This will be a series of occasional posts explaining different things I do with nutrition when I am being lazy, cheap, or dumb in order to attain some nutritional goals I’m working to fill. These are not the optimal solutions, they are going to be the ugly methods I’ve used to get the job done. Since I’m attempting to maintain a modicum of professional language I will title each of these “Lazy nutrition”, the original title was vetoed by my little sister.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m incredibly cheap. Thanks to having a Costco membership buying preworkout supplements are now a possibility for me based on my budget. When I was in grad school this wasn’t always an option. For about 3 years I used expired supplements from a previous research study that had been done at the school. When it finally ran out/started to mold, I still liked riding the lightning of energy supplements so I came up with some simple solutions (read: cheap).
Now before going down the rabbit hole of taking preworkout supplements keep in mind that these are not necessary. Calories in to calories out, macronutrient breakdown, nutrient timing, and composition should all come well before this. Mike Israetel does a great job of explaining this and showing how important each portion is. I’m assuming that you already have these in line, or you are just a bit wore down from a long work day and are looking for something to give you a bit more pep in your workouts and maybe a bit more improvements from your training.
So this is what a cheap lazy person like I would do in order to get a buzz, and as much as I could out of cheap products/ingredients.
Coffee (1-2 cups)
Protein powder (20-40grams of protein worth) (can be switched out for BCAAs)
Creatine (5 grams)
Beta alanine (1-2 grams) (reduce the dose if you start to have tingling on the skin (parathesia))
Optional heavy sweating day option:
2 liter of Diet Dr. Pepper
Instantized BCAAs (only buy the instantized otherwise it mixes horribly) (10-20 grams)
Creatine (5 grams)
Beta alanine (1-2 grams)
Dash of salt if you want
This was done on a whim in the lab due to we had some leftover soda from some meeting and we were out of coffee in the lab. This was also done as a race, which led to some GI discomfort due to all the burping.
So why use each supplement, because they work. Now I will go in to the mechanisms and a bit about reasons for the dosages for each one.
Caffeine – This is probably the most abused performance enhancing drug on the market at this current time. It has the ability to increase alertness, energy, and contractility of your muscles. It decreases perceptions of fatigue, pain, and exertion. How much you take varies depending on your tolerance. Some people are very caffeine sensitive and might want to avoid it altogether, others can take 4 shots of espresso at once (like my cousin) and just go about their work day. Dosage that is effective for most people is about 3mg/kg of body weight or in American 1.3g/lbs. of body weight. Don’t go whole hog with this your first time out, start low and work your way up. You can always go super cheap and get instant coffee and just hit all those powders at once Dangerfield style.
Protein – It is da milk of da muscles. In all seriousness this is good stuff that the contractile tissue of your body is made up of (read: muscle). So a serving of 20-40 grams of a complete protein (like whey which is cheap and relatively quickly digesting) is enough to get a solid increase in muscle synthesis and help you avoid catabolism (helps you build muscle and avoid losing any). I’ll talk about why you would pick different proteins at some point, but for now just get something complete that you can stomach/enjoy. Also in my experience chocolate is always a safe flavor bet, and strawberry tends to be pretty underwhelming to my palate.
Creatine – Probably the most heavily researched supplement on the market. It works, plain and simple. Now as far as loading creatine goes compared to just taking the 3-5 grams every day, eventually your muscles get topped off so don’t worry about loading. There are small cases of issues with hydration and cramping due to using this, so if you are one of those people then don’t use it. It helps with short term energy production and due to hydration effects helps make the muscles larger. If you are a strength athlete that needs to last more than one rep (or just one rep) this can be a useful supplement. Plain powder here is tasteless and pretty cheap to pick up.
Beta Alanine – This is a relative up and comer in the area of sports performance. Its major ability is in acting as a buffer when muscle pH is dropping due to high amount of anaerobic metabolism. Dosages for this is typically 1-2 grams a day, if you take too much at once you will look like a meth head due to the tingling sensation on your face (parasethesia). Start on the low end and increase the dosage with time, and try to get it in to your system slowly.
Runner up: Carbohydrates – you can use something like a waxy maize starch or potato out starch, maltodextrin, or straight up pixie sticks (remember this is D bag nutrition), but at the end of the day those carbs will help you recover muscle glycogen and help you avoid higher amounts of catabolism. I tend to get enough carbs the rest of my day, but this can be very useful, especially if you are trying to gain weight.
Timing your ingestion is another important thing to keep in mind. Most nutrients when ingested are going to be absorbed in the small intestine which means they need to go through the stomach first. Liquids are going to get in your system a bit faster than anything you need to chew. Play with the timing and speed of which you ingest your pre workout to get the most out of it. I prefer to drink them slowly starting about half an hour out from when I am planning on training.
There are many other supplements on the market than these, but these are the ones that I have found to undoubtedly work for me and the research often shows that they are effective. Try one supplement at a time or this group and see if it helps. After some time if something else tickles your fancy try it out for a few weeks, and if you find a change then keep it. However, if you can’t discern any changes then quit wasting your money on things that aren’t enhancing your performance.
If you have any questions for supplements you have used/seen let me know and I’ll break it down for you. The science in this area is always developing with new products on the market that have been researched and some that haven’t been, but this list is just a number that work well and are pretty cheap to get a hold of.