If you aren't sure if you should take a pre-workout supplement - and what it should be - we're here to offer guidance. The right nutrients, taken at the right time can increase energy, stamina, and strength during workouts; as well as, enhance recovery, fat-burning, and muscle building after your workouts. But before you start supplementing - check with your doctor. Once you gotten the go-ahead - check out these pre- and post-workout supplements that can optimize your efforts.
BCAA supplements have been around for a while and you may already be familiar with the, but you may not know how these essential nutrients can help you perform better during your workout and preserve muscle.
BCAAs, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, are comprised of the essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. While taking BCAAs anytime can benefit you, take a dose before your workout to get the biggest benefit for your buck. Why? During workouts, your body uses amino acids to create energy. If your amino stores are depleted it can lead to a protein-imbalance. If your amino stores are not maintained and become depleted, it can lead to a protein imbalance - at which point your body will break down it's next best energy source - your hard earned muscle (which is also another reason calorie restrictive diets are a bad idea).
Take BCAAs 15 to 30 minutes prior to exercise, to prevent muscle breakdown and fatigue during challenging workouts. Here are two recommended brands to use as directed. Naked BCAAs Amino Acids Powder, Scivation Xtend BCAA Powder
Caffeine is by far one of the most common and effective supplements for revving your energy prior to a tough workout. Caffeine works by restraining the enzyme that inhibits the degradation of cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate (cAMP), a chemical messenger that plays a role in stimulating and prolonging the presence of the hormones epinephrine and adrenaline. This means, a bit of caffeine prior to training can boost your endurance by diminishing your perceived level of fatigue. Caffeine also has a direct effect on the central nervous system and the neurotransmitters involved in focus, allowing you to stay in the zone until the very last rep. 1
Depending on your caffeine sensitivity, supplement with 100 mg (a cup of coffee has about 95 mg) to a max dose of 250 mg of caffeine, 15 to 30 minutes prior to a workout. Note...caffeine’s performance-boosting abilities are often more effective when it's not used on a regular basis, so limit your caffeine intake when you’re not training to maximize the benefits.
If you're not a coffee drinker, try one of these supplements.
Beta-Alanine is a clinically researched ingredient that has been shown to increase endurance and power during workouts. This non-essential amino acid works by increasing the level of carnosine in the muscle, which bonds with L-Histidine, an amino acid that is already abundant in the human body.
Carnosine works to buffer acidic build-up in the muscles by locking up hydrogen ions, which are generated during an intense workout. Endurance is increased by decreasing acidic build-up in the muscles, allowing you to push through more challenging workouts.
A potential side effect of beta-alanine is a hot sensation throughout the body, but it is not experienced by everyone and is entirely dose dependent. Consult with your doctor or health specialist, then try supplementing with a dose of 1.6 to 3.2 g, 15-30 minutes prior to training.
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