Back in the olden days, workout nutrition consisted of a quick run to the water fountain between exercises.
Then came Gatorade.
Then, we were introduced to the magic 20 minute post-workout window of time.
We were told that if we chugged down a carb/protein shake immediately after working out, we would:
- Shift our metabolism from a catabolic state (muscle damaging) to an anabolic state (muscle building) .
- Reduce post exercise muscle soreness
- Get bigger, stronger, leaner, faster, etc…
And there was (and still is) a lot of scientific research to back up this belief.
As a result, every gym put in a “smoothie bar” and we all chugged down some pretty gross post-workout protein shakes.
But wait, it doesn’t end there, we’re just getting started.
Researchers began to study whether pre-workout carb/pro nutrition might be even more efficient than post-workout carb/pro nutrition.
And their research showed that it was.
As a result, instead of one post-workout shake, I was now drinking half my shake pre-workout and finishing the rest post-workout.
I thought I had it all figured out.
The next scientific breakthrough discovered that while a combined carb/pro shake pre-workout worked wonders, a carb free protein meal didn’t work near as well.
And that was fine with me. Those heavy pre-workout protein shakes were sloshing around in my stomach and slowing down my workouts.
At this point:
- Carbs before workout – GOOD
- Carbs & pro before workout good, but made Doug’s tummy upset
- Carbs during workout – GOOD
- Carbs & Pro (Amino Acids) immediately post workout – GOOD
In a nutshell, the theory is that:
- Carbs raise your insulin levels, increasing the efficiency of nutrient absorption.
- Your workout inflicts micro-damage on your muscles.
- Your muscles are now screaming for nutrition to re-synthesize newer/stronger/faster muscles.
- Then you throw a bunch of protein/amino acids into the mix
And voila, your body recovers faster & more efficiently from your workouts.
End of story, right?
In the past few years, I have been reading more about improving anaerobic endurance during workouts by supplementing with beta alanine or bicarbonates. And while the research shows mixed results, I have personally and professionally seen impressive gains in endurance during some pretty intense HIIT & HIRT workouts.
Since adding these supplements into the mix, I have been able to push some very intense workouts well past the dreaded 45 minute mark.
So, what does all of this mean?
It means that for best results, I recommend:
- Eating a combined pro/carb meal (real food) 1 to 2 hours before working out
- Drinking a mid-workout beverage containing…a high GI carb like maltodextrin, BCAAs, creatine, bicarbonates and/or beta alanine.
- Drinking a post-workout shake containing carbs and a fast digesting protein (whey isolate).
Keep in mind this is a best case scenario type of peri-workout nutrition program.
Most of you aren’t going to want to spend the money on all of this stuff.
So, if cost is an issue, I would recommend
- Eat the pre-workout meal as described above.
- Drink watered down orange juice during your workout. BCAAs & Creatine if you can afford them.
- Post-workout shake as described above.
Personally, I have tried 3 different workout beverages with sugar/BCAAs/Beta Alanine/Bicarb and have found that Biotest’s Surge Workout Fuel to be the most effective. It costs approximately $1.10 per serving.
BTW – peri means around or about…so in this case peri-workout nutrition means nutrition around your workout
I look forward to hearing your feedback. Workout nutrition is a hotly debated topic amongst all of the “experts” out there on the interweb.
My skin is thick, don’t hold back.
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