In our twenties we generally are looking to pound the protein to build lean muscle and work toward those ever-elusive six-pack abs. After we hit 40 or 50, few of us are aspiring to the six pack but we definitely want to stay trim, healthy, and toned.

So as you’re working out, what’s the best way to support muscle building? Here’s what I recommend you do to supplement your workouts before, during and after you exercise:

Before Your Workout

Anti-oxidants and Caffeine. It helps to have a pre-workout supplement with antioxidants and a modest amount of caffeine. Exercise (and particularly high-intensity training) causes oxidative stress on the body. Supplementing antioxidants prior to the workout attenuates the oxidative stress and promotes quick recovery. The caffeine increases your work ability and enhances physical performance, speed and agility. It’s not necessary, but it sure is nice.

During Your Workout

Water or Carbohydrate Plus Electrolytes. During your workout, water is sufficient in most cases and particularly for short-burst interval training. For longer endurance-type exercise, a supplement with carbohydrates and electrolytes (calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium) can keep your energy up and prevent shifts in fluid and electrolytes that can blunt your performance.

Just be aware that supplementing carbs during a workout can easily provide more calories than you burn, which will slow any efforts at weight loss.

After Your Workout

Protein (20-60 grams). The general consensus from clinical research on weight lifters and cross-fitters of any age is that protein supplementation after your workout will enhance muscle-building. There is no magic number, but anywhere from 20-60 grams of protein supplement has been shown to increase muscle mass and strength.

This amount of protein supplement has also been shown to be better than placebo in reversing or preventing the usual age-related declines in muscle mass after age 50. It doesn’t necessarily matter whether the supplement is given before or after a workout, but most studies have given the protein immediately after the workout as the body is in recovery.

Interestingly, the studies on protein supplementation support extra protein even when the diet is not deficient in protein. So even if you have a healthy, balanced, Paleo diet you will likely see gains from adding the extra protein. As in life, more is better.

Key Takeaways

If you want to keep building and toning strong muscles and look younger than your age, protein supplementation after your workouts is a smart move. Add a pre-workout drink to give your workout an energy boost and improve recovery. For longer workouts or hot days, consider an electrolyte drink for added endurance.

As always, be strong!