I was told that if I didn’t get enough protein and carbohydrates just before training, I would lose the opportunity to accelerate my muscle growth.
And I did it, just before every training session, without even breaking it.
You are likely to have heard the same thing. But how important is it really? Can pre-workout nutrition really help us build muscle faster?
Pre-workout nutrition is not as vital as some would like you to believe, but it is not entirely without benefit.
Why Nutrition Before Workout?
Every day, your body is constantly decomposing protein into muscle. This process is called “protein transfer”, and when we consider the whole process, the rate of protein breakdown and regeneration is usually the same in the body and there is a balance between them.
But when you exercise, things change.
Research has shown that the rate of protein synthesis decreases during resistance training and aerobic exercise, and also after protein synthesis and protein degradation increases, so that the rate of degradation will eventually be higher than that of protein synthesis.
Mechanically, muscle growth is the result of overtaking the speed of protein synthesis to break down protein over a long period of time.
So, if you want to build muscle as fast as possible, then you should do everything to keep your protein synthesis rate faster than it breaks down.
The more time you spend in the anabolic state, the faster you can build muscle.
That’s why you need to consume enough calories and protein daily, use a variety of strategies to accelerate muscle recovery, and that’s why pre-workout nutrition is a constant part of life in the body.
The goal of pre-workout nutrition is simple:
Reduce muscle breakdown speed and speed up their synthesis.
Anyway, this philosophy is behind nutrition before exercise, but how does it actually go?
Do you need to consume protein before training?
If you have not consumed protein 3 to 4 hours before your workout, then it is a good idea to consume 30 to 40 grams of protein before you begin your workout.
But if you consume enough protein a few hours before exercise, then you do not need to do it just before exercise. You can only eat after your workout.
In the field of muscle building, protein consumption does two vital things:
It increases the rate of protein synthesis and reduces the rate of its breakdown.
Provides the raw materials (amino acids) the body needs to build muscle tissue.
That’s why if you want to maximize your muscle mass, you need to make sure you consume enough protein daily.
In addition, there is some evidence that protein intake in moderate amounts every 3 to 4 hours is superior in muscle building than consuming less frequently or more frequently.
If you want to increase volume and strength at the fastest possible time, then you should consume about 1 gram of protein per pound per day and also consume 4 to 6 meals a day.
Now, how should we incorporate protein before training?
Although there is some evidence that protein combination and resistance training can reinforce the effect of exercise on protein synthesis, I do not think that the evidence is sufficient to support this claim.
Instead, pre-workout protein should be considered in your diet as a whole.
As you know, if you don’t have protein intake 3 hours before your workout, the protein synthesis in your body will decrease and reach your baseline level.
This means your body’s muscle building machine is idle and waiting for the next protein to arrive so it can start the muscle building process again.
Ideally, you will consume another serving of protein just after protein synthesis to your basal state, which will effectively increase the maximum level of protein synthesis during your waking hours (you will also have a bedtime You will consume protein to increase the level of protein synthesis in your sleep).
Every time your bodybuilder turns off, it is as if the production of the product has stopped in your body. Your body could have lost muscle at this time, but instead waited for you to refuel.
Now, if you enter your workout session several hours after eating, you will allow your bodybuilding machine to remain inactive for even longer, and if you lose too much time after eating after exercise. Protein breaks down the rate of protein synthesis, which results in reduced muscle mass.
So if it takes you several hours to eat, you should consume protein before exercising. Doing so will help your body rebuild muscle and may even enhance the anabolic effect of exercise.
If you consume protein 1 hour before exercise, your amino acids will be in your bloodstream, your insulin levels will be high and protein synthesis in your muscles will increase.
In this case, re-consuming the protein just before exercise may not be of much use to you.
Should Carbohydrates Be Used Before Exercise?
Research on carbohydrate intake before exercise is clear: Doing so can improve performance.
Specifically, consuming carbohydrates 15 to 60 minutes before a workout can help you work harder and may improve recovery and muscle growth.
Here are some physiological mechanisms involved.
First of all, consuming carbohydrates before exercise gives you plenty of glucose to use as fast energy.
The more glucose available to your muscles, the better your performance will be, especially the longer ones.
Increased blood glucose helps maintain glycogen stores in the muscles. Glycogen is a form of carbohydrate stored in the body and is the main fuel source during resistance training. So the more you use your body’s glycogen stores, the more likely it is to slow down.
Research has also suggested that maintaining higher glycogen levels in muscles can improve muscle-related cellular signaling.
But what the carbohydrate intake does not do before training is to directly stimulate muscle growth. Unfortunately, carbohydrates do not have the same anabolic properties as protein.
Therefore, by consuming carbohydrates before a workout, you will have more energy to work harder, which will help you build muscle and gain strength faster over time and can directly improve your body’s muscle mass.
It is also worth noting that research has shown that just turning a carbohydrate in your mouth can improve your exercise performance.
But scientists aren’t exactly sure how the procedure works here.
But the most likely explanation is that it looks like there are receptors in the mouth that the brain uses to estimate the amount of energy available.
When these receptors detect carbohydrates, the brain realizes that excess energy is available and allows the body to engage in more intense physical activity.
These effects appear to last up to an hour and then the brain relies more on fatigue and glycogen levels to determine the amount of physical pressure.
Interestingly, artificial sweeteners seem to be unable to produce such an effect. You need real carbohydrates.
Now let’s talk about the types of carbohydrates. What is the best type for it before exercise?
First, I have some good news for you.
You do not need to buy expensive and stylish carbohydrate supplements.
These supplements are nothing more than simple sugars such as maltodextrin or dextrose, which are not as bad as a carbohydrate source before workouts, but have no particular advantage.
Research has shown that for our purpose, about 30 to 40 grams of any carbohydrate 30 minutes before exercise can be beneficial.
And by all carbohydrates, I mean really all kinds of carbohydrates like fruits, starches, simple sugars and so on.
My favorite foods are whole and nutritious foods such as oats, dates and figs, melons and watermelons, white rice, raisins and sweet potatoes.
Should we use fats before training?
You can do it, but you don’t need to.
There are several theories about the effect of pre-workout fat intake on exercise performance, but science disagrees.
A good summary of the research available in this area can be found in an article published by Dickinson University scientists.
Their conclusions are as follows:
“It seems that such a strategy can have a marked effect on exercise metabolism (including reduced carbohydrate use), but has no beneficial effect on exercise performance. “
Time consuming meals are far less important than consuming enough macronutrients and adhering to a diet.
Once you have those two important things in mind, then time consuming meals can also help you build muscle faster.
Eat some protein and carbohydrates every few hours.
If it is a few hours before your workout, then it is best to have a pre-workout.
Eat well after exercise, the sooner the better.
Eat enough protein daily.
And provide a large portion of your daily calories from high value foods.