Pre vs. Post-Workout Supplements
Curious what all those beverages are that fill the fridges as you walk into the club? Aside from the water that you can win for checking in five times a month, some of them might be confusing to the untrained eye. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. We spoke with Personal Trainer and supplement expert Lonnie P. from In-Shape Lodi for all the deets.
The health supplement business is booming and bigger than ever – and at 36 billion dollars a year there must be something to it. In simple terms, supplements are something you can use to enhance your performance or aid in your health and/or workout. But beware, health supplements by themselves are not going to suddenly make you healthy if you aren’t eating right and moving enough. Think about supplements like a new paint job on a house with a terrible foundation. The paint isn’t going to make the house livable if the foundation is weak. Supplements are the same – build up your foundation first with a healthy diet and exercise, then think about supplementation (with approval from your doc of course!)
A lot of the supplements available at In-Shape are either for pre-workout or post-workout, so let’s dive into those a bit more.
Pre-workout is a supplement designed to give you a boost of energy to increase athletic performance. Though formulas can differ a lot, most do this with a blend of caffeine, creatine, BCAA’s, and Beta-Alanine. Caffeine is a stimulant and can enhance cognitive function and physical performance. Creatine is naturally created as you digest protein. It’s a source of energy and helps build and maintain muscle. BCAA’s are branch chain amino acids that your body uses to maintain, or in some instances gain, muscle mass while burning fat. When you’re watching your calorie intake, your body can use BCAAs as an energy source instead of breaking down muscle for energy.
Lonnie says, “Pre-workout is something you take before exercise and is usually used to help prevent muscle glycogen depletion.”
The “best” time to take a pre-workout supplement can vary on several factors but generally speaking 30 minutes before your workout seems to be the accepted sweet spot. This allows your body time to digest the ingredients and begin using them in time to optimize the benefits.
“Like any kind of supplement, pre-workout is like an assisted boost to help get you through a workout, maybe for days you’re feeling sluggish after a long day of work and need that extra pick me up,” Lonnie explains. “I personally take pre-workouts with caffeine like C4 Ripped or Ultimate to help wake me up for my two a day work outs!”
Pre and post-workout supplements have different benefits. While pre-workouts are an energy boost and help with endurance to make your workouts last longer, many post-workouts aid in muscular recovery and muscle building.
Some post-workout supplements include glutamine, BCAAs, and casein protein. They help muscles recover and can increase muscle synthesis. “Glutamine is one I’m particularly enjoying after going through my callisthenic routines. My muscles don’t ache as much the following day,” Lonnie says!
“As some people may know, muscles have to be broken down to rebuild and grow, so I take post-workout to help them do just that. So, for me, post-workout supplements help the recovery process, so I can continue to train despite the physical effects of the body repairing itself,” Lonnie shared.
Regarding his supplementing practices, Lonnie said, “Depending on the supplement, there are different times to take certain post workouts. Glutamine can be taken after a workout or before you go to bed. BCAAs, or branch chain amino acids, can be taken during or after a workout. It’s recommended to keep it to no more than 4 scoops a day which is why I personally take two scoops, one during a workout and one after. I also take a casein protein right before I go to bed because it takes eight hours to digest.”
Looking to add mass? Post-workout supplements with whey protein are the whey to go. Since whey protein digests much faster (about 30 minutes on average) it doesn’t cause bloating and doesn’t keep you as full for as long.
So, which supplement (if any) is right for you? That totally depends on your fitness goals and exercise program. Do your homework, speak to a Trainer and be sure to consult your doctor before you ease into supplementation!