For many people, nutrient timing is popular because it puts you in the driver's seat for controlling all things good and bad with your diet. For researchers, nutritionists and dietitians, nutrient timing is a critical nutritional element that plugs in key nutrients at times when it's needed most. Although it appears that resistance training athletes utilize timing more often than endurance athletes, both types of athletes should use timing to fuel their bodies and facilitate recovery. A number of nutrients could potentially employ timing, but no nutrient continues to receive more lip service than a high quality whey protein isolate (WPI).
Your Foundation for Growth and Recovery - High Quality Protein
Why is a WPI so important? For starters, any protein that can be called an isolate is at least 90% protein, which means for every 100 grams of WPI you ingest, at least 90 grams of it is protein. What's in the remaining 10%? It's usually a little bit of fat and lactose, a sugar found in milk. Compare this to a lower grade concentrate that may be 60% or 70% protein and it's easy to see, you get what you pay for. WPI's are also critical because no other source of protein has more of the essential amino acids. When you consider the mountains of research that have poured out of laboratories in the last decade supporting the anabolic effect of optimal amounts of essential amino acids, this characteristic alone should get your attention. ProSource's NytroWhey Ultra Elite is an excellent example of a whey protein product sourced from superior WPI.
Whey protein also has excellent digestive characteristics. Keynote research in the late 1990's and early 2000's
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Outside of utilizing high quality protein sources to keep essential amino acids levels elevated, another key timing aspect involving protein and/or essential amino acids is to consume around 8 - 12 grams of essential amino acids or around 20 - 25 grams of whey protein immediately after completion of a workout. How you go about delivering them is up to you as studies have shown favorable responses from free form amino acids A , whey proteinB, or food sources . This timing strategy alone has been shown repeatedly in the literature to drive muscle protein synthesis levels to high levels, particularly when completed after an intense bout of resistance training. In addition to delivering optimal amounts of essential amino acids at the right time through high quality protein sources, the concept of nutrient timing has also been adapted to other nutrients as well such as caffeine, creatine monohydrate and beta-alanine. One highly useful product in this regard is BioQuest's Alpha Fury, which combines beta alanine and caffeine with a GlycoCarn vasodilatory agent to speed up nutrient delivery.
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Timing of Caffeine and Recovery
While caffeine for many is likely the only reason you make it to work on time, its effects also spill over into areas which benefit exercising individuals. Initially, caffeine was studied and utilized primarily by endurance athletes for its ability to improve various aspects of endurance and reduce how challenging a workout may feel . In addition, interest has also started to come from the resistance training world where studies have suggested that caffeine ingestion within an hour prior to testing may improve strength  and the total volume of weight moved during an endurance test . In addition, a recent study found that when caffeine was added to a post-workout feeding of carbohydrate, rapid rates of glycogen resynthesis were found to occur. Remember glycogen is the preferred source of fuel for muscles and it is found in high amounts in the muscles. Although the dosage was extremely high (~800 mg), other doses may also be effective, but just be careful to not experiment too late in the day or you'll be tossing and turning and losing valuable sleep.
Timing of Creatine and Its Impact on Performance
The ability of creatine monohydrate to improve performance and facilitate training adaptations is unquestioned [5, 14]. While no studies to date have addressed whether taking creatine before or after your workout is more important, one study did show that taking a combination of protein and creatine immediately before and immediately after your workouts leads to much greater increases in strength and body composition . In addition, a study conducted in younger and older men reported taking creatine by itself or a combination of protein and creatine resulted in greater improvements in lean mass. In addition, this study also reported that when individuals consumed protein before and after workouts, markers of protein breakdown were significantly reduced . Although no studies have directly compared detailed timing considerations for creatine, two studies clearly strongly suggest that when creatine is added to a supplementation program involving protein that delivers these nutrients both before and after each workout, that greater adaptations in strength and body composition results. As always, sourcing is critical for creatine products, and German creatine monohydrate bearing the CreaPure brand (as found in Prosource's Creatine Monohydrate) is generally regarded as the world's best.
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Another ingredient which is being researched a great extent for its ability to help improve anaerobic exercise performance is beta-alanine . At the current time, a number of studies have provided evidence to suggest that supplementation with beta-alanine can improve a number of different aspects of exercise performance [9, 13, 15]. To date, however, no studies appear to have investigated particular aspects of timing with beta-alanine. Like creatine, it is possible that providing this nutrient at key times may lead to greater improvements in exercise performance, but more research is needed before this can be stated with any level of certainty. Two studies, however, have combined creatine and beta-alanine. Both studies compared the impact of combined creatine and beta-alanine and concluded that the combination appeared to favorably impact both aerobic or endurance performance as well as strength and power performance [12, 20].
The timing of food and nutrients is a key consideration for any athlete interested in using nutrition to maximize the adaptations they experience from their training programs. A number of studies continue to support the importance of providing high-quality protein and carbohydrates before, during or after exercise (or both) to facilitate greater improvements in exercise training adaptations. In addition to these foundational nutrients, evidence also exists to support the notion that optimal timing of other nutrients like caffeine, creatine or beta-alanine can lead to greater improvements in performance, promotion of recovery or favorable changes in body composition.
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