These days, too many people don’t take training seriously. They sit on the machines staring at their phones or talking to their friends, letting precious time go by. They lack focus and intensity, and their bodies show it!
But when you reach your optimal body composition you have the luxury of altering your nutritional intake and timing to improve performance rather than being consumed by fat loss.
If you take fitness seriously, then you know that every workout counts. There can be no slacking if you want to build a healthy and strong body that worth being proud of.
So what’s the secret to a great workout?
Some people like to play intense music. Others like to use training partners. But a key factor in having a kick-ass workout is having the proper pre-workout nutrition.
Eating and drinking the right nutrients and supplements will really help give you energy to tackle your workouts with the intensity needed.
Why You Should Drink a Pre-workout Shake
There are a number of benefits to optimizing your pre-workout nutrition through a shake:
- Increased Muscle Growth: Consuming a small amount of protein will allow amino acids to break down slowly into your blood stream throughout your workout, leading to greater protein synthesis.
- More Energy: Putting in some fast-digesting carbs to your shake will help fill up your glycogen stores, as well as offering glucose immediately in the bloodstream.
- Enhance Focus and Stamina: Energy boosters will help you not only train longer, but also with more precision and focus, without getting sidetracked.
Why You Should Avoid Commercial Pre-Workouts
A lot of guys who are into bodybuilding use a pre-workout supplement. There’s no doubt that pre-workout powders are effective, but if you take a look at the list of ingredients on these products you’re going to be a little put off.
Not only have you never heard of half the ingredients, but many have unwanted side effects. Plus, they are loaded up with sugar and flavorings, dyes and more. Sure, these pre-workout powders may give you a short-term boost, but the long-term effects outweigh the benefits.
That said these products do contain a few helpful ingredients. But instead of buying one of these products you can easily make homemade pre-workout shakes for a cheaper price. Plus, you’ll know exactly what you’re putting into your body!
What to Use
There are a number of different supplement options when it comes to making your own shake. Consider using some of these:
- Protein Powder: As previously mentioned, consuming some sort of protein prior to a workout is essential for protein synthesis and preservation. In fact, some scientists would argue that pre-workout protein consumption is just as important as post-workout consumption. As for what to consume, whey protein is a great option because it is a fast-digesting protein that can be easily digested and shuttled off to muscles. Aim for ½ scoop, which will be anywhere from 10-15grams, 15-30 minutes before working out. Too much and it may cause digestive issues.
- BCAA’s: Another option is to consume Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA). These include several of the most important amino acids, which are the building blocks for muscles. Ingest 10g just prior to a workout—you can even drink it while working out if you want. BCAA’s are easier to digest than whey, which is why whey should be consumed earlier than you would consume BCAA’s.
- Carbohydrates: You want to use a fast-digesting carbohydrate powder as it will provide energy during workouts. These simple carbs will be almost immediately converted to glucose after digestion which is perfect for training, as this glucose will be present in the blood stream when exercising. There are a variety of carb powders on the market, but make sure you purchase a quality supplement free of fillers. You can use something simple like a dextrose powder. Another option would be using a fruit juice in your pre-workout shake can be a good idea. The juice not only provides a good source of carbohydrates, but it helps these shakes taste better. If you do decide to use fruit juice, look to get a brand that provides all natural juice, without added sugar.
- Caffeine: Adding some caffeine to your pre-workout will no doubt give you a boost. Studies show that just 100g of caffeine can boost energy before a workout and reduce fatigue and soreness after. One issue that may arise with caffeine use is that long-term use can lead to addiction. Additionally, prolonged use will lead to a tolerance build-up, therefore rendering it less useful over time. Stick with low amounts, starting with 100-200 grams which is around what a cup of coffee will have.
- Beta-Alanine: This product is able to enhance muscular endurance, which will help you grind out extra reps in the gym. It’s also great to improve cardiovascular function. It’s not essential, but is a preferred ingredient in many commercial pre-workout powders.
- Creatine: This is one of the most reputable supplements available to athletes. Creatine helps to create more energy in the body, boosting ATP production during exercise. It’s also been shown to increase muscle mass and improve strength intra-workout. This can be used both pre- and post-workout—5g each time will do.
- Citrulline: L-Citrulline is a used as a nitric oxide booster to boost performance. It will definitely help get you that sought after ‘pump’ in the gym.
Perfecting Your Shake
When adding your supplements to your pre-workout shake, you should aim for a 4:1 ratio of Carbohydrates to Protein. For example, if you have 10g of protein, you’d have 40g of carbs. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but this is ideal for pre-workout nutrition.
You also have to make sure to tailor your consumption to your general dietary goals. For example, if you’re trying to burn fat you may want to reduce carbohydrate consumption.
When starting out, don’t feel obligated to use all of the ingredients above. Think of them more as a guideline than the rules. That said you should definitely include some sort of amino acid/protein supplement, some creatine, and maybe an energy booster as well like caffeine or L-Citrulline.
The great thing about pre-workouts is that you don’t have to wait weeks to see results—you see them right away! So what are you waiting for? Make sure that at your next workout you think twice before heading off to the gym without these supplements