Protein powder may be the staple of the supplementing world, but when it comes to maximising your workouts there are plenty of pre and post-workout supplements available. Some will boost your energy, others will help you focus, and most aim to help your body rest and repair more efficiently. Understanding their role in the body and how to use them to optimise your training can make all the difference in reaching your health and wellness goals.
What’s the Point of Supplementing?
Everyone wants to get the most out of their workouts, but it is nutrition that often has the biggest impact on our training. Although they are not a complete food source, supplements are designed to supply our body’s with the ‘missing elements’ we do not already receive from our diet.
In our first edition of the Supplement Series: Not All Supplements Are for Sports we covered some of the applications of nutritional supplementation and shared a wide range of products, including:
- Anti-ageing supplements
- Digestive aids
- Cardiovascular and cognitive support supplements
- A general-purpose sports supplement
In this second edition, we’re pointing the focus at Turnfit approved pre and post-workout supplements that can help you power through your workout and minimise recovery time.
What Is a Pre-Workout Supplement?
As its name suggests, a pre-workout supplement is taken before your workout. Designed to increase your energy, focus, vascularity (nitric oxide) and power, pre-workout supplements can make the difference between hitting the gym or staying home.
When it comes to energy, caffeine is commonly included as a stimulant, and the vast majority of them will also include:
- Branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) to supply your muscles with building blocks
- Beta-alanine to reduce lactic acid buildup and improve performance
Generally speaking, a lot of pre-workout products available will contain elements that assist with post-workout recovery, and vice-versa. Moreover, a pre-workout supplement regime will usually begin about 30 45 minutes before you hit the gym, giving the supplement plenty of time to make it through your system, and prepare your body for work.
What Is a Post-Workout Supplement?
There are a number of post-workout supplements available, but for the most part, they aid in protein synthesis, muscle growth and recovery, and general rest and wellbeing. The type of post-workout supplement(s) may change depending on your exercise needs, physical exertion, and nutrition plan.
Unlike pre-workouts, high-quality post-workout supplements will be made up of few, if not single, ingredients. Of course, they are not all created equally and it’s important to understand where your supplements are coming from, or if they’re legitimate.
Types of post-workout supplements include:
- Powdered protein- whey, casein or plant-based
- BCAA’s such as Leucine and Glutamine
- Zinc and magnesium
The type and purpose of the supplement will dictate how often and when to use them. For example, you may use a quick-absorbing whey protein immediately after a workout, and a slower digesting recovery protein before you sleep to help your body recover.
Do I Need Pre and Post Workout Supplements?
Supplements, on their own, are not going to magically make you healthy or get in shape. Rather, they are there to aid your already healthy diet. That is, you need a strong foundation before you can really enhance your training with the right pre and post-workout supplements.
At Turnfit, we can help you to more fully understand your nutrition and requirements, to make sure you’re maximising your exercise without the need for supplements. However, the human body is an incredibly adaptable machine, and once you’ve dialled in your nutrition and training, supplements can make all the difference between a performance plateau and continually improving your results.
When it comes more specifically to pre and post-workout supplements, they can also be the difference between hitting the gym on your way home from work or hitting the couch. Post-workout supplementation can also be the catalyst for a good night’s rest, allowing your body to fully absorb and make use of the nutrients and vitamins that you have been feeding it.
One of the main issues with pre and post-workout supplements, though, is in their quality. Whilst many of them feature the same or similar ingredients, this often falls under the guise of a ‘proprietary blend.’ With the specific quantities and ingredients hidden from the customer- you- it can be hard to determine if the products you’re using are actually doing what they claim to do.
With decades of experience in the health and fitness industry, and as some of Vancouver’s top-rated personal trainers, we’ve recently made some pre and post-workout supplements available in our online store that have been approved by the Turnfit family.
Turnfit Approved Pre and Post Workout Supplements
Unlike a lot of pre-workouts available, we believe our body already stores all the energy needed to power through a workout- it just needs to be activated properly. So we do not recommend pre-workout supplements that are just stuffed with caffeine. In most cases, the energy ‘crash’ and other side effects just aren’t worth it.
ATP Labs E-nos Pre-Workout Supplement
One of the best pre-workouts we’ve found is ATP Labs E-nos. Although the name is a bit unusual, this pre-workout supplement has no caffeine. It does, however, have a good blend of BCAA’s- citruline and arginine- as well as beta-alanine to help your muscles cope with the increased load.
The inclusion of glycerol helps with vascularity and moving blood to where it’s needed most in the body. This also works synergistically with the key ingredient- agmatine sulphate- which is synthesised in the body from the amino acid L-arginine.
Some research has shown that agmatine is responsible for nitric oxide regulation, by moderating two out of three nitric oxide enzymes, otherwise known as iNos (inducible) and nNos (neuronal) nitric oxide production. Whereas it encourages endothelial enzyme production or eNOS, which:
“signals vasodilation in the lining of blood vessels for increased blood flow. Increased blood flow lowers blood pressure and increases the import of oxygen and nutrients and export of cellular waste products.”
–Jori Enfield, BS Science (Biology).
Other research has shown that agmatine may play a role in our cognitive ability and neurological performance, as well as protecting the brain from stroke.
If the E-nos pre-workout supplement isn’t your thing, you may consider just adding beta-alanine to your workout regime. This amino acid is found in most pre-workout products but is also available as a single ingredient powder, and is best taken 30-45 minutes before your workout.
Unlike essential amino acids (which are the building blocks of proteins), other amino acids like beta-alanine cause chemical reactions in the body. When it comes to working out, beta-alanine is crucial to the body’s ability to synthesise carnosine- which slows and/or prevents the build-up of lactic acid during and after your workouts. Reducing lactic acid can improve your performance, but also reduce muscle soreness and fatigue.
At TurnFit, we recommend the Biosteel range of natural and non-GMO amino acids, such as Biosteel Beta-Alanine. Thanks to a recent partnership you can now access a 20% discount on these Biosteel products when you use the code “TurnFit” at checkout.
Biosteel Fermented BCAA’s- Glutamine and Leucine
What we love the most about the Biosteel range of amino acids is that they are single-ingredient products. Both the Biosteel Glutamine and Biosteel Leucine are high-quality fermented amino acids, making them friendlier on the gut biome, as well as being:
- BIG servings- 150 servings per tub for the Biosteel Leucine and 45 servings per tub for the Glutamine.
They are also both flavourless products, making them easy to add to your shakes or drink bottles. When it comes to using these supplements, glutamine is a great post-workout supplement. It helps to flood your muscles with nitrogen, which is used to replenish energy and repair muscle cells. At the same time, it can help us to metabolise protein and supports healthy immune function after intense activity.
*** Thanks to a recent partnership with Biosteel, you can now access a 20% discount on these Biosteel products when you use the code “TurnFit” at checkout. ***
We occasionally get asked if Leucine is better as a pre or post-workout supplement. Whilst Leucine can be taken at any time of the day, our body metabolises it directly in the muscles, rather than in the liver. As such, it is particularly good at increasing protein levels and protein synthesis in the muscles that you’re training. However, research suggests that Leucine is best taken either during or post-workout. This is because it affects a nutrient-sensing molecule known as mTOR, which is literally responsible for:
“muscle protein synthesis while inhibiting muscle protein breakdown, causing muscle protein accumulation that drives muscle growth.”
-Brian Turner, Advanced Molecular Labs.
Similarly, studies have shown that consuming Leucine post-workout can enhance post-exercise muscle protein synthesis by up to 33%. Due to the anabolic effects of Leucine within the muscles, it is not a great supplement to consume pre-workout. This is because of the way it activates the conversion of glucose to glycogen, whilst inhibiting the breakdown of glycogen to glucose. Metabolically, this is an energy-intensive task and may limit the energy your muscles have in the gym.
Biosteel Essential Amino Acid and Hydration Mixes
If powders and individual amino acids aren’t your things, you can also get a 20% discount on Biosteel BCAA hydration mixes. Depending on the product, these pre-made or powdered drinks give you the advantage of a full range of branch chain amino acids, electrolytes or both.
We hope that the second edition of our Supplement Series has helped you to understand the benefits, and impact, that pre and post workout supplements can make to your diet and training regime.
If you want to maximise your workouts please visit our online store, and don’t forget to use the code “Turnfit” for 20% off Biosteel products!
About Turnfit Personal Trainers
Turnfit Personal Trainers is founded by David Turnbull or “Coach David” – an experienced and successful Personal Trainer who strives to build happier, healthier lives every day.
With a focus on holistic health, we pride ourselves on making a difference and were recently awarded the 2019 Top Choice Award for Personal Trainer in Vancouver. It’s our mission to help you to build the skills, and mindset, it takes to feel successful in all areas of your life.
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We look forward to hearing from you!