It seems that new iron slingers and experienced lifters alike are forever looking for the magic formula that will instantly push their bodybuilding progress to new heights. Such lifters devour industry publications to learn what the pros are doing and spend countless hours worrying about whether their lack of ‘insider knowledge’ will prevent them from becoming 300lbs, ripped! The truth is, in bodybuilding there really are no secrets, no exclusive insights privy only to a privileged few. There are however tried and tested basic principles that apply equally to all lifters. One such basic requirement is workout nutrition, specifically pre and post-workout fueling and replenishment.

One reason why many bodybuilders fall behind in their results is that they try to make bodybuilding more scientific than it is. While it’s true that there are right and wrong ways to apply trusted training insights, one must not be lured into paralysis by analysis. We must not over-think the muscle-building process. However, with myriad conflicting ‘theories’ on how best to train, eat and supplement, it’s a difficult dilemma to avoid. Rather than learning via trial and error – an often effective though decidedly non-scientific approach to finding out exactly what works best for one’s specific genotype – many lifters simply give up. If you gain one insight from this article I would like it to be this: keep trying new approaches to find what works best for you and never give up searching until you hit on an approach that works. Action precedes clarity and insight. So get moving!

Pre and post-workout nutrition is especially perplexing for many. What must be eaten and when? How much of each critical nutrient must be ingested to maximize results? Fortunately some trial and error can be minimized in this important area as trusted supplements, like Labrada’s own ReCHARGE Post Workout, have removed much of the guesswork. But still many questions remain. This article aims to clear up related misconceptions and provide a way forward.

While the outdated notions of pre and post-workout windows of opportunity for specific nutrient uptake and absorption are nowadays regarded as bro science there is no arguing with real-world results. There is a time and a place for key pre and post-workout ingredients. One thing worth remembering is that certain nutrients (like whey protein isolate, branched-chain aminos and efficiently absorbed carbohydrates) can and should be taken both pre and post-workout. Others can be introduced either pre or post-workout. Indeed, pre and post-workout confusion can usually be traced to what foods and supplements to include and when to include them. Read on for a list of recommended foods and performance ingredients and when best to take them.
Note: all of the foods and supplements listed below (the best of the best but by no means an exhaustive list) can be included pre and post-workout. For some users, higher dosages may be required. Again, trial and error may be applied. For the purposes of this article, timing and dosage recommendations are in line with what is considered optimal.

If the anti-catabolic and anabolic-signaling effects of whey protein aren’t enough to tempt you to include this mandatory supplement pre-workout, perhaps a resting energy expenditure of 6-6.5% for up to 48 hours will.5 That’s right – the proper timing of pre workout whey 1 preserves muscle and kick-starts fat burning. But that’s not all. Pre-workout whey also blunts cortisol release (the catabolic hormone that ruthlessly devours muscle) both during the workout and for many hours afterward. Post-workout whey is considered important for muscle recovery. 8

When to consume: One hour before and immediately after training.
Dose: 30 grams per-serving.

ManPouringSupplementsIntoHands3) BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS (BCAAs)
Its high concentration of BCAAs is one of the many reasons why whey is so valuable a muscle builder. Preferentially preferred by the muscles as both anabolic building blocks and as a fuel source, BCAAs keep the muscles from going catabolic when this process is most likely: during intensive workouts when energy expenditure is highest and muscle tissue is broken down faster. With sufficient aminos on board (and whey protein, with its myriad additional anabolic co-factors and immune system boosters) pre-workout carbohydrates are used more efficiently and muscle is less likely to donate proteins for energy (a process called gluconeogenesis).
As with whey, BCAAs are most effectively used to maximize protein synthesis and commence muscle growth post-workout. This is because insulin levels are highest at such times; more importantly, so too is insulin receptor sensitivity. This means key aminos (and other builders such as creatine) are shuttled into muscle at a faster rate.

When to consume: Immediately before and immediately after training
Dose: 7g before and 7g after training (ensure a 2:1:1 ratio of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine).

Along with a good NO (Nitric Oxide) booster to push more nutrients and blood into muscle intra workout, many supplement savvy bodybuilders are turning to Glycerol which has a similar, though more diverse, cell volumizing effect. Unlike the NO boosters, Glycerol (which forms the backbone of fats called triglycerides) has strong osmotic properties, attracting and binding with massive amounts of water to super hydrate the muscles, thus offsetting dehydration, helping to control body temperature, creating significant muscle fullness and, ultimately, enhancing performance and growth.10 Take pre-workout with fast digesting carbs, water and creatine for best results.

When to consume: Pre-workout
Dose: 40-60 grams

Though naturally produced in the body, creatine is rapidly depleted and may take longer accrue (compared to other nutrients) when lacking. This is bad news for hard training strength athletes for whom creatine is essential for the ATP production which enhances anaerobic output to ensure more reps and more forceful muscle contractions.2 Creatine also drives water into muscle cells to create a profound swelling which signals growth via enhanced muscle protein synthesis. Creatine is desirable post-workout 2, 3 due to its muscle hydrating effects (greater hydration promotes the uptake of nutrients).

When to consume: Pre (optional) and post workout
Dose: 3-5 grams

To maintain health, well-being and vitality at optimal levels there are few better approaches than to replenish with electrolytes. Like creatine, electrolytes encourage cellular hydration. Among thousands of unique biological functions, electrolytes (in particular calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium and potassium) also prevent cramping and are crucial for muscle contraction and nervous system integrity.6 To train without adequate electrolytes can fast lead to fatigue and muscle weakness; post workout these valuable minerals counter fatigue while preventing nausea, cramping and muscle spasms.

When to consume: Pre and post workout
Dose: 1 Scoop of ReCHARGE provides a perfect ratio.

By activating a nutrient-sensing molecule called mTOR post-workout, the key amino L Leucine directly engages muscle protein synthesis, inhibits muscle protein breakdown and enhances muscle protein accumulation to promote greater muscle growth.7, 9 Formerly known as the star BCAA, L Leucine has come into its own as a critical post-workout growth booster.

When to consume: Post-workout
Dose: 1 Scoop of ReCHARGE provides a perfect ratio.

No longer must bodybuilders wade through stacks of poorly digestible whole-foods carbs post workout. Even former high performance carbs maltodextrin and dextrose are no longer considered efficient for today’s discerning bodybuilder. Enter the most effective designer carb on today’s market: Karbolyn. Invented for the sole purpose of carb loading for elite athletes, Karbolyn is considered the fastest, safest and most effective way to load the muscles with glycogen post-workout. Karbolyn acts like a pump by pulling water and nutrients into muscles due to its absorption through the stomach at a faster rate than other carbs. Karbolyn is also sugar-free and is absorbed without side effects such as bloating and discomfort.

When to consume: Post-workout
Dose: 1 Scoop of ReCHARGE provides a perfect ratio.

Caffeine, a key component of all good pre-workout formulations, is one of the most heavily researched and validated of ergogenic substances. Increased mental alertness and cognition, increased blood circulation and fat oxidation and less fatigue are all experienced when training with the aid of the world’s most popular stimulant.4 Much more than just universal pick-me-up for weary time-poor professionals, caffeine has become mandatory for both hardcore bodybuilding athletes and novice lifters alike. Caffeine seems to work best when combined with other high-performance ingredients. The best products, Like Labrada Super Charge, combine just the right amount of caffeine for optimum results with a full spectrum of additional pre-workout essentials.

When to consume: Pre-workout
Dose: 300mg – the same dosage included in Super Charge

Pre and post-workout nutrition remains a minor consideration for some. But while increasingly few lifters may merely throw back a whey protein product with a little creatine before and after hitting the iron (or nothing at all!), many more are investigating the vast array of high-level performance products on offer today – and reaping tremendous muscle-building rewards. To train nutritionally unaided is to significantly compromise training intensity and muscle protein synthesis: the two key muscle-building requirements. To end a session without reaching for an advanced combination of recovery factors (which may also be considered pre-workout ingredients to optimize performance come the next workout) is to have wasted a potentially productive workout. So review the above-listed products, learn what they will do for you, and upgrade your gains with the latest in pre and post-workout nutrition.

DavidRobsonAbout the author
David Robson is a prolific health and fitness author with a particular interest in how training, nutrition and mindset can assist bodybuilding progress, David Robson, a personal trainer and health educator, also walks the walk as a seasoned bodybuilding competitor. David, a Tae Kwon Do black belt, and second place-finisher at the 1997 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships, has competed internationally in both Tae Kwon Do and bodybuilding.

In addition, David, who holds separate degrees in psychology, journalism, teaching, and sports performance, is Founder and Director of Advanced Personal Training New Zealand (ATPNZ), a company set up to educate people on how to become fitter, healthier, and better-performing in their day-to-day life, and as athletes.

Charity work forms a large part of David’s life. As Founder and President of the New Zealand Wheelchair Bodybuilding Federation (NZWBBF) and Founder and Director of Fit Futures Charitable Trust, David provides sporting and fitness training opportunities for people with physical disabilities.

David also provides online coaching for fitness and bodybuilding results.

Contacted David at:

Education (partial history)
-University of Waikato: Bachelor of Sport and Leisure Studies (BSpLS). 2002
-University of Waikato: Graduate Diploma in Social Science – Psychology (GradDipSocSc). 2003
-Golden Key International Honour Society (inducted member). 2001
-Wintec: National Diploma in Journalism. 2004
-Wintec: Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (with Merit). 2011
-Network: Fitness Leader certification. 1996

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