For the past 31 years, Rick Brunner has helped over 1,500 explosive athletes and their strength and conditioning coaches in football, baseball, hockey, basketball, track and field sprints, throws, jumps, Olympic weightlifting, and many others achieve breakaway gains in reaction, starting power, maximal speed, striking force, and power-endurance.
Freelap USA: Can you describe the importance and relationship between mTOR and AMPK, its relevance to today’s athlete, and its implications for the general population?
Rick Brunner: Throughout evolution, men and women have been required to do one primary thing, and that is to reproduce. For you as a fetus in the womb of your mother to your 40s, a primary physiological goal is to get up and run fast so you don’t get eaten, to get strong, to hunt and fight for your tribe if you’re the man, and to reproduce and nurture if you’re the woman. This requires plenty of mTOR (TOR) driven growth. The sweet spot of performance, which is, say, from their teens to their 30s, requires that athletes be TOR-centric (elevated TOR).It makes practical sense to spread #protein consumption out throughout the day. Click To Tweet
It makes practical sense to spread protein consumption out throughout the day. Because of muscle-full, the building of new body proteins may best be optimized by consuming a highly digestible protein source with about 10 grams of essential amino acids (such as 20g of whey) just after a workout, and then additional protein about every three hours, throughout the day.
Freelap USA: What should an athlete’s approach to pre-workout stimulant-based supplements be?
Rick Brunner: If the supplement actually contributes to some functional-stress effect, such as amplifying the influence of training so that you have a boost in adaptive response (i.e., more muscle proteins, more mitochondria, etc.) in post-exercise recovery, a pre-workout supplement might be useful. The key is you need to truly get measurable results from training. I’m not sure many pre-workout supplements are functionally useful, and they may in fact deter from the optimal training adaptations from training.
We know that the stress of training creates post-exercise signaling to improve sport results and that many nutrients consumed prior to or during training actually reduce the benefits of training (such as antioxidants like vitamins C and E, and many vitamins and minerals in general) in blunting the needed stress signal. Coaches and athletes would be wise to validate the usefulness of any pre-workout supplement. For example, is there any published science on the ingredients or formula as functional performance enhancers, resulting in an amplification of training to improve athletic ability?
Freelap USA: How should athletes approach the peri-workout nutrition window? How has this window been abused by well-meaning athletes throughout the last decade?
Rick Brunner: This is a very complex question. Nutrition before, during, or just after training should be better thought through. I’ve developed supplements for use prior to training, but only if they are shown to enhance some performance trait such as improved reaction time, force output, etc. But, all too often, pre-workout supplements don’t do much, or actually reduce the training effect.All too often, pre-workout #supplements don’t do much, or actually reduce the training effect. Click To Tweet
The whole idea of training in and of itself is to elicit some training-based stimulus that will result in some adaptive response such as an improvement in muscle strength, power, reaction, balance, endurance, etc. Many pre-workout supplements seem to do just the opposite by interfering with the adaptive response.
I’d stay away from anything flavored prior to a workout, unless of course you are running a marathon or ultra-endurance race and need the electrolytes and sugar. After exercise, a little quality protein is all you need. The window has been abused by athletes looking for an easy fix by chugging down various powders and drinks when, in fact, they should make the workout as “functionally intense” for their specific level of ability as possible to elicit an optimal adaptation, and then modify training again and again as they adapt to a higher level.
Freelap USA: How can we be better buyers of supplements? What is your advice for navigating the vast swath of dietary aids coming down the pipe?
Rick Brunner: It comes down to effectiveness and trust. We can all do our homework and not simply play into the marketing hype. Supplement companies are, after all, focused on selling more supplements. There is nothing wrong with this so long as the supplement performs measurably.
There are hundreds of supplements to choose from today and many more come on the market every year. Each athlete should be responsible for educating themselves using published science and some common sense to make decisions for themselves personally. Go to Medline PubMed and plug in keywords to see what the latest science says. When reviewing a supplement, don’t be taken in by the label and messaging—look at all the ingredients.When reviewing a #supplement, don’t be misled by the label and messaging—look at all the ingredients. Click To Tweet
Many supplements are poorly researched and formulated, contain what may seem to be safe nutrients (like vitamins C and E, for example) that can in fact be disadaptive, contain non-optimal doses (too little or too much), etc. And don’t pay retail if you can avoid it. Retail products are double the price, marked up 100% or more just for stocking on the shelf. Buy supplements when they’re on sale or buy online.
Since you’re here…
…we have a small favor to ask. More people are reading SimpliFaster than ever, and each week we bring you compelling content from coaches, sport scientists, and physiotherapists who are devoted to building better athletes. Please take a moment to share the articles on social media, engage the authors with questions and comments below, and link to articles when appropriate if you have a blog or participate on forums of related topics. — SF