This is a follow-up to the Nutrient Timing article that I wrote a while ago. Once you have your diet in tune the next step is to add the correct supplementation at the correct times for optimal results.
The types of supplements will vary based on your goals, but I will do my best to hit most of them here. The basics are a multi-vitamin, omega-3, and protein powder. Some more advanced supplements are pre and post workout, digestive enzymes and probiotics, hormone manipulators, and a joint supplement. Every product out there has specific directions related to when you should consume the supplement. In my opinion though, there are only four times of day when you should take your supplements. The times are in the morning with breakfast, pre-workout, post-workout, and before bed.
First thing in the morning, before you do anything else, you should be doing two things. The first is downing a bunch of water. You haven’t had anything to drink in 8 hours (hopefully) and your body is mildly dehydrated. Don’t skip this one. The second thing you should be doing is downing your morning shake. This shake will be your breakfast, and with your breakfast you will take your first round of supplementation. This time of day is best for your multivitamin, joint complex, omega-3, and enzymes/probiotics. These types of products usually need to be taken with a meal, or work best when taken with food. And since they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, they will help you make the most out of your day.
Before your workout you should get some amino acids, fast digesting carbs, and if need be, some energy supplement. The branched chain amino acids leucine, valine, and isoleucine are essential to muscle building and should be consumed before any strenuous workout. Glutamine, arginine, and taurine, also amino acids, have added benefits like getting the “pump” during your workout, boosting growth hormone, and energy metabolism. Creatine, while not an amino acid, is usually lumped in with this group. It is also beneficial to energy metabolism.
Caffeine, while not essential, can be very useful during exercise. It can help you get the most out of your session, while also freeing fat from storage and raising body temperature to burn fat.
Lastly, fast-digesting carbs are important before any hard workout. They help give you a little quick energy that can be burned off during exercise.
Pre-workout is also the time for any testosterone or growth hormone boosters, insulin regulators, and estrogen suppressors.
Immediately following your workout you need to get some amino acids and fast digesting carbohydrates. The amino’s will help repair muscle cells and the carbs will replenish energy lost during exercise.
You can also have creatine, glutamine, and arginine post-workout, as they can be beneficial during this time.
Make sure you get all nutrients within 30 minutes post-workout.
Right before you hit the sack for hopefully 8 hours there are some supplements that can be beneficial to your training.
First make sure that you stock up on some form of protein or amino acids in order to stave off the fasting process that takes place while you sleep. Hemp, pea, brown rice, or a combo protein is a great option or a BCAA cocktail. Just make sure you’re getting the protein without any carbs. Too many carbs at night can be stimulating.
A fat source at night is also important in regulating hormones and slowing the digestion of protein. Mixing some flax, hemp, or coconut oil in your shake can accomplish this.
Supplementation can be very beneficial in achieving next level results, but only if your diet is in check first. Supplements are not a solution to a problem, but a training aid, so do not use them as a crutch. Fit all your pills and powders in these four times and use as directed. Don’t just wish for the best.