Which Supplements Should I Take and When?
August 31, 2017
If you’re a high-level athlete, you understand the importance of meal timing and which workouts to do at what time of day. But do you apply this same systematic approach to your supplements? Do you know which ones will help you maximize your gains and the best time to take them each day?
If not, you may not be getting the most out of your supplements. Your body chemistry is not made up of a bunch of random reactions, so you shouldn’t treat your supplement regimen as a free for all. You need a coordinated approach to what you are taking and when. Use this fundamental supplement strategy as your guide to the five key times of day to supplement and why.
When you first wake up, your body is coming out of a fasted state, which means it’s starting to break down your muscles in its search for nourishment. To prevent muscle loss, you need amino acids.
Whey protein isolate – Whey protein naturally contains the highest levels of branched-chain amino acids and has high bioavailability. Make a shake using 1-2 scoops of Whey HD™ for breakfast.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) – Although Whey HD™ delivers 5 grams of BCAAs, adding additional leucine, isoleucine and valine to your morning shake will help build up your reserves for the day. We recommend 3-5 grams.
You already have your meals planned out for the day. Now, incorporate your supplements into this plan to optimize nutrient absorption and energy production.
Multivitamin – On a strict diet, you may lose some important micronutrients. Plus, as an athlete, your body already requires more vitamins and minerals to fuel your metabolism. Make up for these imbalances by supplementing with a multivitamin, preferably one formulated for your gender. Take it with breakfast, or as directed.
Vitamin D – Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium, keeping your bones strong. It also helps reduce body fat, increases strength and promotes muscle growth. This vitamin is fat soluble, so eat it alongside the fats in your diet. Make sure you are not exceeding 4,000 IU when combined with your multivitamin.
Fish oil – The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can help reduce inflammation, promote heart health and increase fat metabolism. Take 1-3 grams with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Everything you do prior to your workout will factor into your performance. Prime your body with a pre-workout supplement that delivers the following ingredients:
Betaine – Studies show betaine improves muscular endurance, hydrates cells and reduces inflammation, among other things. Take 1.5 to 2.5 grams between 30 and 60 minutes before your workout.
Caffeine – In addition to the “buzz” you get, caffeine can also decrease your perceived exertion and muscle pain in the gym to help you work out harder for longer. Take 200 to 400 milligrams, 30-60 minutes before training.
BCAAs – BCAAs act as energy for muscles during your workout, boosting your endurance and helping to prevent muscle loss. Take 3-5 grams, 30-60 minutes before you begin.
Creatine – Having excess creatine stored in your muscles promotes significant increases in your strength and power. Take 2-5 grams of creatine monohydrate 30-60 minutes prior to your workout.
Beta-Alanine – Consistent beta-alanine supplementation boosts your muscle carnosine levels, which increase energy and endurance so you can go harder for longer. Take 3-5 grams, 30 minutes before you head to the gym.
You’re well aware of the post-workout window in which you need to eat to supply your muscles with nutrients. Now add these supplements into the mix to maximize your growth and recovery.
Whey protein isolate – Whey is the ideal post-workout protein. It raises amino acids quickly and keeps them elevated for about 2-4 hours. Plus, it boosts anabolic insulin better than any other protein, shuttling glycogen and other nutrients into your muscles for optimal recovery. Make a shake using 1-2 scoops of Whey HD™ and drink it immediately after your workout.
Creatine – Taking creatine with your post-workout meal, particularly one with protein and carbs, helps ensure that these nutrients are delivered to the muscle. It also draws water into your muscle cells, signaling the body to increase repair and providing that full, hard, muscular look. Mix 2-5 grams of creatine into your post-workout protein shake.
Beta-alanine – Since beta-alanine helps you build up muscle carnosine levels over time, you need to replenish it after your workout. Mix 2-5 grams of beta-alanine into your post-workout protein shake.
Betaine – Betaine is lost as you sweat, so to maintain its muscle-building functions, you need to replenish it once you’re done training. Take 1.5 to 2.5 grams with your post-workout protein shake.
It’s the end of the day and you’ve pushed your body to the max. Sleep is your time to rest and recover, so your supplement strategy should support these functions.
Micellar casein – Casein is the most abundant protein found in cow’s milk. This slow-absorbing protein can sustain blood amino levels for up to seven hours, helping you build muscle and prevent muscle breakdown while you sleep. Mix 20-40 grams of micellar casein with 16 oz. of water and drink it right before you go to bed.