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Supplement Timing For Maximum Muscle Gains

As discussed in the pre-workout article, by consuming the right blend of protein/carbohydrates before training, you will achieve greater protein synthesis after exercise.1 Having also supplemented in the intra-workout phase, you will have reinforced this. This will already put you in a good position to help you after you have finished training. There are, however, more ways to ensure that you achieve optimum growth and recovery after your session. Within 45 minutes after a workout you want to move from a catabolic to an anabolic state, eliminate toxic by products of exercise, replenish muscle glycogen and commence muscle repair. After workout is the most critical phase. Following your workout, you are in catabolic mode. The right stimuli can convert this to an anabolic mode. During this period, muscle cells are highly sensitive to insulin’s anabolic influence. Providing the right nutrients at this stage will exploit this.

Exercise Depletes Amino Acids, Glutamine & BCAAs

ATP and creatine phosphate (CP) levels are depleted, muscle glycogen levels are reduced, and cortisol continues to rise, indicating heightened catabolic activity. If recovery measures are not taken, this state can worsen. Free radicals generated during exercise will continue to attack muscle cells for many hours after exercise. Amino acids, glutamine, and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are also depleted. Depleted BCAAs, (a precursor for glutamine synthesis), may result in lower glutamine levels. Despite this significant depletion post-exercise, many bodybuilders consume just water, or a protein drink. For complete recovery, there are better ways.

Recovery For Bodybuilders Post Workout (Short Term)

After exercise, the body is primed for muscle glycogen resynthesis and the muscle repair. A carbohydrate/protein drink will improve muscle glycogen recovery and muscle protein. During overtraining, cortisol concentrations in the blood may increase. Post-exercise nutrition containing carbs and protein may prevent some of this rise in cortisol.2 Some research indicates that Nitric Oxide (NO), or pre-workout type supplements may be effective post-workout, to help increase insulin response and improve delivery of key nutrients into damaged tissue.3 Creatine, once in the muscles, can induce swelling and influence carbohydrate and protein metabolism, thus repair.4 Vitamin E seems to be more effective as a recovery aid when used in combination with Vitamin C. These two antioxidants work synergistically, to reduce exercise-related free-radical damage.5,6 Recommended daily intake of vitamin E for strength athletes is 200-1,000 IU, and 800-2,000 mg for Vitamin C. The anti-oxidant vitamins C and E are especially important for athletes.

L-Glutamine For Muscle Gains

One of the most important supplements a bodybuilder can take is the amino acid l-glutamine. Sixty percent of the free form amino acids contained in skeletal muscle is glutamine. The body uses glutamine to maintain peak performance. Supplementation of glutamine helps prevent muscle tissue breakdown through preserving the glutamine stored in the muscles. Intense weight training reduces glutamine stores by up to 50%. As the body relies on glutamine to fuel the immune system, glutamine supplementation will prevent muscle tissue breakdown. Some bodybuilders take a 5 to 10 gram serving right before a weight training workout, and another immediately after.

Post Workout Supplements 4-18 Hours After Training

  • In first 4 hours after a workout you want to continue increased insulin sensitivity and an anabolic state.
  • In the next 16-18 hours after a workout you want to maintain positive nitrogen balance and encourage protein synthesis and muscle development.7

Post-Workout Supplements Are Important For Bodybuilders

Well designed post-exercise Carbohydrate/Protein supplements are designed to rapidly replenishing muscle glycogen and muscle phospagens, shifting the body from a catabolic to an anabolic state. Management of cortisol, reinforcement of the immune system and protection of the muscles from excessive structural damage are all primary aims at this stage. Whilst post-training supplementation is the oldest of pre-, intra- and post-training recommendations, it is constantly evolving. This is to take into account the synergies of the pre- and intra- workout supplement developments. By taking an integrated approach to supplementation throughout these three phases, lifters can enhance their strength, recovery, and ultimately, lean muscle gains.

1 Nutrient Timing by John Ivy, Ph.D., and Robert Portman, Ph.D., p. 43
2
Ibid., p. 132
3
Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements, Jose Antonio, PhD, Douglas Kalman, Phd, RD, Jeffrey R. Stout, PhD, Mike Greenwood, PhD, Darryn S. Willoughby, PhD, G. Gregory Haff PhD., p. 516
4
Power Eating by Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, p. 161
5
Nutrient Timing by John Ivy, Ph.D., and Robert Portman, Ph.D., p. 140
6
Ibid., p. 145
7
Ibid., p. 132

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