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Feel Like Your Using Lots of Supplements For Little Results? It's All About Timing

Posted on April 11, 2014

Feel Like Your Using Lots of Supplements For Little Results? It's All About TimingDividerimage

If you’ve been taking sports nutrition products, but haven’t been 100% satisfied with the results, there’s every chance that you simply haven’t got your timing right. Most key ingredients – from protein to creatine to glutamine – work best when they’re consumed at exactly the optimum moment. Read on to find out whether or not it’s time for a re-shuffling of your nutrition and meal timetable. 

Protein powders

According to fitness professional Shawn LeBrun (2004), there are four optimum periods for taking protein powders. The singularly most beneficial time is immediately following a training session. After a workout, your muscles are ready to absorb anything that’s thrown at them, but they’re also at risk of breaking down due to fatigue. A good dose of protein provides a nutrition boost that assists with muscle recovery and promotes growth.

For even better results, take 20g of protein 30 minutes before training as well. The advantages of this were demonstrated in a Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Journal study conducted in 2010 (cited in Mercola 2012). The amino acids encourage processes at the cellular level that increase protein synthesis and thyroid activity, and possibly prevent the decrease of natural hormones. What’s more, a pre-workout protein supplement can boost the metabolism for up to 24 hours. 

Finally, it’s a good idea to take protein just before going to bed and upon waking up. This means that, even when you’re asleep, your body is receiving the nutrition necessary to muscle growth, cell repair and renewal. 

Creatine

Physician-turned-nutrition and performance scientist John Kiefer (2013) argues that, in order to boost creatine levels to the point of efficacy, an athlete should take a minimum of two grams (for maintenance) plus 0.4g per pound of muscle every day. Other research also recommends ‘a loading period’. This involves taking 20 grams a day for five days (usually in divided doses) before starting on your calculated daily serving (Hultman, Soderlund, Cederblad and Greenhaff 1996, cited in Kiefer 2013). 

Kiefer suggests that the best time to take creatine is straight after a workout. It’s possible to receive the sum total of your daily needs in just one hit. However, another feasible approach is to divide your dose into four servings and take them over the course of the day. If you opt for this, your second serving should definitely be half an hour prior to working out. The other two can be taken at any time. 

Note that it’s best to avoid taking creatine at the same time as caffeine, as this can prevent the cells from gaining maximum benefit. However, it is recommended to take creatine with carbohydrates.

Glutamine

Glutamine is the most common amino acid to be found in the human body. So, it plays a crucial role in providing fuel (especially nitrogen) to the cells and assisting the development of lean muscle mass. It’s also important to the efficient functioning of a strong, healthy immune system. 

According to Ryall Vasani (2012), the most effective time to take glutamine is straight after a workout session. This is because intense training leads to depletion of the body’s glutamine stores, causing the muscles to become vulnerable to breakdown. An overview of current research indicates that between 3 and 6 grams consumed 30 to 60 minutes after training is ideal. This can be supplemented with up to another 14 grams taken over the course of the day. This should be split into two servings, one of which should be consumed just before going to bed. 

Intra workout

If you’ve taken a high-quality protein powder, a dose of creatine and, possibly, a serving of glutamine 30 minutes before training, what should you be taking while you’re in action?

When you’re actually in the field (or the gym), it’s crucial that you stay hydrated and energised. So, in addition to drinking plenty of water, an amino acid supplement  that supplies electolyes is a good idea. Sports nutrition expert Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, says that sports drinks are particularly beneficial if you’re working up a sweat (cited in Zelman 2013). A high-quality drink should also provide an energy source (most contain 14-15 grams of carbohydrates), sodium (up to 110 milligrams) and potassium (up to 30 milligrams). These ingredients can help to prevent exhaustion and promote mental focus and concentration. 

References

Kiefer, John, ‘Creatine: How much should you be taking?’ Schwarzenegger.com, 6 March 2013, accessed 5 April 2014.

LeBrun, Shawn, ‘The best time to take your supplements’, Bodybuilding.com, 30 September 2004, <http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/lebrun19.htm> accessed 5 April 2014.

Mercola, Dr., ‘Three key factors for sports nutrition’, Peak Fitness, 29 June 2012, <http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2012/06/29/whey-protein-for-sports-nutrition.aspx> accessed 5 April 2014.

Vasani, Ryall, ‘The go-to on Glutamine: the latest research on a top supplement’, FitnessRX for Women, 1 September 2012, accessed 5 April 2014.

Zelman, Kathleen M., ‘What to eat before, after and during exercise’, WebMD, 19 June 2013, <http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/what-eat-before-during-after-exercise?page=2> accessed 5 April 2014.