Aaron Deere is a sports nutritionist, functional medicine consultant and advanced personal trainer. He is based in London.
Pre-workout supplementation should be key component of your nutritional plan, whether you are training for strength or body composition, because what you take pre-workout may have a large impact on performance, recovery and ultimately how quickly you can get to where you want to be. Here’s what the latest research suggests you take before your workout to maximise performance and recovery to build bigger muscles faster.
Resistance training elevates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) levels within the body, which switches on catabolic pathways. So limiting the rise of AMPK reduces how catabolic you become and so allows anabolism to occur sooner. Low glycogen levels have also been shown to be associated with enhanced AMPK activity and to promote muscle tissue breakdown, which suggests keeping glycogen levels elevated through the ingestion of carbohydrates pre-workout prevents catabolism and promotes anabolism. Research suggests 35g of simple carbohydrates, such as powdered dextrose which is easily broken down and used by the body, is a sufficient dose to achieve this.
Essential amino acids: 6g
To promote size and strength gains, adaptation must be induced. Adaptation requires an anabolic state within the body. Supplementation with amino acids pre-workout can potentially play a contributing role in inducing this anabolic state. A small dose – around 6g – of essential amino acids pre-workout has been shown to elevate blood and muscle amino acid levels by approximately 130%, which again promotes anabolism.
Caffeine: 3-9mg per kilo of bodyweight
Caffeine is another ergogenic aid that has been shown to have effects on the central nervous system that alter the perception of effort and/or the neural activation of muscle contraction, effectively allowing you to train harder for longer. Caffeine also has an effect on the mobilisation of free fatty acids from adipose tissue, which can increase fat oxidation, sparing glycogen and therefore attenuating the catabolic effect of increased AMPK activity. Doses of caffeine between 3-9 mg/kg of bodyweight have been discovered to deliver an ergogenic effect. The dose is dependent on caffeine tolerance. Differences in cytochrome P-450 enzyme activity is a contributing factor in how quickly or slowly we metabolise caffeine and determines the effect of a set dose on an individual.