While eating a well-balanced diet that is personalized to support your training regimen is essential—to achieve peak performance many athletes also add sports supplements to the mix. This often includes supplements designed for pre-workout energy, as well as post workout recovery. While picking a quality supplement is key, you must also know the best time to take each supplement during the day.
A common misconception about all natural whey protein is that is should only be taken for post workout recovery. While it is indeed an excellent idea to consume around 20-30 grams of whey within 60 minutes after training – that may not be enough to provide you with optimal performance for the day. Since whey protein assists with muscle construction, and maintenance of muscle mass, taking another 20-30 grams of all natural whey protein first thing in the morning will ensure your muscles remain in a positive growth state – especially if you will be training in the morning. While there are certainly other excellent sources of morning protein out there, whey absorbs much faster than most. Even if you won’t be working out in the morning, whey is an excellent way to nourish your body after an extended period without eating – such as while you’re sleeping.
There are many ways to enjoy whey protein. You can add a whey protein powder to a morning shake packed full of nutrients and minerals, or even come up with some homemade energy bars that combine your favorite ingredients for a quick grab-and-go snack.
Branched-chain amino acids, also known as BCAA supplements, should be taken first thing in the morning, and right before or during your workout,. Most athletes aim for about 5 grams of BCAA supplements each dose, - but of course adjust according to your workout and training regimen. This supplement will help your body to turn on muscle protein synthesis, and to stop catabolism – or muscle breakdown. This supplement is particularly important for athletes who are on a low-calorie diet—such as bodybuilders who are looking to achieve lean muscle mass.
While there are many foods and beverages that athletes eat in moderation, or avoid altogether--caffeine is not on this list. Caffeine is a natural source of energy, and can certainly help to improve endurance. Aim for 200 mg first thing in the morning, and again about 30 minutes prior to working out. Limit caffeine after 2 p.m. because you do not want this stimulant to affect your sleep cycle—especially since sleep plays such a vital role in muscle repair and recovery.
Creatine And Beta Alanine
Creatine is another supplement to consider for both pre-workout energy and post workout recovery. Just 2 to 5 grams 15 to 30 minutes prior to working out, and within 45 minutes of training will help resupply lost muscle creatine levels. This supplement will help to boost muscle energy, strength, and endurance. Take it before training to help improve performance, and after training to help you get through the remainder of your day. Some athletes also pair 1.6 to 3.2 grams of beta alanine with their creatine to further improve their energy, strength, and endurance.
General Daily Vitamins
While the sports supplements above are designed to support the physical demands athletes place on their bodies, we must not forget the importance of taking general daily vitamins. Athletes require more than the average amount of essential vitamins and nutrients found that comes from a standard multivitamin—even when factoring in diet, more vitamins and nutrients is required. Athletes should certainly take a multivitamin with breakfast, but should also consider a second set of vitamins at lunch, and a third set at dinner.
A nice lunchtime set includes a:
- B Complex 100
- Vitamin C 1,000mg
- Vitamin D 1,000 to 4,000 iu
- Vitamin E 400 to 800 IU
- Calcium 500 to 600mg
- Magnesium 250 mg
- Fish Oil 2 to 3g
Keep in mind that fat soluble essential vitamins and nutrients must be taken with food in order to be properly absorbed, and that they must also be spread out throughout the day—both for absorption, and to ensure that your body benefits from a steady stream of essential nutrients. The suggestions above will vary depending on height, weight, gender, the type of training being performed, and the frequency of training.
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