I’ve been asked by a couple people recently who were new to ‘workout supplements’ about the ‘best’ pre-workout drinks to ‘provide a boost’ for their training and I wanted to share my personal view of them & approach.
Pre-Workout’s absolutely DO have a place to support training (in certain conditions) & races. From the Bio Synergy range I use Active Man Energy Charge for some race events, and also occasionally if there is a training session I really need to ramp up my energy levels for. Next there is the Super 7 Super Charge drink it’s quite high caffeine and so I use this as a fuel for 24hr+ events, it’s an awesome boost (physically and mentally) when you need it the most and also contains Creatine, AAKG, B Vitamins and quality Carbohydrates.
I find people ask about pre-workouts as one of their first steps of a nutrition supplementation plan. So potentially they are at the start of working out regularly & to a higher intensity than before, and maybe have been cutting calories leading into this phase to lose some weight. (Both my wife and I found ourselves in this exact position)
You can then feel a degree of lethargy in your training particularly on hard back to back days. And I guess it’s natural to look towards getting a boost to overcome that feeling. However I have a different view on this, and I believe that nutritional supplementation should always start with good recovery first, in turn creating sustainable energy for back to back sessions.
For me the entry step is 1. A balanced diet that is going to fuel you correctly to enable you to work out as hard as you want to 2. A recovery drink as soon as possible after training (High Protein)
As I have blogged before Protein is not all about weight gain and becoming huge. Body Builders lift a huge amounts of weight for that to happen. Protein helps your body repair what you have just put it through and so after a hard workout the first supplement that I suggest is a protein shake (best consumed within 15-20 minutes of finishing the workout if you can) of course you can eat a Protein rich food however our bodies can absorb liquids quicker.
Bio Synergy have a Whey Better shake, it’s very low KCAL so great for weight management, but it’s stacked full of good quality Protein & BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids) to help your body repair muscle (there are also loads of amazing flavours now) Additionally they have a product called Essential Sports Fuel which is just that, a high protein recovery shake that also has levels of carb to help restore glycogen levels following a mixed work out, its higher calorie but your body needs to replace the correct calories to enable it to recover & train as hard the next day. It also contains Glutamine to aide recovery.
Lastly Bio Synergy have a great new addition to the range if you dont want to carry / clean out a shaker afterwards or just want something in your bag / car ready to go – the Whey Better RTD (Ready to Drink).
In addition to the above for recovery I also ensure that I keep hydrated during & around training sessions & races with a good Isotonic / Electrolyte option such as Pure Energy.
So in my opinion, before you reach for the high caffeine doses, look to see if you are eating enough of the right foods, and if you are recovering properly. People worry about consuming more calories with supplements but put it this way. If you consume 200kcal more but it enables you to train harder and therefore burn 400kcal’s later that day – then you are at a net gain overall right?
I race a number of back to back events, and sure I use a pre-workout to power me off the line at some of the epic ones – BUT my core focus on endurance events is recovery. Recover well, and go hard in back to back sessions to maximise your training & racing potential.