle decisions.

Inflammation is a very serious issue. Some researchers even state it as the key cause of diseases1,2,3.

WHAT CAUSES INFLAMMATION?

There are a host of lifestyle factors that can combine to cause inflammation. Here are things to watch out for:

Elevated Blood Sugar Levels: Numerous studies have shown when your ability to handle carbohydrates and blood sugar levels is impaired, cell damage can results from constantly high blood sugar levels. This causes an increase in inflammatory-associated genes and increased inflammation4.

Related: Carbs Aren’t Making You Fat – The Truth About Insulin

Processed Food: Increased intake of processed foods, sugar-sweetened drinks, sweets, candies and baked products are associated with higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a pro-inflammatory marker used to measure inflammation 5.

Body fat: Increase in body fat levels and obesity can elevate pro-inflammatory markers and contribute to chronic inflammation6.

Food Allergies: Eating foods that you are allergic to leads to rapid increases in inflammation.

Food Intolerances: Although you’ll know if real intolerance occurs, eating foods you are only slightly intolerant to can be a serious issue. Since the side effects are more mild (bloating, stomach cramp, gastrointestinal stress etc), you may continue to eat these foods, which can contribute to chronic inflammation.

Disrupted Gut: Bacteria or fungal infections, leaky gut or disruptions to your healthy gutbacteria can shoot your immune system into overdrive and inflammation7, 8.

Cortisol & Stress: Cortisol, the stress hormone, can lead to whole body systemic inflammation, with studies noting large increases in CRP or pro-inflammatory cytokines9.

Environmental Toxins: Toxins from BPA plastics and containers, fragrances, unfiltered water, air pollutants etc. can contribute to low-grade inflammation.

Know More About The Importance of Pre workout

Serious lifters need massive amounts of energy and focus to fuel their intensive workouts.

Pre-workout nutrition and supplementation achieve these objectives in the most efficient manner possible.

However, the pre-workout period is also a time to promote muscle growth.

To experience the kind of muscle growth commensurate with intensive gym efforts, muscle protein synthesis must occur frequently, especially before, during, and after workouts.

Muscle functions in an anabolic or catabolic state. To experience ongoing muscle gains, the rate of muscle protein synthesis (the anabolic state) must continue to exceed the rate of muscle protein degradation (the catabolic state).

Every effort must be made to ensure the right nutrients are taken at the right times to keep growth on an upward trajectory. Pre-workout is the ideal time to prime the body for high performance, fat burning, and post-workout recovery. This article will show how.

WHY PRE-WORKOUT NUTRITION IS IMPORTANT

Confusion reigns when it comes to pre-workout nutrition. Whole-food meals consisting of proteins and carbs are thought to be sufficient. Though important, whole foods pre-workout are only part of the equation. Which begs the questions: What about supplementation? What are the best options and specific ingredients?

As a committed gymgoer you may find yourself seeking answers on how to get the most from each workout through cutting-edge supplementation. Look no further. What follows is a detailed overview of the best pre-workout essentials needed to fuel workout intensity and engage the growth process.

THE PRE-WORKOUT MEAL

Before downing an effective pre-workout product, the all-important pre-workout meal must first be addressed. Aside from providing training energy, the pre-workout meal also helps to offset muscle protein breakdown. In fact, research shows training on an empty stomach increases nitrogen losses from protein breakdown by more than double.11, 14

Related: Grocery Shopping For Pre-Workout Meals With Brandon Beckrich

To optimize performance and retain muscle, it’s essential to eat a solid meal within two hours before training. Poor pre-workout nutrition can lead to excessive cortisol release during training, which can lead to suboptimal fat oxidation and also muscle losses.11

Whether an early morning cardio session or an abdominal workout upon rising, always eat beforehand. No more fasted cardio or weights!

Pre-workout supplementation tops the fuel tank to increase training energy, offset fatigue, and enhance muscle growth. The pre-workout meal doesn’t have to be excessive: around 400 calories comprised of 70% low glycemic carbs (vegetables and oats) and 30% lean proteins (egg whites and chicken breasts).

Since fat takes longest to digest, a pre-workout meal must be very low on this nutrient. A perfect pre-workout meal could be 100g of oats with water, one banana, and six egg whites.

PRE-WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTATION

A pre-workout formula stacked with high performance ingredients is essential to building muscle. Taking a pre-workout before cranking out the first rep maximizes strength, provides energy to endure, improves focus and mental alertness, enhances fat oxidation, and minimizes protein degradation (increasing muscle growth).

Gone are the days when a trainee would simply eat a meal before working out and expect to dominate the iron. Now, it’s indisputable that a reputable pre-workout will significantly improve focus, reduce fatigue, and increase energy beyond that of a regular meal.

IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS

Steer clear of any product with questionable ingredients and an excessive list of artificial substances. Go only for products with scientifically proven ingredients and zero filler.

Avoid proprietary blends. Simply put, with a proprietary blend of ingredients you don’t know what you are getting.

Rather than specifying exactly what quantity of each ingredient is in the product, a proprietary blend lumps a large number of ingredients together and gives them a per serving dosage. You can assume the most effective of these ingredients are included in such low dosages that return on investment is minimal at best.

Tips for Optimal Intra Workout

Your body works hard during training. An intra-workout supplement that contains a high concentration of amino acids maximizes those efforts and accelerates your progress.

How? Intra-workout supplementation takes effect at the exact time your body needs it. During exercise, blood flow to your muscles and nutrient absorption are at an all-time high.

When consumed as an intra-workout supplement, amino acids promote muscle building and fights muscle breakdown. This means you’ll see improvements in both performance and recovery.

But creating the best intra-workout supplement is a matter of individual goals, preferences, and priorities.

Here, we’re breaking down the different types of amino acids, their sources, and dosage guidelines, so you have all the information you need to build your optimal intra-workout supplementation plan.

WHICH AMINO ACIDS SHOULD I TAKE INTRA-WORKOUT?

Even as healthy adults, our bodies cannot make the nine classified essential amino acids (EAAs) so we need to rely on our diets to get them. Included within these nine EAAs is the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)—leucine, valine, and isoleucine.

If you’ve done any reading on the topic, you’ll find plenty of conflicting information about whether you should take just the BCAAs or the full spectrum of all nine EAAs.

Related: Why Intra-Workout Supplementation Works

BCAA advocators believe that athletes already consume plenty of protein, whether it’s from food or supplements, so additional EAAs are not necessary. They support only taking the BCAAs, particularly leucine, during workouts.

But EAA advocators question this stance, wondering why BCAA advocators recommend taking the other two BCAAs (valine and isoleucine) at all if leucine is the key amino acid responsible for stimulating protein synthesis (muscle building). Using leucine alone yields the same stimulus results as taking all three BCAAs, so a middle-ground stance of taking just the three BCAAs doesn’t make sense.

Here are the facts: Research has found that taking all nine EAAs may allow for a longer stimulus on protein synthesis than just taking the BCAAs alone. To gain the largest and longest protein synthesis, include all nine EAAs in your supplement. Based on scientific research, this approach will maximize the benefits of your intra-workout supplementation.

One exception to note: Emerging research shows that under extreme training conditions, our bodies may need nonessential amino acids (NEAAs) in order to sustain elevated levels of muscle protein synthesis.

Previous research has found that those who took whey protein, which contains both EAAs and NEAAs, experienced an elevated rate of muscle protein synthesis for three to five hours post-exercise, while those who just took the EAAs kept muscle protein synthesis elevated for only one to three hours.7

Given these findings, there is a strong, growing case that taking EAAs and NEAAs together from whey is superior to taking just the EAAs, and certainly superior to taking just the BCAAs.

WHICH SOURCES OF AMINO ACIDS PROVIDE THE MOST BENEFITS?

To optimize the effects of your intra-workout supplement without upsetting your digestive tract, focus on hydrolyzed protein and free-form amino acids. As a distant third, consider your general protein powders.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of these different sources:

HYDROLYZED PROTEINS

Whey is currently the best source of protein that has been hydrolyzed (enzymatically broken down) into rapidly absorbing di- and tripeptides.

Peptides are chains of two or more amino acids. Your body can absorb the shortest peptides rapidly and without any digestion needed. Any peptide longer than tripeptide requires digestion to break it down to either a dipeptide, tripeptide, or a single amino acid, before it can be absorbed into the blood.