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Fuelling Your Workouts

One of the most important and yet overlooked areas of body-building is the correct fuelling of training sessions.

During training, the muscles are constantly producing energy and in order to get maximal function of the muscle and avoid going into a catabolic state, the correct fuelling and timing of nutrients is essential.

Fortunately for some body-builders, genetics play a large role in their appearance and their ability to gain muscle while keeping low body fat, however for some body-builders, gaining fat and losing muscle can be a problem. This is where correct workout nutrition can help us to get the physique we dream of.

During training, the primary role of the muscle is releasing the energy our muscles need in order to perform explosive movements. Consuming a sufficient amount of the right nutrients around workouts can have many benefits including:

  • Suppressing the depletion of muscle glycogen stores

Low glycogen levels can seriously effect our performance in training. When glycogen stores are low, glucose can be derived from other nutrients such as protein by a process known as gluconeogenesis. In order for this process to take place, cortisol must be present as well as a healthy source of protein which comes from muscle tissue

  • Reduction in blood cortisol levels

After strenuous exercise, there is a dramatic increase in blood cortisol levels. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone responsible for the breakdown of muscle protein and naturally after the stress on muscles during exercise its release is needed. By consuming carbohydrates during a training session, you can reduce the release of cortisol and lessen the breakdown of muscle protein. By consuming a high GI carbohydrate & protein drink and stimulating the release of insulin, protein degradation can be reduced and the body can begin to change from a catabolic to an anabolic state

  • Maintain blood glucose levels

When our blood glucose levels are low we feel tired, weak and dizzy, also our body looks to get glucose from other sources

  • Prepare the body for a fast recovery after workouts

After a training session its important to switch from catabolic state to an anabolic state while our bodies are most sensitive to insulin. Insulin is an important anabolic hormone, it increases glucose and amino acid utilization, increases protein synthesis and prevents protein degradation

  • Limit Immune System Suppression

During moderate intensity exercise, immune function is at an all time high, increasing our resistance to infection, however with strenuous exercise our immune system is suppressed and therefore the risk of infection is increased. Most immunosuppressive responses during training are correlated to blood cortisol levels

  • Minimizing muscle damage

In order for our bodies to remodel bigger and stronger muscles all the muscle damage sustained during training must first be repaired. At a time when our muscles are mostly sensitive to the nutrients needed for repair, correct fuelling can increase the speed of this process and minimize muscle damage sustained

Carbohydrate is your friend

Immediately after a workout the muscle cells inside our bodies are ever so sensitive to the anabolic effects of the hormone insulin, however this sensitivity becomes reduced rapidly after training. Insulin is an extremely important hormone in driving the rebuilding of muscles and anabolic activity. It transports the fuels and nutrients needed by our muscles into the cells. This is one of the reasons why consuming a carbohydrate and protein drink after a workout is important for any body-builder looking to gain muscle (while bulking) or maintain muscle (while cutting).

Muscle metabolism relies on many nutrients including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Studies have shown that the consumption of a high GI carbohydrate and protein supplement as opposed to a protein only shake can increase protein synthesis by 40%. The reason why a high GI carbohydrate is more effective than a low GI carbohydrate is because of the greater insulin response brought with it.

Ok now we know why the right nutrients can benefit us during and after training another question is…

Which nutrients do I take and what quantities?

Well the answer to this question can be somewhat diverse. If only it was so simple to say for every person ingest 10g of high GI carbs along with 10g of protein in 250ml of water, however each person is different so its difficult to say. Here we will provide a rough guideline of nutrients for an average body-builder.

Nutrients we recommend during training

  • 500ML of water
  • 25-30g Dextrose
  • 10g Whey Protein
  • 100-150ml Soluble Vitamin C

These nutrients are to be sipped slowly through the workout session

Nutrients we recommend immediately post workout

  • 300ML of water
  • 25g Dextrose
  • 25g Maltodextrin
  • 20-30g Whey Protein
  • 100-150ml Soluble Vitamin C

These nutrients are to be taken all at once sooner than 30 minutes after a workout has finished

** Note these guidelines should be altered accordingly depending on different body types and needs but should be used in both cutting and bulking diets


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Dohm GL, Kasperek GJ, Tapscott EB, Beecher GR. Effect of exercise on synthesis and degradation of muscle protein. Biochem J. 1980 Apr 15;188(1):255–262

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John Ivy, Robert Portman. The Future Of Sports Nutrition “Nutrient Timing”. 1: 7-14.4: 34-45.5: 47-66

Roy, B.D., & Tarnopolsky, M.A. (1998). Influence of differing macronutrient intakes on muscle glycogen resynthesis after resistance exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, 84, 890-896

— Ste @ 2:14 pm, October 4, 2006

1 Comment »

  1. Hi could you help me, what can i find Dextrose and
    Maltodextrin in or what are the most recommened suppliments that have these. Thanks Zaki

    Comment by Zaki — July 3, 2007 @ 7:07 pm

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