With so many different types of supplements around, it can be difficult figuring out just exactly when is the best time to be taking all your products. After all, you don’t want to be wasting all your hard earned dollars by taking supplements at the wrong time and rendering them less effective than usual. By taking different categories of supplements at specific times, you can maximise their potential and reap the rewards. Here is a quick rundown of when to take your supplements.
When to Take Protein Powders
One of the most common supplements that people have, protein powders come in a huge variety. From your typical blended whey protein to casein protein to mass gainers, each type of protein has their own special time when they should be consumed for maximum effect. Below is a list of all types of protein powders and when you should take them:
- Blended Proteins – An extremely versatile powder, blended proteins typically contain a range of different types of protein including whey protein, casein protein, egg albumin and others. They can be taken throughout the day and also ideally 1 hour before and after workouts.
- Mass Gainers – These high calorie powders are perfect for those wanting to bulk up and put on size. Depending on the type and your ability to gain weight, you should take 1-3 serves a day preferably between main meals.
- Fat Loss Proteins – Combining protein with fat loss ingredients, fat and weight loss protein powders can also be consumed throughout the day, but many people like to take it in the morning and also after the workouts. As many contain caffeine, it is not advisable to consume them within 2-3 hours of sleep.
- WPI – Also known as Whey Protein Isolate, WPI powders are extremely fast absorbing so are best taken close to workout times. You can take them throughout the day, but that’s a pricey move.
- Hydrolysed Protein – Also known as peptide protein, hydrolysed protein is protein that has been broken down into short chain peptides, making them even easier to absorb than WPI. They are best taken after workouts as well and are good for those who find recovery an issue.
- Casein Protein – The slowest digesting of all the protein categories, casein protein is commonly sold as a night time protein to be taken just before bed. However, it can also double as a good protein source to use throughout the day, so your muscles get a trickling of protein for hours.
- Other Protein Sources – Egg protein and vegan proteins such as soy, pea and rice for example can be taken similarly to blended proteins. Before and after exercise as well as throughout the day.
When to Take Fat Burners
Another extremely popular category of supplements, fat burners are handy supplements for those who want to speed up their weight loss or for those wanting to get rid of stubborn fat. There are plenty of different fat burners around, but they all either aim to boost your metabolism, increase fuel utilisation, suppress appetite and boost energy levels. While each fat burner will have their own recommendations for use, here is a general guide to when to use fat burners:
- The most common way tot take fat burners is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
- Fat burners can also be taken just before your workout or in the afternoon.
- Avoid taking fat burners close to bedtime as many contain stimulants.
- If you find you experience stomach upsets with fat burners, a good fix is to have a small portion of food just to prime the stomach before having the supplement.
As a side note, another popular fat loss supplement category is fat metabolisers. These differ from fat burners as they’ve been designed to increase fat metabolism. As such, they are best taken prior to main meals or meals with a higher fat content.
When to Take Creatine
One of the most searched phrases around, creatine is one of those supplements that seems to perplex even the more experienced trainers. However, taking creatine is simple once you get the hang of it. There is essentially two different ways you can take creatine: loading or maintaining.
- Loading – The quickest way to experience the full benefits of creatine is to load. The loading protocol recommends the user take 4 x 5g serves of creatine for the first 5 days. Ideally this creatine should be taken with food or a protein shake.
- Maintenance – After the first 5 days of loading, your body’s creatine levels should be topped up and in order to maintain those topped up levels, all you have to do is to take one serving of 5g anytime during the day, ideally with food or a protein shake. You can still reach maximum levels simply by using the Maintenance Protocol, however you will need to stay on that for at least 3-4 weeks.
Of course, there are plenty of other types of creatine around such as creatine HCL, creatine nitrate and kre-alkalyn just to name a few, all of which tout easier and better absorption. These concentrated creatines also suggest that they don’t require a loading phase. More research is still required, but the best way to ensure maximum effectiveness of any creatine supplement is to have it continuously for 4-6 weeks.
When to Take Testosterone Support Supplements
Testosterone support supplements are popular for more experienced trainers wanting to boost their results. They are also a good option for older trainers as testosterone levels tend to decline as we age. Again, each test support supplement will have their own recommendations of when to take it, but as a general rule of thumb:
- Take a testosterone support supplement twice a day, once in the morning and once either before bedtime or before your workouts.
- Ideally, they should be taken on an empty stomach, but this is just a guide.
When to Take Growth Hormone (GH) Support Supplements
Similar to test support, HGH support supplements are also great for older trainers, as HGH levels tend to decline as we age. In addition, they are a good category of supplements for those who find recovery from exercise an issue or simply those wanting to boost their fat metabolism. Each GH support supplement will have their own recommendations for consumption, however as a general rule of thumb:
- Take HGH support supplements on an empty stomach just before bedtime.
- If you are having casein as well, try to take the HGH first so it has time to act. Have it around 15-20 minutes before bedtime and then have casein just before going to sleep.
When to Take Pre Workout & Intra Workout Supplements
Pre workout supplements as its name suggests are designed to be taken before a workout and contains ingredients which help to support training performance by enhancing strength, power, endurance, stamina and blood flow to list some effects. These supplements should be taken anywhere between 30-45 minutes prior to training for best effects.
Intra workout supplements, also known as during workout supplements were created to be taken whilst you are training. They often contain ingredients to prolong the intensity of your performance, but also reduce the breakdown of muscle. They are often sipped throughout your training session.
When to Take Endurance Supplements
Endurance supplements are often used by those who participate in longer exercise sessions or for those competing in endurance events such as marathons, triathlons and ironman events. They’re also good for CrossFit enthusiasts due to the high cardio component of their workouts. They typically consist of electrolytes and carbohydrates with some also containing protein to either assist with maintaining optimal performance or for recovery. Depending on your needs, here is a quick guide on when to take endurance supplements:
- For events/sessions lasting 1-2 hours, a sports drink can be sipped throughout the session to provide the necessary ingredients you need.
- To help prolong performance, aim to have anywhere from 40-60g of carbs from an endurance supplement or sports gel every hour, depending on your level of tolerance.
- After the race, if you are planning to compete or train again at the same level the next day, it might be a good idea to replenish glycogen levels almost immediately with around 50g of carbohydrates from endurance supplements or food every 2 hours. There are different protocols, but this one is nice and easy to remember.
- For those not exercising or competing the day after, it may be beneficial to delay replenishment for around 3-4 hours by avoiding carbohydrates.
Nutrient & Supplement Timing
Nutrient and supplement timing for ideal workout performance and gains is still a growing and fascinating area of sports science. Knowing when to take your supplements is just as important as knowing which supplements to take for your needs. Take a supplement at the wrong time and you could be wasting your hard earned dollars. With our handy guide, you’ll be sure to make the most out of your supplements and achieve the best results possible.