PLAN to Get the Best Results

Scheduling your supplements for maximum effectiveness

If you are serious about your workouts and your fitness goals, you are probably already using supplements. In a few previous posts I have talked about the importance of pre- and post-workout supplementation— these are the two most known phases for nutrient timing. Research has shown that taking whey protein, creatine, beta-alanine and branched-chain amino acids before, during and after your workout can have a positive effect on your workout performance, your strength, muscle recovery, and ability to build muscle.

But what about the rest of your supplements? Are you using a green powder, a fat burner and/or fish oil? When you take these supplements is just as important, and timing these supplements right can impact the results you get from them. Here is a rundown on how you should consume your supplements throughout the day from morning to night.

Upon Waking:
After a night of sleep, you need to stop the fasting process pronto. Within about 30 minutes of sleep you should consume a fast-digesting protein such as whey protein isolate, which has a high concentration of BCAAs. This will help to stop muscle catabolism and jump-start your metabolism. Even if you are heading to the gym to get a morning cardio session, there is no harm in getting in a bit of quick nutrition. A whey protein shake will provide your muscles with energy, while still allowing you to still burn fat. This is also the time to take any fat-burning or caffeine supplement because this will also help boost your metabolism and your thermogenic rate. Metabolism boosters such as green tea extract contain polyphenols that can increase fat burning and provide many antioxidant benefits.

At breakfast, be sure to take in your multivitamins; these are better absorbed with food. Vitamins and minerals are a good way to get most of your essentials, but also consider additional vitamin C, B-complex and calcium. A first dose of fish oil can also be taken with breakfast. Fish oil has a host of benefits including improving muscle recovery, joint lubrication and helping promote fat loss.

Approximately 30 minutes before lunch, be sure to get in your second dose of your fat burner. Most ingredients within your fat burner will have done their work within the first few hours, and will now be starting to wear off. Your second dose will ensure your metabolism will keep going. You can also take in a second dose of fish oil with your lunch.

If you want to maximize your endurance and strength during your workout, then you should be sure to take your pre-workout supplements within 30 minutes before hitting the gym. Now is a good time to take your last serving of your fat burner, which can also serve as that extra boost of energy during training. You will also want to consider a good pre-workout supplement. There are many pre-workout products on the market that can provide you with an all-in-one solution. Although you may not want any additional caffeine, most pre-workout products will contain it for energy, focus and endurance, which you could be getting from your fat burner as well. Other major ingredients you will find in a pre-workout product are arginine to maximize muscle pumps and nutrient delivery; BCAAs to help drive the muscle-building process and keep a positive nitrogen balance during workouts; creatine for strength, building muscle and increasing recovery time; beta-alanine and L-carnitine to further increase energy, endurance and strength; and the focus ingredient yrosine to keep you on the ball during your workout! These can also be found as single ingredients.

During Your Workout:
If you are not using a pre-workout product, you can still supplement during your workout. A simple BCAA powder can help maintain protein balance in the muscles and provide fuel to working muscles, ensuring you maintain your lean muscles.

After your workout, you have about an hour to refuel your muscles. During your workout, your muscles will continue to break down as a result of your workout until you have provided them with the right nutrients to stop this process. Depleted muscles are highly receptive to the nutrition you provide them. Miss the window of opportunity and you will miss maximizing muscle recovery! Choose fast-digesting protein like whey protein isolate or hydrolysate and combine with BCAAs— particularly leucine will ensure muscle protein synthesis has been turned on. Leucine has been shown to have direct effects on protein synthesis pathways involved in building muscle. During workouts the body also uses up glycogen— or the stored form of sugar in our muscles— so carbohydrates are an important part of your post-workout recovery too. Carbohydrates also help drive protein, amino acids and nutrients into muscle cells, by stimulating the release of the anabolic shuttling hormone insulin. Insulin works to deliver sugar and other nutrients present in the blood to muscles, where they can be used to fuel the recovery process. Consume carbohydrates and proteins in a 2:1 ratio!

With your last meal of the day, be sure to get in another serving of your vitamins and minerals. Training hard can result in a loss of vital micronutrients crucial to your metabolism, energy processes and recovery. Additionally, get in a serving of glutamine; this nutrient is great for recovery. Supplementing with glutamine can decrease the amount of glutamine that is robbed from muscles to aid in the immune system. Although some prefer to take it with their post-workout shake, glutamine can compete with proteins and BCAAs for up-take by muscles, so consider using it about an hour after your post-workout shake.

You may want to consider having a casein protein shake. This protein can take seven to eight hours to fully digest, therefore providing your body with a steady stream of amino acids to keep muscle breakdown at bay! Also at this time, take a final dose of fish oils. The added fat can help further slow down digestion, inflammation and help with the recovery process. And if you are having sleep issues and need some help relaxing, consider using melatonin. This supplement can help aid in relaxation and sleep. Levels of melatonin in the blood are highest prior to sleep, and supplementing with melatonin can help decrease the time it takes to fall asleep, increase the feeling of sleepiness and it may even increase the duration of sleep. To top that, melatonin supplementation has also been shown to increase the release of growth hormone, which is essential to recovery and building lean muscle.

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Lauren Jacobsen

Lauren is the creator of Sexy, Strong and Fit Online Coaching Services specializing in transforming women to fitness model condition. Lauren has over 15 years of experience as a trainer, supplement consultant and nutrition expert. She is also the TV show host of "Body Fuel," a competitive athlete and regular contributor to various fitness publications.

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