Quick guide to peri workout nutrition and supplements for each neurotype
Here at Thibarmy, our readers are starting to get a bit more familiar with the neurotyping approach and the big lines that describe each type. Now that you know which kind of workout is best suited for each type, how can you improve those performances? Learn a bit more about the best peri workout nutrition and supplements for each type.
The article below is meant to be a quick go-to list of foods and supplements to consume near a workout. Some neurotypes benefit more from pre-workout preparation while others benefit more from intra or post workout attention. Each neurotype has its own particularities and these must be addressed to counteract their weaknesses.
The list also identifies which neurotransmitters must be addressed with the proper foods and supplements.
Dopamine: Low baseline level
Food: Eat phenylalanine and tyrosine rich foods an hour before working out.
Pumpkin seeds and walnuts are great healthy fats that will provide the necessary amino to build dopamine. For proteins, eggs and beef are the best choices for their tyrosine content.
As for carbs, Type 1A don’t need a lot of them as they normally don’t produce a lot of cortisol, but a small portion of carbs can help in supporting volume and intensity, and also recovery after the workout. Best choices would be wild rice and quinoa.
I usually like type 1A to train in a lower carbs environment to help with neurotransmitters potency. Carbs are preferred as post workout recovery to reduce cortisol levels and replenish some muscle glycogen.
Supplements: Increase dopamine production by consuming 1-2gr of L-tyrosine with the pre-workout meal (approx. 1-1.5 hour before working out).
Mucuna Pruriens taken 15-20 minutes before working out is also a great combo to mix with L-tyrosine. 250-500mg should be more than enough to increase dopamine levels.
Acetyl choline: low baseline level
Food: Choline rich foods will help type 1A to support volume in their workout. Since they really have a low baseline level of it, adding eggs yolk and lots of dark leafy greens, asparagus and cauliflowers will help them to raise acetylcholine level.
Supplements: Type 1A really benefit from alpha GPC and huperzine A in their daily diets. 600-1000mg of alpha GPC an hour before working out has been shown not only to increase acetylcholine level but also post exercise serum GH and usage of fats for energy for up to 2 hours post workout.
Huperzine A here doesn’t act directly on acetylcholine but more on acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine. By acting as an inhibitor of acetlycholinesterase, both the level and duration of action of acetyl choline is increased. 100-200mg of Huperzine A is usually enough to do the job.
Type 1A also need support for the adrenals as they respond pretty hard to adrenaline. Since they have low baseline dopamine, they can easily go ‘’empty tank’’ if they are too stressed out or if they don’t recover well from their workout. Going into calories deficit can also elicit fatigue and make them crash quickly.
Cordyceps is of really great help for type 1A as it will support adrenal functions. Adding ashwaganda can also be a great mix for it’s adaptogen properties. Dosage must be experimented for the individual to find the best daily amount for maximum efficiency.
One of the best tools to assist in the process of regulating the breakdown of catecholamines is an amino acid called S-Adenosyl Methionine (SAM-e). Around 500-1000mg / day can also help in regulating cholinergic functions in the brain, a nice side effect for type 1A, as they have low baseline acetylcholine.
To learn more about Type 1A, click here.
Dopamine: low baseline level
Food: Type 1B have similar needs for food as type 1A, as they both have low dopamine baseline levels. The need for animal proteins is elevated to fulfill L-tyrosine and phenylalanine levels to allow for increased dopamine production.
Pumpkins seeds, walnuts, lean red meats and eggs are some of the best choices to increase their l-tyrosine and phenylalanine consumption.
One of the points that differs from type 1A is their need for carbs peri-workout. Usually, since they tolerate a higher volume of work, I like them to have some more carbs INTRA workout and not too much pre-workout. The main reason is the same as type 1A: to set up proper neurotransmitters functions.
So, once the workout has started, introduce intra workout carbs such as polymer sources like highly branched cyclic dextrin, maltodextrose, dextrose, rice starch, potato starch 15-20 minutes after the beginning of the workout.
Supplements : Like type 1A, they also benefit from increasing dopamine via supplements like L-tyrosine and Mucuna pruriens. Usually 1-2 gr of l-tyrosine and 250-500mg of mucuna pruriens is enough to provide an efficient raise in dopamine levels.
Serotonin: High baseline level
How can a high serotonin level affect the body negatively? By reducing cortisol. How can it be bad? Too much of a lower cortisol level also affect digestion by reducing the amount of bile production. Too much low cortisol can also be hard for proper body composition improvement.
You WANT cortisol to be high while you’re exercising. During exercise, cortisol works with your other fat burning hormones to increase fat release.
For type 1B, adding 250-500mg of licorice roots standardized extract can help in raising cortisol levels. We rarely talk about raising cortisol levels, but this can be a real problem if levels are too low. Experiment with proper dosage, some individuals can also do fine with only 150mg. It all comes down to the individual and how you respond to it.
To learn more about Type 1B, click here.
Epinephrine: Low baseline level
Type 2A is the typical Dr. Jekyll & Hide. At rest, Epinephrine level is low and usually makes for an introverted individual. But when adrenaline kicks in (working out or taking stimulants), our friends can morph into a completely different creature.
Extraverted and loud speakers, they can smash high volume workouts with lots of variety and methods. They can be workout ‘’monsters’’ that can execute long and exhausting trainings. Of course, it can kill their recovery in the long run. The key is to find a way to help them release enough epinephrine to have a nice kick in without going into the extremes.
Food: Eating food high in ‘’dopamine building stuff’’ is the baseline rules to increase levels of Epinephrine as the precursor is dopamine. Eggs, cod, beef, turkey, well most animal proteins will provide sufficient levels. Also, healthy fats like nuts and avocado are great additions. Lots of greens like asparagus, cauliflowers, dark leafy greens, etc.
Supplements: Best supplements to take pre-workout would be those that help with the release of epinephrine, in a natural way of course. Stimulants would be too harsh in the long run and would leave them crashed eventually by depleting their dopamine levels too much. But, they are less likely to be affected like type 1 are because of their high GABA level that protect them against this overstimulation.
L-tyrosine is one of the basic compounds I’d use to allow for proper building materials. 1-2gr 30 minutes before working out is enough to support monoamine functions from dopamine and noradrenaline.
Calcium citrate is also pretty unknown for its potent action in helping the release of epinephrine. Epinephrine’s cardiovascular effects are mediated via increases in intracellular calcium. So, taking it pre-workout can only help with the release process during the workout.
Adding P5P (active co-enzymatic forms of B6) also helps to convert L-tyrosine to norepinephrine.
GABA : High baseline level
Food: Over time, one of the best ways I found to keep type 2A’s diet effective and efficient around workout is to keep their meal frequency low. Not necessarily intermittent fasting, but just a lower meal frequency. Let’s say eating 3 times a day, or every 5 hours is enough to let them release glucagon and keep insulin level low.
And that’s where they get the most benefits because of their high GABA level, they have poor release of glucagon which can make fat loss harder to happen quickly. To counteract, consume the necessary daily calories over less meals and allow for more time between meals. Their energy levels will be higher this way.
Type 2A don’t necessarily need to eat prior to the workout, they can but not necessarily an hour before. Instead, one trick is to start the workout on an empty stomach and add intra workout nutrition once the workout is well started.
A rich EAA and carbohydrates drink sip along the workout will provide the necessary nutriments for growth while the fasted state before the workout will allow them to release epinephrine and glucagon. This said, type 2As who are looking to add muscle mass can benefit from adding some proteins before the workouts.
Supplements: Yerba mates is one of the best supplements to improve the release of the GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1). Consuming it morning (fasted) or pre-workout if stomach is empty can really accelerate fat loss. Dosage can vary from the individual tolerance, experiment and increase over time.
High glutamine intake also helps in releasing glucagon. Adding 10-15gr between meals and pre-workout is a great tool to help type 2A’s release more glucagon.
To learn more about Type 2A, click here.
GABA: low baseline level
Food: Type 2B’s also have low epinephrine baseline levels, but because their GABA level is also low, they can’t rely too much on adrenaline release. They don’t have the same capacities to switch from sympathetic nervous system to parasympathetic nervous system. Their food choices are pretty much the same as type 2A’s getting most of their proteins from animal sources.
But their carbs consumption should be a bit higher peri workout to allow for less cortisol output and also to assist their favorite workout methods which usually turn around bodybuilding techniques that increase mind-muscle connexion and pump.
GABA food sources like apples, brown rice, oatmeal, kale, sweet potatoes and yams should be consumed post workout and, in the subsequent meals. Keeping pre, intra and post workout carbs would be the best way to set up workout nutrition for type 2B.
Also, keeping glutamine high is a great way to help in GABA reserves. I usually suggest type 2B’s to keep 10-15gr pre-workout and another 10-15gr post workout.
Supplements: For type 2B, I would put more emphasis on post-workout recovery and cortisol lowering to counteract the low GABA production. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, so when working out, you get amped up. But if GABA is low, it can’t do its job a getting you back in a resting state, instead, you stay ‘’on’’ which lowers your capacity to recover, sleep well and create adrenal burn out overtime.
Taurine is a GABA booster and an excellent place to start. Taurine is an amino acid found in high concentrations in the brain, where it acts much like a neurotransmitter by activating GABA receptors. I would suggest adding 2gr around workout (usually, most people I train just put it in their intra workout drink).
Magnesium is also an undeniable mineral that most people are missing. I had a nice chat recently with the renown Dr. Ken Kinakin where he told me that magnesium was much better absorbed if it is applied topically. So now my game as been switched and I apply magnesium chelate post workout in gels or spray.
L-Theanine increases the level of GABA and also that of two other major neurotransmitters: serotonin, and dopamine. It’s considered an adaptogen, a stress-relieving substance that makes you more resilient to whatever life throws your way.
Chamomile and valerian are also easy ways to increase GABA and help with stress relief. Around 600mg 1-2 hours before going to sleep will help with sleep.
One last supplement to add to make all of these effective is B6. In the body, the neurotransmitter GABA is synthesized from the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), an essential cofactor. It can lead to diminished GABA synthesis and also leads to a buildup of glutamate which can contribute to anxiety. I would suggest to consume around 1.5mg daily to ensure cofactor efficiency.
To learn more about Type 2B, click here.
Serotonine: Low baseline level
Food: Type 3 clearly need a diet higher in carbs to fight cortisol and upregulate serotonin. Carbs high in tryptophan (precursors to serotonin) like oats, beans, lentils, wild rice should consist of 60% of their nutrition while animal proteins from turkey, beef and elk can make for 20-30%.
I also suggest type 3 to eat a lot of spinach as their tryptophan contents is pretty high. Those are good ways to naturally raise serotonin levels in their diet. As type 2B’s, we should focus most of our supplements and food for post workout than pre-workout. Recovery is the #1 priority for them.
Supplements: 200mg of 5-HTP taken post workout and/or before bed is usually what I suggest to most type 3 to ensure serotonin level back-up. Combine this with 5-10mg P5P (bioactive form of B6) to ensure co-factor functions.
St-John’s wort also work pretty well to help the pulses in nerve endings and synapses to work faster and more efficiently. Mood will also be regulated due to serotonin being able to flow in the brain smoother.
Zinc is another mineral that helps overall brain function through the aiding of pulses between nerve endings. Zinc increases the uptake of serotonin in parts of the brain.
As type 2B’s, L-theanine also increase serotonin levels and can be helpful for type 3 post workout.
Tongkat ali as been shown to increase testosterone level efficiently and is pretty helpful for type 3 as they can have difficulty to maintain high testosterone production due to a high cortisol profile. The key for type 3 is to maintain and control cortisol as much as possible, keeping carbs high around workouts is necessary to avoid a sustained elevation of cortisol post workout.
To learn more about Type 3, click here.