Both pre and post-workout supplementation can greatly increase the effectiveness of your training routine. However, this must be done consistently and properly. Without proper nutrition and right kinds of training, your body won’t have a maximal response when it comes to building lean muscle mass. From this perspective, training and diet are equally important and should not be considered as separate factors. The food and supplements that you take, along with the work that you perform in the gym, are both part of your training and both are equally important. It’s not about the athlete who trained harder, but it’s about the athlete who trained smarter. When exercising and working out, your body goes through acute changes in the metabolic environment of muscle tissue. First, there is a significant increase in blood flow to working muscles and also a sharp increase in catecholamines (e.g. noradrenalin, adrenalin). As a result, catabolism (muscle breakdown) develops during exercise, and anabolism (muscle building) immediately after exercise. Since these changes are acute, some lasting only a few hours, the pre exercise meal is crucial to optimizing the anabolic effect of exercise.
In order to get the most out of your pre-workout meal, you need energy. This is where carbohydrates come into play. You need carbohydrates to store energy and to take advantage of increased blood flow to muscle tissue.
Exercise places great demand on glycogen stores. The harder and more vigorous you train, the greater demand this puts on your glycogen stores. Glycogen is the sugar stored in the liver and muscles. Since high intensity exercise burns energy at such a high rate, the body is unable to supply sufficient oxygen to be able to use fat for fuel. Instead, it must use sugar found in the muscle and in the blood. If you consume simple sugars right before you exercise, you can reduce the amount of glycogen used during exercise, which will certainly help to increase and prolong performance. More importantly, higher glycogen and insulin levels appears to create an anabolic hormonal environment favorable to building muscle. Proper carbohydrate intake prior to exercise provides more energy to the muscles and provides a greater effect on the power from muscle fibers, primarily fast twitch muscle fibers that are used during weight lifting. Also, the effect of cortisol, a stress induced hormone, is reduced. This means that your body will be placed in a more conducive environment towards building muscle instead of breaking it down to get through the exercise session.
Another pre-workout strategy involves pumping more blood to your working muscles. Since the amount and availability of amino acids is often the limiting factor for protein synthesis, a pre-workout protein meal will enhance the delivery of amino acids to muscle tissue to proper muscular growth and recovery. Research has confirmed the effectiveness of a pre-workout protein drink. Research has confirmed that you deliver greater amounts of amino acids during exercise when you consume protein before a workout than after. There is also a significant difference in amino acid delivery in the first hour after exercise, with the protein drink providing a significant advantage before you workout. Net amino acid uptake throughout the muscle is twice as high with a pre-workout protein drink as compared to consuming it after. Phenylalanine disappearance rate, an indicator of muscle protein synthesis from blood amino acids, was much higher when amino acids were taken during the pre-workout stage. As a result, this indicates that the body and muscles respond more effectively to protein immediately before resistance exercise than after exercise. This is primarily because of an increased delivery of amino acids to the muscle.
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system by blocking adenosine, a neurotransmitter that normally causes a calming effect in the body. The resulting neural stimulation due to this blockage causes the adrenal glands to release adrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormone. Your heart rate increases, and it releases glucose into your blood stream for extra energy. Caffeine is going to extend your endurance, make you more powerful, and it will have an ergogenic effect on muscle.
When we exercise, especially when it’s high intensity exercise, our bodies accumulate a large amount of hydrogen ions (H+), causing our muscles pH to drop (become more acidic). H+ causes your muscles pH to drop, in turn decreasing your strength and causing you to fatigue faster. These limitations stop you from adequately overloading your muscles and forcing new muscle gains. Beta-alanine prevents the drop in pH within our muscle by boosting the synthesis of another amino acid called carnosine. Carnosine helps stabilize muscular pH by soaking up hydrogen ions (H+) that are released at an accelerated rate during exercise. Beta-alanine can increase carnosine concentration by 65%.
L-Arginine is a vasodilator — that is, it dilates the blood vessels, allowing more blood to pass through at once. Arginine stimulates protein production. It also help your body manufacture creatine, a protein that contributes to muscle mass and power. L-Arginine is necessary to get rid of waste also so it’s going to flush out toxins and it will help the body get rid of creatinine, the waste product associated with the process of manufacturing creatine.
(ATP) molecules are the main fuel for the enzyme motors of the muscle in initial high-intensity muscle activity. During muscle contraction, ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) loses a phosphate molecule to create energy and gets converted to adenosine di-phosphate (ADP). Now in order to produce more energy, ADP must be converted back to ATP. Now when ATP is depleted, creatine acts as a source of phosphate and converts the ADP molecule to ATP molecule. The more creatine that is available to the body, the faster the body can produce ATP molecules, so that more and more energy is available for the muscle contractions. This is how creatine acts as a great energy source for short bursts of exercise such as sprinting, bodybuilding and other athletic activities. These increased amounts of creatine slow the possibility of fatigue and enhances recovery. Also, creatine helps promote muscle growth and development because it increases the number of satellite cells and nuclei in the muscle. You can’t grow bigger muscles without additional nuclei bringing recruited to take care of the extra muscle. Creatine intake, along with training, has been shown in many studies to cause a substantial increase in the number of satellite cells and myonuclei compared to strength training alone, and strength training with protein intake.