With a training program and your diet on the check, the gym is your next stop. But what about the supplements? A training plan is incomplete without them, and you’re miles away from achieving your goals if there are none in your diet.
Whether you want to increase strength, minimize fat, or improve your overall performance at the gym, adding supplements to your diet can help you achieve your workout goals. The good thing is that there are many products to choose from, so you can get something that addresses your specific need.
However, with the right supplement, you’re only halfway through the journey to hitting your target. When and how you take your supplements, determine whether they work correctly or not. So before you drop a supplement in your diet, keep these two factors in mind.
Here’s our guide to proper supplement timing.
Common Workout Supplements
It’s essential to know the type of workout supplements you need and their role in your body. We have two types of supplements: pre-workout and post-workout. They should both be included in your diet.
They’re meant to give you an extra energy boost for smooth exercising. Individual ingredients contained in these products improve specific aspects of your workout performance. Some increase your strength and power, while others improve endurance.
There are many supplements in this category, but you don’t need to have all of them. Depending on the type of exercise, you may include a few in your diet. Some of these supplements include creatine, citrulline, beta-alanine, whey protein, and caffeine.
Creatine is a popular pre-workout supplement that increases the power and strength of your muscles and consequently boosts performance. Caffeine increases alertness to minimize fatigue, and citrulline supplies oxygen and nutrients to exercising muscles, while beta-alanine neutralizes acidity resulting from intense exercise. Whey protein increases the rate of protein synthesis in the muscles during the training.
Post-workout supplements are necessary for muscle building and recovery. During exercise, muscles are broken due to the tension and pressure placed on them. That’s the aim of every workout, but they need rebuilding before the next workout.
Naturally, the body repairs itself, but you need supplements to accelerate the process so that you continue with your training. Some of these supplements include glutamine, casein, omega-3 fatty acids, and BCAAs.
The body naturally produces glutamine, but you need extra amounts after intense training. It reduces muscle soreness and accelerates muscle recovery after exercise.
BCAAs are known to boost muscle rebuilding, while the amino acids contained in casein facilitates muscle repair after strength training.
Omega-3 is a particular type of post-workout supplement that reduces muscle inflammation after heavy exercise, therefore accelerating muscle recovery.
When to Take Workout Supplements
Having categorized the supplements into post-workout and pre-workout, you’d imagine that it’s as simple as taking some before and others after training. However, that’s not the case. You may need to take a post-workout supplement even before you begin your exercise. It all depends on the type of supplement, and it’s effects.
Let’s break it down below.
Workout supplements rich in proteins include casein, creatine, whey protein, and glutamine. You need them both before and after exercising.
Creatine should be taken with carbs half an hour before training. You can also take creatine an hour after training for muscle rebuilding, but your body needs it more during a workout.
Take whey protein in the morning, as soon as you get up. It’s a fast-digesting protein that deposits essential amino acids directly into your muscles to initiate the anabolic process. Add some carbs to your morning meal to enhance the effects of whey. About 20 to 30 grams of this supplement should be enough for the day.
Casein absorbs slowly, so it’s not useful if taken in the morning, as you don’t realize the gains immediately. It would be best if you took casein right before bed. Since it’s slow-acting, it feeds the muscles over a more extended period while you’re asleep.
Take glutamine 30 minutes before your training. It eliminates amino acids that accumulate during intense exercise.
The leading fish oil supplement essential for muscle building and recovery is omega-3. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it’s a necessary ingredient after a workout to reduce muscle soreness. While it’s a post-workout supplement, you should take omega-3 the first thing in the morning. To improve its effectiveness, consider adding a few carbs.
Your body needs carbs for fuel. Therefore, carb supplements should be taken a few minutes before workout. Carbohydrates increase endurance during exercise and ensure your muscle energy isn’t depleted during intense training. You can take carb supplements alongside breakfast. Also, eat foods rich in carbs, such as oatmeal, to enhance the effects of the supplement.
Some supplements like BCCAs can be taken at any time during an exercise. Whether you take them before, after, or during a workout, they’ll produce the same effect.
How Often Should You Take Supplements?
For most workout supplements, daily intake is recommended – if your training routine runs the entire week. Nevertheless, for some, you may need to take them even if you’re not working out. This especially applies to recovery supplements, as you may take a break from training to allow your muscles to heal.
Most carbohydrate and protein supplements can be replaced with carbs-rich and protein-rich foods when you’re not working out. If need be, you can consult a physician to know how often you should take your supplement dosage.
If you have a training plan but you’ve not included supplements in your diet, you may not get the full benefits. To improve your performance in the gym, consider adding a few supplements to your diet. Even then, be sure to take a balanced diet to boost the effectiveness of the supplements. Also, research well before settling on a product. Not all workout supplements are suitable for you.