The Low Down on Pre, Intra, and Post Workout Nutrition

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I am certain I am dieting right….
Why am I having so much trouble reaching my goals????!!!

What you may not know about Pre, Intra, and Post Workout Nutrition

So, someone told you to drink a protein shake after your workouts and you bought a container of protein powder... Now that is about the extent to which the majority of people go when it comes to post workout nutrition and so many of us often neglect pre and intra-workout nutrition.

The most talked about topic other than diet here at All Pro and the most important question you can ask is “what should I take before, during, and after my workouts?” Well this month we would like to reiterate some of the main points of this very popular topic. This hopefully will dispel all confusion and debunk all the WRONG advice given by the self-proclaimed experts you find at every gym and at so many of our competitor’s stores. You can easily filter through the misleading info out there if you ask enough questions. If the answers you get make little sense or have no scientific backing of any kind supporting the claims being made don’t waste your time listening or reading any further.

For those of you that wish to skip this filtering process and endless hours of research altogether, simply stop by your nearest All Pro Nutrition and place complete trust in our staff. Whoever referred you to All Pro Nutrition has likely done just the same and seen remarkable results. After all, this is probably why you heard about us in the first place! All we need from you is a brief history of your training/diet/supplement intake and what your goals are. We can easily point out the common mistakes you may be making and guide you in the right direction. In short, we can set forth a plan that is guaranteed to yield the results you want.       

Pre-Workout and Intra-Workout Nutrition

The timing and content of your nutrition around your workout times is of the utmost of importance. It can determine whether you lose muscle or gain muscle, whether you reach your goals in 3 months or 12 months, whether you over-train and get sick or recover fast and are ready to hit it hard again the next day, and whether your training renders you uncomfortably sore or not. Muscle soreness is a huge complaint we hear from a lot of our customers and is unavoidable to a degree with those just starting out in the gym. Most of the time, however, it comes from little attention paid to pre/intra/post workout nutrition and supplements.

Recovery from your training begins long before you reach the gym. What you eat before you train and what you drink while you train has a huge role in determining your performance in the gym and the recovery that follows. It also can determine just how catabolic (muscle wasting) your workout will be.

Surely there are a percentage of readers that think this is just another clever pitch from a good salesman and these people would certainly be justified in feeling this way based on the experiences we have all had at many retail stores, especially in the sports supplement industry. There are always going to be gimmicky “snake oil” products out there getting pushed and raved about by nutrition store employees like a cure for cancer. Many of our customers would be the first to tell you that this is far from the experience you will get at All Pro Nutrition. Almost daily there are customers bringing multiple items to the counter to purchase and upon further investigation of their individual goals we’ll tell them to put half the stuff back on the shelves. Quite often we will even send a customer out with nothing but a talk on diet, a few articles to read, and MAYBE a protein powder to help replace meals. More than a few customers that walk through our doors are suggested not to spend a penny on supplements until they feel confident they are following whatever diet is needed for their goals to the best of their ability. Only then are many of these supplements necessary. Only then will our customers start to see results. Only then will we earn a truly loyal customer, a customer that continues to shop with us, that continues to seek and receive guidance from us, and a customer that sends all of his/her friends to receive the same treatment and see the same results!

When dieting for fat loss

The catabolic environment that is created during anaerobic (or aerobic) work in the gym is even greater when on a calorie restricted diet. For those of you looking to shed body fat this time of the day can be very dangerous for muscle tissue if your pre-workout nutrition is not on point. Many of you that fall into this category have restricted carbohydrate intake for most of the day. This being the case we need to be sure to have a carbohydrate based meal leading into our weight training session as well as before any high intensity cardio or interval style cardio workout. This ensures we have some readily available blood glucose from the carbohydrates in this meal as well as a small amount of some stored muscle glycogen. (Note: Steady state low intensity cardio is best performed in a glycogen depleted state 1st thing in the morning on an empty stomach) Without stored glycogen or circulating blood glucose available during weight training and HIGH intensity cardio there is only one other available source for fuel… muscle tissue! Now wait a minute you say, what about fat tissue?? Fat is a very dense nutrient source that cannot be mobilized and metabolized for fuel fast enough to meet the energy demands of these workouts. In short, you are requiring fuel for these workouts at a much faster rate than fat can be provided. That being said, we recommend on average 30-80g of complex polysaccharide carbohydrates and 20-40g of lean protein in the meal before such workouts to prevent extreme muscle catabolism. The amounts should vary based on lean body mass and the muscle group being trained, gender does not matter. It all comes down to the amount of lean body mass.  Those that carry more muscle tissue will stay on the higher end of this scale. We will always consume more carbs when training the larger muscle groups, less for the smaller muscle groups and less intense training sessions. This meal needs to be low in fat as well to ensure faster digestion and glycogen uptake.

To further enhance recovery and prevent muscle catabolism as much as possible we recommend drinking a branch chain amino acid product during your training session. No need for further carb consumption while training. This will be reserved for those looking to add lean mass.

When dieting for mass gains

When dieting for lean mass gains we will follow the same pre-workout protocol described previously, just adding to the carb content slightly depending on the person. However in addition to the pre-workout carb meal we will want to consume an intra-workout carbohydrate drink. This area is by far where most people fall short in their attempts at bulking up. Especially those with extremely fast metabolisms that struggle to gain wait of any sort. By following some very specific instructions we can turn one of the most catabolic periods of the day into the one of the most anabolic. An important fact about weight training: blood volume can increase by up to 500% during a training session. The average 70kg or ~ 150lb person caries 5liters of blood at any given time, this amount can increase to 25liters while training! Now depending on your diet before and during such a training session your blood can contain absolutely nothing to help with recovery or it can be saturated in anabolic nutrients. With a high carb moderate protein pre-workout meal and a carbohydrate/bcaa drink during the workout we can flood the muscles with all the ingredients needed to repair themselves and grow. Those that have never tried anything like this will be amazed by their performance in the gym as well as the mass gains they are able to achieve.

Most people attempting to gain mass struggle to consume enough calories to grow and constantly teeter on glycogen depletion from insufficient carbohydrate intake, especially around their workout times. If your body is constantly starved for glycogen replenishment and deprived of adequate carbohydrates then your dietary protein will be processed for energy purposes and used for glycogen replenishment. This process is called gluconeogenesis and when it takes place that means your protein is not getting used to build muscle. So taking in enough carbohydrates at the right times is crucial to someone wanting to add lean mass to their frame.

Post-Workout Nutrition

All the instructions given to this point will yield little to no results if post-workout nutrition is neglected. This certainly is the most important of all the 3 times discussed in this article and where many people may choose to start. Let’s review some basics here. Carbohydrates are stored in muscle tissue as glycogen. Glycogen is the main source of energy for every function in the body. While weight training or doing high intensity cardio workouts the demand for energy obviously increases. So we are depleting muscle glycogen at a rather fast rate while doing any aerobic or anaerobic work. This being said we enter the post-workout time frame with little to no stored glycogen in the muscle group just trained. What is needed to initiate the recovery process is glycogen replenishment. Many people consume nothing more than a protein drink when finished with their workout. This does nothing more than initiate gluconeogenesis (conversion of protein to glucose) for the purposes of replenishing glycogen. Well that seems like quite a waste doesn’t it? We are working out to mold and shape our bodies and consuming protein post workout with the idea of repairing damaged muscle! Yet our protein is being treated as a carbohydrate, leaving little to no amino acids left for protein synthesis (muscle building/repair). Answer? TAKE CARBOHYDRATES FIRST!!! For some reason a lot of people struggle with understanding this concept. They seem to believe what they are being told is true but they keep hearing from friends and media that carbs are bad for them and will make them fat or prevent them from losing fat. Newsflash….. This is bullshit!! It is a very broad and “blanket” statement or ideal that prevents a lot of people from reaping the benefits of looking better in the mirror from all their efforts in the gym. What needs to be taught is the proper timing of carbohydrate intake. However, it is a much longer discussion than “carbs are bad mmkay!” For those that are not familiar with our detailed discussion on this, please visit our homepage and check out the articles section. The complete physique alteration series part 1 is what should be read. Here is a linkhttp://allpronutritioninc.com/index.php/articles#.Ud3BYr7D_ug

So the first benefit of consuming carbohydrates 1st post-workout is starting glycogen replenishment and sparing the protein consumed right after for muscle repair. At this time we want a carbohydrate that will absorb rapidly and cause a fast rise in blood glucose levels. This creates a very anabolic environment because of the insulin that is released in response to the rise in blood glucose. Insulin at this time will be our friend and not our enemy. Insulin acts as a shuttle for all nutrients in the blood stream. It will store glucose in the muscle as glycogen and amino acids in the amino acid pool within the muscle cell for repair. When choosing what carbohydrate to use at this time, it is best to go with a liquid form so we can pretty much bypass the digestion phase and immediately start absorption in the lower intestines. This will get blood glucose levels elevated faster obviously. Most people would opt for a sugar of some sort at this time and that will work but not as well as a few other options. Let us explain.

Carbohydrates are separated by structure, you have simple carbs (monosaccharides), starches and some sugars (disaccharides), and you have complex carbs (polysaccharides). Muscle glycogen (muscle storage form of carbohydrates) is a complex structure, not a simple one. So the carbohydrates that are most efficiently stored in muscle tissue as glycogen are complex carbs (polysaccharides). Simple carbs have to be assembled into glycogen and that process is not as efficient. However complex carbs are traditionally slow digesting…. So there is a dilemma. We need a fast absorbing carb to get into the blood fast, but we really want a complex carb for better glycogen storage. Luckily you do not have to choose between sugars and oatmeal. There are polysaccharide carbs that have been bioengineered to digest faster than any sugar. The two most popular are Vitargo and Karbolyn. These are the best choice as an intra and post workout carb source. You get a faster rise in blood glucose than any sugar out there, with the muscle glycogen storing efficiency of a complex carb!! Add a scoop of BCAA’s to it and you have created a very anabolic environment ready for muscle protein synthesis. All that’s needed to complete this process is a fast acting protein taken about 10-15 min after the carb/bcaa cocktail.

*for those with a much busier schedule and looking for a post workout option that is a bit less complicated there are a few all-in-one products to choose from. Torrent and Dark Matter to name a few. They may be more convenient but are not nearly as effective. Most all-in-one products do not use carb sources such as vitargo or karbolyn; they opt for the cheaper less effective simple sugars.

When dieting for fat loss

This is one of the most important carb based meals of the day when dieting for fat loss. It gives our bodies that are in a highly catabolic state for most of the day a chance to switch to anabolism briefly. Without this carb based meal (shake) post workout it will be hard to maintain much muscle mass while dieting. We have just finished tearing down muscle fibers during our workout and without the right post workout nutrition we may just leave them without much to repair/rebuild themselves and suddenly we have lost muscle tissue. So, to kick start the recovery and rebuilding process we should consume a fast acting polysaccharide carb drink. The amount may vary from 30g-80g depending on age, weight, and which muscle group we trained. The bigger the muscle group the more carbs needed (legs need more than arms for example). We ought to combine a serving of a BCAA product with this carbohydrate to further ignite the anabolic process. 15-20 min following this we need to consume 35-50g of whey protein isolate. We choose whey isolate at this time because it is clean and absorbed very fast. The amount here should vary mostly on lbm. Women will stick with 35g or so, men will take closer to 50g. We should wait close to 2-2.5 hours after this protein shake to have our next meal when dieting for fat loss.

When dieting for muscle gain

When dieting for muscle gain we will follow the same setup as listed above (read it if you didn’t already) the only difference being we may opt for a slightly higher carb intake. Don’t go too crazy, our overall diet in general will have much more carbs anyway than a fat loss diet. We just may be a bit more liberal in the post workout window. Shoot for 40-90g maybe even 100g occasionally for larger males after the most brutal of leg or back workouts. Still combine with a serving of BCAA to trigger anabolism (leucine trigger mTOR in muscle tissue), followed by a 30-50g whey isolate shake 15-20 min later. However instead of waiting 2-2.5 hours for our next whole food meal we ought to only wait 45min-1hr. These two shakes are predigested for the most part but the whole food meal following certainly is not. So we actually are getting absorption intervals consistent with 2 whole food meals that are 2.5 hours apart. If you don’t follow that last statement just take our word for it. May take longer than a few sentences to explain so feel free to ask an All Pro employee at any time!!

Well that’s it folks! For those that have been eagerly anticipating this newsletter and article release, we apologize for the delay. Fortunately you guys and gals have been keeping us super busy at the store and we appreciate that! From all of us at All Pro Nutrition we’d like to think you for your consistent loyalty and for those that have just discovered us we are glad you did and look forward to seeing you again very soon!!



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