A few things have recently inspired me to produce this article, and it really made me appreciate the importance of nutrition and supplementation for optimising performance and recovery, especially during the most critical times where the most gains and losses occur.
~ The other day I overheard a guy complaining about the lack of energy to lift weights and exercise in the morning. I was at that stage once, and I never thought I would be able to make the transition to working out from the afternoon to the morning.
The body has an amazing ability to adapt to routine. A week was all it took for me, and the performance benefits ever since have been greatly enhanced.
Self-motivation, nutrition, and supplementation would be the key areas that come to mind, and are important in any fitness regime. But perhaps even more so in the mornings, when the body does need a little kick up the back-side to get into gear!
~ The next was speaking to a colleague of mine. We talked about nutritional importance, and the vast improvements I experienced. This looked to have given her a great desire to both look further into my nutritional recommendations, and to start implementing them into her regime.
She then later contacted me for some advice on what supplements I could recommend to bring into her regime
When I was drafting up my notes, it made me think at the number of people that may have that great impetus to start on a fitness regime, but fall off the wagon due to seeing no improvement. This is probably because they do not have the knowledge to reap the rewards of their efforts.
From my experience, it’s quite simple. Taking psychological factors aside, if you don’t fuel your body with the right nutrients and supplements to feel healthy, give you that energy, and that motivation and focus to train, then you will not be able to push your body to its limits, resulting in poor gym performance and recovery. This of course then easily spreads to being a lot more inclined to ditch the whole health kick regime, eventually throwing the whole plan to shreds.
~ Finally, my own experience! I had missed one of my set times for intaking food and supplements – unfortunately that night, my pre-bedtime nutrition was not at all optimum. Not only did I lack a source of time released protein, but also went without ZMA.
ZMA is a supplement very important for promoting quality sleep, muscle recovery, and testosterone support. Muscle and fitness improvement does not occur during your training, but the time at which the body is recuperating.
How can the body recuperate adequately without having the nutrients to promote this state? For anyone who trains intensively on a very frequent basis, this supplement is critical for recovery.
My muscles felt like jelly that next morning!... and I could tell that exerting too much force, they would most likely suffer some form of strain. Fortunately the investment in other quality products and nutrition minimised this negative impact. Either way, I definitely was not as fresh as I would normally have felt going into a session.
So what are my key recommended supplements? I’ll split these into the three main areas of focus:
A Nitric Oxide Supplement – I use BSN NoXplode. A great product, which promotes all aspects of training. The constituents are designed to promote both an increased anerobic and aerobic capacity, giving that extra energy to push yourself to the absolute limit, and for longer.
It also promotes a great level of focus and motivation. If you can’t focus and have a tired mind, there’s no way you’ll be able to reach that top gear in your training session.
A Thermogenic Fat Loss Supplement – Green Tea - is prime for this role, because not only does it promote thermogenesis to speed up fat loss, but it’s got excellent anti-oxidant properties as well. I stack this with another form of tea, Yerba Mate.
This product has greater anti-oxidant capacity, plus it also helps to burn off carbohydrates at a faster rate, along with promoting greater levels of nitric oxide within the body. The type of anti-oxidant compounds also differs in each, so you’ll benefit from a wider spectrum.
Joint / Immune Support – Rose Hips or Camu Camu Vitamin C is brilliant for a quick boost of energy, but more importantly helps to promote the immune system, along with joint health. I stack this with green tea before each and every workout.
An Adaptogenic Herb – Some pre-workout supplements contain this type of herb. An adaptogen is a herb which has properties to aid against both physical and mental stress. My personal choice here is Rhodiola Rosea. Adaptogens enhance workout performance and recovery. There are other forms of ginseng, such as Ginseng Panax, Suma Root, or Siberian Ginseng.
What Rhodiola is more renowned for is it’s increased utilisation of creatine. So by consuming this synergistically, muscular performance and endurance will be greatly enhanced. This is a herb renowned for usage in the athletic world.
Panax is also popular, with more stimulant properties in comparison to Rhodiola Rosea – so you’ll gain from added focus supplementing on this.
Increased Focus – Gingko Biloba, another herb that I will include in my pre workout ritual. It adds a more natural based benefit for concentration, and is generally renowned for energising the mind without the heavy stimulant properties associated.
Depending on your goals, timing and macronutrients are critical to achieve your aims. But typically your post workout complex would be within 60 minutes of a workout. Any longer, and you’re more likely to burn a lot more muscle compared to fat, and not recover adequately enough to make any gains.
Either way, carbohydrates and protein would form most of these calories, with fat being no more than 6 grams following a workout. The reason being it will slow down the absorption of protein into the blood stream, which will be of detriment for optimising muscle recovery.
Carbohydrate Choices – Maltodextrin or Glucose for a spike in insulin, to shuttle the protein into your muscles quickly. Or a lower GI based form of carbohydrate the alternative. This can be wholegrain oats, waxy maize, or my preference here being Cherry Active.
Why Cherry Active? It will have other nutrients that promote health, immunity, and joint support. Naturally contains vitamin C, and also chlorogenic acid for fat loss. It also counts as one of five a day of fruit portions.
A banana is not a bad choice either, containing a mixture of carbohydrate types, being sugars, fructose, and starch. It is also very low in fat, and not too expensive.
Protein – A must for muscle recovery. I supplement with PHD Diet Whey, although I am sure others may recommend a more pure form of whey protein for immediately post workout. This protein contains concentrated whey, milk protein containing casein, and soy isolate.
So again, protein choice depends on one’s goal here, but this branded product also includes Green Tea, Acetyl L-Carnitine, CLA, and Flax Seed. A brilliant all-round protein that will aid immediate recovery, provide anti-oxidants, promote fat burning, and contains a source of healthy fats as well.
Creatine – Critical for muscular recovery. I know without this supplement, there is no way I could train intensively each day. Remember the effort you put into the gym, will only ever be reflected what is consumed during the key stages of physical recovery.
There are a number of types of creatine, typically promoted by benefits of absorbability, and type of benefit as well. But pure creatine monohydrate is the most natural, proven, and most heavily tested. This will do the job more than adequately, and safely.
Vitamin C – A very potent anti-oxidant, but with a very short half life. No better time than to utilise this right after a workout.
I always had a tendency to catch colds and take a while to recover from them. So rather than going with rose hips, something more directed to immunity and more effective in combating colds. This especially after subjecting the body to intense physical and mental exercise.
I use Sambucol Black Elderberry. It also contains a unique constituent in it’s make up, which is specifically anti-viral and what helps to prevent, and clear up any signs of a cold.
An Adaptogenic Herb – Post workout, I choose Suma Root, or Brazilian Ginseng. It is well known for its ability to restore the body to its optimal function. It also contains good amounts of potassium and sodium, electrolytes to help aid hydration and speed up the recovery process.
It is also a herb which acts to balance the hormone levels in the body extremely effectively. This will expand to benefits such as fighting cortisol which can increase tremendously after a weights session. Elevated cortisol levels promote fat storage.
Let’s get controversy out the way first with my first recommendation – Red Wine!
This contains resveratrol, a potent anti-oxidant, anti-aging, and improves endurance levels. It also acts as a diuretic, helping to lower water retention if you want to show a more defined muscular physique. A glass a night will do. No more!
A Slow Released Form of Protein – Make sure your protein has casein within it. This can be via a protein shake, or the more natural form of pure cottage cheese.
Remember your body burns calories overnight, and a slow released form of protein helps minimise any muscle loss, and will promote recovery by the body being able to feed on this protein overnight.
Healthy Fats - Taking the above into account, a good amount of Omega 3,6,9s before bed will help aid recovery and minimise muscle loss.
A scoop of peanut butter is not a bad choice before bed time, and also contains traces of resveratrol. Chia seed is also good, and renowned for it's fibre content and being particularly slow in it's energy release. It also has a better ratio of omega 3 to 6's in comparison to the popular flax seed oil.
ZMA – Zinc and Magnesium are the core constituents here, promoting enhanced sleep quality, muscle recovery, testosterone support. A standard supplement, do not miss. Unless you want to miss or feel sluggish on your planned training session the next morning. Well, it may save you a serving of your pre and post workout products at least!
Joint Support – I’m a firm believer that recovery in a rested state needs to be of the highest quality. The amount of pressure placed on your joints lifting weights consistently, certainly needs to be acknowledged. Something such as MSM would be my recommendation here.
You’ll also gain from its anti-oxidant properties, especially of the type glutathione which provides particular benefit to the body’s nitric oxide system.
What else would I like to recommend? Well with my condition, I take a whole host of supplements, especially with my training regime. I’m always striving to improve, and a few other supplements I would recommend you try out are also available at Kill Tiredness, and include:
Schizandra Berry – Has adaptogenic properties, and commonly incorporated into athlete’s diet regimes. Acts as a sedative, and so it’s great for optimising overnight recovery
Acai Berry – A great anti-oxidant, a great spectrum of aminos with 19 in all, whilst containing omega 3 6 and 9s. It’s also renowned for promoting beautiful skin, boosts immunity, and is a great weight and fat loss aid.
Reishi Mushroom – Another very popular and highly effective adaptogenic herb, and commonly used in Chinese medicine. Like Schizandra, athletes utilise this in their regimes to help bring about improvements in their recovery times and performance, promoting ATP production in the body. It also provides a great boost to the immune system and battles against colds and flu.
The bodybuilding world will tend to incorporate amino acid supplementation into their regime, with the purpose being to utilise the specific functions that each of the amino acids brings.
Popular supplements include L-Glutamine, used to slow down the process of muscle breakdown, L-Carnitine for increased fat loss metabolism, and BCAAs to enhance protein synthesis (Branched Chain Amino Acids).
Yes there are other supplements! But I’ll recommend these in other articles further down the line related to their specific topics, such as digestive health, joint support, and anti-aging,
Till next time – Eat right, Train right, Supp right, and at Night
Published: January 30, 2014