Supplements are just that – they may or may not help you achieve your fitness goal in some way, but their role in the journey will always be supplemental. So naturally, you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in a single basket, as the saying goes, thinking that supplements will get you to that next level. That said, it’s not to say that some over-the-counter supplements aren’t beneficial, nor that there aren’t some supplements that can truly make a difference if you use them in conjunction with proper training, sleep, and nutrition.

And then there are the supplements that aren’t all that effective and are most likely a waste of your hard-earned money. So, let’s shed some light on the whole matter surrounding supplements, and delve deep into the things you need to know about pre and post workout supplementation, as well as nutrition. Here’s what you need to know.

The importance of timely nutrition

Before we start to break down the topic of pre and post workout supplementation, let’s turn our attention to proper nutrition first, and how you can’t really expect to achieve your long-term goals if you’re not adhering to a tailored diet plan. Because supplements such as whey protein or creatine play an ancillary role in your diet, your focus should be on creating a holistic diet plan that centers on proper macronutrient distribution. In other words, you need to organize your whole foods into proteins, fats, and carbs first.

This will ensure that you’re getting enough calories in on a daily basis to fuel your fitness endeavors and help you bulk up, lose weight, or maintain a physique you’re proud of. You can use one of the free online calorie calculators to get a good rough figure, and then distribute those calories into their respective macronutrients. Typically, this will resemble something like the 40:40:20 split, meaning that your daily nutrition should consist of 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fats.

Understanding pre and post workout energy requirement
So now you know that pre and post workout nutrition is important, but how exactly will it affect your performance in the gym, and after? First off, it’s important to always keep in mind one simple rule: your body creates ATP (energy) mostly from the carbohydrates you consume that get converted into glucose, which means that if you want to perform at your best, you should have a carb-rich meal before you head to the gym.

But eating sweet potato chips is not enough, you should also sprinkle in some protein to ensure that your body has the resources needed to prevent muscle breakdown during training. Now, as far as post workout nutrition goes, this is the time when you want to fuel up with plenty of protein to support the recovery process. It’s also a good idea to balance your meal out with carbs and fats to regain that lost energy. 

Fueling up for the workout

Okay, now on to the good stuff, the supplementation. Pre workout supplementation is not mandatory, but it is advisable if your workouts and fitness regime tick a few key boxes. First, taking a good pre workout drink 15-30 minutes before your training session is a sensible idea if you want to perform at your best without sudden drops in performance. This is also a wise idea if you want to perform consistently throughout the week.

However, a pre workout drink is best for those athletes among you that want to push their limits in training, and take their performance to the next level – for example, if you’re adding weight or sets to your workouts week after week. And finally, even if you’re just working out to stay in shape and are not pushing yourself, having a pre workout drink at your side is still a good idea if you’re working out after work and lead an otherwise busy lifestyle. 

Maximizing post-workout recovery

On the other end of the spectrum, we have post-workout supplementation, which is equally important. After you’re done with a rigorous training session, your body is hungry for proteins and other nutrients with which it will repair the damaged muscle tissue, make it grow bigger, and also reduce CNS fatigue and inflammation. This means that you should have a decent protein shake immediately after your workout.

Now, while there is no such thing as an anabolic window, that isn’t to say that ingesting protein after a tough workout isn’t important, because this is when muscle-protein synthesis is at its peak. With that I mind, be sure to drink a whey protein shake after your training session, and then have a hearty meal one to two hours afterwards.

Don’t forget about the micronutrients

And finally, keep in mind that it’s not just about pre or post workout supplementation – it’s also about getting the right amount of micronutrients in on a daily basis to support healthy processes in your body. You don’t need to take your multivitamin and fish oil before or after your workout, though, simply take your micronutrient supplements in the morning and you’re good for the rest of the day. However, always remember to no matter how many supplements you take, they won’t be able to substitute an unhealthy diet. 

Wrapping up

What you eat before and after your workout is important, but it’s also important to know when you should be ingesting certain foods in order to maximize your workout potential. With this guide in mind, go ahead and tidy up your nutrition, and choose the right supplements that will help you stay healthy and perhaps even take your fitness game to the next level.