Pre-Training Nutrition

One of the most discussed and argued about points in the world of weight training, muscle-building and fat loss is carbohydrates. Some say they make you fat, some say they aren’t necessary at all. Others love them and a feel they are absolutely necessary.  Regardless of your opinion, if you want to get the most out of your training with regards to intensity and performance, carbohydrates will be needed.

Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred fuel source in the cases of weight training and sprints/intervals or circuit training. There are many approaches to carbohydrates in the diet with regards to athletes, but this article is dealing strictly with pre-workout nutrition. It is possible to fuel yourself for training with carbs, and still follow a relatively low carb diet.

To achieve this you want every gram of carbohydrate you consume to be utilized as an immediate fuel source or to restore glycogen levels. none of it should be stored as fat. Don’t eat more carbs than you need, and don’t worry about spreading them evenly throughout the day. You can eat the majority of your carbs around your workout.

Consume your pre training meal roughly one hour before lifting. The reason you want to try to time it is so you can begin training without a lot of food in your stomach. If you’re training hard enough, anything in your stomach may be coming back up, but to deal specifically with carbs, 20 to 40 grams is a good place to start.

Moving on to protein, research has indicated that users of whey protein prior to training will elicit better results than those using other protein sources, or none at all. This is most likely due to the anti-catabolic and anabolic signaling effects of the BCAA’s present in whey protein—particularly leucine. Whey has a considerably higher concentration of BCAA’s than other proteins.

Studies have also shown that pre-workout protein intake will increase resting energy expenditure by an average of six percent for up to 48 hours, post training. Pre-workout protein will also blunt cortisol release through the day, an effect that wasn’t seen in control groups that were fasted or had ingested carbs only.

Protein and amino acids also spare carbs. People often assume that when the body runs out of carbohydrate fuel, it switches to fatty acids for fuel. That process is typically too slow for high-intensity training. To provide fuel more quickly, amino acids are rapidly broken down and converted to sugar in a process known as gluconeogenesis. If those amino acids aren’t in the blood supply, then they are coming directly from your muscles. For those who are dieting, some extra amino acids in our bloodstream may help preserve precious lean mass.

For those that may have reservations about consuming protein pre-workout, especially those who are dieting, use 10 to 15 grams of BCAA’s instead. This should provide similar effects and elevate net protein synthesis. Pre-workout BCAA’s may even help low carb dieters burn more fat.

The body has three primary methods for manufacturing its ideal energy source, adenosine tri phosphate, or ATP. Which method your body uses depends on the intensity of the activity. For the most intense activities like weightlifting, the body uses creatine phosphates to produce energy.

Creatine supplementation of two to five grams per day will provide greater stores to call on when training, enabling you to train more intensely. In short, creatine can help you train heavier for more reps; it also draws water into the muscles, making you appear bigger.

The timing on the creatine is not critical. You can use it before or after your workout, or anytime throughout the day. If you’ve been using creating for a while, tow to five grams once per day will be effective. If you just started taking creatine, you can load your muscles with 20 to 30 grams of creatine per day for four or five days.

Creatine helps provide energy to complete each and every muscular contraction, and because of this, it can be beneficial to include this supplement in your nutritional protocol.

Another pre workout supplement to consider is beta alanine. Beta alanine helps to conserve muscular energy. Allow me to explain how.

One of the main causes of fatigue is intramuscular acidosis. When your body produces ATP using the glycolytic and phosphagen systems, the result is metabolic byproducts like excess hydrogen ions. When these hydrogen ions are not cleared fast enough, they bind with pyruvate to produce lactic acid, and elevated levels have been shown to hinder performance, coordination, and skill.

The body can use L-cornosine to correct this imbalance. L-carnosine is formed from the amino acids L-histidine and beta-alanine. In addition to decreasing hydrogen ion production, it acts as an antioxidants. The limiting factor in carnosine production is the availability of beta-alanine. Research has demonstrated that supplementation can increase muscle carnosine content, eliciting improvements in high-intensity athletes.

This also applies to endurance athletes. The most recent research indicates that the optimal dose of beta-alanine is four to five grams. Ideally, the dosage should be spread throughout the day, but one gram should come just before a training session.

Happy Lifting!

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9 comments for “Pre-Training Nutrition

  1. November 22, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Hey Matt, did you even discover anything on this or do you still think timing doesn’t really matter?

    • November 22, 2012 at 10:00 am

      My apologies, I meant to get back to you sooner. I did do quite a bit of research and can find nothing that proves that creatine timing has any advantage. I still take it pre training because I like the placebo effect. Even though I know it has no advantage, I can still fool myself apparently!

      • November 22, 2012 at 10:14 am

        No worries! Thanks for the research, I appreciate it! So when I take my CEE on off days or for the first of two on training days I often get flushed, little warm in the face. Though it also seems to energize me a bit. Does this happen to you? Never had that with mono. I actually kind of like it. 🙂

        • November 22, 2012 at 10:18 am

          When I take CEE on off days I swear I feel buzzy and more energetic than on the days when I train. I totally know what you mean. Although there is no research to prove this, I’m siding with bro science on this one issue!

          • November 22, 2012 at 10:24 am

            LOL go bro science! It always makes me feel that way!

  2. November 3, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Surprised to hear you say timing isn’t critical with creatine. I’ll I’ve ever heard before was before and after your workout. Why do you say otherwise?

    • Lifestyle and Strength
      November 3, 2012 at 5:08 pm

      Especially with CEE, I’m not of the opinion that your muscles are necessarily any more ‘ready’ to take in creatine at any certain time. If there is an ideal window, it would be post, not pre, but I still don’t really believe that your muscles are sucking up creatine at a more efficient rate post training. After you train your body is concerned with balancing blood sugar, replenishing glycogen reserves, beginning muscle repair etc, not with storing creatine, and pre training your body is even less interested in storing extra ‘energy’. Having said that, I use CEE pre and post, because I put it in my protein shakes, and those are the only ones I have during the day. Now that you’ve questioned me on this, I intend to look further into specifics. I’ll get back to you!

      • November 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm

        Sweet thanks! I used to always just do post but switched to pre and post. Now on CEE I always do pre and post. 2250 mg both times. If it’s best to take both doses together after I’d do it, though doing the pills like I am that’s 6 pills to be downing at the same time along with 2 glutamine pills. That’s a lot of pills at once! 🙂

        • Lifestyle and Strength
          November 3, 2012 at 7:49 pm

          That’s why I split mine up as well, the only difference being with using the CEE powder, it’s ‘less bad’ in divided doses!

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