January 14, 2022 | John Paul Catanzaro
I’ve said it many times in the past, vegetables have all the benefits of fruit without the sugar, but that doesn’t mean that I’m anti-fruit! I advocate a targeted carbohydrate approach where carbs are favored when you need them around workouts and at night to help facilitate sleep. Here’s how I use fruit along with some key supplements before, during, and after my workouts.
We all know that taking caffeine before a workout can boost your performance but to enhance the effect, take it with half a grapefruit. The fiber will help slow down the release to give you more sustained energy throughout your workout, and the sugar and water content will aid hydration, particularly when that caffeine is taken with a tall glass of water with added sea salt (as opposed to a cup of coffee). If you don’t like grapefruit, you can have an orange instead, or if you’re intolerant to citrus fruit, then have a handful of berries.
And to boost concentration and focus during your workout, add some nootropics to the mix but remember, these “brain-enhancing” supplements operate on a bell curve: if you don’t take enough, you won’t get much of an effect, but if you take too much, it can be counterproductive. Just keep in mind that taking nootropics with grapefruit may potentiate the effect so taking a bit less will give you more.
Not that long ago, experts like Dr. Mauro DiPasquale, Dr. Eric Serrano, and Charles Poliquin were recommending branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) while training. It worked like a charm, especially to reduce post-workout soreness, but apparently BCAAs are not effective anymore! Now, essential amino acids (EAAs) are all the rave during training. I don’t agree – here’s why.
One of those EAAs is tryptophan, an amino acid that can induce relaxation and sleep (something you don’t want when lifting heavy weights) and can compete with BCAAs to cross the blood-brain barrier, which reduces the ergogenic effect. Tryptophan is best taken after training with other EAAs.
So I hate to break the news but BCAAs still work like a charm and you should take them with diluted coconut water, but make sure to add some table salt, which will help promote a more favorable sodium to potassium ratio. You’ll feel the difference! When I started doing this, I no longer experienced any cramping, my energy was high right to the end of the workout (no more gassing out early), and my joints felt great.
Research shows that taking whey, EAAs, and creatine after a workout will increase protein synthesis and improve your results in and out of the gym. A tablespoon of collagen will increase the pool of certain key amino acids to help keep your connective tissue healthy, and to replenish depleted glycogen levels, add some high-glycemic fruit like bananas or pineapple. If you prefer to use a carbohydrate powder like Vitargo or highly-branched cyclic dextrin, then go ahead and do so. If, however, you’re on a low-carb eating plan, you can substitute a small amount of glutamine to get a similar effect without the sugar – a teaspoon or two should do the trick.
With my post-workout shake, I prefer to use sodium bicarbonate as the salt of choice, not only to help buffer the acidity but to also shuttle the nutrients (particularly creatine) into the muscle cells. The shake tastes awesome and works great.
Take-Home Message: If you want results, you need good workouts and in order to have good workouts, you need the proper fuel in your system. The approach outlined in this article will give you all the ammunition you need to power through “great” workouts. Give it a shot!