A quintet of power nutrients that can improve your results at the gym

Getting active is an investment in your health. To earn the best return on your investment, consider five workout fuels that can help you achieve better results during and after your workouts.

Exercise is one of your best wellness tools. Use smart nutritional tactics to get the most bang for your time in the gym or wherever your workouts take you.

Nutrients that will maximize your workout results

Before a workout

Caffeine. Consume 100200 milligrams of caffeine (the amount in 12 cups of coffee) an hour before your workout. Caffeine makes you more alert, acts on brain receptors in a way that makes exercise feel less stressful, and has a mild energy-boosting effect that burns slightly more fat. Several studies have shown that ingesting caffeine prior to exercise improves endurance and can also reduce fatigue during high-intensity exercises like weight training.

Slow-release carbohydrates. Eat slow-burning carbohydrates about an hour before you work out. If you are exercising to lose weight, ingesting sugars before exercise can be counter-productive. Sugars stimulate production of insulin, which blocks fat breakdown. If you want to burn more body fat and improve your blood sugar levels, avoid sugary sports drinks. If you need fuel before a workout, consume complex carbs like oatmeal, brown rice or apples.


After a workout

Whey protein. Drink a protein shake with 1525 grams of protein immediately after your workout. After a workout, your body breaks down muscle. Reverse this process by ingesting a small amount of protein. Whey protein is digested quickly so it can be used faster.

Omega-3 fatty acids. Take a supplement containing a total of 1 gram of the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA. If you don’t consume cold-water fish like salmon or tuna at least three times per week, take a daily fish oil supplement. Elevated omega-3 levels support recovery and increase the amount of fat your body uses during exercise.

Creatine monohydrate. Take a 5 gram serving after each workout. Creatine helps supply energy to cells. Extensive research shows that it increases work capacity during high-intensity exercise, which translates into better gains in lean body mass and strength.

This article is for information only and is not intended as advice. For more information, talk to your health care provider or nutritionist.

Jeff Volek, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the University of Connecticut, a registered dietitian and the co-author of four books, most recently The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living.