Following an adequate nutrition program is just as important as hitting the gym. The timing of this nutrition is almost as important as the type and amount of foods and supplements that you put into your body. So what’s the best nutritional strategy, pre-workout?
Everyone knows that a clean, high protein diet, rich in beneficial nutrients, and complemented by top quality, scientifically proven sports supplements, is essential to build muscle and strength.
But does everyone know about timing?
Sure, it’s common knowledge that taking in rapidly absorbed protein followed by a good, solid meal, post-workout, is crucial for maximum recovery and growth.
Everybody knows the importance of breakfast to get your day started, break your overnight fast, and prime your body with energy for the day ahead.
But, does everyone understand the importance of, and intricacies behind, pre-workout nutrition?
It would seem that the answer is no.
Carefully planned and scientifically backed pre-workout nutrition and supplementation can optimize your gym session, as well as directly affect your recovery time and overall gains. If you don’t take your gym preparation seriously, now’s the time to start!
So What are the Aims of Pre-Workout Nutrition?
Before you adjust any part of your regime, you need to know what you are looking to gain from it. So what actually are the aims of your pre-workout nutrition program?
- Energy– Let’s start with the obvious reason for eating properly, pre-workout. The main reason people eat before hitting the gym is for energy. Nobody wants to walk into the weights room with their stomachs rumbling, while trying to get an intense, muscle building workout. Put simply, it just won’t happen. To perform at your best, you need as much raw energy in your system as possible. While fat provides way more energy per gram than carbohydrates, it also slows digestion and is a far more complex molecule, making it much harder for your body to use. What you need is a good mix of clean, complex carbs, as well as some ‘more complex, simple carbs’, such as fruit, to give you all the energy you need to power through without crashing.
- Decreased Muscle Breakdown– Yep, when you workout you are essentially breaking down your muscle fibers, providing a construction site for growth and repair. A very, very small amount of muscle damage is essential, and is the reason you will feel a little sore the next day, but it needs to be limited. During intense exercise, your body uses some of this damaged muscle for energy. A small amount of muscle protein will be fed into the energy cycles in an almost cannibalistic way, to keep you powering on. As a general rule, the longer you spend in the gym the more this phenomenon will happen. This is why you should keep workouts under an hour, with 45 minutes being the perfect stopping point. Now, it stands to reason that you want this muscle catabolism minimized as much as possible, and you’ll be pleased to hear that there is a way. Taking in a small amount of quality protein before training provides a good level of circulating amino acids that your body can turn to; thereby sparing those hard earned muscle fibers from destruction. But to really keep your muscles from eating themselves, you need to be more specific. Branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) are leucine, isoleucine, and valine – the three building blocks your body most prefers to burn for energy. Simply adding these to your diet before, during and after you train, provides an abundance of these muscle-saving molecules and help to preserve your gains. Sheer BCAA is a potent blend of these three vital nutrients, especially formulated to prevent muscle breakdown and kickstart anabolism the second you leave the gym. With leucine in abundance, Sheer BCAA will also cause your muscles to soak up sugars, leading to increased energy levels and faster glycogen replenishment.
- Drive- Your blood can be coursing with energy, but that doesn’t mean you have the drive to use it to your full potential. Ingesting foods and supplements that provide alertness and focus, as well as boosting your metabolism, will see you charging into the weights room ready to hit it hard. Caffeine is the ultimate tried and tested energy provider. It provides all of the above requirements and also turns your body into a fat burning machine. So you can reach for a big mug of coffee before you head to the gym, or you can ingest caffeine in supplement form. Sheer Pre-Workout provides a heady hit of caffeine to get you fired up and ready for action. Also in the mix is citrulline malate – a product of the non proteinogenic amino acid, ornithine, and a powerful addition to your pre-workout nutrition. Citrulline has been shown to delay fatigue, as well as boosting nitric oxide production, which brings us nicely to the next factor…
- Increased Blood Flow– Put simply, the more blood you can get flowing into your muscles, the greater amount of tissue, and therefore surface area, is opened up for stimulation during training. This stimulated tissue will also be fed a far greater supply of nutrients, enabling it to keep going for longer. Warming up adequately and cutting rest times will go a long way towards achieving this, but, you guessed it, there’s a way to send blood flow through the roof, and it involves pre-workout nutrition. Nitric oxide (NO) is produced naturally within the body and works by relaxing blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow. Some foods can raise NO levels including salmon; certain fruits, such as cranberries, oranges, and pomegranates; or specific nuts, such as pistachios and walnuts. While you can cram these in with some results, the key ingredient here is arginine, and the best way to flood your system is to supplement it. Sheer Nitro contains arginine in the form of the highly potent Nitrosigine®, along with many of its substrates and activators. Taken shortly before hitting the iron, Sheer Nitro will deliver skin stretching pumps.
- Optimal Anabolic Blood Chemistry– Weight training is a highly scientific form of exercise, and there are still a few more things you can do to turn your pre-workout nutrition into rocket fuel. Creatine has been around for a long time now, and it’s here to stay. Aiding training by rapidly replenishing energy molecules to provide power for an all important extra rep or two, creatine can seriously boost results. Creatine doesn’t come any more pure than Sheer Strength Creatine; taking 2-5 grams before training will replenish your supply and provide that little extra power. A real trump card in your pre-workout stack is beta-alanine (also found in Sheer Pre-Workout). This potent little molecule works by elevating carnosine levels; thereby maintaining muscle pH balance, warding off that dreaded fatigue, and lowering muscular stress. Beta-alanine also has a little shock in store for the first time user…
Now, timing is the key. There’s no point in simply jamming all of this advice into a shake and snack to be consumed as you walk through the gym door.
No, you need to break it down into two parts.
Firstly, you need a small wholesome meal or large snack, roughly 1.5 hours before you intend to train.
This should be followed by a small snack with supplements roughly 30 minutes pre-workout.
Let’s break that down.
The Meal (1.5 hours pre-workout)
This meal should be low in fat, contain a good amount of lean, good quality protein, and be rich in slow-release, complex carbs. You don’t want to be mounding your plate up here, the idea is to feel spritely and ready to go come workout time, not full and sluggish.
So, fried foods are out, simple sugars are a no-no, and food mountain can wait until later.
Here are some pre-workout meal ideas…
- Whey enriched oats- A good mix of small and larger oats will provide a good constant supply of energy. Add a big scoop of whey, skimmed milk, a few nuts, and perhaps even a small amount of fruit. Enjoy.
- Chicken- This is just about the best meat to eat before training. It’s lean and packed with high quality, muscle-building protein. Add some brown rice or potatoes, and a good serving of veggies.
- Egg pasta salad- It’s all in the name! Take 6-8 egg whites, add pasta and salad, then drizzle a low fat dressing of your choice. Avoid mayo here as the fat content is astronomical!
Pre-workout Shake and Supplements (30 minutes pre-workout)
A small scoop of lean whey will top up your blood protein level. You only want 10-20 grams so don’t go overboard.
More importantly, this is the time to take all of the supplements you’ve read about above. The 30 minute window will give adequate time for all of those potent ingredients to take effect.
So let’s break this down…
- 10-20g whey protein
- Piece of fruit eg. banana for fast release energy
- 2-5g BCAA’s
- 2-5g Creatine
- Pre-workout supplement for drive and focus
- NO booster for huge pumps
Remember, getting your pre-workout nutrition right is vitally important to your training. If you aren’t currently getting the results you want, it just could be the thing holding you back.