Ideally we would like to get all our macro and micronutrients from whole foods (think meat, fish, fruit and veg) however having supplements supporting a healthy diet may be necessary for some and can be digested faster then an actual meal- which is great prior to a workout.
Let’s talk supps. I’m sure you have heard of branch chain amino acids before – you may have seen people have them at the gym or even tried them yourself. Often used for recovery and/ or muscle gain.
Proteins are a macronutrient. This means they are needed in large amounts by the body to help it do a lot of different things. Amino Acids are the building blocks in which protein are comprised of. The body can readily make some amino acids and some it can not which is why there is room for supplementation. But this doesn’t mean you can’t get these proteins from other sources.
According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) and their latest stand on protein - there was a hierarchy of priority when it came to determining where supplements should sit on your shopping list.
- Whole foods (lean meats and low-fat dairy)
- Protein Supplementation (protein shakes/ bars etc)
When it comes to pre workout: follow these rules before your next big session.
- Make sure you are hydrated
Going into a workout dehydrated will affect performance and energy output. Drink at least 3 litres of water a day and try to get 300 – 500ml as soon as you wake up.
- Have a black coffee before your session
Caffeine is the perfect natural pre workout. Caffeine’s primary benefit is its positive effect on cognitive function. Caffeine helps to improve focus and concentration and increase alertness while providing that much needed ‘boost’ when you need it most (those early 5am sessions)
Caffeine has repeatedly been shown to be an effective ergogenic aid (performance booster0 in both endurance and exercise and short bouts of maximal exercise. It also stimulates the nervous system which sends direct signals to fat cells to tell them break down fat!
- Snack on some dark chocolate
Not only because Scarlett Johansson has dark chocolate pre workout but because there is some actual science behind it! Besides having something in our belly’s to give us a bit of energy so we don’t feel sick whilst training, dark chocolate has also been proven to increase sports performance by 6%. A great supplement is Peak Chocolate the world’s first high performance bar blended with dark chocolate, natural caffeine, noortopics and a handful of vitamins that will give you the pre-workout energy you need.
The flavanols present in cacao get rid of active oxygen radicals, which is helpful in maintaining cardiovascular health. Scientific studies have also demonstrated that moderate dark chocolate can elevate mood – sometimes we need a little but of help to motivate us for those heavy leg days!
- Ensure your diet is full of nutritious food, then check out supplements
When comparing BCAA’s complete protein sources found in supplementation and mixed meals, BCAA’s have been shown to have a smaller result in stimulating muscle proteins synthesis (how your body builds muscle and recovers).
Instead of thinking how you can utilise BCAA’s (or other protein supplements) in your diet, focus on increasing the number of times that you consume complete protein sources in your day. An amount that will support muscle recovery and growth. (Often 1.5 – 2x your body weight)
Couple this with weight training to get the greatest result of muscle protein synthesis aka gains.
If you’re generally training to look and feel good – we suggest finding a diet full of natural whole foods that you can sustain and adhere to.
If your goal is fat loss - ensure you are in a calorie deficit. Always include some weight training in your exercises program and keep it consistent and progressively overload to ensure you are increasing strength and performance. Always make sure you are getting enough protein to support your training then think about the other macro nutrients you are having (carbs and fats) If you are on top of all of that consider using supplements to take your training and performance to the next level.