What to Take When You Wake Up

supplements to take when you wake up

The early bird gets the worm, as the old saying goes. For gym-goers, athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness aficionados alike, the morning is one of the most crucial times of the day to nourish the body with specific supplements geared towards your immediate goals. After all, your body has been asleep for 7-8 hours (hopefully) and is ready to soak up whatever you give it.

This is in contrast to other times of the day, especially the evening when our circadian rhythms are “winding down” and you’ve already had several meals. As such, paying attention to the supplements you use in the morning is key for kickstarting the day and getting you on the right track, whether your goal is to build lean muscle mass, burn fat, or bulk up.

Read on as this guide gives you all the necessary details to determine which supplements you should take when you wake up based on your primary goal.

Supplements to Take When You Wake Up

The supplements you take when you first wake up in the morning can help set the foundation for the rest of your day by boosting your energy levels, enhancing focus, fueling your body with muscle-building nutrients, and much more.

As it stands, most people just wake up, slam a cup of coffee, and run out the door to work/school for the day. Sure, coffee (caffeine) can be useful in the morning, but you need to be a bit more diligent about what you put in your body before you get your day started.

Each section below will list the most effective supplements to take when you wake up according to your goal.

What to Take When You Wake Up to Bulk (Axxis)

Shortly after waking up, your cortisol levels tend to be at their peak. Since you haven’t eaten all night (assuming you’re not the type to raid the fridge at 3 AM), gluconeogenesis tends to take over and slowly breakdown your lean mass for energy. Thus, it’s crucial that you feed the body with the right nutrients such as Axxis to antagonize the actions of cortisol and restart anabolic processes.

Here’s what to take when you wake up for bulking purposes:

Dextrose

Carbohydrates are going to be your best friend when it comes time for bulking season. While many gym-goers often seem to have a love-hate relationship with carbohydrates due to their inherent insulinogenic actions, insulin is actually one of the most anabolic hormones the human body naturally produces.[1] In fact, insulin has been shown to significantly enhance the muscle protein synthesis response with even minimal amounts of essential amino acids available in the bloodstream.[2] Dextrose is generally the best carbohydrate to supplement with after you wake up since it’s rapidly absorbed and “spikes” insulin levels, which in effect shuts off catabolic processes and ignites anabolic processes.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

When taken in conjunction with dextrose, BCAAs provide arguably the fastest route towards maximizing muscle protein synthesis. One BCAA in particular, L-leucine, has been coined the “switch” for muscle protein synthesis, and there is no better way to get this amino acid in your body then to supplement with it in free-form (meaning it’s rapidly absorbed and requires minimal digestion).[3] However, be wary of the quality of BCAAs that you find in supplements these days, many of them are made from human hair (gross, right?). Chainlink contains instantized InstaAminos™ which are vegan-friendly and made through fermentative processes without the use of animal products.

Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is essentially the rate-limiting substrate for your body to produce a key intramuscular dipeptide called carnosine. A myriad of studies have shown that beta-alanine supplementation rapidly elevates carnosine levels in the muscle, which acts as a buffer to facilitate better workouts and more growth.[4]

What to Take When You Wake Up to Gain Lean Muscle Mass (Androxx)

When your goal is to pack on lean muscle mass, you’re going to want to get some essential amino acids (from protein) in your system shortly after you wake up; this will give your body the necessary fuel for igniting muscle protein synthesis – the process by which new muscle tissue is constructed. Of course, you’ll need to be hitting the weights hard several times per week and eating an adequate diet to further facilitate lean muscle growth.

Here are some basic and effective supplements to take when you wake up to gain lean muscle mass:

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is the preeminent sports supplement and has been for decades, garnering a massive body of evidence demonstrating its efficacy helping gym-goers and athletes forge more lean muscle mass and develop strength quickly.[5] Lately, however, many supplement companies seem to put more emphasis on “new-age” forms of creatine that have minimal evidence supporting their effectiveness; in fact, some of these creatines (like creatine ethyl ester) appear to be far less effective than tried-and-true creatine monohydrate.[6] No need to get fancy, just stick to 3-5 grams per day of creatine monohydrate for helping pack on lean muscle mass. Also, be sure you stay hydrated, as creatine ultimately works in conjunction with water to help volumize and energize your muscle cells.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is nature’s richest source of essential amino acids, especially branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) which act as the “trigger” for muscle protein synthesis.[7] Research shows that 20+ grams of a BCAA-rich protein source (particularly whey protein isolate) will provide a near-maximal increase in muscle protein synthesis for up to 3-4 hours. If you want to take it up a notch, you can combine whey protein isolate with a carb source (many people will mix their protein powder in oatmeal or blend it with milk and a banana for some added nutrients). Don’t skimp on your protein intake after you wake up, especially if your goal is to pack on lean muscle mass. Moreover, a high-protein breakfast will provide plenty of satiety to keep your hunger at bay throughout the morning hours.

Anabolic Hormone Optimizers

For maximizing your lean muscle mass growth, optimizing your natural anabolic hormone production is imperative. The safest and most practical way to do this is supplement with prohormone precursors, which are much easier on the liver and don’t suppress your endocrine system like steroids and prohormone often do.

What to Take When You Wake Up to Lose Visceral Fat (Cinerate)

When you’re trying to lose stubborn (visceral) body fat, there are several supplements you should take after you wake up. The morning is arguably the best time of the day for bolstering fat loss, as this is when cortisol is naturally highest, and this facilitates lipolysis. Ideally, you should take the following supplements and then get some cardio in before you eat breakfast.

Green Tea Leaf Extract

Green tea leaves are one the best natural sources of key polyphenols, such as EGCG, and the nootropic amino acid L-theanine. One mechanism that EGCG works through to promote fat loss is by inhibiting enzymes that breakdown catecholamines, like dopamine and adrenaline.[8] Moreover, L-theanine helps optimize the effects of caffeine and enhance mood, which is beneficial if your motivation to hit the gym or stick to your diet is low in the morning.[9]

Teacrine™ (Theacrine)

Theacrine is a relatively new ingredient that functions much like caffeine in the body, albeit with longer-lasting effects and more mind-boosting properties. Chemically speaking, theacrine is much like caffeine in structure and found primarily in the leaves of Camellia Kucha. Research suggests that theacrine activates similar signaling pathways as caffeine, but without producing the “high” and subsequent crash that some people experience after consuming caffeine.[10]

Octopamine

Octopamine is an organic compound present in bitter orange fruit extract (Citrus aurantium) and has been shown in clinical trials to help suppress appetite and promote lipolysis, particularly in conjunction with other stimulants.[11]

L-DOPA (from Mucuna pruriens)

Levodopa, commonly referred to as L-DOPA, is a primary precursor of the neurotransmitter dopamine. As such, supplementing with L-DOPA can significantly increase dopamine levels in the body, making it a potent fat burner, especially in the morning.

Nature’s richest source of L-DOPA is the plant species Mucuna pruriens (also known as velvet bean), a legume found in the Carribean and the Middle East.

Research shows that consuming Mucuna pruriens seed powder nearly doubles circulating levels of dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline when taken once daily at a dose of five grams.[12] Moreover, L-DOPA absorption actually increases the more you consume it; in other words, the longer and more consistently you supplement with Mucuna pruriens, the more effective it becomes.

Note that despite being “stress hormones,” increasing adrenaline and noradrenaline levels in your body isn’t necessarily a bad thing; quite the contrary actually. Adrenaline and noradrenaline are key hormones/neurotransmitters that increase your mental alertness, athletic performance, and lipolysis (fat breakdown).[13]

Morning Diet Tips

Let’s be real, no matter how many supplements you take; you’re simply not going to achieve your fat loss or muscle building goals without a proper diet (and exercise regimen). Ideally, your diet and training should be dialed in before you even consider using supplements. If you’re going to get the most out of the supplements in this guide, then you better be sure to have a solid nutrition plan in place.

Here are some general diet tips to follow shortly after you wake up:

Coffee and Coffee Alternatives

Coffee is generally the go-to beverage of choice in the morning since it’s nature’s best source of caffeine. While caffeine can certainly be a great way to get you revved up and focused for the day ahead, you don’t need to drink coffee if you’re not fond of the taste. Alternatives to coffee that provide caffeine are things like green tea, black tea, preworkout powder, and often thermogenics. You can even try using something like Crystal Light Energy packets mixed in your water for a little caffeine boost at breakfast.

Hydrate

Shortly after waking up you should guzzle down a tall glass of water (if you’re using supplements in capsule/pill form, now is a good opportunity to wash them down with some liquid). You don’t need to haul a gallon jug of water around with you all day as most meatheads do, but just be diligent with your water intake. If your urine is yellow or off-orange, drink more water; if it’s clear, you’re good to go. For most active individuals, 100-150 ounces of water per day should suffice.

Protein is key

The last thing you want to do is skimp on protein during your first meal of the day. Protein provides the building blocks (amino acids) for synthesizing new muscle protein, so be sure to consume an ample amount of high-quality protein after you wake. Good sources of protein include whey protein, eggs, meat, poultry, dairy, and even various plant proteins if you’re on a vegan diet. Moreover, high-protein breakfasts will provide plenty of satiety to keep your hunger at bay throughout the morning hours.

Fats are essential

Fats play a multitude of roles in the human body and are essential for healthy cellular physiology. The majority of your fat intake should come in the form of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are typically abundant in foods like nuts, avocado, and olive oil. However, saturated fat is certainly necessary as well, particularly the fats found in coconut (MCTs) and grass-fed butter.

Go big in the morning, especially if you train early

This is not a huge deal, but if you workout early (or shortly after you wake up), then it behooves you to eat your largest meal of the day around this timeframe. Why? Because exercise, especially high-intensity weight training, elicits a bounty of favorable metabolic adaptations – such as enhanced insulin sensitivity – that “prime” your body for soaking up nutrients and putting them to good use, so to speak.[14]

Is Morning the Best Time to Train?

Many gym-goers feel that there are advantages to training and certain times of the day as our body has innate circadian rhythms (i.e., a biological “clock”) that dictates our hormonal patterns. Intuitively, making the most of your hormonal peaks and valleys can pay dividends.

However, it’s not as black-and-white as bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts alike seem to think. The general supposition is that testosterone levels peak in the early morning, making it the ideal time to hit the gym.[15] As you likely know, testosterone is one the most potent natural anabolic hormones in the human body.[16]

But this is a specious argument when you consider that levels of cortisol – a catabolic hormone – also tend to be highest in the morning and that testosterone is generally not a short-acting hormone to begin with.

If you really want to get picky about the time you train and whether or not your endocrine system is working in your favor, then ideally you would do cardio in the morning and weight training in the evening.

Ultimately, it’s not going to make a big difference either way, though. The most important factor, by far, is that you at least get your butt to the gym and train, regardless of what time it is. Training, especially at high-intensity, has a myriad of favorable physiological benefits that prime your body for building muscle and getting lean, and these adaptations occur at the cellular level (e.g. mitochondrial biogenesis).[17] Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, get your training in and you’ll be just fine. Of course, being smart about your supplement use and diet is also crucial, which is where the tips in this article will come in handy.

References

  1. Ferrando, A. A., Chinkes, D. L., Wolf, S. E., Matin, S., Herndon, D. N., & Wolfe, R. R. (1999). A submaximal dose of insulin promotes net skeletal muscle protein synthesis in patients with severe burns. Annals of surgery, 229(1), 11.
  2. Fryburg, D. A., Jahn, L. A., Hill, S. A., Oliveras, D. M., & Barrett, E. J. (1995). Insulin and insulin-like growth factor-I enhance human skeletal muscle protein anabolism during hyperaminoacidemia by different mechanisms. The Journal of clinical investigation, 96(4), 1722-1729.
  3. Rieu, I., Balage, M., Sornet, C., Giraudet, C., Pujos, E., Grizard, J., … & Dardevet, D. (2006). Leucine supplementation improves muscle protein synthesis in elderly men independently of hyperaminoacidaemia. The Journal of physiology, 575(1), 305-315.
  4. Artioli, G. G., Gualano, B., Smith, A., Stout, J., & Lancha Jr, A. H. (2010). Role of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 42(6), 1162-1173.
  5. Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Maclennan, D. P. (2000). Creatine monohydrate supplementation enhances high-intensity exercise performance in males and females. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 10(4), 452-463.
  6. Giese, M. W., & Lecher, C. S. (2009). Non-enzymatic cyclization of creatine ethyl ester to creatinine. Biochemical and biophysical research communications, 388(2), 252-255.
  7. Blomstrand, E., Eliasson, J., Karlsson, H. K., & Köhnke, R. (2006). Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise. The Journal of nutrition, 136(1), 269S-273S.
  8. Singh, B. N., Shankar, S., & Srivastava, R. K. (2011). Green tea catechin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG): mechanisms, perspectives and clinical applications. Biochemical pharmacology, 82(12), 1807-1821.
  9. Haskell, C. F., Kennedy, D. O., Milne, A. L., Wesnes, K. A., & Scholey, A. B. (2008). The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biological psychology, 77(2), 113-122.
  10. Feduccia, A. A., Wang, Y., Simms, J. A., Henry, Y. Y., Li, R., Bjeldanes, L., … & Bartlett, S. E. (2012). Locomotor activation by theacrine, a purine alkaloid structurally similar to caffeine: involvement of adenosine and dopamine receptors. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 102(2), 241-248.
  11. Stohs SJ, Preuss HG, Shara M. (August 2012). “A review of the human clinical studies involving Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) extract and its primary protoalkaloid p-synephrine“. Int J Med Sci. 9 (7): 527–538.
  12. Manyam, B. V., Dhanasekaran, M., & Hare, T. A. (2004). Effect of antiparkinson drug HP‐200 (Mucuna pruriens) on the central monoaminergic neurotransmitters. Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives, 18(2), 97-101.
  13. Tobin, L., Simonsen, L., Galbo, H., & Bülow, J. (2012). Vascular and metabolic effects of adrenaline in adipose tissue in type 2 diabetes. Nutrition & diabetes, 2(9), e46.
  14. Crameri, R. M., Langberg, H., Magnusson, P., Jensen, C. H., Schrøder, H. D., Olesen, J. L., … & Kjaer, M. (2004). Changes in satellite cells in human skeletal muscle after a single bout of high intensity exercise. The Journal of physiology, 558(1), 333-340.
  15. Brambilla, D. J., Matsumoto, A. M., Araujo, A. B., & McKinlay, J. B. (2009). The effect of diurnal variation on clinical measurement of serum testosterone and other sex hormone levels in men. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 94(3), 907-913.
  16. Urban, R. J. (2011). Growth hormone and testosterone: anabolic effects on muscle. Hormone Research in Paediatrics, 76(Suppl. 1), 81-83.
  17. Morgan, T. E., Cobb, L. A., Short, F. A., Ross, R., & Gunn, D. R. (1971). Effects of long-term exercise on human muscle mitochondria. In Muscle metabolism during exercise (pp. 87-95). Springer, Boston, MA.
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