Are those pre, intra, post-workout supplements really worth that money?
Pre-workout supplements are often unnecessary, and some can be dangerous. Before you go attacking a supplement, you need to optimise your nutrition first. Doing this will ensure that you get the most out of your body.
Immediately pre-workout the most important thing you need is a hit of quality carbohydrates that will digest quickly, get into your bloodstream and to your muscles.
Intra-workout formulas like BCAAs currently have only a small amount of research saying they are worthwhile. Unless you are working out twice a day for 4+hours per day, you are unlikely to benefit greatly from these intra-workouts. Water will be suitable for most people and some may benefit from a simple sports drink. Save yourself the $$$.
Post workout you need to start the recovery process. If you are training heavy and looking to increase mass, adding in the right amounts of lean protein (chicken breast, fish, kangaroo) and high-quality carbohydrates (wholemeal pasta, long grain rice, jacket potato, whole grain bread) will optimise your recovery and get your body ready for the next session. Recovering effectively also helps to prevent DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and reduces risk of injury.
Once you have ticked those boxes, supplements can be looked at. Contrary to what your “mate” at the supplement store or PT will tell you, there aren’t actually that many supplements that actually live up to the hype. If you do choose a supplement some of the ones that do have good evidence in athletes are things such as caffeine, creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, bicarbonate and whey protein isolate. How much, how often and at what times you consume these supplements is very individual and is rarely what the supplement puts on the tub/packet.
If you need extra info on developing a training meal plan + supplement prescription, our Accredited Sports Dietitians have helped many locals with just that. Check them out here.