I have a confession to make- sometimes my workouts suck.
This is not because I suddenly decided to drop weight training in favor of some step aerobics class at my local YMCA.
Nor is it due to some type of program inadequacy that is inherent within my current savage workout program.
Despite having private, 24/7 access to an awesome home gym I can still find myself having less than inspiring workouts from time to time.
There can be a number of reasons why this can happen; insufficient sleep, poor nutrition, overtraining, lack of a clear training goal or loss of inspiration. Any one of these can cause you to have a less than inspiring workout session.
However, one area that I was neglecting was pre and peri workout nutrition.
Up until just recently I had focused more on what you should eat after a workout and had long given up using any type of pre-workout supplement designed to improve workout performance.
The last time I tried such a thing was back in the late 1990’s when ephedrine was the supplement de jour and everyone was getting their pre-workout boost from the classic “caffeine/ephedra/aspirin” stack.
One thing was sure- that combination worked! I can recall the intense boost in energy and focus I would get every time I used it.
I can also remember how crappy it made me feel whenever the effects of the stack wore off.
And then there came reports about strokes, heart attacks and even deaths associated with using ephedrine.
So ephedrine and I broke up and I did not give much more thought to pre-workout energy boosting supplements until recently when I decided to give this area of nutrition another look.
It turns out times have changed and science has discovered that there are several naturally occurring nutrients than can give your workout a boost. Let’s take a look at them:
Branch Chain Amino Acids
BCAA’S consist of Leucine, Isoleusine and Valine. Research shows that consuming BCAA’s before, during and after your workout can increase protein synthesis, muscle growth and fat loss. BCAA’s will also increase time to fatigue, decrease muscle soreness, increase insulin sensitivity and improve reaction time.
Organic Agave- Inulin
Agave is a good pre-workout carbohydrate energy source due to its low glycemic index and the fact that it doesn’t raise blood triglyceride levels. Inulin is a soluble fiber and an excellent pre-biotic that promotes the growth of bifidobacteria in the large intestine.
Organic Red Beet Juice
Organic red beet juice helps to dilate blood vessels and deliver oxygen to cells. Can increase endurance by as much as 16%.
Taurine is an amino acid with antioxidant properties, taurine has been shown to decrease lactate accumulation which can impede endurance and also reduce oxidative stress.
Kola nut contains caffeine (one of my favorite workout boosters). Caffeine mobilizes fat stores and stimulates working muscles to use fat as fuel. This delays depletion of muscle glycogen allowing for prolonged exercise. Caffeine also promotes alertness and wakefulness and can improve mood.
Coconut water contains electrolytes (sodium, potassium and chloride) that affect your body’s level of hydration. Staying properly hydrated is critical for performance.
Creatine improves strength, power and performance.
Rhodiola improves endurance and decreases inflammation.
B1 decreases lactate levels and optimizes nervous system and muscle functioning.
Magnesium supports muscle strength.
Appleboost is derived from apple peels and improves blood flow and oxygen transport to working muscles. Apple peels also contain ursolic acid, a compound thought to increase muscle mass.
By incorporating these as part of my pre and peri workout nutrition I have been able to hit several personal bests (not an easy task considering my training experience and age).
I was recently on Breakfast Television in Toronto talking about this and have made a copy of the video for you to watch below. I had to video tape it from my computer screen so forgive me if the quality of the recording isn’t 100%!