Nutrients eaten at certain times, most notably before and after your workout, can better contribute to muscle repair and recovery compared to the same nutrients consumed during other times of the day.
Feed your body with the right nutrients after exercise, and you'll be able to replace lost energy a lot faster. For the elite athlete, this means they'll recover faster and be ready for their next training session a lot more quickly.
Creatine has become extremely popular with athletes involved in sports that depend on strength, speed, and power. Creatine lets you train harder for longer, and is particularly effective at boosting performance during repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise.
Creatine is a natural substance found in many foods, such as salmon, tuna and beef. Although it is possible to obtain creatine from your diet, it would be very impractical to eat so much fish or meat during the day to get adequate amounts of creatine. The creatine in food can also be destroyed by cooking, making it less effective in the body. Because of this, many athletes now rely on sports nutrition products that contain creatine to provide them with a competitive edge.
Most sports nutrition experts consider whey the "Gold Standard" for serious athletes who work hard to develop a strong, muscular and well-defined physique.
Whey protein is a pure, natural, high quality protein derived from milk. In its purest form, whey contains little to no fat, lactose or carbohydrate. Whey is a naturally complete protein, which means that it contains all of the essential amino acids required in the daily diet. It has the ideal combination of amino acids to help improve body composition and boost athletic performance.
Whey is also a rich source of branch chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs are important for athletes as they're the first ones used during periods of intense training. Whey protein provides the body with BCAAs to help repair and rebuild lean muscle tissue. Whey is very easy to digest and is often referred to as a "fast" protein for its ability to provide rapid nourishment to muscles.
Athletes who exercise for several hours (such as long-distance runners or triathletes) are also at greater risk, as the length of time they spend exercising gives them more time to drink excessively. Drinking a lot of water in the days or hours before a race also increases the risk of severe hyponatremia during a race (a dangerous disorder in fluid-electrolyte balance that results in low levels of sodium in the blood).
Obviously water is better than nothing; however, most athletes, particularly those involved in endurance-type events such as cycling and long-distance running, rely on energy drinks It's also very common today to see footballers and rugby players sipping on sports drinks at half time or during a break in play.
There are several reasons why sports drinks are superior to water for use during exercise. Firstly, these drinks contain important electrolytes (such as sodium), along with carbohydrates and a small amount of protein. The sodium helps to stimulate thirst and encourage drinking, improving the body's ability to hold water. The carbohydrates can supply extra energy, which is especially important in the latter stages of exercise, whilst protein helps to protect against muscle loss.