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Supplement Time: Timing Is Everything

Knowing the whens of supplementation is as important as knowing the whats. Get your money's worth by taking your supplements at exactly the right time.

No doubt about it, supplements are a critical component to achieving your physique and performance goals. And, for most of you, that means gaining more strength and endurance while building lean muscle and shedding as much fat as possible. But even if you know the right supplements to take, if you don't take them at the right times, their benefits will be limited.

As they say, "Timing is everything," and that maxim doesn't ring any truer than for supplements. In fact, research confirms that those taking whey and creatine around workouts achieve significantly greater results than those taking them at other times. This is merely one example of the science-backed truth behind supplement timing. To help you get the most bang for your buck, let us walk you through the perfect day of supplementation, from wake-up call to bedtime.

Wake Up
Immediately Upon Waking

WHAT                       HOW MUCH
Whey Protein —————— 20g
BCAAs ——————— 5g
Caffeine ———————— 200mg

When you wake up, your body has essentially been fasting for the past 6-9 hours and has begun turning to your muscles for fuel, so you obviously want to stop this process ASAP. Eating eggs or other whole-food proteins, like chicken or dairy, will take far too long to digest and stop the attack on your muscles. The only thing that will work is a whey protein shake, as whey is the fastest digesting form of protein, and in less than 20 minutes, its amino acids will start to reach your muscles. Adding some extra branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) to the shake will further help stop catabolism (muscle breakdown) and turn on muscle protein synthesis.

TIMING TIP

If you work out in the morning, this will be your pre-workout supplement plan, in addition to
any other pre-workout
supps you take.

Also, consider eating a piece of fruit with your protein shake. When you fast all night, your liver uses up its stores of glycogen (the storage form of glucose), which signals the body to use amino acids from your muscles for fuel. The small amount of glucose also doesn't cause a huge blood glucose spike just enough to raise insulin a bit, which also helps to signal the body to stop breaking down muscle.

If you like to start your day with a cup of coffee to give you a kick-start, consider taking a caffeine pill instead. A recent study found that caffeinated coffee kept levels of the muscle-wasting hormone cortisol high in the morning. Even research subjects drinking decaf had slightly higher levels of cortisol than those drinking water, which is likely due to other chemicals present in coffee. A caffeine pill will give you just what you need: a jolt to wake you up and increase fat burning without affecting cortisol as much.

Breakfast
30 To 60 Minutes After Waking

WHAT                       HOW MUCH
Multivitamin ————— 1 dose
B complex 100 ———— 1 dose
Vitamin C —————— 1,000mg
Vitamin D —————— 1,000-3,000 IU
Vitamin E —————— 400-800 IU
Calcium ——————— 500-600mg
Fish Oil ——————— 2-3g

After your protein shake and a piece of fruit, you can do your usual morning ritual (take a shower, get dressed, do your hair and makeup, etc.). About 30-60 minutes after the shake, it's time to eat again, only this time you want whole foods like eggs and oatmeal. This is also a good time to get in a good dose of some other critical micronutrients that are better absorbed when taken with food. First on the list is your multivitamin and mineral complex. Of course, a hard-training woman needs more of certain vitamins and minerals than most typical multis provide, so add a B vitamin complex; vitamins C, D, and E; along with calcium. You'll also need fish oil, which has a laundry list of benefits, including enhancing heart, brain, and joint health; as well as improving muscle recovery and helping to promote fat loss.

Midmorning
60 To 90 Minutes After Breakfast

WHAT                       HOW MUCH
Green Tea Extract ———— 500-1,000mg
(standardized for at least 30% EGCG)

Between breakfast and lunch-perhaps with a snack you have during this window-take a dose of green tea extract. Green tea, like fish oil, is nothing short of a wonder supplement. It contains polyphenols, notably EGCG, which not only increases fat burning but aids joint and muscle recovery as well. Drinking green tea, however, won't produce maximum effect. Research shows that the polyphenols from green tea beverages aren't absorbed as readily as those from green tea extract supplements.

Lunch
With Lunch

WHAT                       HOW MUCH
Fish Oil ——————— 2-3g

Most of us eat lunch at work. And it's tough following a supplement plan when you never know whether lunch is going to be at your favorite local restaurant, during a meeting, or at your desk. Do yourself one favor and store a bottle of fish oil in your desk to take around lunchtime. Taking fish oil within 30 minutes before or after eating is just as good as taking it with a meal.

Pre-Workout No. 1
60 Minutes Before Exercise

FUN FACT

Current research suggests that the combination of caffeine and green tea burned more fat than either supplement alone.

WHAT                       HOW MUCH
Caffeine ——————— 200-400mg
Green Tea Extract ———— 500-1,000mg
(standardized for at least 30% EGCG)
Pre-Workout/NO Booster 1 dose

If you want to maximize your endurance, strength, and fat burning during your workout (why wouldn't you?), your best bet is to take pre-workout supplements within an hour before training. This is a great time to get in a dose of caffeine to give you the boost you need for an intense workout. A dose of green tea will further enhance fat burning and endurance, as well as aid muscle recovery after the workout.

If you're really serious about training intensity, consider taking a pre-workout nitric oxide (NO) supplement. Boosting NO levels has been shown in clinical studies to increase endurance and strength during workouts as well as aid muscle growth and fat loss. Many NO-boosting products provide caffeine as well, killing two birds with one stone.

Pre-Workout No. 2
15 To 30 Minutes Before Exercise

WHAT                       HOW MUCH
Whey Protein —————— 20g
BCAAs ——————— 5g
Creatine ——————— 2-5g
Beta-Alanine ————— 2-3g

As the workout gets closer, within 15-30 minutes, think about fueling your body. Although most people think of carbs when they hear the term fuel, your first line of thought should actually be whey protein. Your muscles use amino acids for fuel during intense workouts, and if you don't provide your body with a quick source of aminos (whey), it will take them from your muscles. Pre-workout whey will also be there to help with muscle recovery and growth during the workout. Confused about how muscles start recovering during workouts? Well, you typically train more than one muscle group each workout-for example, chest, triceps, and abs. When you're training triceps, your chest is already in recovery mode, and you don't want to wait until the end of the workout to give it aminos. You'll also want to add BCAAs to this shake. These amino acids are the most critical when it comes to fueling your muscles during workouts. They also trick your brain into blunting fatigue so that you can stay stronger for longer. Then there's creatine, which is not for men only; it is another critical source of fuel for your working muscles. Finally, if you want to further boost energy, endurance, and strength, as well as aid muscle growth and fat loss, add beta-alanine to the mix. This amino acid is gaining the kind of respect that creatine has garnered in the supplement world.

Post-Workout
Within 45 Minutes Of Exercise

WHAT                       HOW MUCH
Whey Protein —————— 20g
Casein Protein ———— 10-20g
BCAAs ——————— 5g
Creatine ——————— 2-5g
Beta-Alanine ————— 2-3g
Fast Carbs —————— 30-60g

After workouts, you have a 45-minute window, at the most, to refuel your muscles. Miss the window and you just blew your opportunity to maximize muscle recovery. The nutrients here need to work very quickly, so drinking a whey protein shake is your best bet. You also need more BCAAs to ensure that muscle protein synthesis is maximized, as well as more creatine and beta-alanine to restock your muscles for the next workout.

After workouts, you should also add some casein protein to your protein shake. This very-slow-digesting protein keeps protein synthesis going for many hours after the workout to enhance recovery and results.

TIMING TIP

If you're fearful that late-night carbs will be converted to body fat,
limit fast carbs
post-workout to 20-30g.

During the workout, you burned up a good deal of your muscle glycogen, so you also need to get carbs to your muscles in a hurry. Anything with fructose won't get to your muscles fast enough, so try to avoid foods like fruit or table sugar (sucrose). If you want to go the supplement route for carbs, good choices are dextrose powder (which is essentially glucose) or Vitargo, a branched chain of glucose molecules that has been found to reach muscles faster than sugar. If you prefer to have some fun after workouts and treat yourself, take a look at Wonka candies. The Pixy Stix and Bottle Caps use dextrose as the main sugar; few other candy companies make fructose-free candy. Other good carb options are white bread and white potatoes, which are pure starch
(glucose chains).

Dinner
With Dinner

WHAT                       HOW MUCH
Vitamin C —————— 1,000mg
Calcium ——————— 500-600mg
Vitamin D —————— 1,000-3,000 IU

Whether you compete in sports or not, a woman who trains as hard as you do, for all intents and purposes, is an athlete. Research shows that athletes lose a lot of micronutrients through training, so make sure to get in another dose of the more critical ones-vitamin C, calcium, vitamin D-with dinner.

Bedtime
30 Minutes Before Going To Bed

WHAT                       HOW MUCH
Casein Protein ———— 20g
Fish Oil ——————— 2-3g

We already discussed what happens in your body while you sleep. The good news is, you can help to prevent the muscle breakdown that normally occurs with the help of the slow-digesting protein casein. Just be sure the casein you choose lists micellar casein first on the ingredients list. This is the slowest digesting protein you can get; it takes a good 7-8 hours, providing your body a slow and steady stream of amino acids all night long. Your body will use these amino acids for fuel instead of breaking down the aminos from your muscle fibers. Also, get in one final dose of fish oil at this time. Fat will help to further slow down digestion rate, and the omega-3s will provide a host of other health benefits.




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Daymel

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Daymel

Excellent article...

Feb 27, 2012 7:46pm | report
 
phenomenon777

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phenomenon777

agreed :)

Dec 16, 2012 8:04am | report
CADGuy

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CADGuy

Hey Doc, most of us unfortunately workout so close to dinner time that between post work out and dinner may be 1 hour or less? Same way between dinner and bed. Is that a problem?

Also, I am concerned about the amount of fish oil as the warning label says that it contains cancer causing agents. Taking two pills three times a day is not excessive?

Feb 27, 2012 7:55pm | report
 
LucasWalker2012

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LucasWalker2012

great question i would love to know the answer also.

Mar 6, 2012 12:25pm | report
Saltus

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Saltus

I use flax seed oil. No cancer and no mercury. Still get the omega 3s and 6s.

Mar 6, 2012 3:43pm | report
toridactyl

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toridactyl

you can also use chia seeds. even more omegas than flax seeds, and you can just sprinkle it on whatever you're eating.

Mar 7, 2012 12:25pm | report
nseehorn

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nseehorn

2000mg of fishoil daily is okay. You can get your omegas via krill oil also. Costco sells it. Don't forget fishoil and krill oil also have blood thinning qualities and can promote bleeding.

Jan 24, 2013 9:46am | report
TitanGM

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TitanGM

Great tips! Thank you.

Article Rated:
Feb 27, 2012 9:56pm | report
 
EddieBU15

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EddieBU15

my favorite article ever!

Feb 27, 2012 10:14pm | report
 
vindoll

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vindoll

I have never used fish Oil, can you please advise what are the advantages of it?

Feb 27, 2012 10:51pm | report
 
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 5'11"
  • wt: 188.49 lbs
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ChristReppin

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ChristReppin

Cardiovascular support is mainly what fish oils are for. Get a good one like NOW Ultra Omega-3

Feb 28, 2012 12:44am | report
fmphillips

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fmphillips

I've also read and would like to say for myself, fish oil helps with cravings!! I agree with ChristReppin, get some if you can.

Feb 28, 2012 10:40pm | report
DNRCMO

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DNRCMO

I notice knee pain if I miss a few days of fish oil.

Feb 29, 2012 8:20am | report
Joe0523

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Joe0523

Health advantages of omega 3
-Improved heart health
-Improved brain function
-Improved skin
-Decelerated aging
-Anti-inflamatory
-Increased sexual drive/performance
-Many more

Mar 5, 2012 1:12pm | report
phenomenon777

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phenomenon777

loads bro...trust me looooads!

Dec 16, 2012 8:03am | report
ChristReppin

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ChristReppin

Excellent! This is going to help me out alot!

Article Rated:
Feb 28, 2012 12:41am | report
 
ao32

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ao32

great article, but it sounds very expensive to maintain.

Feb 28, 2012 6:51am | report
 
DNRCMO

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DNRCMO

Controlled Labs Oximega is on sale now, buy two get one free. 360 caps for $36 ship. 1g of Omega-3's per cap.

http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/clabs/orange-oximega.html

Feb 29, 2012 8:24am | report
dogetta

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dogetta

if your funds are limited go to some place like Meijers or Walmart.They have inexpensive whey,creatine and vitamins. I go when they have buy one get free sales.I've gotten 2 bottles of fishoil for 8-12 dollars.

Aug 4, 2013 10:10pm | report
SSJ4Trunks

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SSJ4Trunks

Good article, lots of helpful information

Feb 28, 2012 7:34am | report
 
jestertku

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jestertku

very good article.

Feb 28, 2012 7:44am | report
 
armoBOSSDOGG

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armoBOSSDOGG

only supplements you'll ever need:
fish oil, multivitamin, caffeine, ephedrine, creatine, whey. everything else mentioned in this article is completely unnecessary.

Feb 28, 2012 7:49am | report
 
bennichols01

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bennichols01

Your comment was unnecessary.

Feb 28, 2012 10:38am | report
PMW

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PMW

thank you for clearing this up. the article is great on the timing, though you shouldnt need all those supplements, i would add vitamin c to your list maybe. but thanks for seeing through this armo.

Feb 29, 2012 6:51am | report
fattofit128

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fattofit128

@armoBOSSDOGG, I for one agree with your statement. Vitamins are entirely necessary, but if youre taking multivitamins, theres not really any need to take extra vitamins (in exception for b and c). Moreover, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K get stored in your fat cells and have to be processed by your liver to be excreted, so they could be toxic if you take too much.

Feb 29, 2012 10:54am | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 155 Comments

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