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Energize Yourself | Muscle & Body Magazine

Turbocharge your training with these nutrient guidelines.

Over the span of my career training athletes, a major trend that has taken on increasing importance is the balance of nutrients and the timing of ingestion as compared to maximizing performance. This is for a good reason. Clinical researchers and scientists are assembling a library of great findings concluding the scientific links of what and when you take in specific nutrients, such as proteins and carbohydrates, will have a direct correlation to the amount of energy produced. Paying attention to these findings and the practical applications can significantly help you train, perform and recuperate.

Just one of the latest research articles that is a must-read for those of you who are in training for any sport comes from researchers Jay Hoffman, PhD, and Carl Maresh, PhD, in the December 2011 Strength and Conditioning Journal. They do an excellent job of breaking down the types of nutrients that are most beneficial, and give good, sound advice on the timing of consumption. As they describe, there are six types of nutrients that play varying roles in producing energy and fueling muscle recovery. They include “carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water.” We all know, or should know, the importance of water. Instead, I would like to focus on protein and carbohydrates.

The “Macro” Rules of Workout Energy

The science of energy is most clearly described when they discuss what is termed the “macro-nutrients” that are primary to producing energy: proteins, fats and carbohydrates. (They point out the distinction that water, vitamins and minerals are considered micro- nutrients because they do not directly produce energy.) Understand that each macronutrient has a different function and the speed at which it is burned. The amount of and type of each can have a major impact on how long energy levels will last, or on the flip side, when fatigue may set in.

In very basic terms, carbohydrates can be broken down to simple or complex, depending on the glucose (commonly known as sugar) make up, and can be used up rather quickly while performing high-intensity activities. Fats, a great source for endurance for low-intensity workouts, can be a concentrated energy source that is a reserve system after the carbohydrates are used up. Proteins contain amino acids and are the building blocks to muscles and supporting cells. All three of these play distinct functions and work together so that muscles can contract, thus creating the necessary movements to perform. The more efficient this chemical breakdown and oxygenation occurs, the better the body will function.

The results of their study and their general conclusions can be used as a good framework of how to approach training and competition. Their recommendations center on the pre- and postworkout phase for maximum sstained energy.

 Preworkout: About three or four hours before your workout, have a meal that contains “1–2 g/kg body weight of carbohydrates.” In addition, try to incorporate a supplement prior to a workout or competition that combines essential amino acids and low-glycemic carbohydrates.

 Postworkout: It is crucial to immediately start to introduce proteins and carbohydrates back into your system after training. In particular, proteins significantly boost the muscle recovery that aids in lean muscle growth. Without adding protein, muscle repair can be delayed, potentially leading to muscle loss instead of growth. Their recommendation is to immediately consume a drink containing carbohydrates and whey protein.

Got (Chocolate) Milk?

Interestingly noted in this study, as well as other recent studies, is the conclusion that chocolate milk may be a great and low-cost option for a postworkout recovery drink. If interested in how chocolate milk stacks up against other recovery drinks such as water, juice, soda, sports and energy drinks, I recommend you check out the November 2011 issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. The researchers concluded that when comparing chocolate milk to the other types of recovery drinks, the chocolate milk “may be as effective as, or superior to, these in promoting recovery.”

As always, consult your personal physician as you incorporate new supplements, adjust fluid intake and change pre- and postworkout meals. Any underlying health conditions and prescribed medications may influence nutrition and training plans.


via Energize Yourself | Muscle & Body Magazine.