Speaking as a fellow weight trainer and fitness enthusiast, I'm going to take a wild guess and assume that you want to reach your goals sooner rather than later.
Whether you're trying to lose a few pounds or build a bigger set of biceps, your training for a specific, targeted goal. To reach that goal, there is one central theme we all have to abide by and that's to make sure we improve with each passing week. The more improvement one makes that faster that person will reach their goals.
This is especially important for those of us that are trying to build muscle. To build muscle, we first need to improve our performance in the gym. Whether that means doing additional repetitions, increasing our loads (weight) or performing our routine in a faster manner, it all translates into more muscle growth. Constant improvement generally translates into more muscle growth.
However, building muscle is rarely constant and never follows a linear pattern but that's another story
What I'm about to share with you is nothing new. It's been around for decades but what most people don't understand is how to use it in order to optimize its full potential. By following this type of approach you will greatly reduce your recovery periods and will help improve your performance in the gym - That is, you'll start getting stronger.
What I'm talking about is pre and post workout nutrition and more specifically, staggering your pre and post nutrient intake for maximum protein uptake and optimized glucose replenishment.
We all know that post workout nutrition theories have been around for decades and athletes and weekend warriors alike have been using it with great effect. The importance of post workout nutrition has been clinically proven to boost protein uptake in addition to glucose replenishment (via amino acid/carbohydrate mixture).
However, by using a staggered approach to pre and post workout nutrition there is a strong possibility of boosting additional protein synthesis (muscle growth). We all know protein synthesis is the basic process of building muscle. It's a rather complex biological process but to keep things simple, the more efficient your body is at utilizing protein (uptake) the more potential there is to build new proteins (muscle building). Combine this with element with a properly designed nutrient intake schedule and you're going to see some mind blowing results.
As we all know, post workout nutrition in the form of an amino acid/carbohydrate mixture helps boosts the uptake of protein in addition to replenishing glucose stores. The most important lesson learned here is that the drink MUST be a mixture of amino acids (essential or branch chained amino acids) and a quick acting carbohydrate source such as maltodextrin. Research has shown that ingesting an amino acid/carbohydrate mixture immediately after a workout outperforms protein uptake than taking an amino acid or carbohydrate separately (TIPTON / WOLFE Protein and amino acids for athletes pg. 75). In fact, the desired effect (sustained protein uptake) hits a peak two hours post exercise and has been shown to induce a much higher anabolic response than either protein or carbohydrate taken separately.
Now, what if we combined the power of post workout nutrition with some exciting developments regarding pre-workout nutrition?
Again, pre-workout nutrition theories have been around for ages and weight trainers around the world are starting to realize its importance. According to a study done by Tipton (Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise) it has shown that the effectiveness of a pre workout amino acid drink was greater than that of a post workout amino acid drink in terms of protein uptake and anabolic response. In fact, according to the study:
Whereas the response of muscle protein metabolism increased dramatically and then declined within 1 h to basal levels after EAC consumption in the POST trial, the response was sustained in the PRE trial. Net balance increased during exercise, declined slightly, and then increased a second time after exercise when the drink was consumed before exercise. The length of the effect, plus higher blood flow during exercise in the PRE trial, resulted in significantly greater total uptake over the entire study period.
This is rather significant and of great importance for us looking to build quality muscle mass and why the concept of staggered workout nutrition may prove to be a powerful anabolic activator. To optimize our muscle building efforts we need a process that keeps our protein and glucose levels maximized pre-workout, during workout and post workout (anabolic windows). Doing so will enhance both, recovery and the creation of new muscle proteins.
Here's the trick, we now know what we need to drink to maximize all three anabolic windows. We know that:
• Drinking an amino acid drink prior to working out will optimize protein uptake during and up to an hour after working out;
• Drinking an amino acid / carbohydrate mixture immediately after working will optimize protein uptake AND replenish glucose stores for up to three hours post workout (peaking at two hours).
This means that by following this type of staggered approach to pre and post workout nutrition we will optimize our protein uptake during these critical times for a much higher anabolic response WHILE replenishing our glucose stores lost during exercise for a faster recovery period.
To multiply this effect, follow up with a full muscle building meal stocked with protein, carbohydrates and fat two hours after exercise. This will enhance additional protein uptake and glucose replenishment. Can you now see the potential by staggering your pre and post workout nutrition?
What if we added a fast acting carbohydrate to our pre-workout amino acid drink? Doing so will actually post phone optimized protein uptake by one hour. Interesting enough though, uptake during the first hour is still very high but peaks two hours after ingestion.
What does this mean? Although no conclusive studies have been shown this is true but it may mean that the higher the concentration of carbohydrates may add a certain time lag to optimized protein uptake.
Here's what I suggest for optimizing pre and post workout nutrition for the best muscle building results:
1) Ingest a drink high in amino acid concentration and low to moderate in carbohydrates 30 minutes prior to working out. Try using 30 to 40 grams of protein and 15 to 25 grams of carbohydrates. This will ensure maximum protein uptake occurs during your workout while still optimized for uptake 2 hours post. Try to avoid using a slow acting protein source such as chicken breasts or other meats. Try using whey hydrosolate or casein hydrosolate type protein powder and mix it with one banana and a tablespoon of honey.
2) Immediately ingest 40 grams of protein and 50 to 70 grams of carbohydrates post workout. Doing to will optimize protein uptake two hours post workout while fully replenishing lost muscle glycogen. Try using whey isolate for faster protein uptake and a combination of fast and slow acting carbohydrates (waxy maize is great for this). Try this drink:
Mix all in a blender.
3) Ingest a full muscle building meal two hours post workout. Make sure to have at least 40 grams of protein, 70 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of fat. This will enhance protein uptake and optimize muscle glycogen for faster muscle recovery. Try this steak and potatoes meal.
By using this type of staggered approach to pre and post workout nutrition, you can expect to see results almost immediately (provided you're training hard and heavy, right?). The human body is amazing at absorbing the right nutrients at the right time and you will feel this difference in your workouts.
Try using this approach and watch your muscle building gains skyrocket over night!
All the best,
References: Tipton (Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise
Tipton / Wolfe (Protein and amino acids for athletes)
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