The deliberate, calculated, structured combination of sport and health supplements can have what’s known as a cumulative benefit to the body. In other words, the ergogenic and health benefit of each is enhanced when combined together, so it is probable that you will get an improved total response from them all, compared to the consumption of just one.
Many of you may already be using a supplement ‘stack’ of your own, which may include the use of a whey protein, creatine and vitamin and mineral (or something along these lines) for example. If this particular stack relates to you then this is certainly a good base to build from, but I’m going to tell you what you can add to this in order cumulatively increase the benefit of each individual supplement.
There is some ambiguity with what constitutes a ‘pre-workout’ per se, however the term usually refers to any supplement that enhances your capacity to train. These may range from Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), nitric oxide precursors such as BSN NO-Xplode, Jacked 3D Micro, or Universal Beta Ala 9, an isotonic beverage such as High 5 Isotonic or Science in Sport Go Energy, or even good old coffee!
I like to use a nitric oxide booster such as BSN NO-Xplode, which contains Beta-alanine, L-arginine and caffeine to name a few ingredients. These help to vasodilate (widen blood vessels) and maximise oxygen delivery to the muscles, whilst the caffeine content makes it very useful for stimulation.
Recommendation: Consume your nitric oxide precursor approx 30-45mins prior to exercise to allow absorption and maximal effect. Note, it is important to assess tolerance to pre-workout supplements if you aren’t used to taking them. Read the label for exact directions of use.
Leucine (BCAA) – This is a member of the BCAA family, and is one of the main amino acids used for muscle building. However, I suggest using Leucine not just for its anabolic properties, but also for its muscle synthesis stimulation. Koopman, (2006) explains that Leucine is actually a highly effective muscle stimulator, but lacks the building blocks to promote actual muscle growth on its own.
Recommendation: Consume a BCAA supplement approx 30-40mins prior to training to deliver Leucine, and the other BCAAs Isoleucine and Valine.
Whey Protein – So you’ve got the muscle growth stimulator in you in the form of Leucine, now you need to deliver the building blocks…enter whey protein! A good whey protein will deliver more BCAAs and some essential and non-essential amino acids; these are your building blocks.
Recommendation: Consume your whey protein first thing in the morning, within an hour after your training session and before bed at night.
Creatine Monohydrate – Creatine, in particular creatine monohydrate is an excellent energy source for exercise, it is your muscles own unique energy source and can only be stolen by the master….the brain. Consequently you are able to train harder, for longer and improve total muscle synthesis. However, in order to truly maximise muscle synthesis, creatine must have the building blocks in order to replenish the damage it enabled you to do to your muscles, and that…is protein!
Creatine is a solute when mixed with water, and like any solute has an osmotic effect meaning it can (if not taken properly) dehydrate you. In order to ensure you avoid dehydration and the damages associated with it check out our infographic on how best to consume creatine.
Recommendation: Creatine has a strict direction of use protocol, it is important not to consume creatine for any longer than 4 weeks at any one time.
Multi-Vitamin & Mineral - Vitamins and minerals are integral to regulating cell growth, maintaining structure and function, controlling energy metabolism, monitoring cell degradation (breakdown) and maximising the utilisation of various macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat) e.g. zinc is needed for the formation and breakdown of protein, whilst vitamin D is integral to the absorption of Calcium. Too many people are investing in powerful ergogenic aids (performance enhancers) in the hope that it will enhance their performance, without an adequate micronutrient base (vitamins and minerals).
Recommendation: Consume a Multi-Vitamin & Mineral first thing in the morning, try putting it next to your toothbrush to remind you, unless you don’t brush your teeth, in which case put them next to your dentures or your can of cola :s