It is often seen as a controversial topic of conversation to suggest eating nutrients at one specific time has a “better” effect than at another. All in all, the total daily diet will largely determine how successful you recover and grow. However that doesn’t mean to say that nutrient timing doesn’t have its place in promoting better recovery – alongside your sound daily diet.
Post workout is perhaps the most well accepted argument for nutrient timing. Cribb and Hayes 2006 compared protein + carbohydrate feeding pre and post workout, against feeding spaced throughout the day at different intervals. The results suggest it is best to consume a carbohydrate and protein rich meal pre and post exercise in order to maximise protein synthesis and suppress muscle breakdown. Therefore it would be strongly advised to consume an amino acid or protein based product before you train and immediately after you train to maximise muscle growth and recovery.
Intra workout is another time in which you can take advantage of certain nutrients. Carbohydrates for example, consumed whilst training (particularly when training is over 2 hours) can provide an additional energy source which can actually be used whilst you train, improving performance (Jeukendrup 2004). BCAA are also a fantastic addition to an intra workout to help support protein synthesis and prevent muscle breakdown. Stoppani et al 2009 showed that BCAAs whilst training increased lean mass, decreased body fat and increased bench press performance, compared to whey protein, or carbohydrate.
Pre Workout is another optimal time to consume nutrients which may help to boost performance in the gym, such as Beta Alanine, Caffeine, Citrulline Malate, Arginine (and its variants) and Taurine. These supplements will help you to resist fatigue, stay focussed and improve blood flow, so that you can optimise your performance in the gym.
Pre bed, you can also take advantage of supplementation. It would be advantageous to consume a slow digesting protein source so that you do not become fasted while you sleep. You also ensure that your muscles are supplied with amino acids gradually whilst you sleep – to aid muscle growth and recovery. To achieve a deeper sleep you can consume ZMA, this unique combination of Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B6 helps to promote a deep, relaxed sleep, whilst also aiding normal testosterone product.
To help maximise your recovery and muscle growth, it is important to consider the nutrients you consume around your workout. Consuming a protein and carbohydrate mix 1 hour before training and within 30 minutes of finishing is ideal and something you will notice boost recovery within a couple of sessions. We would also recommend using a pre workout supplement approx. 30mins before you train. Sticking to a pre workout with research proven dosages of Caffeine, Beta Alanine, Citrulline Malate and Arginine will help to maximise your training session and improve performance. Sipping on BCAAs intra workout will also help to reduce muscle soreness the following day or two – whilst also preserving lean body mass.
Cribb PJ, Hayes A, 2006, Effect of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, 38:1918-1925
Helms ER, Aragon AA, Fitschen PJ, 2014, Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11: 20
Jeukendrup, 2004, Carbohydrate intake during exercise and performance, Nutrition, 20(7-8):669-77
Stoppani J, Scheet T, Pena J, Rudolph C, Charlebois D, 2009, Consuming a supplement containing branched-chain amino acids during a resistance-training program increases lean mass, muscle strength and fat loss, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 6:P1