One of the questions I get asked a lot is ‘what supplements should I be taking?’
To be honest, some people believe that if you eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, that should be enough. I happen to be one of those people.
Others just love popping pills and drinking potions.
So, to help you out I offer some easy to comprehend, non-scientific advice.
Firstly we’re not Olympic athletes or world-class, professional martial arts sports people so our bodies don’t undergo the same amount of stress that athletes of this level endure. Therefore we don’t really need pre-workout shakes, training drinks, post workout shakes, post workout bars, energy gels and all the other things that companies who sell / manufacture these products tell us we need.
Don’t get me wrong, you can take them all but it’s going to cost you… a small fortune. And don’t forget that a lot of pro athletes are given training supplements as part of their sponsorship deals.
So, I base my advice on the average person and I consider the average person to be someone who works or goes to school in the day. Trains at night for one or two sessions. And trains on average twice a week… maybe three.
Every morning – Consider taking a multivitamin tablet. The ones you buy off the shelves are fine for most of us, however, for the hardcore that trains several times a day and several times a week, you’ll need a multivitamin aimed at sports people such as Multi Pro 32X — but it is expensive.
Multivitamin supplements simply ensure we hit our daily recommended amount of vitamins that aren’t readily available in everything we eat, especially if our diets are pretty poor.
Evening pre-workout – you probably need nothing more than a sensible, well-balanced diet throughout the day to ensure the energy levels are topped up ready for training that evening.
Focus on eating good clean carbs an hour or so before you train (pasta, jacket potatoes etc not fried food).
Add an element of protein in there as well to help the muscle breakdown that will occur as you train (e.g. chicken pasta).
And drink a cup or two of black coffee an hour or so before you start if you really want to supercharge your training and burn some extra fat.
If like me, you need that extra kick right before you start, then a handful of fruit (sultanas for example), will give you a good kick-start.
If you need longer for your food to digest before bouncing around then simply eat it earlier.
While training – if you’re only planning to train in one 45 – 60 min session then water is all you need.
If you plan on training longer then an isotonic drink will stop you from hitting the wall. Save your money and make it yourself with 500ml fruit juice (I prefer pineapple juice) and 500ml of water.
The natural sugars in the fruit juice top up your energy levels and the water re-hydrates you.
Sip this as soon as you start training so it’s going to work for you instantly. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to start drinking it as it’s then too late — you’ve already dehydrated and it’s downhill from there on.
A note on cold drinks. The stomach won’t allow chilled liquids into the system until it’s warmed it up so NEVER drink chilled drinks when you train. If you drink a chilled drink as a form of hydration, you’ll actually dehydrate as you wait for the body to warm up the drink as this isn’t a fast process.
After training – you generally have a 20 min window to consume some quality nutrition so I would recommend a whey protein shake mixed with water if you trained particularly hard.
Whey protein is instantly absorbed into the system and will start repairing the muscles you have broken down during your training session. Food takes longer to absorb hence I recommend a liquid protein drink.
Thereafter eat a light snack within two hours of completing your training consisting of a mix of carbs and protein (cottage cheese & pineapple, tuna salad sandwich, peanut butter and jam toastie etc.).
The eating late at night myth – it doesn’t matter what time of day or night you eat as long as you burn off the food that you consume.
Eating before you go to bed is fine providing you burn it off.
As you’ll know, if you stuff yourself throughout the day and starve yourself at night, you’ll still store the food you overate as fat if you don’t burn it off (more about this later).
The only thing you have to consider about eating large meals before you go to bed is that the body works hard to digest it, resulting in a poor quality sleep until the job is done – https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3263249.stm
And that’s it.
If building muscle is something you are training towards then you can experiment with Creatine (be aware that Creatine isn’t any good for endurance sports) and L-Glutamine as well as casein protein (more on this in a later blog) but for now, don’t get caught in the expensive trap of being addicted to sports supplements.
Here’s something you will find interesting.
I read in a national newspaper recently that during a recent study of ‘Sports Energy Bars’ it was determined that consuming a ‘Snickers’ bars gave the athletes EXACTLY the same results. And it was a lot cheaper