If you walk into a gym or fitness center today, you will see more people lifting weights rather than performing popular activities of the past such as basketball, volleyball, and racquetball. The need for the right pre workout supplement, meal or drink benefits everyone from the competitive body builder to those performing weight resistance training. If you are lifting weights, the goal is to build muscle and lose fat regardless of your experience and competitive level. The best way to do this is by understanding your pre workout supplement is all about protein!
While most Americans eat a diet high in carbohydrates, it is protein which is the key building block in the body. Protein builds muscle mass, helps you to lose weight, and increases your energy. Further benefits for weight lifters include improved recovery time, physical performance, strength and lean body mass.
Besides building muscles and developing lean body mass, another benefit of protein is that it increases satiety. In other words, protein helps you to fill satisfied rather than hungry according to a 2008 study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
How Much Protein?
Most studies recommend a minimum of 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram for athletes. This equates to .5 grams of protein per pound. This means a 120 pound female athlete should ingest at least 60 grams of protein per day while a 160 pound male athlete should have 80 grams of protein per day. An interesting side note regarding protein is the declaration by a German Chemist in the 1890’s that a working man should have 110 grams of protein each day. Sorry ladies but Leibig did not provide statistics for you in his analysis.
The recommended dietary allowance, as given by the U.S. Center for Disease Control, is 46 grams for women and 56 for men. The amount for athletes is considerably more. The recommended guideline is 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight from the American Dietetic Association in conjunction with the American Colleges of Sports Medicine, and Dietitians of Canada. Endurance athletes need 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram while strength athletes need 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram. The recommendations also indicate protein needs beyond these ranges do not provide an additional benefit to athletes.
Pre and Post Workout Protein
Taking a post workout supplement is just as important—in fact it is more important—than your pre-workout supplement. In the first 40-60 minutes following your workout, your body experiences a ‘golden hour’. During this golden hour, your muscles absorb more protein than they will at any other point during the day. It is therefore just as important to focus on your post workout supplements as it is to focus on your pre workout ones.
So what should you be trying? Well, a lot of bodybuilders are fans of whey protein. Whey is digested rapidly, which means you make the most of that golden hour in the right way. It also initiates more tissue repair than casein alternatives. This is important, as you add bulk onto your muscles as part of the tissue repair process. Faster repair means faster growth.
As well as considering whey, take a look at creatine-based supplements. When your body is metabolizing energy, it can either turn to ATP or creatine as a protein source. Creatine is more efficient in burning energy than ATP, so providing your body with a steady source of it is essential for workout success. Creatine will encourage you to lose fat, because it helps your body burn more of it. At the same time, it is going to help you reduce fat gain, even when you include fats in your diet. If you are choosing to eat eggs as part of your post-workout snack regimen, this means you can benefit from the proteins and cholesterol, while reducing the amount of fat your body absorbs.
Another major benefit of creatine is that it aids your body’s inflammatory processes. In the long-term, this means you reduce the oxidative stress that can lead to diseases which are characterized by chronic inflammation. Long-term use of creatine means you will enhance your skill and precision during sports. When your attention levels start to drop and you no longer feel like working out, this is always handy.
So how do you add whey and creatine to your diet? Two of the simplest ways are using bars and shakes. However, you need to exercise caution when choosing your supplements. Sorry guys, but any shake that comes with the label ‘high-energy’ is likely to be packing more sugar than you need. When choosing a supplement like Condense or Natural that will become a part of your workout arsenal, read the label carefully and do the same if you ever make a switch.
Which Pre-Workout Supplements Work Best for Women?
You know that a long hard training regimen is the best way to get the body you want and you have your heart set on a top pre-workout supplement such as Assault or Ravage. So which ones are best for women? Thankfully, you ladies don’t need to guess your way through this process, as there is a whole market out there for women.
If you are serious about boosting your workout efforts, consider the following:
- Twenty grams of whey protein: Mix your protein in with water when you wake and add on another 20g following your workout. Whey breaks down quickly to send those amino acids to your muscle and it is easy on the digestive system. Honestly, the last trauma you need when working out is a heavy digestive system.
- Nitric Oxide Boosters: Nitric oxide is your most basic vasodilator. Taking it before you workout increases the blood flow to your muscles by relaxing them. With a dose of NO, you can make sure the amino acids you consume flow through to your muscles faster.
- Casein protein: If you are planning on engaging in a long workout, casein may be better for you than whey. Unlike whey, casein is not fast to digest. This means it is going to release those amino acids slowly, allowing you to get the most out of a long morning run, hiking, or a few hours in the gym. For maximal effects, make sure you take 20mg before bedtime.
- Creatine shakes: Creatine is an amino acid that occurs naturally inside your muscles. It helps your body take up energy fast during your workout, which means you need a steady supply of it to get the most out of other proteins you consume. With creatine, you can boost your endurance and strength, allowing you to go at your workout for longer.
- Beta Alanine: Are you a lady who wants to bulk? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Beta alanine is a non-essential amino acid, but it does come together with histamine—which you release in abundance in response to physical strain—to form carnosine. After creating carnosine, you can enjoy access to a compound that enhances your muscle size while improving your endurance.
Which Pre-Workout Supplements Work Best for Men?
The men’s pre-workout supplement is a tough world. Aggressive marketing tactics mean that many supplements will claim to be 10,000 times more potent than the others. Really, you need to just get back to basics and understand what really works:
- Whey protein powder: Whey is absolutely essential, because it will form a crucial element of your body’s attempts to engage in protein synthesis. It digests rapidly, gets to your muscles swiftly, and does the job. Try taking 20 mg before your workout and 40mg within 30 minutes of finishing it. As it contains peptides that increase blood flow to your muscles, you may not need to take an additional supplement to increase uptake. However, many are also choosing to take a Nitric Oxide supplement alongside their whey, as it dilates your blood vessels further making delivery faster.
- Creatine: If you want to increase the number of reps you can perform, then give creatine a go. Creatine is essential for rapid energy delivery. This in turn means you get less exhausted when you take it. As a result, you can perform more reps and look forward to better results. To get more from your workout, try taking two to five grams of creatine before your workout.
- Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): There are three important amino acids that are central to your body’s ability to build tissue: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. There is evidence to suggest that leucine can even encourage tissue growth on its own, making it the most important of the three branched chain amino acids. As well as boosting your energy levels and building muscle, it blocks cortisol. Your body releases cortisol in response to biological stressors, but it can block testosterone, which is detrimental to your workout success. By blocking cortisol you can decrease the onset of muscle soreness and enhance the efficacy of your workout.
- Beta-Alanine: You may have heard the term ‘carnosine’ thrown around as though it is some magical panacea that can change the very nature of your workout. Carnosine is a compound that encourages your muscle fibers to contract more forcefully, which burns more energy and makes your workout more effective. If you want to produce carnosine, you need to combine histamine with beta-alanine. Your body is already producing histamine, so take 1-2 grams of Beta-alanine to work with it.
- Glutamine: Last, but not least, there is Glutamine. Glutamine is an amino acid bodybuilders adore, because it increases leucine in your muscles, which in turn means they are less likely to break down. Try taking five to 10 grams of glutamine in the morning with your breakfast.
Choosing the right supplement such as C4 or Hyde for your workout should depend on what your exercise goals are. If you are in for the longhaul, make sure you get plenty of creatine to reflect your goals. Similarly, if your morning in the gym is going to be fleeting, aim for whey.
No pre-workout supplement is going to have a significant advantage over the other automatically. Whether one is superior depends on your goals, which means you need to consider all of your options before investing in one. With the right plan in place each morning, you make sure every workout is as effective as possible.