If your goal is to get stronger or gain muscle, resistance training is key.
Why? Because resistance exercise challenges your muscles, and when muscles are repeatedly challenged, they adapt by increasing the size and amount of contractile proteins within each muscle fiber.
The process is complex, but generally speaking, bigger muscle fibers equal bigger muscles and increased strength.
Nutrition also plays an important role. There are countless supplements on the market that claim to help you perform better, get stronger, gain muscle, lose fat, and more.
It can be a challenge to make sense of it all, and unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation out there.
With that in mind, here’s the real scoop on the science behind some of the key ingredients in Beachbody Performance that can help increase muscle strength, power, endurance, and size, especially when following a consistent training program that you can jumpstart with A WEEK OF HARD LABOR on Beachbody On Demand.
Beta-alanine: shown to increase muscle buffering capacity to help you work out harder longer.
Beta-alanine is required for the body to make carnosine. In muscle, carnosine acts as a buffer, neutralizing hydrogen ions (a byproduct of lactic acid metabolism) produced during exercise. Too many hydrogen ions can decrease muscle pH, lead to muscle discomfort (i.e., ‘the burn’), and diminish muscle strength.
Regular consumption of beta-alanine has been shown to increase muscle carnosine, in turn increasing the buffering capacity of the muscle and allowing the muscle to work harder longer.
Low-dose caffeine: shown to help reduce perception of effort, delay fatigue, increase power output.
Caffeine has been shown to be ergogenic, helping to reduce perception of effort, delay fatigue, and improve focus. In one recent study, low-dose caffeine increased measures of muscular fatigue threshold by 45 percent and maximal power output during resistance exercise by 16 percent.
In another study, athletes reported that vigorous exercise felt easier, and average power output during all-out exercise was greater when they consumed Energize compared to placebo.
Carbohydrates and electrolytes: shown to support hydration by aiding fluid absorption.
Research has shown that even mild dehydration (commonly referred to as hypohydration) may limit strength and power, thereby hampering resistance exercise performance. Hydrate is formulated with a specific ratio of water to carbohydrates and electrolytes shown to help speed gut fluid absorption and restore hydration better than water alone.
Pomegranate extract: shown to help reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness and speed muscle recovery.
Strenuous exercise can lead to temporary muscle soreness, fatigue, weakness, and inflammation. Pomegranate extract has been shown to support muscle recovery by decreasing exercise-induced oxidative stress, alleviating temporary exercise-induced muscle soreness, and reducing loss of strength after intense exercise. In one study, subjects produced more force during exercise and improved strength recovery 48 to 72 hours after a strenuous bout of exercise when using pomegranate extract compared to a placebo.
Post-exercise protein: shown to promote muscle protein synthesis.
Muscle proteins are continually turning over, meaning damaged proteins are broken down into amino acids (muscle protein breakdown), and new proteins are built (muscle protein synthesis). This process maintains muscle mass and function. It’s also critical for the repair, growth, and adaptation of muscle in response to training.
In order to gain muscle mass, muscle protein synthesis must exceed muscle protein breakdown. And while protein ingestion alone in adequate amounts increases muscle protein synthesis, the ingestion of protein after resistance exercise has been shown to stimulate protein synthesis more than exercise or protein consumption alone. (Resistance exercise increases both muscle protein breakdown and muscle protein synthesis.)
In fact, post-exercise protein intake has been shown to help increase gains in muscle mass and strength during prolonged resistance training.
In resistance-trained individuals, tart cherry supplementation for several days prior to intense resistance exercise has been shown to help reduce muscle soreness, accelerate strength recovery, and reduce muscle catabolism.
Casein protein: shown to help promote lean muscle synthesis.
Unlike whey protein, casein is not rapidly digested and absorbed. As a result, ingesting casein before bed provides a relatively steady supply of protein and amino acids throughout the night, extending the period when muscle protein synthesis is supported.
In fact, the latest research shows that ingesting casein before bed helps increase overnight muscle protein synthesis and can promote a positive net protein balance – key for building muscle. In one study, ingesting casein protein every night before sleep during 12 weeks of strength training was associated with increases in muscle mass 10 percent greater than strength training alone.
In the same study, muscle strength increased more with casein ingestion compared to strength training alone.
Creatine: shown to help improve strength, power, and high intensity exercise performance.
The primary source of energy during exercise comes from the breakdown of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). During very high intensity exercise and during recovery, phosphocreatine helps to replenish muscle ATP. Regular creatine consumption has been shown to increase muscle creatine and phosphocreatine.
Increasing muscle creatine enhances replenishment of ATP and has been shown to help athletes perform high-intensity activities longer and recover faster. Creatine has also been shown to enhance gains in muscle mass, muscle strength, and power with resistance training.
They’re All Effective, But How Fast Are They?
Whether you’re an elite athlete or you’re just starting a training program, there are several evidence-based nutritional approaches available to help support your training, performance, and recovery.
When using nutritional supplements, it is important to keep in mind that some have been shown to work right away, whereas others may need to be consumed regularly for days, or even weeks, before they have significant effects.
Some of the active ingredients in Beachbody Performance work acutely, meaning their effects occur within minutes or hours of ingestion:
For example, the low-dose caffeine (found in Energize) has been shown to improve energy, reduce perception of effort during exercise, and increase exercise performance within 30 to 60 minutes of ingestion.
Carbohydrates and electrolytes (found in Hydrate) have been shown to improve water absorption and hydration status within minutes to hours of ingestion.
Similarly, protein (found in Recover and Recharge) has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis in the hours following ingestion. However, it may take weeks or months before you see measurable changes in muscle mass.
Other active ingredients must be consumed regularly for days or weeks before they have significant effects:
In most research studies to date, pomegranate and tart cherry (found in Recover and Recharge, respectively) were given to study participants for several days before researchers evaluated their effects.
Beta-alanine (found in Energize) and creatine (in Creatine) must be used for several days to weeks before muscle stores of these compounds are high enough to have a significant effect on exercise performance.
The Bottom Line
Nutritional supplements with the right ingredients can help you reach your peak potential. The Peak Performance Project (P3) is a high tech training facility in Santa Barbara, California, where many of the country’s top athletes go to become even stronger, faster, and fitter. The Beachbody Performance line of supplements is designed to help people achieve those same goals, so it seemed only natural to partner up. P3 Founder Dr. Marcus Elliot and Beachbody President and CMO Jon Congdon discuss how Beachbody Performance supplements can help you supercharge your training—regardless of whether you’re an elite athlete or a nine-to-fiver.