In the last 5 years or so Peri Workout Nutrition has become huge for training; and with good reason.
There is plenty of evidence and success to show that taking specific nutrients immediately before, during and after training can have a measurable impact on the performance during the session in terms of weight lifted and work done.
As well as increased recovery and results, and we know the better we recover the quicker we can train again and improve.
There is a plethora of products now designed to be taken around training sessions. There are a few commercial products around that are very good and quite effective. But most are just riding the wave of popularity and are over priced and don't contain enough of the key ingredients per serve to get an effective dose.
I like to stick to the pure nutrients and ingredients that have been studied and actually have the ergonomic effect I'm after.
Doing this has several advantages
1) I know exactly what I'm having and can measure out and experiment with different dosages to see what works for me.
2) Theres no unwanted fillers, sweeteners or flavors.
3) I can easily combine it with other effective nutrients to get the ratios I want to suit what I'm trying to do. If you buy a blended product with multiple ingredients you can't just have more or less of one thing. If you have more you get more of everything.
4) It's much cheaper to buy the pure nutrients in bulk and mix them rather than using standard pre mixed products.
There are also disadvantages to this method as well.
1) You have to know enough about the nutrients to use the right dose and if you mess it up and have to much you might experience some unwanted side effects.
2) As they often come as powder you have to measure them with small scoops or use scales to weigh out the right amount. It always a good look weighing out powders on scales to put in your drink.
3) Although its cheaper you have to buy lots of different supplements rather than 1 or 2 mixed products.
In todays article I will discuss Pre - workout supplements and this will be Part 1 of a 3 part series.
In Part 2 I will cover During or Intra workout supplementation and in Part 3, Post workout nutrition will be explained.
Pre Workout Supplements
The role of pre workout supplements is to
1) Get the body and nervous system prepared for the upcoming session
2) Get the nutrients we want in the bloodstream during the session to allow time for this we take it in the pre workout period of 30-60 minutes before the beginning training.
Because of this there can be some crossover for pre workout and during workout supplements. For the Pre workout supplements though I am only going to cover those that cover getting the nervous system and body ready for the session.
The Problem With Over Stimulatory Pre Workout Supplements
There is a huge range of stimulant based pre workout supplements available now and they are very popular. When you first start using these you have amazing workouts.
But after a while you get tolerant to the effects and you need to have more, and eventually you need the pre workout just to be able to train. They have other problems as well such as decreasing appetite, anxiety, disrupting sleep and stressing out the adrenals.
For pre workout I prefer nutrients that mildly stimulate the brain and don't over stimulate the whole body. The only true stimulant I'll be talking about here is caffeine. But don't think these other ones are not effective. They are, and can make a big difference to your sessions.
Now thats out of the way. On to the supplements
Since this is a blog post and not a book I'm just going to briefly talk about each supplement, explain whats its good for and a give guideline to the most effective dose.
If you want more info on these I recommend doing some more research.
Acetyl L Carnitine
The number of benefits that can be had from carnitine is crazy, but some of the more notable ones are.
- Increases the production of Acetyl Choline and dopamine in the brain which improves motivation and focus.
- Shuttles fatty acids into the muscle cell to be used for energy. Which means during training its easier to burn fat for fuel.
- Spares muscle glycogen and helps buffer lactate and the accumulation of hydrogen ions which means less fatigue and longer performance.
- Up regulates androgen receptors. Androgen receptors are what testosterone attaches to on cell to do all the great stuff it does. More androgen receptors means greater uptake of testosterone and protein synthesis.
Also worth noting with carnitine you get an increased benefit with longtime continued use as it can load and saturate the muscles.
Recommended dosage is 0.5 to 2 grams within 60 minutes of training. You can also take this dose 2-3 times per day every day to help achieve all the other benefits carnitine has to offer
If you want to look at the benefits of carnitine in more detail with studies referenced you can check out this article.
You can also check out examines round up of carnitine research here
Alpha GPC is a precursor to choline and is a great nutrient for increasing acetyl-choline levels in the brain.
This helps with focus and neural drive which will help motor recruitment and strength. It also improves memory and attention. Alpha GPC is also reported to increase growth hormone levels but not enough to cause any significant benefit.
Dosage for Alpha GPC is between 600 and 1200mg taken 30-60 minutes before the session
Phenylparacetam is the much more potent version of its more well known brother piracetam. The phenyl group attached to it makes it able to cross the blood brain barrier and is estimated to be 60 times stronger than piracetam.
It is a nootropic which enhances brain function while also being neuro-protective meaning it is actually healthy for the brain and doesn't just stimulate the nervous system. Although there is some debate as to whether phenylpiracetam is a stimulant as it does increase energy and concentration very well.
It would have to be my favorite of all brain nutrients and nootropics.
Some of the benefits of Phenylpiracetam
Increased Concentration, memory and focus
Decreased depression and anxiety
Increased resistance to the cold
Dosage is 100-400mg within 45 min of training. You do build up a tolerance to Phenylpiracetam the more you take it. If this happens have a break to regain tolerance. Start at the lower end first and see how you respond.
WARNING - If you are a tested athlete do not take phenylpiracetam. It is on the WADA banned list for its stimulatory and cold resistance properties. For general use in Australia it is 100% legal and available without a prescription.
Just because its banned by WADA doesn't mean its dangerous in any way. It means it works at increasing mental and physical performance.
Caffeine is the most used drug and stimulant across the globe. As far as using actual nervous system stimulants pre workout it would be the only one I recommend and like to use regularly.
I'd rather get my caffeine from a strong black coffee than take caffeine pills or energy drinks. Good quality coffee has a lot of other beneficial compounds in it which are health promoting.
Some of the benefits of caffeine for training
- Decreases perception of fatigue
- Increased power output
- Increased fat oxidation
- Increased adrenaline
- Better reaction time
- Decreased reaction time
- Higher training volume
- Increased motivation, drive and alertness
- Increased Strength
Even with caffeine/coffee I would only use it in the earlier parts of the day (before 12pm) to avoid too much stress on the adrenals, fluctuating cortisol levels and disrupting sleep.
Dosage - There is so much variation in recommended dosage for caffeine. But somewhere between 100 to 500mg it going to be best for most depending on tolerance. Try a lower amount see how it effects you and adjust from there.
Well thats it for the Pre workout part of the Peri workout supplement series. One word of warning if you decide to start using some of these supplements and you have not used them before start at a LOW dose. ESPECIALLY if you are going to combine them together (I often use all 4). While these are all pretty safe and have small chance of side effects, they do all effect acetyl choline and dopamine. If you combine them and have too much it is possible to experience...
1) Shitting your pants as acetyl choline and dopamine increase bowel movement.
2) Feel anxious, overstimulated, upset stomach and generally feel uncomfortable.
As I like to say with all training, nutrition and supplementation advice... Don't do stupid shit
Next week Part 2 will be up covering all the supplements and nutrients that kill fatigue and create better performance during the session.