There always seems to be a lot of talk around the importance of the ‘anabolic window’ post-workout to save your gains, but few people discuss the necessity of ‘opening the window’ pre-workout. The crazy thing is that there is actually more evidence which shows benefits around what you do before your workout versus after when it comes to truly getting the most from your exercise.
Yup! You heard us right, although it is important to consume protein and carbohydrates post-workout, what you do before your workout can actually set you up for way more success than you realize. We know that people really tend to workout for two main reasons: performance and/or aesthetic goals. We can get down with both of those! So in this article we are going to talk about everything you want to do before lacing up your shoes and throwing in your headphones to ensure you are lifting the most and looking your best.
Before we dive into how supplementation can help with workout performance, we wanted to start with the basics. What are youeating before your workout? We’ve heard of fasted cardio, but what aboutfueling cardio and lifting? That seems a lot more beneficial, right?
Even if weight loss is your goal, eating before your workout is your best bet. For most people that have been training for a while, you may know by now that the only way to improve performance is to create a progressive overload to the body over a period of time. In layman's terms, we have to train with more intensity or more volume to keep seeing progress. Numerous studies show that consuming carbohydrates pre-workout, you increase the ergogenic effect on your muscles, meaning it enhances our muscles ability to perform and can also prevent their breakdown (SOURCE).
Another benefit of carbohydrates pre-workout is the impact it has on our insulin levels. When we consume carbohydrates, insulin will increase, and insulin acts as a bit of a ‘metabolic switch’, where it tells our body that it should be using carbohydrates for fuel instead of fat. We aren’t talking about body-fat either, we are talking about triglyceride storage from the fats we consume like peanut butter, avocado, red meat, and oils. If you want to maximize your workout, you want to be using carbohydrates as your main fuel source, which will help build muscle and protect it from breaking down (SOURCE).
What about improving weight loss? The bottom line is that to lose weight, in simplest terms, we must be burning more calories than we consume. One of the best ways to accomplish that is by increasing the calories you burn each day! You can do this by working out for longer, and longer, and longer - but that eventually gets pretty impossible. Another, much easier, way to do this is by increasing your muscle mass. Muscle burns calories at a much higher rate than fat does each day as we go about our lives; one study even found that individuals who increased muscle through strength training just a few days a week over a 6-month period increased their metabolism by an average of 125 calories PER DAY (SOURCE)!
So how much should we be eating pre-workout? We recommend, depending on the intensity and volume, about 30-40g of carbohydrates and 15-20g of protein 1-2 hours prior to training. This can look like a greek yogurt and a banana, or a piece of toast with some peanut butter and ½ a protein shake!
Aside from eating some extra carbohydrates, there have been countless benefits shown from some pre-workout ingredients, although we don’t want to just put any ingredients in our supplements, we want only the best and most necessary.
So what ingredients have been shown to have the greatest benefits to your workouts?
The fan favorite! Everyone loves their cup of coffee (or 2...or 5) in the morning, but what benefits does it bring to the table in terms of performance? A lot of people assume that caffeine just gives us that extra boost we need in terms of energy for our workout, but in reality, it is actually doing quite a bit more to help us perform better and burn body fat. Caffeine has the ability to liberate stored body-fat to be used as fuel, which can save our muscle glycogen stores and allow us to increase our energy expenditure. This is likely why we see in studies that individuals are able to lift more reps at the same weight when consuming caffeine pre-workout (SOURCE).
Although the downside is that too much caffeine can make us jittery, and most supplement companies unfortunately overdose caffeine quite a bit in their pre-workouts. This is why, at TopNotch, we use Infinergy™, also known as di-caffeine malate, which offers a unique advantage over natural caffeine. The malic acid it contains helps calm the digestive stress that is commonly seen with caffeine, and it also has shown to weaken the post-ingestion caffeine crash(1)! So all the benefits of the caffeine with none of the downsides.
We also utilize green coffee bean extract, which simply refers to coffee beans that haven’t been roasted yet. Green coffee has been shown to assist the absorption of carbohydrates and it contains a compound called chlorogenic acid, which appears to reduce glucose absorption making it useful in controlling blood sugar levels and lowering blood pressure.
This is another common workout supplement as it is very clear in the research on it’s benefits to our performance. Beta-alanine is an amino acid which promotes and maintains muscle endurance and output, supports muscle capacity, and fights muscle fatigue. It does this by assisting in the creation of carnosine in the body. Carnosine is necessary for maintaining the proper pH level in muscles by buffering hydrogen ions created when muscles are used.
So why not supplement with carnosine? Carnosine is poorly absorbed in certain populations like females and those who do not consume much animal protein in their diets. So beta-alanine has proved extremely effective in supplementation by helping to create more carnosine and, in turn, improving workout performance and body composition.
L-Citrulline is a non-protein amino acid which is made by the body, and it helps improve blood flow, which obviously has positive benefits then to exercise. Citrulline is actually converted to L-arginine in the body, another amino acid, which produces nitric oxide. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels allowing working muscles to receive more oxygen and nutrients. This has been show to help optimize performance and improve recovery.
Just like beta-alanine and carnosine, you’d think - why not just supplement with arginine? Arginine supplementation increases arginine in the plasma, but citrulline supplementation actually increases it for a longer period of time and is more efficient at doing so since arginine is mostly used by the liver, but citrulline is available by the whole body. Lastly, citrulline is also part of something called the urea cycle, which is an important pathway which removes ammonia from the muscles and the liver.
The reasons above are clear as to why all of these ingredients are included in our PRE Pre-Workout supplement. We don’t like including just any ingredients, we want to make sure they are the BEST ingredients and are science-backed. We have a few other ingredients in the PRE, which are listed below:
We know that a lot of you workout because you do really truly enjoy it, but at the end of the day, we want to make sure we are getting the most out of our workouts and reaching the goals we have for ourselves. Nutrition and supplementation can be the make or break behind your furthering progress, and we never want to feel like these hard workouts are for nothing! Utilize that pre-workout window to your advantage with some energizing carbohydrates and PRE to ensure you are crushing your workouts and your goals.
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