It’s not only what you eat that matters when it comes to building lean muscle mass, when you eat can have just as much of an effect on your training sessions and ultimately your body composition goals. Nutrition plus Supplement Timing is why some workouts seem harder to get through, while others seem like a walk in the park? Sometimes this can be attributed to lack of sleep, too much external stress, or just a bad mental state. More often than not, however, it comes down to improper meal timing. In short, what you’ve consumed up until the time you workout is critical for properly fueling your body for optimum performance. Furthermore, the time immediately after your workout is just as crucial for re-fueling, recovering and stimulating growth.
Consider this – when you workout, your goal is to apply tremendous stress upon your muscles, forcing maximum contraction and challenging them to adapt to new weights and movements. In order for your body to keep up with these demands it requires fuel.
Feeding & Muscle Glycogen
So, when do you eat? There are a variety of opinions on this. Many pundits recommend eating 1 – 2 hours prior to working out, warning that this should be a smaller meal as a large meal before working out will sap your strength during your actual workout – remember, it takes energy to digest a meal (and you don’t want to make yourself sick either).
When you get right down to it, there is no magic timing for pre-workout feeding.
The most important thing to understand is that you’ll need fuel for this workout, and that comes from not only what’s in your gut, but also from muscle glycogen. If you’ve recovered from your previous workout, and replenished your muscle glycogen stores (more on this below), you should find yourself in a very good position to complete an intense resistance training session, regardless of pre-workout feeding.
If you’re in a low-carb diet state you may be lacking the necessary muscle glycogen to push through a workout, in these cases you will definitely needs some carbs prior to your workout if you want to keep up that intensity.
Those who are used to eating more frequently may want to eat 1-2 hours before a workout, others who eat less often may be comfortable eating 2-4 hours prior, or even working out fasted. I know several people who follow an intermittent fasting protocol, and as such regularly workout fasted, and they continue to experience exceptional gains.
Pre-workout supplementation is really a matter of preference. There are standalone supplements that can be taken on their own, such as creatine, BCAAs and caffeine, each with a very specific benefit. On the flip-side, there are more complex mixtures, like MUSCLEPRIME and RAZOR8, which provide a number of benefits and are of course already measured to specific effective doses and can be consumed after mixing with water. In each of these cases supplements should be consumed immediately prior to working out, often the effects of said supplement can be felt within a matter of minutes.
The best intra-workout supplement is AMINOCORE, it tastes great, it floods the body with Amino Acids and helps enforce anabolic activity, stimulating growth.
Finally, stay hydrated. Consuming an adequate amount of water during your workout will prevent cramping and dehydration.
This is one of the most misunderstood times when it comes to supplementation, even among seasoned athletes. It has been proven time and again that you have a very short window of opportunity post workout to stimulate growth (through optimal protein synthesis) and increase muscle glycogen stores (note the use of the word increase, not just replenish). Studies have shown that:
Consuming a simple carb (dextrose, maltodextrin, etc.) post workout, combined with a whey protein isolate, will increase muscle glycogen storage.
This study also shows that Nutrition plus Supplement Timing is more effective than consuming a simple carbohydrate on its own, or a whey protein isolate on its own. This is also an optimal time to consume a further dosing of Creatine.
The final piece of the supplementation puzzle is just prior to going to bed. Consider consuming a blended protein like HEXAPRO, or better yet, try CASEIN-FX, an ultra slow-release protein which will feed your muscles all night long as they repair… and grow.
To sum it up, eating healthy is only one part of the puzzle. Timing your meals and supplementation is a critical factor, and if done properly, you are uniquely situated to achieve your goals faster and more efficiently than ever before.