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Why is pre-training nutrition important?

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There is plenty of emphasis on Post-training Nutrition out there so I thought I would focus on Pre-Training Nutrition (“PTN”) for a change. After all, what we eat and drink before exercise can have a huge impact on how effectively we exercise!

Nutrition is often overlooked but small changes in diet can really impact your performance. It’s not just the quantity of fuel after all – it’s the quality!

As I’m always looking for new ways to maximise the benefit of my workouts, I grabbed the chance to useGamma Labs PTF product. My thoughts on this particular product are given below. First for a few general pointers on pre-training nutrition…

From years of experimenting with my own PTN regime, I have discovered exactly what does and does not work for my body. That’s the important point right there – whilst a pre-workout banana may be ideal for your friend, it might not be so for you. We all have to find those fuels that are most compatible with our bodies. In trying to do this, you may find the following general pointers helpful to think about:

• Time it to perfection

How long before exercise should you eat/drink? I have found the simple answer to be during a large window of 3 hours to 45 minutes before exercise depending on the quantity and choice of nutrition, and the specific activity you are preparing for. Looking at a couple of examples….for a marathon I would eat a large bowl of porridge 3 hours before running and then just sip on fluid (water/energy drink) leading upto the race. For a 1 hour gym session however, I could get away with eating a lighter snack 1-2 hours before training, or nothing at all! As a side note, training in a fasted state can be extremely effective for fat loss – take a look at my article on Cardio Fasting.

• Quantity and type are key

I don’t like to get too bogged down in detail with my nutrients but it is important to consider the basic energy make-up of your PTN. Here is a few key facts about the macro-nutrients we use for energy.

Fats – 9 kcal/g – Quite difficult to digest, used for energy during aerobic activity. Generally we become more efficient at buring fat as an energy source when we put our body in that ‘fat burning zone’ e.g. training for beyond 90 minutes or in a fasted state.

Carbs – 4 kcal/g – Simple carbs (i.e. glycogen) is easy to digest and use / Complex carbs have the advantage of more slow and sustained release.

Protein – 4 kcal/g – Quite difficult to digest, excess protein is stored (as glycogen/fat) and amin acids are removed from the body in urine.

As mentioned earlier on, these are all general pointers but you have to find the optimum requirements which work for you! We all have different levels of food tolerance and varying energy levels.

One final word before we look at Gamma’s PTF product, be aware of the risk of overtraining caused by reliance on pre-training stimulants. If you are looking for giving 110% in every workout, youwill enevitably run yourself into the ground – for this reason, I look for that extra boost from PTN when I really need it to ensure a good quality workout!

Gamma Labs – Pre-Training Formula

Gamma Labs PTF – Tropical Punch flavour
This nutrition company is different – that becomes apparent right away when you land on their website! A combination of passionate gaming and intense activity is quite a unique combination! The common link – mental alertness and focus! ‘Pumped’ and ‘Wired’ are words you probably see in bodybuilding advertisting for pre-training formulas – so is there anything superior about Gammas Labs’ PTF?

A quick summary of the PTF product would be: It packs a decent punch, has a good profile, the taste is palatable enough, the energy it delivers is long lasting, though all this comes at quite a high price. I have provided a more detailed analysis of the product below with a crude score out of 10 for ease of reference.

Product make-up (7/10): The product is gluten-free and has a lot of ingredients to offer including vitamins B6, B12, C and E. There are artificial flavours which may put some off but let’s take a closer look:

Energy Complex 426 mg: Caffeine Anhydrous, Mucuna Pruriens (20% L-Dopa), Acetyl-L Carnitine And ATP

Creatine Pump Complex 10,876 mg: Taurine, Creatine Complex (Creatine Monohydrate, Creatine Magnapower™, Dicreatine Malate), Arginine Complex (L-Arginine, L-Arginine AKG, L-Arginine Malate), Beta Alanine, Glycerol, Guanipro™ Guanidine Propionic Acid, Citrulline Malate, Gynostemma Pentaphyllum Whole Plant Extract And L-Norvaline

Focus Complex: L-Tyrosine, N-Acetyl Tyrosine, Bacopa Monnieri Whole Plant Extract (20% Bacopin), Vinpocetine And Huperzia Serrata Whole Plant Extract (5% Huperzine-A)
Antioxidant complex 400mg: Acai Berry And Pomegranate Fruit

So it’s immediately noticeable that Gamma’s PTF packs a lot in – many of these ingredients are renowned to show performance benefits when used for physical activity – Taurine, Creatine, and Caffeine have all been linked with enhanced performance. The amount of creatine monohydrate is not shown, which is a bit annoying if you are monitoring your pre/post workout creatine intake.

The inclusion of ‘added extras’ such as taurine and acai berry extract do mean that you no longer need these as separate supplements – which is a saving.

There are 20 calories in 2 scoops and only 1g carbs – so pretty light in that department, which is good because if you are training in a fasted state, you don’t want you PTN supplement to fill you with calories.

Taste(7/10): The taste takes a bit of getting used to but actually is ok for Fruit Punch. It is quite strong but I wasn’t using the full dilution of water as I didn’t want to be back and forward to the toilet during my workouts (caffeine is a diuretic after all!) For me, taste is not a huge factor for pre-workout nutrition, it is not like a shake after a workout where you probably want to enjoy the taste as well as get the repair benefit. Pre-workout is more a case of ‘neck it’ and get moving!

Mixability(9/10): It mixes very well with water but the bright pink colour at first takes you by surprise! Very little residue appears but a few stires/shakes dissolves that. A decent practical point is the design of the scoop – I like the fact that it has a small inlet as this makes pouring into bottles for the gym very easy with no powder spillage (good work Gamma)!

Effectiveness(7/10): The energy/alertness the product gave me was pretty good and recognisable. I felt quite focused for up to 1 hour of intense exercise. I was consuming the PTF powder 30 minutes before my workout as the instructions direct. This seemed to be the right timing to feel the kick in time for the workout and I did not experience an energy ‘crash’ as such during any of my workouts using Gammas’ PTF.

As I regularly consume caffeine I perhaps wasn’t fully sensitive to the stimulant it could offer a non-caffeine user – however, like anything else, I get a feeling that the body adapts and you probably need to use 2 full scoops in the long run to feel the full impact.

Economy (7/10): At around $35 for a tub of 40 servings, it is moderately priced. With 1 scoop per serving (which I found to be enough), the tub will last quite well and therefore workout at good value. My tub lasted me around 2 months (using 4 times per week).

A practical supplement scoop at last!
If I was to come up with a whole-food alternative, it would probably be: An espresso for the caffeine and anti-oxidants and some beetroot for the nitrates (linked with enhanced endurance performance).