As an athlete, you should always be looking for even the slightest competitive edge. Don't think for one second that other athletes want it less than you do. The key to success comes down to the little things, such as peri-workout nutrition—i.e., the nutrition that surrounds your workout.
My goal while bodybuilding was body composition. However, I found that I was recovering optimally after each workout with no soreness. The wheels started turning, and I realized the implications for performance athletes. Not all athletes are the same, but the following plan applies to most.
About 45 minutes to an hour before your workout, eat a high-quality protein source mixed with some complex carbs and a good fat source to slow the release of the nutrients and allow your muscles to continue growing. (Check out these pre-workout meal options.) Before you start thinking all crazy, I know that muscles break down during a workout. The whole idea behind this plan is to prevent this from happening.
Your pre-workout meal might consist of something like high quality, non-heated whey protein powder blended with one cup of oatmeal and two tablespoons of raw or natural peanut butter. Drink the shake 60 minutes before a workout (further out if you tend to get nauseous while training with a full stomach).
Your body is under intense stress during a workout, so it's a great time to give it the nutrients it needs to recover. I recommend consuming 20 to 30 grams of branched-chain amino acids to aid muscle growth and recovery. Find a quality BCAA supplement that is easy to take during your workout.
After your workout, take advantage of the "anabolic window" to give yourself an extra muscle-building boost. (Discover the keys to a post-workout meal.) The window is not necessarily limited to 30 minutes; however, the nutrients will be less effective once you get beyond a half hour.
I recommend 40 to 50 grams of non-heated whey protein with either a packet of pop tarts or one to two cups of jasmine rice with a tablespoon or two of honey mixed in. It's a tasty treat that will enable you to get the most out of your workouts and transfer their benefits to the court or field. Use the KISS rule (Keep It Simple,Stupid) and watch your results soar!