Thursday, May 29, 2014

Supplements, Part One

A very common question I get asked is what to take pre/post work out in regards to supplements. There are thousands of products out there that promise to do this or enhance that but for the purpose of this post, I am going to include the basics that I take daily (or almost daily) that I personally incorporate to help me achieve my goals and provide stamina through my workouts.

Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)- Branch Chain Amino Acids or as commonly referred to BCAAs, are amino acids that have an aliphatic side-chain with a branch. The BCAAs are Valine, Leucine, and isoleucine and are part of the nine essential amino acids intake through diet. When taken during training, BCAAs have been shown to prevent loss of lean body mass (muscle breakdown or catabolism), increase energy, enhance protein synthesis and aid in recovery. I use the pill and powder form throughout the day. I use the pill form pre-cardio especially if it happens to be fasted to prevent muscle breakdown and in between meals when dieting. The powdered form is fantastic to throw in your water for pre-, during and post-workout. 

Glutamine- This has been my lifesaver multiple times! You know when you are so sore from working out you can barely walk up the stairs of put your hair in a ponytail? Yea me neither! Just kidding, that is every dang week! Glutamine is also an amino acid that is the most abundant free amino acid in skeletal muscle and human blood. Glutamine is very important for protein synthesis, cellular energy, gut and intestinal health, and prevention of muscle catabolism. I take this in the pill and powder form throughout the day especially post-workout because it has been shown to re-synthesize glycogen levels in muscle. Just like the BCAA powder, the powdered Glutamine is great to throw in your water or protein shake. 

Fish Oil- Fish oil is very high in Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), which are essential fatty acids that we must ingest through our diet because they are not synthesized in our bodies. Omega-3 fatty acids play important roles cognitive functioning, heart health, vision and joint health. Fish oil also helps tremendously with exercise-related inflammatory and oxidation by reducing the inflammation and aiding with recovery. Fish oil, especially EPA and DHA, have been suggested to aid in protein synthesis and possibly limit muscle breakdown. I typically take fish oil pills with breakfast and dinner, but it is more of a personal preference when to take it. 

Arginine- Surprise! Arginine is a non-essential amino acid that the body normally produces. Arginine is found in animal products such as dairy, beef, poultry, and seafood and in plant sources such as chickpeas, oatmeal, nuts, seeds and wheat flour. Arginine plays a role in wound healing, immune function, and release of hormones and is a pre-curser for nitric oxide synthesis. When working out, arginine is beneficial in muscle tissue repair, muscle growth, and since it is a precursor to nitric oxide (a vasodilator), it increases blood flow to the working muscles thus increasing muscular endurance (think more oxygen delivered to your muscles). I typically take Arginine in pill form about 30 minutes prior to weight training.

As I mentioned, there are soo many different pre- and post-workout supplements on the market. I encourage you to do your research or ask about products before spending a fortune on things you may not need.

A while back, I found a recipe for protein bars and decided to make some changes to come up with chocolate-vanilla swirl bars.


3 Scoops Chocolate Protein
½ cup Brown rice flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 medium banana
½ cup water
2/3 cups liquid egg whites
1 scoop Vanilla protein
¼ cup liquid egg whites


Preheat oven to 350. Mix chocolate protein, brown rice flour,
and baking powder in a medium sized bowl. Using a mixer, blend
banana, water and 2/3 cups egg whites until well blended. Slowly add
wet ingredients into dry until well mixed. Spray baking dish (I used an 8x8
glass pan) with non-stick spray and pour batter in until evenly distributed.
In a bowl, mix vanilla protein and ¼ cup egg whites. Slowly pour vanilla
mixture on top of chocolate in straight lines. Drag knife through vanilla to
create swirl design. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

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