Pre, during, and post workout nutrition is essential to achieve results, recover and get that burst of energy you need.
How important is pre, during, and post workout nutrition? Why?
What should your pre, during, and post workout diet consist of?
What are some good supplements to use for pre, during, and post workout nutrition?
Bonus Question: What is the best carb source (if any) for post workout? Why?
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1st Place - ho_124
Proper Pre, During, And Post Workout Nutrition Diet!
Pre, during and post nutrition is the key to get optimal results in the gym and for growth and recovery. Pre-workout nutrition is necessary for performance in the gym and post is necessary for growth. The following will provide you with proper pre, during and post nutrition.
Pre-workout nutrition is very important before a workout. It determines whether or not you have you can achieve your maximum potential during your workout in the gym.
Getting an extra couple reps or increasing the weight is possible with proper pre-workout nutrition. It can be done by eating a proper pre-workout meal one to two hours before (depending on your metabolism and how much you eat) as well as taking a supplement 15-45 minutes before a workout.
These pre-workout meals and supplements will allow you to have increased muscle strength, better endurance, give you increased energy, give you better pumps, burn more calories and fat or improve concentration.
There are two things to consider before a workout:
- Having a meal one to two hours before.
- Taking a proper supplement thirty minutes before.
A Proper Meal Should Consist Of
Fruit should be eaten at all times throughout the day. They dilate the blood vessels reducing stress on the heart. Dilating the blood will allow blood to flow around the body easier as well as prevent increased high blood pressure if you are taking supplements such as caffeine, ephedrine HCl or fat burners, which are all vasoconstrictors.
Fruits are packed with vitamins and some carbohydrates or simple sugars to fuel your workout. My two favorite pre-workout fruits are bananas, which are packed with carbohydrates and potassium which prevents cramps. My second favorite is oranges, which are high in vitamin C and contains electrolytes which also prevents cramps.
Moderate To Low GI Carbohydrates
These carbohydrates will fuel your body with energy throughout the entire workout. If you eat a high GI carb before a workout, you will have a lot a energy at the start but quickly start to crash.
Carbohydrates are the main source energy in a workout. I would recommend brown or white rice, brown bread or pumpernickel bread, whole wheat bagel or whole wheat pasta or oatmeal.
Protein (Essential Amino Acids)
Protein is the essential building blocks of muscles. Without it, your muscles would not grow. They also ensure proper nitrogen balances in the muscle.
I would recommend eggs, which has a very high biological value.
Other good protein sources are chicken or fish which contains Omega 3.
Essential fatty acids are necessary for maintaining high testosterone levels. They also keep the energy levels up and are necessary for fat soluble vitamins. They take a long time to digest and so they are great for people that are hungry all the time because it keeps them full even during workout.
Cooking with olive oil or sesame oil which contains sesamin is also beneficial.
A proper pre-workout meal should be something that is completely digested 15-30 minutes before a workout so the blood can leave the stomach and enter the muscles.
Supplementation before a workout is also necessary for enhancing your workout. Supplements, especially stimulants should be cycled so your body does not build up a tolerance. Most supplements should be taken 30 minutes before a workout on an empty stomach.
Here are some great supplements to use before a workout:
Although food does provide some vitamins and minerals, it does not provide all of them therefore a multivitamin before a workout or in the morning for proper functioning of the body.
Choosing a multivitamin high in b-vitamins is important since it helps release energy and also contains anabolic properties.
It is a great muscle volumizer and provides energy for the muscle in the form or ATP. This protein is safe and retains water inside the muscle.
There are many different forms of creatine such as:
And For Creatine Non-Responders:
I would recommend Kre-Alkalyn since it is cheap, is completely absorbed by the body and does not require a high GI carb.
Caffeine & Ephedrine HCL
Caffeine is a great stimulant to provide your body with higher levels of energy. It is great when stacked with Ephedrine HCL since it helps you burn more fat and have enormous energy levels.
BCAA's are great for maintaining nitrogen balances. They are digested in the skeletal muscle and spare muscle breakdown.
Some love it, some hate it. They provide great muscle pumps for some and also open up the blood vessels so more blood can be delivered to the muscle. This means more oxygen and nutrients can be delivered to the muscle. There are many NO2 supplements out there which contain ingredients such as arginine AKG, citrulline malate and ornithine ethyl ester.
Fat burners are great for stimulating the body, increasing energy levels as well as burning fat. They are usually vasoconstrictors and should not be stacked with a NO2 product, which do the opposite. They work well and are effective in doing their job.
Ingredients such as tyrosine, Ginkgo biloba and N-acetyl-Carnitine provide your body with mental focus when working out in the gym. It is great for people who take too long of breaks in between sets or give up too easily.
Stamina & Endurance
The best supplements for this is ginseng. It will help sustain energy levels for longer periods of time. It is very common in sports and some multivitamins and is safe when taking correct dosages. Look for Panax Ginseng only with a high percentage of genocide's.
Effective Pre-Workout Supplements
SciFit Kre-Alkalyn powder
Caffeine & Ephedrine:
Higher Power Caffeine
Mega-Pro VasoPro Ephedrine HCL
Now Panax Ginseng
The Importance Of Post Workout Nutrition
If your real serious into lifting weights and you want the best results then post workout nutrition is essential. I'm sure you might have heard this a thousand times but gaining strength and muscle doesn't occur while you workout but after during the recovery stage.
The exact opposite happens after a workout, your muscles are weaker because they have been torn down and have been damaged by an intense workout. So if your idea of post workout nutrition is eating hamburgers and fries then forget trying to make huge gains.
After a workout protein breakdown goes up and protein synthesis stays the same or slightly elevated. Also your glycogen stores (your muscles energy) have had a huge chunk sliced out of them.
Now if nothing is done about the protein breakdown, then muscle that could have been gained is not gained for a certain amount of time and muscle that currently exists is lost. This isn't a pretty picture for anyone who is trying to gain some serious muscle or strength. Now if your glycogen stores aren't replenished then you won't be in peak condition next time you workout; meaning decreased energy during workouts leading to decreased gains.
Also if glycogen stores continue to stay low, then protein breakdown can still occur meaning a loss of muscle mass. And there is still more downfalls if your glycogen stores remain low. Since glycogen attracts water to your muscles, it is an important part in rehydrating your thirsty cells which encourages muscular growth.
So basically in a few lines if your post nutrition is totally crap then your performance in your next workout will suffer, you won't be at your peak or full potential, your gains will not be as good as they could be, and you could end up losing muscle along the way. So with all that in mind it is important to pay close attention to your post workout nutrition.
What Should My Post Workout Diet Consist Of?
This section is divided into two parts. What to have immediately after a workout and what to have about 1-1.5 hours later. The reason is because there are different things you need right after a workout and an hour or and hour and a half later.
Immediately After A Workout
It is very important you have a quick meal right after a workout. Now by meal I don't mean buying a huge chicken and eating it. I mean a small meal that can be ingested and digested quickly. If you don't consume this meal immediately then the certain benefits that could have resulted in taking in your meal are diminished and your condition worsens.
It is best that you consume a liquid meal since it is quickly absorbed. So basically right after a workout there are three main things you must replace, stop and elevate. These three things are:
- Rapid replenishment of glycogen stores.
- Stopping protein breakdown.
- Highly elevating protein synthesis.
1 Rapid Replenishment Of Glycogen Stores
First thing I will talk about is rapid replenishment of glycogen stores. This is one of the most important things you can do in your post workout meal. Now to do this you need rapid digesting carbohydrates.
The two carbohydrates that work best are dextrose and maltodextrin. These are both digested at a high rate and will replenish your glycogen stores. Now before you stop reading, because you think the carbs will make you fat, you're wrong (If your one of those people, who are afraid of getting fat, well I assure you, you have nothing to worry about).
In exercise you burn calories, meaning you burn energy, meaning you used up your glycogen stores. Replacing your glycogen stores ensures you will be in peak condition next time you workout. Another reason why you won't get fat is because if your diet is good, then you will be taking in less calories than you burn (if your diet is well planned out).
So you're just replacing calories that you have burned in your exercise. So as long as you make sure you are burning more calories than you replace, then you are alright.
Another essential role that these two carbohydrates play is making an insulin spike. When simple sugars like maltodextrin and dextrose are ingested, insulin is released into the blood stream. This is to make sure your blood sugar levels don't get to high.
So right now there are two plus's of taking in maltodextrin and dextrose (take them in a 50/50 split meaning if you need 50 grams of carbs then 25 maltodextrin and 25 dextrose). First you replenish your glycogen stores, meaning you will replace your energy ensuring you are good to go for your next exercise bout, and you create an insulin spike.
Insulin is highly anabolic at rest which means it builds muscle and puts an end to protein breakdown after exercise. So right about now your probably wondering how much do I take? Well for your post workout shake you should take in .8 grams of carbs per kg of body mass which is the currently recommended intake for an after workout shake.
This ensures that you will get an insulin spike while not getting to many carbohydrates. There is also a downfall to an insulin spike. Excess carbs that cannot be stored any longer are stored as fat. So you must be careful not to take in to many carbs (Follow the .8 grams of carbs per kg of body mass rule).
If you take in too many carbs right after a workout, you will get fat because your body cannot handle all those carbs so it stores it as fat. Also, if you keep creating an insulin spike too often, then your insulin sensitivity will decrease. This means your muscles have had insulin shoved in them too often so they start rejecting the insulin. Then you lose the benefits of insulin which is a nightmare.
So as a recap take .8 grams of a 50/50 blend of dextrose and maltodextrin per kg of body mass. Maltodextrin and dextrose are very easy to get and cheap by the way. And also remember, create an insulin spike at the very max 2-3 times a day or your insulin sensitivity will go down.
The reason why 2-3 times a day is because before I mentioned insulin is anabolic at rest and anti-catabolic (stops protein breakdown) right after exercise. So right after a workout you stop protein breakdown with insulin and during meal times a few hours after your workout or before, you start building muscle by creating an insulin spike.
But you must workout for insulin to help you in building muscle. You can't just watch T.V and make an insulin spike and expect to build huge muscle. You will just get fat because you will probably take in more calories than you burn because you don't exercise/workout.
2 Stopping Protein Breakdown
Stopping protein breakdown is pretty easy. The answer is insulin.
See? You kill two birds with one stone. By creating an insulin spike you also stop protein breakdown. But your post workout shake isn't complete yet. Just taking carbs won't cut it. You must have protein to aid in stopping protein breakdown, repair muscles, and build muscles. So for your own sake take .4 grams of protein per kg of body mass.
Now, this ratio of carbs and protein have an effect on each other. Taking this ratio of protein and carbs boost insulin levels twice the amount than if you just have carbs alone. So protein and carbs work together to boost insulin levels through the roof. There is also another benefit to insulin. It opens up blood vessels, meaning more nutrients, amino acids and carbs that will be transported faster. So basically creating an insulin spike is a must after a workout.
3 Increasing Protein Synthesis (Muscle Building)
The last thing you must do is increase protein synthesis. This is a very important piece in recovery since if you don't start building muscle, then how will you make muscle or strength gains? So how do we do this? Well first of all after a workout protein synthesis stays the same or goes slightly elevated, so you don't have to freak out about it dipping low.
So now how do you jack it up? Well again insulin comes into play. See? Insulin works wonders. Now it can jack up protein synthesis. But if you want better results then you must do more than just have high insulin levels. There is one more piece that muse be done to a huge spike in protein synthesis.
You must have a high level of essential amino acids. You can get these through BCAA supplementation which provides essential amino acids which help in getting a huge boost in protein synthesis. With just insulin, protein synthesis increases 50%. With BCAA supplementation alone protein synthesis increased by 200%. But with both insulin and BCAA supplementation protein synthesis increased by 400%. Now that's a huge difference so its worth getting BCAA and insulin in your blood to jack up protein synthesis.
One More Thing That You Should Note That Aids In Recovery.
As a result of the tearing and breakdown of the muscle tissue, the body needs help. So fluids begin to build up to transport immune cells to the torn muscle debris. While these go to work, free radicals build up.
Free radicals are chemically very unstable meaning they bond to anything. They can breakdown muscle tissue and further damage it causing a longer recovery. That is why anti-oxidants are a good thing to keep in mind.
Anti-oxidants bond to these free radicals so they won't bond to your muscle tissue and break it down.
Supplements You Can Use In Your Protein Shake Immediately After A Workout:
This is essential in creating an insulin spike and helping to build new muscle. This is a must if you workout. Remember to take .4 grams of protein per kg of body mass. Some people also say you need lots and lots of protein after you workout. Well if you take in tons of protein then you will just pee it out.
Protein companies want you to think that you should take in lots of protein so they can make more money as do all companies. So don't take more protein than your body can handle or it will just end up in the toilet.
Dextrose & Maltodextrin
This is also very important in creating an insulin spike. It also aids in rapidly replenishing glycogen stores, It is very cheap and you can buy them in almost any store. This is also a must. Remember .8 grams of carbs per kg of body mass.
This is also very important in increasing protein synthesis. If you want to gain muscle faster then this is the supplement to do it.
During your insulin spike, if creatine is present in the blood, the creatine gets shoved into the muscle with your insulin. Creatine increases your ATP energy stores quicker than letting your body replace it by itself.
These supplements are important for reducing muscle stress. They are supplied to your body which are used as building blocks to make your bodies two enzymes to control free radicals. They reduce muscle stress by stopping free radicals from damaging muscle tissue. A few anti-oxidants are Vitamin E and C, coenzyme q-10, and zinc to name a few. There are still tons more and you can buy them in supplementation.
A lot of people swear by this. However this topic is very debatable. I personally don't like to use this since whey protein, when broken down by the body provides the amino acid glutamine. Plus glutamine is found in meat also. There is no absolute answer right now but some people think it sucks and some people say it works.
What To Put Into Your Shake Now?
Well let's start with your base. Use two cups of water as your base. The water will help rehydrate your cells and will be used to dissolve your supplements meaning faster delivery of protein, carbs, BCAA tablets you name it. Now for the must adds.
- You must add .8 grams of carbs per kg of body mass (50/50 split between maltodextrin and dextrose they are both fast absorbing carbs with different effects on creating an insulin spike).
- You must add .4 grams of protein into your shake. This will help your body provide protein to rebuild and build muscle and also helps create and insulin spike along with your carbs.
Those are the must haves in your basic protein shake. Now here are the good additions to add starting from best addition to shake to least needed in shake.
- BCAA if you want to jack up protein synthesis a whole lot, BCAA tablets or powders do that awesome. This is an amazing supplement to add to your shake
- Antioxidants are great if you want to reduce recovery time and prevent muscle damage due to free radicals.
- Creatine is also great for rapidly replenishing your ATP stores quicker than it takes your body to naturally replace it. This is great if you have a weight lifting routine followed by let's say a sprinting routine a few hours later.
- L-Glutamine again is a very controversial topic. A lot of people love it and a lot hate it. Personally I don't like it since a normal diet of protein provides a good amount of this amino acid as well as whey protein.
- NAC (N-Acetyl-Cystine) is great because it increases protein synthesis.
My Shake (which I think is the ideal shake)
Now since I'm 140 lbs. which is also 63 kg. I use:
- 2 cups of water (Basically for every shake).
- 51 carbs in my protein shake (Using the .8 per kg body mass rule).
- 25 grams of protein (Using the .4 per kg of body mass rule)
Remember you don't need tons of protein, people just get caught up thinking they need tons when they will just pee it out. Remember what I said before? Companies want you to think that you need tons of whey protein so you use it faster and you have to buy more protein which gives them more money.
That's my shake which works really good. Of course you don't have to follow exactly what I use. Experiment and see what works. Remember every shake combination has its strengths and weaknesses.
1 - 2 Hours After Workout
This is when you have an actual meal. Not just a shake. For this meal there are two options. Creating another insulin spike for anabolic effects at rest or using slow burning G.I carbs with protein. To me, this meal isn't as complicated as what you have immediately after a workout.
Personally I don't like doing an insulin spike here. I like to do it when I wake up and after a workout when insulin sensitivity are highest. That's two insulin spikes which is the max amount for me. Now for this meal I like slow burning carbs. This ensures that it doesn't raise my insulin to high so that I don't start gaining fat and decreasing my insulin sensitivity.
I also have protein in this meal which adds extra protein to my diet to further assist my body in building and repairing muscle tissue.
So with all that said, that is basically what I eat 1-2 hours later.
Rehydration is also important in recovery and water should be consumed in this meal also. Especially if you are taking creatine, caffeine, or whey which all dehydrate your body. Foods that have a low G.I or burn slow are:
- Whole wheat breads; not the processed ones
- Sweet potatoes: are very healthy too and they have slow burning carbs. Regular potatoes also have slow burning carbs.
- Brown rice; almost everyone eats this
Foods high in protein (This is easy).
- Chicken breasts
- Lean beef or any kind of meat low in fat
- Nuts also have good fats in them especially almonds
During Workout Nutrition
Why Is It Important?
What Should It Consist Of & What Are Good Supplements?
Of all your nutrition, this is probably the least important even though some idiots make this part of their workout totally complicated.
Basically you should be concentrating on your workout, not what you're ingesting. This might sound simple to you but all I use is water. Now you might be thinking... since this isn't complicated and doesn't sound hard to do that I'm wrong right? Well you're wrong.
Water is great for rehydrating cells and since water is used for internal processes of your body while you workout, it is important to stay hydrated.
Now some people drink protein shakes and all that during their workout but you have enough protein in your blood stream already if you ate 2 hours before your workout.
Drinking a protein shake during your workout is also bad because your blood goes to your stomach for digestion and less will go into the muscle that you are working. Well all I have to say is that it's pretty stupid since your already doing that immediately after your workout, then it's useless to do it during.
If you have your shake during and after, then you will pee the protein out and you might be creating insulin spikes too often. So basically just stick with water. Some people also like to drink Gatorade and other sports drinks. Well, you should only use this if your doing at least one hour and a half of vigorous exercise then it will help.
Relying On Supplements
Again, this is a trick that companies do to people. They trick them into thinking that they need this sports drink to refuel themselves when their only doing an hour of moderate exercise. Again, you only need these drinks if your doing vigorous exercise for over 1.5 hours.
Basically people who use supplements during workouts are wasting their money. You're already taking supplements during the day, before your workout and after your workout. You don't need any more supplements. Relying to heavily on supplements is a horrible thing you can do.
Relying to much on supplements can sometimes get your body to depend on the supplements to make gains. That's why people cycle off and on creatine so their body doesn't get to used to it and depend on it. Just like steroids; when bodybuilders use it, they make huge gains, but when they quit it they lose a lot of muscle because their body can't sustain and gain muscle without the drug.
So don't take supplements 24/7. If your workout is under 1.5 hours just drink water. I didn't mention that if you use creatine, water will prevent cramping and severe gas. Once I didn't drink water when I used creatine and I got a huge, I mean huge ass stomach cramp and I had to fart like every 20 seconds.
I felt like crap and couldn't workout that day. So remember, when you take creatine, drink water and stay hydrated.
Also if your going over 1.5 hours and are going pretty intense, you might want to think about getting Gatorade which has a crap load of things it replaces.
But if you got a lot of money on your hands, then you might want to try CYTOMAX. It is great because it reduces lactic acid by a lot and replaces a bunch of things you lose during exercise.
It is like Gatorade x10. But for a lot of people just stick to water, it's cheaper than ever.
What Is The Best Carb Source (If Any) For Post Workout? Why?
A really good carb source after a workout is any high GI carbohydrate. There are many out there but I believe Dextrose, which has the highest GI with Maltodextrin, is probably the best carb source because it spikes the insulin levels very effectively and are very cheap.
It is also easy into your post workout shake. Quick rolled oats or potatoes are also great if you had dinner right after a workout since they have a high GI as well as some nutritional value.
2nd Place - sword chucks
Feeding The Muscles With Proper Pre, During, & Post Workout Nutrition!
Let's talk about eating. Eating is something that all successful bodybuilders have to pay complete attention to. To really succeed in this activity, though, it takes more than just being a mindless appetite.
First, you must know how much you are eating, and not eat too little or too much. But if a bodybuilder wants to see maximum results in the shortest time period, it requires that they put some effort into nutrient timing.
If you could pay attention to just one particular time of day to eat well, it would have to be around your workout. I want to make it clear that if you want to make results happen as fast as possible, you should eat well at all times, and consume food every 2 to 3 hours that you are awake. But around workout time is when the muscles are hungry.
By paying special attention to nutrition around your workout, you can maximize how much of your food is used to build muscle, and minimize how much of it is used to fill up your fat stores.
The workout nutrition can be broken into three categories:
- What you eat before a workout
- what you eat (or drink preferably) during a workout
- What you eat after a workout session.
Eating before a workout and during a workout is necessary to fuel the body for ideal performance and maintain an anabolic state during this time of muscular stress. Eating after a workout will ensure that your muscles can recover from your intense workout session and come back stronger for the next one!
This article will go more specifically into how to feed your muscles before, during, and after an intense workout, and why. I will suggest several ways to make pre, during, and post workout nutrition easy for you. I will not leave out cardio, either.
I am going to describe how you should decide what to eat before and after cardiovascular activity. I am about to share these advanced bodybuilding diet techniques with you, and I am sure that you will speed up gains noticeably, just by feeding the muscles with proper pre, during, and post workout nutrition.
Priming The Body For Performance
Eating before a workout is the best way to improve energy levels. Having a large meal before a workout will fill the body's important energy stores, allowing you to move maximum poundage and finish your muscle building workout strong!
For example, if you have ever been on a very restrictive cutting diet, you have probably experienced a few days where you limited the amount of carbohydrates in the pre-workout meal to "consume less calories than you use". There is no way around this, but I guarantee your workout was not as good as it would have been without having a big carb-meal beforehand. Without having a decent pre-workout meal, my muscles just feel empty.
Besides using food for energy pre-workout, you can also use a few effective supplements. There are supplements to boost energy levels, mental focus, and provide more blood flow to the muscles out there- all of these things will contribute to a better, more energized workout.
Working Out Hungry
Not A Good Idea!
For me, having a pre-workout meal is so important that, if I can't get in some food before my workout, I just put it off until I am able to. Having the right foods before a workout makes all the difference.
You may not notice it in a less taxing exercise, such as a bicep movement, but on a very taxing movement like a deadlift your strength will really take a hit if you are not properly fed before a workout.
The Body's Energy Stores
This isn't just luck of the draw though. Consuming food before a workout serves one main purpose which gives you energy - refilling your body's glycogen (metabolized carbohydrate) stores.
When you consume carbohydrates, the body breaks them down into glucose, which goes to refill glycogen stores in the liver and the muscles. If you want to perform at your best, make sure both of these stores are loaded with carbs.
Using Protein As Energy?
Working out hungry will cause more than just temporary weakness. By not fueling the body before a workout, your body will look for another energy source to burn when working out. The body's choice energy source is going to be amino acids.
Amino acids are readily converted into glycogen in the absence of carbohydrates, through a process called gluconeogenesis. Whether these amino acids come from your stomach, your protein shake, or your muscle tissue, your growth is going to be compromised. That is why working out without eating beforehand is not a good idea!
How to Build a Pre-Workout Meal
Structuring your diet to include a pre-workout meal, or possibly two meals leading up to the workout for extra energy, is very straight-forward. The three macronutrients that you must pay attention to are carbohydrates, protein, and fats. A calorie is not just a calorie here - each nutrient plays a particular role in providing the body with energy and maximizing your performance.
You are going to want to include a good deal of complex carbohydrates for superior glycogen levels to start.
Even old-school bodybuilders like Arnold relied on carbohydrates as their main fuel for an intense workout! Some great complex carbohydrate sources that have minimal fat content are oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and other whole grain foods.
Next, you will want some protein, since your body will use it to rebuild muscle tissue as you work out. You should be consuming protein at least every 2 to 3 hours as the day goes by, so this one is a no-brainer.
Shoot for 20 to 30 grams of protein, coming from a high-quality lean protein source. Some good lean protein sources are:
- Tuna fish
Leave fats to a minimum, though. Fat consumption will slow food absorption, and before a workout, you want all of that food to go right to the muscles for energy without slowing down.
Fat should only come in the form of trace fats. This means that the only fats that you will consume before a workout are the grams that are already in your carbohydrate and protein sources.
So how much of these nutrients should you eat? Well, I am not exactly a believer in calorie counting. You should not go by a set number of calories. Instead, with this meal, just eat carbs until you are satisfied.
This way you will have ideal energy stores, but you won't get that lethargic feeling. If you are trying to drop body fat, it is a good idea to lower carbohydrates from this meal to some degree.
You will still want to try to get in at least 1/4 to 1/3 of the day's carbs in this meal, to get the most energy as possible out of them.
Doubling Up On The Pre-Workout Meals
In order to ensure that your energy levels are ideal for a workout, if you have room for the extra calories in your diet, try to get solid carbs in both the meal before a workout, and the one before that.
This way, your muscle glycogen stores will have a good level of carbs in them at all times leading up to a workout, to further maximize energy!
Don't Forget To Eat For Cardio!
Intense weight lifting is not the only form of exercise for which you need to pay attention to your pre-workout nutrition. You should also be sure to fuel the body when doing cardio.
In this section, I will go into how you should eat to provide the body with the necessary fuel for different types of cardio.
By incorporating cardio, even on a mass gaining phase, you can use it to stimulate new muscle growth by fueling yourself with proper nutrition!
Low-intensity cardio means a cardio session such as jogging or riding an exercise bike at an easy pace. You should stay well hydrated, and work up a light sweat.
Low-intensity cardio has been proven to be glycogen sparing. This form of cardio uses mostly free fatty acids as fuel, so you do not need to eat all of your daily carbs before or after it.
Be sure to get a good deal of protein before this activity, though, so that the body does not use existing amino acids as fuel.
High-intensity cardio is usually alternates between maximum-effort for 10 to 30 seconds, and active recovery for about a minute. The best way to perform this is to sprint out on a field, use an elliptical bike, or perform "iron cardio". You will probably work up a huge sweat from this, so be sure to drink extra water!
High-intensity cardio is a lot like working out, because it uses glycogen as the primary energy source. When eating for high-intensity cardio, eat a carbohydrate and protein-based meal, just like you would for a weight lifting session.
Easy & Effective Pre-Workout Meals!
In this section, I will go into some quick pre-workout meals that fulfill all the necessities of a pre-workout meal - a good amount of carbs and protein, with minimum fats.
In these four carbohydrate and protein-based meals, I do not suggest quantities of each food. The necessary amount of food will differ for everybody. Keep in mind, if you are bulking, eat carbs until you are satisfied in this meal.
If you are losing body fat, just try to get 1/4 to 1/3 of your daily carbs here to get as much energy as you can for your workout.
Pre-Workout Meal #1
- Chicken breast
- Wheat bread
- Cottage cheese
This meal has my favorite carb foods, and my favorite proteins as well. What I do is cook the oats, or sometimes eat them raw. I eat the chicken by itself.
I toast the wheat bread until it is very toasty, and then spread cottage cheese on it. This tastes awesome and is my favorite protein snack for any time of day. I add it to my pre-workout meal, though, because it makes me feel full without having to eat as much, so I do not gain weight too rapidly.
Pre-Workout Meal Option #2
- Whole wheat bun
- Nonfat turkey burger
With this meal, I usually make 2 turkey burgers and have that on 2 whole wheat buns, then have some oats to top it off. Lettuce goes well on the turkey burgers.
Pre-Workout Meal Option #3
- Whey protein
- Big bowl of oats
- Cup milk
This is a really simple option. I like to mix the oats, whey protein and milk, and eat like a cereal. You can also mix this up in a blender for convenience. That way, if you are going to be out before your workout, you can slam a quick meal in the form of a shake and be ready 1-2 hours later!
Pre-Cardio Meal (For Low-Intensity Cardio)
- Tuna fish
- Whey protein shake
This meal is extremely simple, as you can see. Just consume some whole food protein and a protein shake and you can get to running after this meal with a steady supply of protein in your body to use for muscle building, or muscle preserving.
Using The Guidelines For A Custom Pre-Workout Meal
The meals above are definitely not the only options out there. You can use any combination of whole-grain carbs and lean protein that you like. Just remember to eat as much carbohydrates and protein as necessary.
Always Leave Time In Between The Pre-Workout Meal & Your Workout!
This might seem obvious to some of you, but you shouldn't just chow down on your pre-workout meal, and then head right to the gym for whatever workout is scheduled. There are two reasons for this.
1 Allowing For Digestion
The more practical reason to give some time in between your pre-workout meal and your actual workout is that you need to give the food some time to actually be digested and get into the muscles. If you eat your meal and then start working out right away, your food will not be fully digested, and it will be sloshing around in your stomach. This leads me to the second reason to give food time to digest.
The stomach is a very sensitive thing. If you've got 2 cups of oats and a cup of cottage cheese on wheat toast sloshing around in there, and you go out for a jog, you are probably going to vomit.
Some people can workout 10 minutes after eating a meal without feeling sick - in fact, I have done a few leg workouts which came right after a big batch of cottage cheese sandwiches without any trouble.
However, I have seen people in the gym who try this, and end up rushing off to the toilet to throw up! This shows that you need to listen to your body after your pre-workout meal. If you start to feel sick right after eating, then give yourself more time.
2 How Long to Wait
Generally, you should try to give yourself 1-2 hours after your pre-workout meal until you start your workout. This will give the carbohydrates time to digest and be metabolized to form glycogen and prevent any sickness that might occur.
Priming The Body With Supplements
There are tons of supplements out there that are useful for before a workout. You can use supplements to give you an extra boost of energy once you have your pre-workout nutrition mastered.
There are also a few supplements that promote focus and intensity. Finally, there are supplements that produce a stronger pump in the muscles, which increases blood flow to them. I will go into these supplements below, and give some recommendations!
Stimulants For A Rush Of Energy
A simple solution to pre-workout energy boosting is a stimulant product, and there are plenty out there to choose from. These products contain a blend of chemicals which will spike energy levels so that you can blaze through your workout!
ErgoPharm AMP is a unique product because it uses the chemical Geranamine to act like adrenaline. This product doesn't just use Geranamine, though, it also includes Chocamine and of course caffeine to add to your energy levels.
Give AMP a shot if you feel that your energy levels are not adequate for your workouts.
Don't confuse the last product with this one (Dymatize AMP'd). Dymatize has always been a very trust-worthy company, which means this product is definitely worth a shot. It is considered more of a fat burner, so those of you who are cutting might benefit from this more than people trying to gain mass.
This product uses a variety of substances to maximize energy, including green tea and caffeine, which are two well-known energy products. AMP'd is definitely a great product choice, and goes hand in hand with a cutting diet, because it is a fat burner and will make up for the lack of carbohydrates pre-workout as much as possible as well!
Increase Alertness & Mental Focus
The supplement industry has come so far that not only do they sell stimulants to boost energy, but also to enhance your workouts through increased focus! Increasing focus can really make a noticeable difference in your workout. If your workouts aren't feeling too enjoyable and you're just waiting for them to be finished because you are so bored, this is EXACTLY what you need.
MRM Driven is one such supplement. This product gives a boost in mental focus and energy all in one!
It also uses contents such as citrulline malate and L-tyrosine to add some benefits to your body composition. If you want to improve mental focus for a workout, give this product a shot!
SciViation NeuroStim is another product that can maximize energy and mental focus. This product combines vinpotecine, DMAE and huperzine A to add to energy and alertness.
Acetyl L-cartinine and choline, which add to brain function which improves mental focus, are also included. NeuroStim will definitely deliver a boost in focus when you need it.
Getting A Vein-Busting Pump
Recent research has shown that a simple muscle pump is more than it is made out to be. Getting a great big muscle pump in the gym is possibly one of the best feelings, because it makes you look huge, and that does anybody's ego good. Too many people take the pump for granted, thinking that it is nothing more than an ego trip; but according to one study, "In the case of leucine and alanine, transit between blood and interstitial fluid was potentially rate limiting for muscle amino acid uptake and release in the post absorptive state" (Miller).
What does this mean, exactly? Well, when you get that explosive muscle pump at the end of your workout, the improvement in appearance might be temporary, but the increased amino acid uptake to muscles won't be.
XYience NOX-CG3 is a product that caught my eye because of the detail that they put into finding quality ingredients. There are 3 different glutamines and 3 different creatines in this product.
What you should notice, though, is the arginine content - the enhanced forms of arginine will really improve its absorption, and this is important because arginine is what improves that muscle pump.
Controlled Labs White Blood is another awesome item that enhances blood transport. It contains a variety of substances that all work to add to the cell-volumization effect, including taurine and arginine.
Don't be scared off by the name, either, like I was at first. It is just another unique product containing arginine, which will really add to your muscle pump.
A Post Workout Shake For Every Set
Let's talk about your average bodybuilder. Your average bodybuilder will go to the gym and hit two muscle groups, such as chest and back. They will go through the whole chest and back workout with no nutrients, leaving the muscles hungry, and then slam that post workout shake right after the final back exercise.
But what about the chest? At the end of their chest training, they had a perfect opportunity to have some protein which would travel directly to the chest to feed that muscle group, so why didn't they take it?
In fact, you can apply this logic to every set. Right after every set, the muscles are pumped with blood, a perfect opportunity to have some protein and carbohydrate and shuttle those nutrients right off to the muscles.
Keep Energy Levels Up!
Sipping your shake in this manner isn't just to pamper your muscles with a constant supply of food, for long-term growth, though. Constantly sipping on a solution of carbohydrates and protein while you work out will keep energy levels high. Think of it as the same thing as sipping a big cup of Gatorade in between rounds in sports.
Reverse Catabolic processes
Consuming a carbohydrate and protein solution during the workout will also prevent blood sugar from dropping. This is very anti-catabolic. Sometimes during a workout, breakdown of muscle tissue can occur, but sipping a during workout shake actually reverses this process! So how do I make one of these magical shakes? Read on to find out.
Constructing The Workout Shake
If the world were perfect, I think a lot of us would have no problems taking a bowl of oatmeal mixed with whey protein to the gym and carrying it around with us from set to set. It's pretty obvious that this isn't a great way to get your during-workout nutrition in. The worst thing that could happen would be if you drop a dumbbell into your oats- or somebody else does, which might be more embarrassing!
When putting together your workout shake, you should take a few things into consideration. First and foremost is nutrient content. Next comes taste. Finally, you need to include a good deal of water. Below, I will discuss how to handle each aspect of the workout shake.
When making up your during-workout shake, you have to pay attention to levels of the three macronutrients - carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. If your stomach tends to be more sensitive, I wouldn't load this shake up with whey protein.
I would recommend getting a Branch Chain Amino Acid product, such as SciViation XTend. Depending on your weight, you will want anywhere from 2 to 6 scoops of XTend in this shake.
If you do not use BCAA's, use a quality whey protein. Whey protein is the next best thing because it does have a high BCAA content by itself.
Try Bioplex Whey Protein - you can purchase a 22 pound container for under 100 dollars! This means it costs 26 cents per serving... wow!
You will also want to address carbohydrate content. Carbs are what's going to be the most anti-catabolic, as they will keep your blood sugar from dropping, and prevent hormonal changes that encourage muscle breakdown.
A supplement that's always worked for me is NOW Dextrose. This form of carbohydrate is very efficient in the body. Too many times I hear people loading their shakes up with 10 tablespoons of dextrose or more. All you need is 10 to 20 grams, or 1-2 tablespoons.
As far as fats go, we will use the same logic as we used for pre-workout- you don't want the fats to slow down your absorption of other nutrients. This is even more true for during-workout nutrition than it is for pre-workout nutrition, actually. Also, I can't imagine too many fat sources that would go well with dextrose and protein powder anyway.
Yes, I said it. Taste actually is important. Jay Cutler might not think about taste, only functionality, but if he was given a 1-month supply of chocolate mint orange blueberry chalk malt Gatorade protein drinks for his during-workout shake, he'd probably be eating his words, and see that protein shake in the toilet before it reaches his muscles. Try to choose a flavor of protein for your workout shake that is easy on the stomach.
Putting a lot of water in your during-workout shake is very important for a few reasons. The main reason is that if you just mix 8 ounces of water into your shake, it's not going to last a whole workout!
An adequate amount of water is also very important to prevent dehydration. Studies show that even 3% dehydration will hurt performance. I would recommend sipping your during-workout shake in moderation, and try to go to the water fountain 2 times for every time you take a dip of your during-workout shake. This way, you don't run out of your during workout shake, and you stay well hydrated as too.
My During-Workout Shake
This is the during-workout shake that I always use. It is heavy on the protein, but it always gives me great results, so I do not see a need to change it. Check it out:
I mix all of this up with 16 to 20 ounces of water in my Bodybuilding.com shaker bottle.
Muscular Repairing & Rebuilding
Post Workout Nutrition
So you're all done with your workout. You have those last few sips of your during workout shake and toss the shaker bottle in the sink. That's enough of this workout nutrition stuff, right? No way! There's one more extremely important part of your workout nutrition plan. When it comes to pre-, post-, and during-workout nutrition, post workout nutrition is the most unique time to take in nutrients.
post workout is when your body really needs the nutrients. You fought off the muscle tissue breakdown using shakes and whole food meals in the during and pre-workout segments, but now is the time when the food you eat is gonna re-build your muscles.
Your post workout meal should come about 30-45 minutes after that last sip of your during workout shake. This is right when your body needs its second wave of food. You should make this meal consist of whole foods, mostly. Again, you must pay attention to protein, fat, and carbohydrate content of this meal.
If the during-workout shake was supposed to keep muscle glycogen levels elevated, the post workout shake is to refill the muscles' glycogen storage completely.
This is especially important if you plan to train for days without rest in between- by refilling glycogen in the muscles in between each workout, you can make sure that you are strong for each workout, and fully fueled.
Another thing of note is that after consuming the sugars that are dextrose in your during-workout shake, your body's insulin levels will be through the roof for about 30 to 45 minutes.
Right after that, though, insulin will drop below normal levels if you do not eat a whole food meal full of complex carbohydrates to balance things out.
Another thing of note is that post workout is the single best time to consume your carbohydrates. After a workout, the blood is pumped into your muscles, aiding in nutrient transport.
Studies have also shown that the glut-4 receptor in the muscles, which is what signals for carbohydrates to be shuttled into the muscle tissue, is more active.
Finally, with insulin levels high from your post workout shake, the muscle cells will be taking in even more carbohydrates! By consuming a good percent of carbohydrates directly after a workout, you limit the amount of fat that is gained while maximizing lean mass gains.
Protein is another macronutrient that is very important for proper recovery. Protein and amino acids are what are going to rebuild your muscle tissue so that you can come back stronger for your next workout.
I would suggest a combination of a lean meat source and whey protein for this meal. The whey protein will provide protein with a Branch Chain Amino Acid content and be absorbed a bit faster, while the lean protein source will give your muscles a more steady supply of protein.
Try not to consume any dairy products after your workout, either. Dairy will slow down your digestion, which will also slow down recovery. This is because the unique casein proteins found in dairy will create a coating in the stomach.
It is alright to drink some milk with your protein shake, but don't go crazy with the cottage cheese and VPX Micellean just yet.
Again, fats are to be minimized in this meal. You want to get those nutrients to the muscles as fast as possible, there is no time for delay!
Don't get me wrong, fat consumption at any other time of day is not to be avoided. Dietary fat is extremely beneficial when it comes to bodybuilding and overall health. Some fats improve anabolic hormone levels such as testosterone naturally. Others will add to joint health. In fact, even the digestion-slowing effects of fat consumption has its place - especially before bed.
But let's get back to the discussion of workout nutrition. In the next section, I will go into some meal examples for post workout time!
Quality Meals For Maximum Recovery
Here are 4 examples of a great post workout meal. See which one you like best! You might notice that these post workout meals look a whole lot like the pre-workout meal examples. Well, that's how its supposed to be. In fact, if you really like one of these meals have it both pre and post workout! Why not? The necessary contents of each meal is pretty much the same.
Remember, I do not suggest quantities of each food here, because everyone will require a different amount of carbs, protein and fats in one meal. Try to get 1/4 to 1/3 of your daily carbs in this meal, though, and get .25 grams per pound of bodyweight in protein as well.
Post Workout Meal #1
- Iron-Tek's Essential Banana Cream whey protein
- Sweet potatoes
It doesn't take too much intuition to figure out what to do here. Mix up the salmon, sweet potatoes, and banana in water, cook the oats in milk, and eat the protein powder dry.
Just kidding! What I usually do is take out the blender throw in some ice, mix in some milk, the whey protein, the banana, and oatmeal. This tastes awesome and is great for sipping on while I eat the sweet potatoes and salmon.
Post Workout Meal #2
- Oats - ground up
- Whey protein
- Egg protein powder
I thought this one up one day where I had to go to work straight from the gym. I just mixed up this shake in the blender, threw it in my bodybuilding.com shaker bottle, and sipped it 30 minutes after my workout was finished.
Post Workout Meal #3
- Non-fat turkey burger
- Whole wheat bun
- Sweet potato
- Whey protein
This is another basic carb and protein meal that I like to have sometimes. Sweet potatoes are pretty much a staple in my diet. They might seem very sugary, but really, the carbs in sweet potatoes are actually more complex than those in a white potato! So eat up those yams.
Post-Cardio Meal Example
- Zero Carb Isopure Whey Protein
- Chicken breast
Not too many carbs here. This meal is for after a low-intensity cardio session, when you don't really need carbs- I discuss this below. You could always add in some sweet potatoes or oats, though, if your daily nutrient goals allow!
Supplements To Speed Recovery & Maximize Gains!
There are a few very effective supplements out there that can be taken post workout. Surprisingly, a lot of them are your basic supplements. Here are five supplements that I recommend for post workout consumption:
Branch-Chain Amino Acids
This term has come up a few times in this article, and I am glad, because it definitely helped out my word count. I didn't just include it for that reason though- BCAA's are extremely effective for helping to shuttle nutrients to the muscles after a workout.
Whey protein is another supplement that is great for post workout. This is an extremely effective form of protein, and also has a high BCAA content. As I stated before, take some whey protein after your workout, but be sure to have a lean protein source from whole food as well!
After a workout, or during one, dextrose is just what you need to keep your strength up. Dextrose will cause an insulin spike, shuttling massive amounts of carbs and protein to muscle cells for repair.
There is not much you need to learn about dextrose, as it is just a form of sugar. I'll cut to the chase - here is a great brand of dextrose from NOW foods.
There are tons of creatines out there, and they all boast different methods to enhance absorption. I'll tell you what will REALLY enhance creatine absorption- consuming it post workout! With all of the insulin shutting nutrients away to the muscles, you will get the most effectiveness from your creatine consumption.
There are some creatine products that are supposed to be taken before a workout, because of other ingredients. Make sure to read the labels!
Citrulline malate is a product so new that the words are not recognized by spell check. This doesn't mean that is isn't safe or effective, though.
While Citrulline Malate may have just hit the bodybuilding supplement scene, it has been used for years before this to treat fatigue and muscle weakness. This product will improve recovery from workouts and improve performance in the gym!
Post Workout Meal for Cardio?
Just like you need to pay attention to pre-workout nutrition, even for cardio, you need to pay attention to post workout nutrition for this form of exercise as well. I will describe how to eat after a cardio session to maximize recovery!
Glycogen Sparing Low Intensity Cardio
Low intensity cardio has been proven to be glycogen-sparing because it uses free fatty acids as an energy source - not your muscle's stores of metabolized carbohydrate!
You can get away with performing a jog and then just consuming some protein afterwards, as long as you remember to eat every 2-3 hours.
Glycogen Using High Intensity Cardio
High intensity cardio, on the other hand, isn't so easy. After a high-intensity cardio session you are going to want to consume a pre-workout meal just like you would after a weight training session.
High intensity cardio is more like weight training than actual cardio, so you are going to want to take advantage of the improved nutrient uptake of the muscles, and use your post workout time to re load the muscle glycogen stores.
The King Of Carbs
If I had to eat just one carbohydrate source for the rest of my life, and had no other options, I would definitely think of sweet potatoes. However, I would then change my mind, because I honestly think that no carb source is as effective as oatmeal, or as cost-efficient for that matter.
There are tons of different brands of oatmeal and different flavors. For me, the only way to go is 100% stone-ground oats. This is delicious and not sugary at all. I use Quaker Oatmeal, which contains about 22 grams of high-quality complex carbs per 1/2 cup, along with 5 grams of fiber.
Oatmeal has it all. The load of fiber will ensure that you stay healthy. Oatmeal also has only a few grams of fat per serving, and all of the fats are healthy ones.
It's protein content can really add up as well. Don't be fooled, though- oatmeal's protein doesn't have the greatest bioavailability- but it still adds some more calories to the diet, which can't hurt.
I also like the fact that oats can be blended up, to eat when time is an issue. This is not doable with most other foods. I've yet to try a sweet potato shake, though.
Other great carb foods include sweet potatoes, whole wheat products, and whole grain cereals. I am an avid cheerios eater, and I used to eat upwards of 4 cups of cheerios in one post workout meal.
Whole wheat products are great because there are a whole bunch of different choices - you can have whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat pretzels, and the list is basically endless from there.
While you should vary your carbohydrate sources to keep things from getting stale, you should always return to oatmeal, and you can always rely on oatmeal when you want a high-quality source of carbohydrates in your pre or post workout meal.
This article went into how to structure your meals when it comes time to work out. This knowledge will definitely make a big difference in your gains and how you feel every day in the gym.
If you already knew these little things that I wrote about, you probably still learned a few things, and reading this again might be a good reminder for you. Pre, during, and post workout nutrition is not all that difficult to master. Don't forget to fuel your cardio with proper nutrition either.
To maximize lean mass gains, and minimize gains in fat, you should focus on your workout nutrition. Working out will leave your muscles like nutrient sponges through various processes.
The workout nutrition can be broken into three areas:
- What you eat to fuel the body before a workout.
- What you consume to keep energy up during your workout.
- What you eat to maximize muscle repair after a workout.
If you eat before and during your workout, your energy levels will be ideal, and muscle breakdown will be minimized. By eating after a workout, you promote muscle growth and recovery!
While you should eat well at all times, and consume several small meals through the day, the meals around your workout are extra important. If you have to slack on your diet all day, the least you can do is eat a whole bunch of food around your workout, because that's when the muscles needs the food most.
The more attention you give to dieting, the more results you should see, and you should have more success as a bodybuilder. Bodybuilding isn't just eating twice as many Big Macs every night to maximize your protein intake. You must pay attention to little details, such as nutrient timing.
2nd Place - Blap Blaow (Tie)
Although I have been training for a few years now and have taken a keen interest in these forums in particular, this will be my first ever post on Bodybuilding.com. The main reason I have chosen to write on workout nutrition is because as a hardgainer, getting my nutrition absolutely right has been important in making great gains; and nutrition doesn't come any more important than pre and post workout.
I am a firm believer in the idea that not all metabolisms were created equal. Therefore I will attempt to present general principles of nutrition and what I've found works for me, along with the reasoning behind it. Exact quantities and the ideal nutritional cocktail for the individual can only realistically be found through personal experimentation, but hopefully this will get you on the right track.
The Build Up
Although post workout nutrition is often given the crown of 'most important meal of the day', the power of the pre-workout meal cannot be underestimated. Ideally, the pre-workout meal should consist of:
- Complex carbohydrates
Pretty simple huh? Complex carbohydrates are carbohydrate sources with a low glycemic index (GI). The reasoning behind eating only low GI carbohydrates is relatively straightforward. GI is a measure of a carbohydrate's immediate effect on blood glucose levels.
Simple carbohydrates are digested more readily and as such have more of an immediate impact on blood glucose levels, and subsequently are given high GI ratings. Conversely, more complex carbohydrates are digested over longer periods and so have less of an impact on blood glucose levels- and so are given lower GI ratings. This should give you an idea of what is low, medium and high:
Low GI = 55 or less
Medium GI = 56 - 69
High GI = 70 or more
Pretty interesting stuff. But why is this all important? Well, first; low GI (complex) carbohydrates are broken down over a long period of time, the products of this digestion (the simple carbohydrates which link to form the complex carbohydrates) are released into the blood stream consistently and over a long period of time. This prevents peaks and troughs in energy and performance allowing you to perform at your constant best throughout your workout.
Secondly, blood glucose levels are what instigate your insulin response. We've all heard about how insulin helps you build muscle by helping to store protein and how it can also help you get fat if you don't control your diet carefully. However, insulin responses can vary over time, particularly if you regularly consume simple carbohydrates.
Your body adapts and gets used to the increases in blood glucose, releasing less and less insulin every time and eventually shutting down insulin production altogether; can you spell D-I-A-B-E-T-E-S? Why is this important? Well, obviously no one wants diabetes. But the more immediate problem for bodybuilders is the less insulin you produce the less protein you will be able to convert into that beautiful muscle we all strive for.
Therefore by consuming nothing but complex, low GI, carbohydrates not only pre-workout, but at every meal, means that when you do get those simple carbohydrates down your insulin response will be far more significant, as will those muscle gains.
Typically, a pre-workout meal would be a cereal based on oats or whole grain, brown rice, brown bread, sweet potatoes, leafy vegetables or whole wheat pasta.
Alongside the complex carbohydrates should be a good source of protein. I prefer a whey shake, simply because of the rate of absorption of whey.
Whey can begin to enter the system from 30 mins after consumption and so if timed right the protein will start floating around your system as you get into your workout.
The source of protein can vary on what you have available (fish, chicken, eggs etc) but as you change the type of protein make sure the time of consumption changes accordingly.
I usually try to avoid fats as much as possible pre and post workout. Fats slow down the digestion process and as such may cause a frame shift in your digestion window, a time when you will want the nutrients to be entering the blood stream as effectively as possible.
Also, whilst working out you ideally want to be coming to the end of your digestion phase so the body can concentrate on supplying blood to the working muscles.
The human body will prioritize blood flow to the organs it deems most important and if you're still in a state of heavy digestion your muscles come way down on the list compared to your loaded digestive tract. As such you won't get the best workout possible and may even get some cramp for your troubles.
Supplementation is a different entity altogether. The number of possibilities for pre-workout supplementation constantly astounds me and since there are many supplements out there I have not tried, I cannot pretend to be an expert on the topic. However, my experiences and knowledge with the following supplements may be useful to some trying to navigate through the myriad of supplements available;
Creatine (Creatine Products)
Not much needs to be said about creatine other than correct hydration whilst on a creatine cycle is vital. I usually try to drink 5 litres of water (1.1 gallons) whilst supplementing with creatine. My 5gm dose is usually mixed in with my pre-workout whey shake.
These are important in any bodybuilding diet, however the need for their supplementation may be questionable. Certain whey powders (particularly those based on whey concentrate rather than isolate) have excellent amino acid profiles and as such supplementing may not be necessary so it may be beneficial to examine the back of your whey container a little more carefully. In the end, as with most things, see what works best for you.
A controversial subject for some, a new mainstay of bodybuilding nutrition for others. My personal experiences with NO2 have not been great and as such I avoid it altogether. For those that get the great pumps and minimal side effects, supplementing with NO2 may be a valuable aid in increasing nutrient enriched blood flow to those muscles crying out to be fed.
The coffee drinkers amongst us will know of the energy giving powers of the hot brown liquid! Joking aside, supplementing with caffeine or other energy supplements can be important in helping with mental concentration and giving you the focus you need to push out that last rep.
However, when supplementing with creatine you may want to watch your caffeine intake. Reports are varied as to how much caffeine and creatine may clash and as always, the best advice would be to listen to your own body - it always knows best.
Another topic of controversy. Although it is beyond doubt that glutamine is important to protein synthesis and muscle development, the need for supplementation, unless maybe whilst cutting, is questionable. Personally, supplementing with glutamine has been beneficial and I continue to do so quite happily.
Typically, a pre-workout meal should be consumed around an hour before your workout. However, this will depend on a number of factors:
- What you have eaten and the type of protein.
- How much time you have available.
- Most importantly, how long it takes you to feel at your best to go work out after a meal.
Supplements vary, but most should be consumed 30-45 mins before the workout (always refer to the individual packaging).
On The Job
Nutrition during the workout should be extremely simple. By timing the pre-workout meal appropriately you should be starting to have the essential macronutrients essential for growth entering your blood ready to feed those hungry muscles.
Also, as stated earlier, the last thing you want during the workout is blood being unnecessarily diverted away from your muscles and to your digestive tract.
The workout is the time for giving your muscles all the attention you can, and as such the only thing you should be taking whilst pumping those muscles water, and plenty of it.
In order to improve hydration I like to add a pinch of table salt per 500ml of water in order to create a mix more isotonic to the body and increase the my rate of hydration.
As opposed to pre-workout nutrition, where complex carbohydrates reign supreme, the post workout carbohydrates should be simple with a high GI. This should be the one meal of the day when this is the case. If it is, your insulin response should be through the roof and those muscles will love you for it!
Complex carbohydrates will not illicit the insulin response you need and the relatively long time it takes for carbohydrates to be broken down are not what you need during that much talked about 'window of opportunity'.
In order to make the most of that window (lasting roughly up to an hour after the end of the workout) and therefore make the best gains, simple carbohydrates are the way to go. Traditionally this has been dextrose. Dextrose (aka glucose) is at the simplest level of carbohydrates and as such is absorbed quickly and easily to give a good insulin response.
The Difference Between Using Alcohol Or Not?
However, studies have shown this post workout cocktail can be made even more potent through the addition of a further carbohydrate - maltodextrin. Although not a simple carbohydrate, maltodextrin has a similar GI to dextrose and as such instigates a similar insulin response.
It has been found that these carbohydrates activate different transport mechanisms within the digestive tract, and so when stacked together become even more potent than either alone. A 50/50 mix is perfect.
Ideally, the post workout protein of choice is whey. This is the quickest and most readily digestible protein available and as such is the only real option post workout.
Again, fats should be avoided post workout. They slow down the digestive process and the one time you don't want to slow the flow of nutrients into your body is during that window post workout.
One thing which must be mentioned is the medium by which these nutrients are delivered. It should be pretty obvious by now that the ideal post workout meal is liquid. This is the most readily digestible form of nutrients; exactly what you are looking for post workout. However, most people would mix them in milk or juice.
These should be avoided post workout. Water will provide the most controllable medium through which the most isotonic solution can be made up (unlike juices) and the fats in milk mean anything dissolved are digested slower than normal. Also, fruit juices may contain fructose. Although this is a simple carbohydrate, the digestion of fructose is far slower than that of either glucose or maltodextrin, making it something to avoid post workout.
Again, I can only advise on what I've used and know. To do otherwise would be both irresponsible and misleading.
Although this was in our pre-workout mix, personally I respond far better to two 5g doses pre- post- workout than a single dose. As with much of this, do whatever feels best for you and what gets you results.
The second of the day's glutamine supplementation. If you are on glutamine and find it gets you results, your third and final dose will ideally be at bedtime.
After a hard and sweaty workout you will have expended a lot of sodium from your body. A pinch of salt in your post workout mix will both help to replenish this vital electrolyte and help in achieving an isotonic solution to improve hydration.
What else but vitamin C of course! Well, personally vitamin C doesn't agree with me at all. Supplementation at even the smallest doses (250mg- 1/4 of a tablet!) gives my stomach nightmares so I avoid it like the plague. If, like most people, you can tolerate it go for it. However, my antioxidant of choice at the moment is green tea extract.
Like with pre-workout nutrition, BCAA's are a matter of personal choice depending on the amino acid profile of your whey. If you still see results with BCAA's on top of your whey, all the better.
Structuring Your Post Workout Nutrition
Taking your post - workout shake is more than a matter of slugging it down as soon as you can. In order to maximize your results a more considered approach is required.
Ratio Of Dry Ingredients
The ratio of protein/carbohydrates is an important factor. Those on a bulking plan will tolerate different levels of carbohydrates than those cutting. Also, in order to make the most of the insulin response instigated by the carbohydrate mix a controlled protein: carbohydrate ratio should be maintained.
When bulking I go for a 2:1 carbohydrate:protein mix
When cutting I go for a 1:1 carbohydrate:protein mix
Amount Of Carbohydrate
I follow a simple rule when calculating the amount of carbohydrate in my bulking mix; 1 gram carbohydrate per 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) Lean bodyweight. So an 80kg guy (176lbs) would want 80gms carbohydrate (40gms dextrose, 40gms maltodextrin) - NB. Half of this can be used when cutting.
With this the amount of protein need for the cocktail can be calculated;
With a bulking ratio of 2:1 and 80gms carbohydrates it can be seen that 40gms protein would be ideal.
Ratio Of Water: Carbohydrate
As those that read the back of their sports drinks will know, achieving a mixture isotonic (of equal concentration) to the body is all important in achieving and maintaining good hydration.
Consequently it is important that enough water is used to avoid a hypertonic (of higher concentration than the blood) solution which could actually dehydrate the body... not exactly desirable. Ideally, a mixture which is 92% water will provide optimum hydration.
In order to calculate this divide grams carbohydrate by milliliters water and multiply by 100. For example, 40gms maltodextrin and 40gms dextrose is 80 grams carbohydrate. Using 1000mls of water this is then an 8% solution - which is 92% water.
Rather than pouring the mix down your throat immediately after the workout, a slightly more sensible approach should be taken. Half of the mixture, along with any creatine, should be taken immediately. This will provide our 80kg guy with 20gms protein, more than enough to sustain him just after the workout.
After 15 mins the second half of the mix should be consumed slowly. Remember, the window of opportunity lasts up to an hour after the end of your workout, so there's no rush. Sipping on the second half of the mix for half an hour will give you a sustained influx of protein when you need it most. This is then time to throw in any other post workout supplements.
Post Workout Cocktail
This all may look a little daunting and more than slightly complicated but it really isn't. The calculations only have to be done when a significant amount of lean mass has been gained or when your goals change. To give you a better idea of how to put it all together, here's an example of a post workout cocktail whilst bulking for our 80kg guy;
Immediately after workout:
- 20g whey
- 20g maltodextrin
- 20g dextrose
- 5g creatine
- Pinch of salt
- 500ml water
Sipped 15- 45mins after workout:
- 20g whey
- 20g maltodextrin
- 20g dextrose
- 5g glutamine
- 5- 10g BCAA's
- Vitamin C/ other antioxidant
- Pinch of salt
- 500ml water
About an hour after I've finished the second half of the post-work out mix I like to have another meal of complex carbohydrates and protein (see pre-workout meal). This ensures I maintain an anabolic state and also I'm pretty hungry after a hard session in the gym. From here on you can reintroduce fats into your diet in the form of fish oils, flax, nuts etc.
The point is not to eat anything anytime, but to eat smart. By having a set meal plan you ensure that you're body is making the most of the nutrients available to it and by timing them around your workouts you ensure that your body is giving it's all in the gym, and equally out of it.
Thank you for reading.
3rd Place - mivi320
Proper Pre, During, & Post Workout Nutrition
It's a given fact that quality nutrition fuels our bodies for maximum performance. The right nutrients, minerals, and macronutrients are needed for the body to function at it's very best. In this article, guidelines for proper pre, during, and post workout nutrition will be discussed.
Proper pre-workout nutrition goes a long way in fueling our bodies for optimal performance. Carbohydrates give our bodies energy to perform at our very best. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle, and fats help maintain a proper hormonal environment.
But what if I was to tell you that getting in the proper pre-workout nutrition and supplementation can drastically change your performance, and conclusively improve your physique? Well, guess what? It's true!
Pre-workout nutrition is vital for increasing the efficiency of a workout. A good rule of thumb is to consume the pre-workout meal 60-90 minutes prior to the actual workout. Preferably the latter for those who can't seem to stomach a meal before working out and experience gastric distress easily.
But for most folks, 60 minutes will suffice. The composition of the pre-workout meal will be determined by the general body mass of the individual. One set in stone standard will not apply to everyone.
That is where trial and error come into play. If the individual responds better to a meal composed of more carbohydrate than protein, then it's foolish to alter the meal.
It's necessary to adjust accordingly to the individual's response, and chart the progress that occurs. That way, adjustments can be made.
Generally, at the pre-workout time frame, carbohydrates should be limited to only "slow-burning carbohydrates."
This will enable an environment that will ultimately encourage constant carbohydrate availability to the body, and conclusively spare glycogen during the performance. Below is a list of these "slow-burning carbohydrates" that will kick up your energy output:
- Whole-grain cereal
- Whole wheat bread
Now that we have the list of the "slow-burning carbohydrates" established, let's move on to the next macronutrient that should be incorporated into the pre-workout meal: Protein. Basically, most trainees respond better with a pre-workout meal composed predominantly of carbohydrate.
But protein should also be incorporated into the pre-workout meal for a number of reasons. Proteins will promote sustained amino acid availability, prevent against muscle catabolism, and fight off hunger cravings. Below is a list of proteins that should be included into the pre-workout meal:
- Red Meat
- Protein supplements
- Lean cuts of pork
- Peanut butter
Again, most folks experience better energy levels after consuming a pre-workout meal consisting of mostly carbohydrates, but proteins should also be included into the pre-workout meal.
What about fats? Are they necessary? Yes for those trainees who train for more than 100 minutes. Why is that? Well, fat delays gastric emptying and will ultimately postpone the release of nutrients that were consumed in the pre-workout meal. That's very beneficial for those who train 100+ minutes.
Generally, for those who train less than 100 minutes, fat is not as significant in the pre-workout meal. Below is a list of fats that can be incorporated into the pre-workout meal for those trainees who train over 100 minutes:
- Olive oil
- Peanut butter (preferably natural peanut butter)
- Nuts and seeds
- Egg yolk
- Fish oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Fatty fish (i.e. Salmon)
Different Strokes For Different Folks
The issue of pre-workout meal composition in relation to the individual's actual training regimen was touched earlier very briefly, but here's a more in-depth look at how the trainee's pre-workout meal should pertain to the training and goals.
For an individual preparing to run a marathon, carbohydrate should predominantly make-up the majority of the pre-workout meal with the addition of some protein and fat.
For more strength-oriented training, protein should be more prevalent with the addition of a plethora of carbohydrate. Different strokes for different folks. For athletes preparing for strength-based activities such as weight training, a meal composed of principally protein and a multitude of carbohydrate will get the job done just fine.
One recommendation for pre-workout meal composition is irrelevant because the actual make-up of the meal should pertain to the individual's training.
A good rule of thumb is for more endurance-oriented training regimens, a pre-workout meal essentially consisting of primarily carbohydrate with the addition of fat and protein will suffice.
Alright, so the proper pre-workout nutrition guidelines have been established thus far, but what about pre-workout supplementation?
Well, supplementation is not a necessity at the pre-workout time period, but proper supplementation can be extremely helpful in maximizing training performance. What supplements can provide the individual with the peak performance they've always wanted? Let's take a look, shall we?
Caffeine is generally classified as a stimulant that improves both mental and physical alertness. It can be found in supplemental form as well as in coffee or tea beverages.
However, supplemental forms of caffeine are more effective for optimizing results training wise because supplemental forms are generally more potent. Caffeine has been shown to enhance performance in weight training, so be sure to take some caffeine pre-workout!
Protein supplementation, preferably through protein powder can be very beneficial during the pre-workout time frame as well. Protein powders have a superb amino acid profile and prevent muscle breakdown.
The availability of amino acids in the bloodstream while performing training is ideal for optimal substrate uptake, thus improving performance. For the right blend to take in at the pre-workout time period, look to whey protein or casein based powders.
Creatine supplementation can be used to get the most out of training for athletes who perform strength based training on a regular basis. Studies have shown creatine supplementation at the pre-workout time frame enables trainees to train more intensely, for longer time periods, and recover at a speedy rate.
BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids
BCAA supplementation has been proven to increase protein synthesis and decrease protein degradation. Supplementing with BCAA in the pre-workout time period allows for anabolism to come into play, slows fatigue while the trainee performs, and significantly prevents against muscle catabolism. Thus, fighting muscle fatigue and improving energy output.
All of these supplements can aid the trainee's performance. However, before including supplementation into the training regimen, analyze the current nutrition program being used.
Supplements will not compensate for poor nutrition habits or hard work. They are solely used to better performance after a proper nutrition and training program have been instituted.
Final Words On Pre-Workout Nutrition
Proper pre-workout nutrition and supplementation go hand and hand with enabling the trainee to perform at his or her very best. Poor pre-workout nutrition and supplementation translate into poor training and workouts. However, by simply following the guidelines in regards to pre-workout nutrition and supplementation, the trainee can optimize energy levels and achieve incredible results!
What About During Workout Nutrition?
During workout nutrition refers to what the individual should ingest during the actual workout. The objective during the workout is to encourage an incessant availability of carbohydrates, which will spare muscle glycogen. Glycogen is basically the "fuel needed for exercise," and without it, performance suffers.
During the workout, the objective is also to encourage the availability of amino acids. By promoting the availability of both carbohydrates and amino acids, the result is a decrease in muscle catabolism and spare in muscle glycogen. And all that happens when a proper pre-workout nutrition and supplement program is set-up!
So in turn, during the workout, fluids other than water are not necessary if you're pre-workout strategy is in check. However, for those of you who like the idea of downing a "during workout" shake, more power to you. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But all in all, it may just become expensive and unnecessary.
In conclusion, when it comes to during workout nutrition, stick with the basics. Staying hydrated by drinking enough water will suffice at this time period, seeing the individual is still absorbing the nutrients that were ingested at the pre-workout meal. Thus, no need for a during workout shake.
Post Workout Nutrition
Post workout nutrition. It's where recovery is started immediately following the workout. After training, cortisol and catabolism are at the highest.
The argument of simple carbohydrates vs. slow-burning carbohydrates at the post workout time frame has been beaten to death. Some say that they experience "leaner gains" when switching to slow-burning carbohydrates from simple carbohydrates.
Personally, I believe nutrient-density is the key to getting the most out of post workout nutrition and enhancing recovery levels. It shouldn't be a matter of simple carbs vs. complex carbs, but rather, a greater focus on overall nutrient-density. An example of this would be:
- 1 serving fruit
- 2 cups skim milk
- 1 scoop whey protein
- 1/2 cup oats
That way, you get the anti-oxidants from the fruit, the insulinogenic and anti-catabolic properties of milk, the quick absorption of amino acids from whey protein, and the whole grain goodness from oats.
With whatever post workout nutrition protocol you chose, be sure to keep the fat content to a minimum, as it delays gastric emptying.
Something you obviously don't want when you're trying to kick start the recovery process as fast as possible. Again, the above is just an example of a post workout shake that focuses on nutrient-density. A meal, which focuses on nutrient-density, at the post workout time frame will also suffice. An example of this would be:
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1/2 cup veggies
- 1 piece of fruit
That way, you get in nutrient-dense grains from the Brown rice to replace depleted glycogen, vitamins and minerals from the veggies, protein and amino acids from the chicken breast, and anti-oxidants from the fruit.
Post Workout Supplementation
Now that we have the post workout nutrition protocol down to a science, what about supplementation? Let's take a look at the best supplements that will aid in recovery at the post workout time frame:
Whey protein is the highest quality protein on the market. After a brutal weight lifting session, the body is in need of amino acids and protein (building blocks of muscle tissue) to kick start the recovery process. Whey protein delivers just that!
L-glutamine is an amino acid that preserves muscle tissue. I'd recommend taking L-glutamine along with your post workout shake or meal if you are in a calorie deficit. That way, muscle tissue will be retained while you drop fat tissue while dieting.
Creatine generates ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) and can be very beneficial at the post workout time frame. Creatine supplementation also enhances the ability for the muscle to store glycogen. This is ideal after a workout, as glycogen is severely depleted, and creatine will immediately restore glycogen stores!
Essential Amino Acids
These are all of the essential amino acids. They can promote protein synthesis in a heartbeat. Just be sure to take some form of CHO (carbohydrate) along with these amino acids, as they can only initiate the rebuilding process with the presence of insulin (which is produced by carbohydrates).
Post workout nutrition and supplementation goes a long way in maximizing recovery and fighting off all of the elements related to catabolism. With the guidelines I have suggested, you'll be enhancing recovery and performance in no time!
What Is The Best Carb Source (If Any) For Post Workout? Why?
The best carbohydrate source for post workout, in my opinion, is a complex carbohydrate. For the most part, my post workout nutrition shake looks like this:
- 2 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons dextrose
- 1 banana
- 1 scoop whey protein
As you can tell, I really focus on nutrient density. Mainly because that's what I respond best to. However, each individual is different and everyone responds differently to various stimuli. Therefore, some may prefer 50g of straight dextrose and 1-2 scoops of whey protein.
While others may prefer 2 cups of oatmeal and a few scoops of whey protein. So all in all, it really depends on the individual and what he or she responds best to. In conclusion, there is no "best carbohydrate source" for post workout because it all comes down to the individual's preferences.
3rd Place - DSM18 (Tie)
How To Maximize Gains In The Gym By Eating Properly Before, During & After!
Nutrition is just as important as training itself at gaining fitness, looking good and even gaining strength. Training will only break down the muscle, but the food you consume contains the ingredients to refuel your energy, reefed muscle tissue and make you grow.
Although your diet is important in whole, what you choose to eat before, during and after your workout is particularly important to maximize your gains from training. This short period is a time of high physical demand and the body is literally crying out for nutrients.
The first part is pre-workout nutrition - it supplies your body with glucose that is converted to primary source of energy that fuels you during workouts, glycogen.
Nutrition mid-workout arguably will act to sustain this energy so you don't burn out during your workout, and at this time the muscles are overly sensitive to nutrients as blood is rushing into them.
Then there is post workout nutrition, which only until recently has been given the emphasis on how important of a factor it is in terms of muscle growth. Metabolism is boosted for at least 8 hours after your workout.
Nutrients are transported through the body quicker at this time, and most of what you eat is used for muscle growth, over other body processes, particularly within 3 hours after training. This also means you can eat more at this time and not overly concern yourself with storing the calories as bodyfat.
So, what should be eating at these critical times?
The meal should contain between 25-50 grams of protein, 50-75 grams of carbohydrates and no more than 15 grams of fat. Protein and fat are recommended here for several reasons:
- They both aid in lowering the affect of the carbohydrate on sugar levels.
- Protein will store the body with amino acids that the body will use during training to prevent premature muscle breakdown.
- Fat is a secondary energy source and is often called for during intense exercise.
- Both should be eaten as part of any healthy balanced caloric intake.
It's important to get a meal in only 30 minutes before your actual workout. This is important because carbohydrates only act to raise blood sugar levels for two and a half hours.
If you eat a meal pre-workout it has to be at least 3 hours before hand, and then you'll only experience the tail-end, or "winding down" of glycogen from your meal. The only way truly sustained energy can be achieve without the side affects of indigestion during training is through a liquefied drink drank 30 minutes to an hour before your workout.
A protein shake is the perfect pre-workout meal. But more importantly, while working out, your muscles are filled with blood, and more than anytime else during the day, are extremely sensitive to nutrients.
Whenever you ingest a protein shake prior to training, these nutrients will be running around your bloodstream for the next 2-2 1/2 hours, and will go straight to the site of the muscles being trained.
This is the perfect opportunity, even more so than post workout, to get your body building specific nutrients straight to muscles, over other body processes the same nutrients could be used for.
Your protein shakes don't have to be limited in the amount of nutrition they contain - i.e: milk contains protein; carbs, calcium etc, but be creative and add other high energy foods and create a health/muscle building shake. They can also be absolutely delicious, something you can look forward to before your workouts.
- Adding peanut butter, which is high in zinc, magnesium, essential fatty acids and low in saturated fats.
- Cocoa, which has a relaxing, and focusing affect on the mind, and we all the know how important feeling good has on our workout intensity.
- Then there is honey, containing a sweet tasting, low GI substitute for table sugar.
- Banana's that are full of B vitamins, to provide your body with the energy during the workout
- Brewers yeast, natures highest source of B-vitamins.
- There's also lecithin, molasses, wheat germ and linseed oil.
All of which are some of the most nutritious, natural foods found on this earth. A protein shake is what has always been my pre-workout nutrition, and if I didn't make me feel the way I did, I wouldn't keep drinking it so enthusiastically.
- 500 mls of high protein
- Skim milk
- 1 serve of Ion Exchange whey protein
- 1 teaspoon of brewers yeast (this has a funny taste, you can also take it tablet form instead, or skull it down quickly to get it out of the way)
- 1 tablespoon of linseed oil, which I pour over the protein
- 1 tablespoon of wheat germ
- 1 tablespoon of cocoa
- 1 table spoon of molasses.
If you're able to mix it together in a shaker bottle, over blending it would be good, because blenders can heat up the juice and destroy nutrients. I also don't usually have a banana as I find it adds fiber to the drink and is heavier on the stomach.
Low Glycemic Index
This meal, or preferably protein shake, should have a low-glycemic index. (If you are unfamiliar with the concept, there is additional information at the end of the article explaining the basics of the G.I principle). Low G.I will ensure that your blood glucose levels remain at a stable level, rather than giving you an instant energy that will quickly evaporate.
It's important to closely monitor the G.I. of this meal. It's not only important to select a low G.I. carbohydrate, but to consider its glycemic load - the total amount of carbohydrates at that particular G.I. To calculate the G.I. of a meal, add up the G.I. of each carbohydrate selected, and the amount of carbohydrates, then find the average total G.I.
This basically means that you will get the energy affect of 60 grams of carbohydrates, but it is released slowly. Just because its low GI doesn't mean there's no chance of experience a "crash" or fast decrease in energy as is associated with High G.I foods.
If you eat a food with a Low G.I, but a excessively high amount of carbohydrates (glycemic load), you'll still crash, but it'll won't happen as quickly as a high GI food. So, with that said, keep total carbohydrates at a moderate amount, regardless if the food is Low GI.
Some Notes On Protein Shakes:
- Whey protein doesn't have a strong GI lowering affect, as it is quickly digest. On the other hand, Soy protein acts to lower GI significantly more.
- Full fat milk has a higher GI than skim milk, but only marginally.
- Honey of the natural variety, i.e: yellow box, orange blossom, have lower GI than commercial honeys.
- Instant oats have a GI around 70, and even higher if soaked, compared to unprocessed oats (55).
Pre-workout supplements greatly depend on your financial situation more than anything. Ideally, to get maximum results from your bodybuilding, you should take around 20-30 tablets, but realistically we can only afford a certain amount. That doesn't mean gains will suffer - at least we have supplements available, and its up to us to select whats best. That should be based on firstly, what we as individuals really need, and secondly, the quality of what's out there.
When selecting supplements, to make it easier, I recommend separating everything into smaller groups of what you need.
Amino acids - BCAA's, specific amino acids, ie: Arginine.
Energy suppliers - B-vitamins, gurana/ginseng.
Cell volumizers/mass - creatine, whey protein.
Then add up your budget on how much you are willing to spend on supplements, and select the best from each group.
Prior to a workout, whey protein is essential. It provides you with BCAA's, will set up an anabolic response, and if taken in the right quantity will mean you won't require a separate amino acid supplement.
Then there is creatine, which should be taken prior to your workout in 5 gram dosages. It's best taken with simple carbohydrates, so another option is to take it with an energy drink during training. Creatine is a natural substance found in the body, used for short length, explosive activities such as sprinting and lifting weights, that both require a quick burst of energy.
It can be found in red meat and chicken, but through supplementation will reach the muscle quicker, especially if the supplement contain synergist micronutrients that assist its cell-transportation. Creatine before workout will refuel your muscles ATP levels, and provide longer lasting anaerobic endurance. It will basically mean your muscles will take longer to fatigue, and also as supplementation leads to increased stores within the muscle, people believe it has a cell volumizing affect, making the muscle bodies appear fuller and more prominent.
With protein, amino acids and creatine aside, there are supplements available that will solely give you that boost of stamina and endurance we all need. B-vitamins is a popular supplement that can be taken daily.
Unless it's a sustained released formula, instead of taking your B-vitamins in the morning, try taking it pre-workout. A good B-vitamin supplement is one that is balanced, and contains all the B-vitamins in the right proportions.
Ultimately, the result of taking this supplement, particularly the thiamin and riboflavin, is more effective transference in the body of ingested carbohydrates into energy you can use in your workouts.
B-vitamins taken together, rather than supplemented individually (such as B1, or B2), because vitamins don't work alone in the body - they all have synergists, and taken with other vitamins will better enhance their absorption. Also, balance is the key, too much of one particular vitamin can lead to deficiency in another vitamin.
Other than vitamins, there are herbs such as guruana and ginseng that are known to enhance stamina and promote better adaptability to both physical and mental stress. Both caffeinated herbs are used to professional athletes to enhance performance.
There are supplements available that combine B-vitamins with other nutrients and herbs to enhance the action of the vitamins, creating more of a stronger affect. These are more economical than purchasing both herbs and B-vitamins individually.
Take an antioxidant formula. Intense training increases the body's dangerous free radicals. Antioxidants work at protecting the body from the affects of free radicals - such as cell damage, which could potentially lead to cancer.
Because generally body builders have a healthy lifestyle, avoiding other factors like pollution, smoking and unhealthy food means we are at lower risk, but should still take precaution.
These also have roles in detoxifying the body, cleaning the liver and aiding in digestion. They are better taken before the workout to increase your stores and act as a prevention.
So a sample, money friendly, pre-workout supplement regime could be:
Whey protein: A good quality brand, with a good reputation. Also, think about getting whey that has been filtered for taking out impurities which leaves only whey.
This means less fat and carbs, lactose and other possible things in milk like hormones, and more protein and as a result more muscle. Look for additives too, such as artificial sweeteners and flavors, and if the protein has added, specific body building micronutrients or amino acids (particularly glutamine) even better.
- Creatine (5gr)
- BCAA amino acid supplement (1)
- Complex energy supplement (1)
- Caffeine (150mg)
Although it seems simple on paper, it includes everything you need - protein/amino acids for muscle growth/growth hormone stimulation, creatine for cell volume, and herbs and micro nutrients for stamina, without blowing your budget. This leaves you enough money to buy the expensive food required in a body builder's diet, and all other daily expenses.
If you have a protein shake 30 minutes before you workout, this should fuel your blood sugar throughout your whole workout. The main reason to ingest a during-workout drink is to refuel your glycogen levels, but this really isn't necessary if you eat only shortly before the workout.
It takes some people more than others to get the energy they need, so for those who feel less than 100%, another hit of sugar during the workout may help. What should you drink if you need another boost? Providing your workout doesn't exceed 90 minutes, then consume a High GI drink. If you plan on doing cardio after your workout, avoid a high GI drink so you don't crash towards the end.
What's the point of drinking a low G.I meal that supposed to maintain sugar levels throughout the workout, then drink a high GI meal during training? Won't it be pointless drinking a low GI meal prior to training?
The answer to this is that if you drink a high GI drink during training, it won't sharply, and dangerously increase the G.I. This is because when you consume a high GI meal only shortly after a low GI meal, your body is still digesting the carbohydrates from the previous meal, and the high G.I meal won't affect you quickly.
Other than choosing a drink with a high G.I, a good energy drink would contain micro nutrients that provide endurance and energy. These include B-vitamins (B1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 12), Vitamin C, electrolytes to replace lost fluids (potassium, sodium), folate, zinc and iron.
There are plenty of energy drinks marketed for sports and to promote endurance, but choose wisely. Many are no more than a double dosage of extreme fast release carbohydrates, and filled with artificial additives. Only one step better are those with electrolytes.
If you want a quality energy drink, choose one with little, or no chemical additives, and one that contains sugar, micronutrients, electrolytes and even energy herbs. Varieties I buy here in Australia are:
- MyZone water
- Thorpedo water
- Solis Adrenalin
- Herbal World Energizer
Water is the vital ingredient for so many of the bodies functions - it assists nutrient transportation, cleanses the bodies internal organs, hydrates us during strenuous activity, and clears our minds to make us feel sharp. Our bodies are made up of more water than anything else, and it's the most important of all nutrients.
So how much water should you consume during training? I recommend no less than one liter, drank slowly and in equal quantities throughout the workout. Is there ever too much? It is possible to overhydrate.
During the day you shouldn't drink more than 1 liter per any hour, but during training is an exception, the limit here should be not to exceed 1.5-2 L per hour. Pure water is always the best choice, but if it seems silly to buy water, tap water is better than other drinks. You'll find the more you drink, the more you will sweat, so if that becomes a problem, monitor how much you're drinking.
Post Workout Nutrition Diet
Post workout nutrition is the most important meal over any other during the day. Breaking down muscle tissue occurs in the gym, but it's afterwards where you rebuild what you've broken down.
The first step to this process occurs directly after training. This is a critical time where your muscles are in starvation mode; they are craving for quality nutrition to put back in what's been taken out.
This period lasts 8 hours after a workout, but is particularly strong for 3 hours after you train. Your muscles are going to the first site of transportation - protein isn't going to be sent to your skin or hair where it would take a priority at other meals, but take a shortcut to the site of the muscles you've trained.
And you don't have to concern yourself with gaining body fat from eating more than usual - at this time the combined affect of your boosted metabolism and recuperation from training means your body is going to use up every gram of macronutrients for muscle rebuilding.
What Should You Eat After Training?
It's best to consume a solid meal if you had a protein shake before training because your last meal was most likely around 5 hours ago. With our busy lifestyles, getting good quality nutrition from home cooked meals is difficult, so if you train after work like a lot of people. It's a good to cook a nutritious meal when you have the time, and when your body needs it the most.
You should eat around 30-50 grams of protein with this meal. Anymore more and it will slow down your digestion, and any less won't be sufficient for muscle recovery. They say 30 grams is best for most efficient protein digestion. I recommend 15 grams of fat, and 75 grams of high glycemic index carbohydrates.
You should try and have a balance in your protein intake at this time - Choose animal proteins that are low in saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium. Best are veal and beef over lamb or any mince meat. With chicken and turkey; choose breast fillets over drumsticks.
Good choices are lean meat such as veal or beef that is high in iron, zinc and creatine, over higher fat minced meat. Omega 3 rich fish such as salmon, trout and sardines and seafood and either some turkey or chicken breast (Over drumsticks) or seafood.
Generally per 100 grams of protein cooked = 25 grams of protein. Remember, also that 140 grams raw = 100 grams cooked. Avoid overheating the protein, or cooking for too long to avoid protein spoilage, or cooking it in water. If you're the type who doesn't mind it tasting flavorless, try to add as little as you can to the meal ie: sauces, salt, oil.
It's a good idea to eat a fat such as olive oil, because it is easy to measure servings (15 grams = 1 tbsp.) and won't fill you up like nuts/avocado might. What carbohydrates are best for post workout? There is a big debate on fast release vs. slow release carbohydrates. It is true that the majority of a body builder's diet should contain slow release carbohydrates, but after training is an exception.
Slow release, or low G.I, means that carbohydrates are traveled through the blood stream at a slower pace, ensuring throughout the day you muscles are constantly being nurtured. It's not only carbohydrates, but anything you ingest; your body will slow its entire digestion function so nutrients reach their site slower, but more steadily.
Although this is the way they body needs to be treated during hours when you're not training, such as during the day, the hours after training the state your body is in is vastly different to any other time of the day, and the nutritional requirements different also.
Weight training, or any physical activity has the physiological affect of decreasing blood sugar levels, hence the reason it is highly recommended to those with diabetes.
And because the body uses carbohydrates as one of the main fuels during intense exercise, the amount of sugar in your body after training is very low, and the rate it is traveling within your body is slower than any other time.
This is why after a hard exercise session, you sometimes crave a quickly digested form of carbohydrates such as white bread or confectionary. A craving is a sign your body needs a particular nutrient within that food.
How much carbohydrates? As sugar levels are lower than usual, at a time your body needs more than usual, it is recommended you consume a relatively high amount. 75 grams is perfect.
If you're a big eater, and already consuming this amount with every meal, then consider increasing the amount to 100 grams. Try and get the meal in as quickly after training as you can, the sooner the better, so don't bum around the gym after your workout for too long.
Having a meal that's quickly prepared is ideal here - such as tinned sardines or salmon (Read the pack carefully because not all contain the same amount of Omega 3).
To save time you can cook your potatoes or rice or any carb you choose while you're eating your protein to save time. Alternatively, eat around 6 slices of wholemeal bread, or any other raw carb.
Avoid a vegetable such as broccoli, because the fiber will lower the G.I. But it is still important to get in antioxidants, consider juicing fruits and vegetables 1-2 hours after your workout. Try Strawberries, blackberries, carrots, silverbeet and beetroot. Also, take a BCAA if you believe you need one.
Nutritious high G.I carbohydrates for post workout include:
- brown rice (80)
- wholemeal bread (80)
- potatoes (85)
- watermelon (72)
- oats (if they are drenched in water - 72)
It's a good idea to eat your protein before your carbs. You body begins to digest nutrients, including carbohydrates the moment you eat them through a gland in the mouth. As protein lowers blood sugar, eating protein after your carbs means you will get a high from the carbs for only a few minutes before it is lowered again.
What Is The G.I Of Common Carbohydrates?
Grains: All rice, white and wholemeal breads have high G.I. On the other hand oats, wholemeal pasta, muesli and barley have low G.I.
Processed Food: Almost all processed food with high sugar content has a higher G.I, such as soft drinks, candy and potato chips.
Vegetables & Fruit: most contain very low level of carbohydrate so their G.I is non existent. Carrots have a low G.I if eaten raw, but high if cooked. The more you cook a food, the higher the G.I will be. Potatoes, turnips, and beetroots all have high G.I, but sweet potatoes, green beans and snow peas have low G.I's.
Majority of fruit is low G.I, including dried fruit. The lowest G.I fruit are Cherries 25, apples and pears: 36, summer fruits like peaches and apricots, around 40, Oranges 44. Most juices have slightly higher G.I than the fruit. All melons, watermelon, honey dew, papaya, rock melon have high G.I.
I hope the article has helped you in some way. Good luck with your fitness and nutrition goals!
Additional Information On The G.I.
Every carbohydrate you consume affects your blood sugar levels, but not all are the same. There are those that provide a quick burst of energy (High G.I) and those that provide a sustained release of fuel (Low G.I). Low G.I are the preferred source and generally lower in additives, higher in fiber and vitamins and minerals. They also tend to be lower in calories. These foods are fruits, vegetables, legumes and some grains such as oats.
Each food is given a particular number that represents how much of an impact the food has on blood sugar levels - the lower the number, the more longer it takes to digest, and therefore provides longer lasting energy. Anything below 60 is low G.I, up to 70 is moderate and above 70 is high.
If your a big eater, and have a high protein diet like most of us do, it's a good idea to mix high G.I carbs, over low G.I, with a high protein meal. This is because if you eat A LOT, you might get indigestion. Generally, the more protein or fat you eat with a meal, the higher the G.I can be for the carbohydrate, but always make sure the portion size is controlled.
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Pre, During, And Post Workout Nutrition
As we should all know already nutrition is undoubtedly the most important factor in the fitness lifestyle. Unfortunately a lot of people get nutrition wrong, and that is the reason why they are not seeing noticeable results.
One of the most critical times to get your nutrition right is before, during and after a workout. Not only does it aid in your recovery but it also gives you more energy to beat your personal records every session.
Supplementation is also important however to a lesser extent then nutrition, which really holds the key to your performance and recovery. There are many ingenious supplements on the market that will aid you greatly during the pre/during/post workout period whether it be by increasing energy or replenishing depleted nutrient level after a workouts and aiding with recovery.
Water is another important ingredient during this period of time. 55-65% of your body is fluid and water is the body's main mean of transporting nutrients and removing wastes from the body (primarily in the plasma which is 70% water).
Before I discuss what you should be putting into your body, I will inform you of each of the main macronutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fats:
Proteins are known as the building blocks of muscle. Proteins are composed of smaller units - amino acids, of which there are 9 which can not be produced in the body and must be consumed in the diet (essential amino acids). Proteins that contain all essential amino acids are known as complete proteins. All animal derived produce (e.g. animal flesh, egg products, milk products etc.) is a complete protein.
- Construct and repair muscle tissue
- Prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue (muscle catabolism)
- Meat (steak, chicken, lean beef, etc.)
- Whey powder
- Cottage cheese
- Canned tuna
Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy. They can be simple sugars (monosaccharide) or complex (polysaccharides). Simple sugars take less time for the body to digest than complex carbohydrates, which means they provide a more instant source of energy.
Glycemic Index is another way to used to define the digestion rate of carbohydrates. Basically what the glycemic index does is a ranking for carbohydrates on the immediate effect they have on blood glucose levels. So higher GI carbohydrates will have a big effect, immediately on blood glucose levels, meaning energy will be released over a short period of time, while lower GI carbohydrates will have a lower effect, immediately on blood glucose levels, meaning energy will be released over a longer period of time. Here's a basic guide to go by:
Low GI = < 55
Moderate GI = 56 - 69
High GI = >70
- Primary source of energy
- Whole wheat/Grain bread
- Whole wheat/Grain pasta
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Oat bran cereal
- Fresh fruits
- Fresh vegetables
Fats are important for many bodily functions. There are 2 types of fats, saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and high amounts of unsaturated fats in the diet have been linked with atherosclerosis (clogging, narrowing and hardening of the coronary arteries) and coronary heart disease. Unsaturated fats can come as monounsaturated fats or polyunsaturated fats. They tend to be liquid at low temperatures and are known to help lower blood cholesterol levels.
- Stored energy
- Important for fat soluble vitamins
- Requirement for normal cell functioning
- Olive oil
- Fish oil
- Flax seed oil
- Natural peanut butter
- Energy availability - glycogen levels
- Prevention of muscle catabolism
- Protein - medium to fast digesting
- Carbohydrates - low to moderate GI carbs
- Fat - only required if you train longer than 1.5 hrs
Protein is the building blocks of muscle and whey protein is a cheap fast digesting protein. Taking it post workout will be of great benefit to you as it prevents muscle catabolism occurring during your workout.
A compound that increases ATP (Adenosine Tri Phosphate - the body's energy currency) storage in muscles. Creatine is of great benefit to you pre-workout because it increases energy storage so you can workout at a greater intensity every session.
A useful blend of amino acids (building blocks of proteins) for the body. They are helpful pre-workout as they further help prevent muscle catabolism occurring during your workout. They are also metabolized in the muscle, instead of the liver which means build new proteins or be burned as fuel to produce energy.
- 1 serving of lean meat (e.g. chicken, beef, fish etc.)
- 1 serving of low to moderate GI carbohydrates (e.g. starchy vegetables, legumes, oats etc.)
- 1 cup of fibrous vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, spinach, cabbage, onions, carrot)
- Plenty of water
- 1 scoop of whey protein
- 1 serving of lw to mderate GI fuit
- Blend with water/milk
Pre-workout nutrition is very underrated. Everyone seems to place emphasis on the post workout meal, getting in the fast digesting protein and high GI carbs, when in fact the pre-workout meal is just as important, and for many consists of absolutely nothing.
The idea of the pre-workout meal is to fuel your body, providing it with energy to lift heavy weights, break PRs, run faster times, or whatever it is...
If you don't have a proper pre-workout meal, you are not getting the most out of yourself, so give your body the fuel it requires to perform at maximum intensity and get more out of your workouts.
During Workout Nutrtition
- Energy availability - glycogen levels
- Prevention of muscle catabolism
- Protein - fast digesting
- Carbohydrates - moderate to high GI carbs
- See under pre-workout supplements
- See under pre-workout supplements
Liquid Meal (sip on during workout)
- 600mL of Gatorade solution
- 1/2 scoop of whey protein
This is not as important for the weightlifter, unless they trains well over 90 mins, which some of you may well do, however it is important for an endurance athlete, such as soccer players, basketball players, marathon runners and boxers, who are often at risk of losing quite a bit of muscle mass during a lengthy training session/competitive match.
However if as a weightlifter you choose to take in a shake during your workout it will definitely not harm you, but all in all it is unnecessary and since energy demands and depletion of glycogen from muscles is much less for weightlifters, in comparison to endurance athletes.
Post Workout Nutrtition
- Assist recovery - replenish glycogen, amino acid and water levels
- Protein - fast digesting
- Carbohydrates - moderate to high GI carbs
- Helps replenish depleted amino acid levels after a workout, which assists with recovery from a workout. Being a fast digesting protein it is particularly important at this time above any other time.
- Helps replenish lost muscle glycogen, hydrate cells and preserve muscle proteins after a tough workout.
- A simple sugar that helps replenish depleted glycogen levels in muscles, by stimulating insulin response.
- Further assists in replenishing depleted amino acid levels after a workout, which in turn helps with recovery.
- 1 serving of lean meat (e.g. chicken, beef, fish etc.)
- 1 serving of moderate to high GI carbohydrates (e.g. rice, bread, potatoes)
- Plenty of water
- 1-2 scoops of whey protein
- 1 serving of high GI carbs (e.g. maltodextrin, pure dextrose, PowerAde/Gatorade)
- Blend with water/milk
I said earlier that the pre-workout meal is very underrated, but this definitely does not mean the post workout meal is over rated, because there's no doubting it is one of the most important meals of the day, for both endurance athletes and power athletes, such as weight lifters.
Replenishing your body with nutrients after a workout is one of the most important parts of recovering from a workout, and doing it right will be of great benefit to your body. If you do not have a 'during workout meal' then you should be having your post workout meal ASAP after your workout, or towards the end of your workout (5-10 mins from the end).
Nutrition is believed to be the most important factor in the fitness world. It is important you get nutrition right or you will not see the results you should be getting.
The most critical time to get nutrition right is before, after and during your workout. All are very important, particularly before and after your workout. Your aim should be on preventing muscle catabolism (pre/during/post), providing energy to your body (pre/during) and replenishing glycogen, amino acid and water (post), during these times.
Supplementation will also aid you during these periods, however if your nutrition is not sound the effects will be negligible. There are many brilliant supplements on the market that will help you significantly during the pre/during/post workout period, by increasing energy or replenishing depleted nutrient levels and aiding with recovery.
Also don't forget to stay hydrated throughout this time. 55-65% of your body is fluid and water is the body's main mean of transporting nutrients and removing wastes from the body (mainly in the plasma which is 70% water).
What Is The Best Carb Source (If Any) For Post Workout? Why?
As I stated under 'Post Workout Nutrition' because your goal is to replenish glycogen levels, so you must consume carbohydrates after a workout. When making your choice it is best to go with moderate to high GI carbs as they will cause an insulin spike, which makes the pancreas secrete insulin into the bloodstream which instigates the storage of excess glucose (the principle carbohydrate) as glycogen in the muscles.
If you are looking at a high GI carbohydrate source. There are many choices you can go with, such as pure dextrose, maltodextrin and sports drink powders, such as Gatorade and PowerAde, or grains, such as white rice and white bread. Potatoes are another suitable and popular option.
If you want a moderate GI carbohydrate source in your pre-workout meal then the options are more limited. Rolled oats, Oat bran cereal, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread are all good options as are high glucose fruits such as grapes, dates, banana and pineapple.