The relationship between nutrition and exercise is a cornerstone of effective training programs. As a health and exercise professional, you need evidence-based strategies to enhance your clients’ performance and outcomes. A recent study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology explored whether glucose ingestion before and after resistance-training sessions could enhance ribosome biogenesis—a critical factor for muscle hypertrophy—in moderately trained young adults. The findings have important implications for advising your clients on their nutritional strategies surrounding resistance training.

The Study

The study involved 16 healthy, moderately trained young adults who participated in a within-participant crossover trial, which compares the way the same subject responds to the treatment and the placebo. Each participant performed unilateral resistance training (leg press and knee extension) and consumed a drink containing either glucose (90 g total) or a placebo containing the noncaloric sweetener stevia before and after exercise on alternating days over a 12-day period. The researchers measured the amounts of total ribonucleic acid (RNA) and ribosomal RNA, and they also looked at specific proteins involved in gene expression regulation as secondary measures. The measurements were taken from muscle biopsies, which were muscle samples collected from the vastus lateralis muscle before and after the intervention.

The researchers concluded that glucose ingestion before and after resistance training sessions did not significantly enhance ribosomal RNA accumulation compared to placebo. This suggests that adding glucose supplementation around training sessions does not provide a measurable benefit in terms of ribosome biogenesis in moderately trained young adults. Additionally, while glucose ingestion was associated with a slightly lower reduction in muscle strength after five training sessions, it did not significantly affect overall muscle performance or recovery when measured 30 minutes, two hours, and 23 hours after the last session. This indicates that the acute benefits of glucose ingestion on muscle performance are minimal.

What the Research Means to Health and Exercise Professionals

There is so much conflicting information regarding what to eat and when, so chances are your clients are looking to you for advice. Talking to your clients about studies such as this one is an effective way to educate them about issues related to nutrition without veering outside of your scope of practice as a health and exercise professional. While this study raises questions regarding the performance or recovery benefits of consuming glucose before and after a training session, the benefits of consuming adequate protein are well established. For example, protein has a well-documented role in supporting muscle protein synthesis and recovery.

Moreover, it is crucial to stress to your clients the importance of aiming for a balanced diet that provides sufficient carbohydrates, proteins and fats to support their overall energy needs and recovery. While carbohydrates remain important for replenishing glycogen stores, especially after intense training sessions, there may be no need to prioritize glucose supplementation specifically before or after a resistance-training workout. A holistic approach to nutrition ensures that clients receive the necessary nutrients to support their training and overall health.

Educating your clients on the broader aspects of nutrition and how it supports not only muscle hypertrophy, but also general health, performance and well-being is another vital aspect of effective coaching. A comprehensive approach that includes proper hydration, micronutrient intake and overall dietary quality is essential for optimal results. By helping clients understand the multifaceted role of nutrition, you can foster a more informed and holistic approach to health and fitness.

Recognizing that nutritional needs can vary widely among individuals is also important. While the study’s findings are applicable to moderately trained young adults, clients with different training statuses, goals or metabolic conditions might respond differently. Clients who are interested in customized nutrition plans based on individual assessments and goals should be referred to a registered dietitian nutritionist or other qualified nutrition professional.

As exercise professionals and health coaches, it is essential to rely on evidence-based practices to create individualized training programs and effective group class experiences and to support clients in making dietary choices that align with their lifestyle. By focusing on proven strategies and maintaining a holistic approach to health and fitness, you can help your clients achieve their goals effectively and sustainably.

A Quick Guide for Integrating the Study’s Findings Into Your Clients’ Training Programs

Here are some things to highlight when talking to your clients about this study:

  • Nutritional Guidance: Encourage clients to maintain a balanced diet rich in proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. The emphasis should be on overall nutrition rather than specific supplements for short-term gains.
  • Training Consistency: Highlight the importance of consistent training and recovery. Given that glucose did not significantly affect muscle performance, focus on structured resistance-training programs that progressively challenge the muscles.
  • Individual Variability: Remind clients that individual responses to training and nutrition can vary. What works for one person may not work for another, so personalized training and nutritional plans are crucial.
  • Long-term Focus: While the study covered a short-term intervention, long-term adaptations might differ. Encourage clients to stick with their programs over longer periods to see more substantial results.

Expand Your Knowledge

Nutrition Fundamentals

Surrounded by endless fad diets and quick fixes, clients look to you to separate fact from fiction and provide practical nutrition information. In this course, you will explore the science of nutrition, evidence-based relationships between nutrition and long-term health, and how to guide clients toward healthful food choices, while remaining in your scope of practice. You’ll also learn about the fundamentals of nutrient digestion, absorption and metabolism, in an easy-to-understand yet comprehensive way.

Applying Nutrition Principles – Course Bundle

As an exercise professional or health coach, it is important to remain within the scope of your practice when coaching nutrition and better nutrition choices to your clients. The Applying Nutrition Principles course bundle will equip you with information and meaningful behavior change techniques to help you support your clients in healthier food choices and implement into your practice immediately.

Better Together: Combining Fitness and Nutrition for Powerful Results

This video training explores the individual and combined effects of physical activity and nutrition interventions provided by fitness professionals. You’ll gain knowledge of how to leverage multidisciplinary approaches that establish positive behavior changes in adults and learn how evidence from exercise and nutrition practitioner guidelines align with the ACE IFT® Model, along the health, fitness and performance spectrums.