Picking out a supplement can sometimes seem like a tug of war between your pre- and post-workout needs. On one hand, you want to be energized when you head to the gym, while on the other, you want to boost muscle recovery when your routine is done. Many of the top supplements fail to help with one of these goals, which is why many people keep a number of different supplements on hand – a pre-workout, a post-workout, and sometimes even a mid-workout supplement. You might have wondered, though: Are there any supplements that work for pre- and post-workout purposes? To find out, keep reading as the experts at aminoVITAL® – makers of amino acid supplements for athletes and gym-goers – answer this common question.
How BCAAs Work as a Pre-Workout or Mid-Workout Supplement
In recent years, protein supplements have started losing out to amino acids in terms of popularity. While many people still use protein as a post-workout, a protein shake before the gym can easily leave you feeling bloated and sluggish, especially if you prefer to mix your protein with milk instead of water. Luckily, amino acid supplements – namely those made with the three branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs – can function as both post-workout and pre-workout supplements.
When taken before you head to the gym, BCAAs offer several benefits that can help you get the most out of your workout. For starters, these amino acids can, like other pre-workouts, provide a boost of energy that helps you push through even the toughest routine.
However, this energy differs from the kind you get from caffeine or other stimulants; instead of causing a sudden jolt of energy, it can supply smooth, steady energy for your muscles, allowing you to stay fueled without experiencing the jitters, nervousness, or lack of focus that tends to come with high-caffeine pre-workouts.
Plus, the BCAAs offer a unique benefit that stimulants can’t: the ability to ward off fatigue. When you work out, your body starts using up the BCAAs in your bloodstream for fuel, which causes a buildup of tryptophan in the brain – something the BCAAs stop when they’re plentiful in the blood. This buildup leads to a rise in serotonin, which causes fatigue, so by taking BCAAs as a pre- or mid-workout supplement, you can restore the levels of BCAAs in your body and fight fatigue before it starts.
In addition to their energy-producing effects, BCAAs offer a unique benefit among pre-workouts: the ability to reduce the severity of muscle damage that occurs during exercise. In truth, these amino acids’ muscle-protecting benefits stem from the same place as their energizing ones – namely, the fact that BCAAs can be used as fuel for your muscles.
When you exercise, your muscles inevitably reach a point at which they run out of glycogen, the main fuel source during physical activity. Once this happens, your body starts breaking down muscle proteins for fuel, which causes much of the damage your muscles endure when you work out. By providing an alternative fuel source, your body doesn’t have to pull fuel from your muscles themselves, limiting damage to those tissues and protecting your muscles overall.
The Benefits of BCAA Supplements Post-Workout
As popular as pre- and mid-workout supplements are, post-workout supplements are undoubtedly the most popular type, especially among the more casual gym-goers out there. Virtually everyone who has ever made it a habit to visit the gym has tried the traditional post-workout protein shake, which has been shown to help with muscle growth and recovery. That said, the original question asked whether a product could work as both a pre- and post-workout supplement, so let’s look at how BCAAs – which we’ve discussed as a powerful pre-workout product – can factor into your post-workout routine as well.
Even with the muscle-protecting powers of the BCAAs at your disposal, any tough workout is bound to inflict some damage on your skeletal muscle tissue. Hastening the repair of this damage is a key responsibility of any post-workout supplement, and the best compound for this purpose is leucine, one of the three BCAAs.
When you take whey or some other protein for muscle repair, it’s leucine1 that you’re really after. This amino acid stimulates the process of muscle protein synthesis, which – as you’ve probably guessed – is how the body makes new muscles. Although whole protein sources often contain leucine, amino acid supplements offer a much more efficient way to get this compound.
That’s because whole proteins must be broken down through digestion before your body can get at the leucine inside, which takes time; free-form amino acid supplements, on the other hand, make leucine available much more quickly because they require much less digestion, so your body gets what it needs fast.
Hydration and Glycogen Recovery
Building new muscles may be your focus after a workout, but it’s not the only thing your body wants to do. Your muscles’ fuel stores are bound to be low, if they’re not completely exhausted, so your system will be trying to create new glycogen once you’re done exercising – something that requires a bit of carbs. And since you’ll probably be low on fluids and electrolytes, a post-workout supplement with those ingredients – such as those from aminoVITAL® – would be helpful as well.
Try an aminoVITAL® Amino Acid Supplement for All Your Pre- and Post-Workout Needs
Meeting the body’s complex demands both before and after a workout isn’t always easy or simple, but the blend of five amino acids in all aminoVITAL® products can go a long way toward keeping your muscles as fit and healthy as possible at all phases of your exercise routine. Learn more about the science behind amino acids and what benefits they offer by visiting aminoVITAL® online or calling (888) 264-6673 today.