What to Eat, When to Eat it

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A Discussion on Paraworkout Nutrition

I had this question pop up in my inbox quite a few times over the past few weeks, so I thought I’d update and edit and re-feature a previous blog post to answer it. Check this out.

What should I eat before I train? After?

I have been trying to have a whey shake both before and after my workouts, but I have been thinking about getting something else. Any suggestions?

–Steve W., Colorado

An excellent question. Before I answer, I just want to give a brief overview of the general mood in the industry regarding this subject.

For a long while, everyone was focused on post-workout nutrition; fast digesting protein shakes mixed with high glycemic carbohydrates (both of which break down quickly and therefore get absorbed faster) were the norm.

After a few years the focus shifted and expanded to include pre-workout nutrition. The original incarnation of this was to start drinking post workout shakes before you actually began training, allowing your body to start digesting and absorbing right as you began to need the nutrients. Soon after, shakes designed specifically for pre-workout needs began to be released.

More recently, there has been a push towards taking supplements during your workout. The main thrust of peri-workout nutrition is to help facilitate in recovery, and occasionally to make the training itself more productive/intense.

So now we’ve got the term “para-workout nutrition.” This is basically the all supplements one would need or want to take in the time surrounding your training session. All in all, it can be a bit overwhelming.

To answer your question fully, I’ll discuss a little bit about each of these and then tell you my thoughts.

Pre-Workout Nutrition:

Recent studies have shown the pre-exercise nutrition is as important if not more important than post-exercise nutrition—which makes sense, when you think about it. After all, you wouldn’t compete in a race with low grade gasoline in your car, only to fill it with premium once the race is over. That would be dumb. Or if you’re like me, you don’t put gas in it at all, because your car is powered by dylithium crystals and a flux capacitor.

Obvioulsy, you should put good stuff in your body pre-workout. In this case, or at least for the purposes of answering this question as fully as possible, you have a few options. A few supplement companies make drinks or shakes designed specifically for pre-workout consumption.

The idea here is that these supplements prime you to not only perform better and create a greater training effect, but also help you recover and even make your post workout shake more effective. I have used a few, and I like some of them.

Some good products include SURGE Workout Fuel by Biotest and Jack3d by USP Labs. Workout Fuel is about essential nutrients and Jack3d is more of a stimulant based product (as an aside, it’s actually a kick-ass stimulant and I got something out of the product–kills your appetite, though, which can be a problem).

The main thing here is the cost:benefit ratio. These drinks are not overly expensive (about on par with most supplements ~$40.00 for a container) but if you workout frequently you go through it pretty quickly. For the average trainee, or anyone tight on cash, I would say you can probably get away without this.

If cost is not an issue, I think hard-training people and especially athletes can benefit greatly from a dedicated pre-workout drink. Generally, though, I think the vast majority of people can just use the same drink pre– and post- workout.

Peri-Workout Nutrition:

While at this point I haven’t seen any supplements designed specifically taken during a workout, there are certainly a good number of practices that call for mid-training supplementation.

Initially, peri-workout nutrition was basically just sipping on your pre/post workout shake during the training session, and allowing for preemptive recovery. More recently, I’ve seen supplement protocols which call for taking extra Branched Chain Amino Acids and the like during training.

The jury is still out on the efficacy of taking supplements during the actual training session itself, and for me personally it is more a matter of practicality than anything else. Taking extra BCAAs or a dose of creatine may be somewhat effective, but I have found that it sort of interferes with my workout.

I train at a pretty brisk pace, and I really don’t allow myself much in the way of rest periods, so going into my gym bag to take a few pills sort of interrupts my flow. I normally just take them right before or right after, and haven’t noticed a significant difference one way or the other.

I think in large part whether this is worthwhile depends on the length of the workout. If you have fast paced training sessions that last about 30 minutes or so, I have to doubt whether you can really even break down and begin to absorb anything you take during that time period; it’s probably better to just take these supplements beforehand. However, sipping on a recovery drink is nearly essential, as this type of training is pretty draining; even over a short time period, performance drop-off can be severe, so mitigating it with a shake is an excellent way to increase the training effect and stave off fatigue.

For anyone who has longer training sessions, especially if they are dedicated specifically to gaining muscle and/or strength, peri-workout nutrition in the form of extra BCAAs or Beta-7 supplements is probably extremely beneficial. In addition, these types of workouts tend to be a bit longer by nature, and so better lend themselves to taking extra supplements.

On the plus side, generally speaking supplements of this type aren’t really expensive, so if you want to try to add it into the mix it’s very low cost for a potentially great benefit.

Post-Workout Nutrition:

The idea of taking in the appropriate mix of nutrients immediately after training is probably the most well accepted nutritional theory when it comes to strength training. For years, trying to find the right combination of ingredients was one of the main focuses of the supplement industry.

There are a lot of approaches to this, but I strongly suggest picking up a protein/carb recovery drink. I recommend Workout by ProGrade. This is absolutely one of the best products on the market, made by one of the best companies. I’ve been using it for a while for both the vast majority of my clients and my own personal workouts.

Dedicated post-workout nutrition is great because it is so adjustable. Unlike drinks that are designed to enhance performance pre-workout, recovery shakes have adequate protein and fast-digesting carbs to help you grow stronger, lose fat faster, and also recovery from soreness. Additionally, they are pretty sound in terms of nutrient, so they can occasionally fill some gaps you may have in your diet.

Alternate Perspective: What About High GI vs. Low GI Carbs? Some People Say It Doesn’t Make a Difference?

Another good question.

I’ve been going back and forth this with the mentally, and I’ve gone over the research and (perhaps more specifically) I’ve been reading through a lot of the blogs of those nutrition guys who take this position. There are a few very good arguments on the other side of this and to be honest some stout research to back them up. I’ll be very honest when I say that I don’t relish the idea of getting into an overly scientific debate about GI, but I will say that I think (generally speaking) there is just a lot of empircal evidence to support the idea that high GI carbs are a good choice post workout.

It’s also been argued that a lot of the GI stuff is essentially useless. I don’t agree there, but it’s worth noting that there is merit to the point that the actual GI rating of a given food is determined in a fasted state, or using a single feeding model, and therefore not truly representative of “real life.”

Having said that, I tend to be a bit more pragmatic in my approach to just about everything, and, from that view, I think more than anything else we should look at things from a perspective of what is practical.

Unless working with extreme populations (diabetics or elite athletes for example) I think we need to realize that while nutrtion is of paramount importance, the majority of what we do is really guesswork. Alans own arguments point to the fact that even what we use as baseline stuff is often inherently flawed from the outset of the data collection.

So, like anything else with regard to diet, we need to stop laboring under the delusion that any of this has been truly figured out, or–more to the point–that any of our science would be applicable to all people.

When we design diets for people, we prescribe a number a calories based on formulas that (unfortunately) are crapshoots at worst and not nearly as accurate as we’d like at best. Knowing this, we allow for a period of observation and then make changes based on that period.

At the absolute best, we are able to determine what will work for most of the people most of the time.

Another point is this: while I generally dislike mindset of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” because I think it breeds complacency and eliminates a drive for progress, I DO think there is some merit to looking at the development of P/PWO nutrition over the years.

That is: in any aspect of any field, or in any area of nature, it is worthwhile to take note of the course things seem to follow natural.

So, in this case, we should give some weight to the fact that, for whatever reason, people have consistently gravitated towards the use of fast digesting, high GI carbs post workout. It stands to reason that it was and has been consistently observed that people recover well when using high GI carbs and have more productive training sessions. It has worked well for me, for my clients, and for athletes of all stripes for years.

Does this mean that low GI carbs won’t be effective post workout? No, of course not.

I do think, though, that using low GI carbs post workout, or giving that as a broad recommendation would lead to problems.

Formulated pre/post workout supplements notwithstanding, I think for anyone looking to try to get proper post workout nutrtion would probably miss the mark more often than hit it by trying to get the carbs from low GI sources. With high GI sources, there is a greater likelihood that you’ll wind up with the desired insulin response.

From that perspective alone, I think high GI just makes more sense [to give as a broad recommendation], whether or not they are technically scientifically superior.

Overview: All in all, I think that for anyone not competing, getting too wrapped up in para-workout nutrition is probably a case of majoring in minutia.

Speaking generally, while I think all of the above mentioned products have merit, for most people a single supplement will do the job of many. By focusing on just one product, you’ll save time, money, and the headache of trying to figure out the exactitudes of when to take each thing in relation to the others.

This is the method I would recommend:

Again, using only one supplement, let’s assume Workout. Just prior to your workout, consume roughly one half of the recommended serving, and sip on the other half during training. After your workout, have another full serving.

With this method, you are coving pre-, peri-, and post-workout nutrition with a single supplement. You are addressing not only recovery, but also performance. In addition, you are saving time, money, and hassle by not getting into a whole host of supplementation.

As you continue to advance in your training, you can start adding in other stuff as needed or desired. However, I’d say for now just stick with a single supplement and focus on the training itself.

With regard to your whey shake, you can continue to use that as either a meal supplement or just a way to get extra protein during the day.


NOTE: For a great read on nutrition, particularly pre/post-workout nutrition, check out Nutrient Timing, by Ivy and Portman. It is a great reference for any trainer or nutritionist, and probably the seminal work on the subject. If nothing else, it is full of interesting information that you can probably put to use almost immediately.

So, here is the question:

What are YOU eating/drinking before and after your workout? Solid food? Any supps you’re fond of?

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

Comments for This Entry

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    Hi Roman, My most convenient meal to skip to accomplish IF is breakfast, and my most convenient time to exercise is around breakfast time. This would prevent me from having a post workout meal. (To IF for 16 hours, I need not to eat until about another 6 hours.) Any thoughts on this "conflict"? Thanks! John R.

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  • Marcus Manning

    Haven't consumed a protein shake in my life, I only eat whole foods. Carbohydrates alone have a minimal effect on net protein balance; essentially, blending 60g or so of Oatmeal with water is sufficient enough to generate a positive protein balance and stimulate skeletal muscle hypertrophy after exercise as Oatmeal in higher amounts contains plenty of protein. It seems that protein supplementation isn't required as whole foods prove to be sufficient enough.

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  • Janice

     For the longest time I've been stressing over my para workout nutrition however, because I know this is the most important time to fuel muscles.Junior lifeguard

    March 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm

  • Janet

    Hi Roman, My husband and I have just started IF and can only work out around 6-7 am because of our schedules. Are we wasting our time by fasting until 1pm? We have always had either a shake or a meal in the morning postworkout and don't want to lose all that we have gained in our workouts with your programs and Dr K's. Let me know what you think. Thanks Much!

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    I've always been under the impression that a post workout shake is a good idea after a hard workout. I can really tell the difference when I run out or forget to drink one.

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    The original incarnation of this was to start drinking post workout shakes before you actually began training, allowing your body to start digesting and absorbing right as you began to need the nutrients. Soon after, shakes designed specifically for pre-workout needs began to be released.

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    I just want to give a brief overview of the general mood in the industry regarding this subject.

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    Considering weight gain and weight loss are so dependent upon blood sugar levels, it is of no surprise that pre-workout is scientifically just as, if not more important than post workout nutrition.

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  • Craig OC

    I typically work out at 8-9 pm, I dont supp before a session, dont really like to have alot in my stomach. Afterwards I'll make shake with teaspoon of glutamine and creatine monohydrate. 2 scoops whey protein isolate, teaspoon dextrose and slug it back DONE! then I'll have my dinner

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    I usually replenished myself with Gatorade after an intense workout and I do eat some fruits like banana before workout because it makes my stomach full even if I eat less.

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  • Konrad

    Hey guys, I though i'd share what i am taking before and after. I am not going to say i created it myself, cuz i haven't. I have been following Berardi's advice for only 2 weeks and it seems looking good. Basically my pre and post workout drinks are the same. 50g carbs - maltotextrin 30g protein - syntrax 5g glutamine 5g creatine monohydrate 5g Bcaa I mix it all together in one shake, the test is really 'different' but quite good actually. I do not take during workouts drinks, my body simply refuses to accept anything but water. And always when i get back home after the workout, I eat a proper meal.

    November 7, 2010 at 11:34 am

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  • Nikhil

    PRE workout NO explode / glutamine / BCAA PWO 2 scoops whey / 1 scoop glyco maize and a small banana. What is your take on casein protein mixed with water 15 min before bed? Would you suggest taking some BCAA tablets along with it.

    October 14, 2010 at 12:42 pm

  • Fred

    @Roman - drop the cheese, got it. Sometimes I like to play around with it to see what happens, but I find that as long as I am not too hungry or too full while training, I perform pretty well. Thanks for the insights man!

    October 13, 2010 at 7:56 am

  • Matt the Whey Protein Guy

    A flux capacitor reference! This might be my favorite blog post ever. Yeah I tend to agree that pre and post workout can really be the same. Whey protein is a supplement designed to reduce body fat by reducing food cravings, while simultaneously adding vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and Glutathione - the number one antioxidant in the world. Stick to organic ingredients while using whey because those will give you much needed energy for an effective workout. I recently wrote an article over here on whey protein shakes you should check out for some great recipes too.

    October 12, 2010 at 6:00 pm

  • Denamrk

    I like to work out in a fasted state, (no calories within 3-4 hours of lifting), What do you think of this? Will also 2 out of my 4 workouts pr. week, wait an hour or 2 before eating. This supposedly increases the HGH you have in your body after fasting... What do you think of this?

    October 11, 2010 at 8:07 pm

  • Pats

    Mmm i see... thx! Guess i'll take your word on it and stick to my usual shakes.

    October 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm

  • John Romaniello

    @Fred - I'd drop the cheese on the turkey sammich, personally. However, like anything else, play around and see what works for ya. @Pats - I wouldn't say I "agree" with Alan, but I would be crazy not to admit that he makes some good points. Having said that, after reading the article, I tried using chocolate skim milk for 5 weeks; for 3 weeks it was just chocolate skim milk as is, and then for the last 2 weeks I added whey protein. I didn't feel as good as I do with a dedicated pre-workout drink. My weights stayed the same but didn't go up, and my recovery wasn't as good. Add to that that my stomach started to get iffy, which may imply some level of lactose intolerance. Overall, I'll stick with workout!

    October 11, 2010 at 3:15 pm

  • Pats

    Damn Roman, i went and read the article from Alan Aragon about drinking chocolate milk as a post-workout meal. Really interesting stuff. Do you agree with him? Do you recommend just drinking chocolate milk instead of the traditional whey+high GI carb shakes that everyone drinks? That would be awesomely cheap lol!

    October 11, 2010 at 3:04 pm

  • Fred

    I likie my chocolate milk as a post-workout shake :-) Really interesting that you mention the peri-workout stuff as well, as I find that some people at my gym spend more time downing all their fancy supplements than actually performing their workouts. I mean come on. At least break a sweat before you allow yourself that kind of rest period(s). For the pre-workout meal I find myself consuming a protein shake and a good-old-cheese+turkey sandwhich (multigrain or rye for the most part), and performing quite well. During the workout I'll just stick to water if I need it. Which I usually do :-) Any alterations I should make to improve even more?

    October 11, 2010 at 2:29 pm

  • Dean Leach

    Hey Roman, I agree it helps, but to a point. And YES, is Ruth would have had better eating/drinking habits he would have done even better. I've been trying out some supps. lately & have been very dissapointed to say in the least. And the money I've thrown down has been absured. That money is better spent on online 1on1 with you or someone here live that can push me. That's how you get results. I'm not dissing every supp. of course. I love my power drive, Spike tabs & Biotest fish oil. Get Diesel makes an awesome test supps. But that's it. It's getting out of hand. Seeing these kids at my YMCA wasting all this money like I did back in the day just plain sucks. Worse part is, they wont listen becuase that flashy ad, nice looking bottle gets them hooked. They they think, THIS COULD BE THE ONE. It's bs. One more thing, when fasting the body wants good clean water, that's it, not BCAA, fish oil. The purpose is to give the body a much needed rest, taking those things it has to work. It wants to rest. Love the blog & wish even more updates happend more often.

    October 11, 2010 at 9:02 am

  • Timo

    My pre and post workout is the same about 1 litre of organic juice (basically 90 g of simple sugars and 40 g of protein) with 200 grams of lean chicken or turkey, sometimes a fruit on the side. I take the preworkout food 30 minutes before workout. About 2 hours after the workout I eat balanced meal with starchy carbs, say A lean elk steak with, 1 teaspoons of butter and 400 grams of potatoes and x amount of vegetables. (making the macronutrient ratio 40/60/15 p/c/f, for all of you little diet naziz over there ;)) After that I shift back to my low carb regime. I must say about the preworkout nutrition that I wouldn't survive my workouts without it. Also since adding that, with simple sugars I've managed to gain 16 pounds in 12 weeks, with muscle to fat ratio of 6 pounds of lean mass per 1 pound of fat gained. Put that in you pipe and smoke it!

    October 11, 2010 at 5:16 am

  • John Romaniello

    @Dean - interesting perspective, but I wouldn't say that such insight is applicable to all situations. Babe Ruth at hot dogs before and during games and was able to perform, but I have to believe (else all my education was wasted effort) that he would have been able to perform better if he'd had better nutrition. I believe that supplements help in addition to a sound diet. And I believe that people will have better physiques if they do everything you're saying, and then have workout nutrition covered. Is it necessary? No. Can you build a great body without it? Yes. Does that mean it's all crap? No. Seriously, seriously, seriously, no. Especially not for the reason you've said. People didn't have cell phones 30 years ago and most people managed to go through life just fine. I'm not going to stop using mine because I don't need it.

    October 10, 2010 at 2:43 pm

  • Dean Leach

    All this pre, mid & post workout nutrition is a total waste of money. Back in the day 40's - 70's, they weren't consuming whey & all this crap. Yet they built amazing physiques. I like a few slect supplements, but that's it. Money is better spent on clothes, Roth IRA & quality food.

    October 10, 2010 at 8:11 am

  • Glenn

    Thanks Alex & Roman!

    October 9, 2010 at 3:09 pm

  • Kelcey

    I have been using post-workout high GI carbs and protein for years now. I definately know it has helped me gain muscle. After a weight lifting session I tend to go for high glycemic fruit and plain fat-free (organic) yogurt; sometimes I'll sprinkle a bit of muesli on top. If I can't actually eat, I do a post-workout drink with carbs/protein. I also take L-glutamine and chromium polyniconate post workout. As far as preworkout, it depends a lot on my day and when I am training. Can't stomach large meals unless I have at least 2-3 hours before training. I will do branch chains if I'm working out 2+ hours.

    October 9, 2010 at 1:10 pm

  • John Romaniello

    @Alex - correct! @Clement - great questions. I think that, any diet plan, executed with care and consistency can lead to pretty great results. ESE is a good plan, and I'm curious to see how it would work for a big dude like me as well

    October 9, 2010 at 12:59 pm

  • Clement

    @roman: thanks! Brad's coming on? That would make for really exciting reading. I know that ESE can easily get one ripped and is a great diet that one can adhere to. But can it get one shredded? Advanced, Roman-esque results? P.S.: Would you consider writing about a typical training session for your current goals, or when you were bulking or cutting? It'd be interesting to read about what the pros are doing in the gym nowadays. Cheers.

    October 9, 2010 at 12:44 pm

  • Alex

    @Glenn, just a guess, and Roman may slap me around and call me silly or whatnot but, i am pretty sure he means from your Post-Workout shake. Having the whole egg in your Post-Workout shake is adding fat to the shake (healthy fat mind you but still fat), this slows down the absorption of the carbohydrates and protein which is the opposite of what you want after your workout with the goal being getting nutrients into your body, and specifically muscles, as fast as possible. Hope that helps! And again if im wrong here Roman, step in!

    October 9, 2010 at 11:46 am

  • Glenn

    Hi John Thanks for responding: I've actually spent about the last 8 years training on an empty stomach but thought I'd try the pre-workout shake to see how it worked. Too soon to tell if it makes a difference to me in terms of fat loss/mass gain. It doesn't make me nauseous as such but a bit burpy at times. Could you please clarify: are you suggested I drop the egg from the pre- or post-workout shake? Cheers

    October 9, 2010 at 6:34 am

  • andy

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    October 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm

  • John Romaniello

    Nice blog post, Clement. I like Pilon's stuff, as well as Berkhans. Good info. I am slated to do an interview with Brad soon, actually

    October 8, 2010 at 3:49 pm

  • John Romaniello

    Nice blog post, Clement. I like Pilon's stuff, as well as Berkhans. Good info. I am slated to do an interview with Brad soon, actually

    October 8, 2010 at 3:49 pm

  • John Romaniello

    @Pete and Clement - I simply don't agree with those who say PWO supplements have "no merit." I won't say they're necessary, but I WILL say that having an all-in-one powder that I can toss in a shaker cup and add water to at the gym is incredibly practical and efficient, compared to trying to figure out how to get in a whole food meal before I continue with my day. I run around all day long if I'm not with clients. If I AM with clients, I'd just rather have a shake over a 3 minute period than sit and have a meal for 20-30 minutes when I may not have much time to spare.

    October 8, 2010 at 3:45 pm

  • John Romaniello

    @Wendy - not screwing yourself at all. As we've seen in the comments, there are a number of different ways to do it. A better question is this: are you seeing results from what you're doing? If so, don't change it.

    October 8, 2010 at 3:40 pm

  • John Romaniello

    @David - from what I've seen, there are a few people who argue that the anti-ox will inhibit recovery. I'm not really sold on the research. But I generally separate the two as I prefer not to mix tastes. I like my greens supplement first thing in the AM on an empty stomach, which takes care of my anti-O needs. PWO stuff comes later. Training first thing in the AM, I'd probably shift my greens shake to before lunch

    October 8, 2010 at 3:39 pm

  • John Romaniello

    @Glenn - that's a lot in the pre-workout mix. You must have a strong stomach; I'm guessing you rarely get nauseous. Sounds like a tasty mix, man! Generally I'd say ditch the egg in the PWO shake and move it back about an hour; no need for all the fat to slow absorption at that point.

    October 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm

  • Clement

    @Cory: Martin Berkhan covers it quite well over here. The guys' work never ceases to amaze me. @everyone: I can't believe how hot this topic has become. Kudos to Roman for providing us laymen with something to discuss. My inteRest was piqued by it so much that I wrote a blog post on it. You guys can check it out!

    October 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm

  • Pat Fernan

    I need to eat real food before I train and have found that 1 cup of fat free greek yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup of walnuts and 1/4 cup of organic raisins and a teaspoon of cinnamon works wonders. I started drinking Prograde Workout per Roman's recommendations about a year ago and usually add a scoop of Prograde Protein as well. I find this greatly reduces post workout soreness compared with just drinking protein post workout.

    October 8, 2010 at 11:31 am

  • Chad Doncsecz

    Hey John, I am currently having a Finibar about 30 minutes before training, having 1 scoop of Surge Recovery and 1 scoop of BCAA powder during my workout, then having 1 scoop of Surge Recovery and 1 scoop of Creatine after my workout. What are your thoughts? I am liking it so far, but any recommendations are greatly appreciated!

    October 8, 2010 at 11:16 am

  • Dianne

    Hey Alex, Thanks...I took it as a compliment. Love lifting and currently doing a lot more plyometrics. BTW....did my first competition at age 47! It's off my bucket list now. Very hard to train etc as needed with an active family and no outside least in my opinion....anyway. Thanks again

    October 8, 2010 at 11:07 am

  • Alex

    Roman, and everyone else for that matter. When trying to avoid any deterrent on fat loss, how do you feel about a pure whey/BCAA drink vs. whey and carbs? Would love to hear some opinions about this. And @ Dianne: That sounds great to me! As a younger lifter i love seeing women who are really into lifting, not in any sort of sexual way, just simply out of respect, so keep it up!

    October 8, 2010 at 10:56 am

  • Dianne

    I do my workouts or teach strength/cardio (boot camp style)class in the morning....generally starting around 9 am. I get up early 6:30 with my kids and do their morning 7 :30 I get my breakfast of whole foods prior to workouts. Usually consists of some sort of eggs with a good helping of veggies...spinach , onion, tomato, mushrooms....a piece of ezekiel bread with a little almond butter, small amount of oatmeal (1/4 cup at most), fresh berries and 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt topped with a few walnuts. I know seems like a lot but once I have calculated the calories , comes to 350- 400. Then my workout begins about 60-90 min later. I do not consume anything during workouts. Post is usually a small whey shake using almond milk (unsweet), some berries and since I prefer whole foods I then add in either one of my protein muffins or 1/2 banana on my protein waffles with a smidge of almond butter, cinnamon and a couple of dribbles of maple syrup. Works for me..... I am 50 yr female, 122 lbs, very lean with good muscular definition but not bulky in any way. I am also a personal trainer, nurse, nutrition advisor, along with many other hats! Any comments appreciated!

    October 8, 2010 at 7:57 am

  • Pats

    Great post Roman. Para-workout nutrition is imo too complicated for nothing really. Personally i don't like eating anything during training as it just sits in the stomach. I do sometimes drink 30 min/1h before training a simple whey protein shake (or take some BCAA caps). I also read that the Growth Hormone response to training is greater when you don't have food in your stomach so why risk it! But! Post-workout nutrition is the most important (and delicious). There's nothing like rewarding yourself after a hard workout with a vanilla protein shake mixed with 2 bananas.

    October 8, 2010 at 7:21 am

  • Mike Arone

    I think 'para' nutrition is uber important and that if it is executed correctly, it can be a major part of your nutritional success. With that said--not many people are willing to drag protein powders and supps to and from the gym. I find that a solid protein carb (1:1 or 2:1) an hour before for pre-workout works well. EX.) 3/4 cup of oats, 1.5 scoops of whey protein, some berries tossed in During my workout I like to sip on a BCAA drink such as Xtend. Lately I have added a scoop of Power Carb by Labrada (Hugo Rivera) was nice enough to hook it up. Post Workout--I am with you on this. I tend to steer toward a high GI carb such as a piece of fruit or a post-workout protein. A simple whey with a banana or 2 works fine for me. All in all, though it can seem pretty aggressive and 'crazy' to do this---it will really be a major step toward building muscle/lossing fat for those that seem to struggle. Great post John--def. a mysterious topic to many that needed to be addressed. MA

    October 8, 2010 at 6:37 am

  • Nathan

    I have brought some 'cyclone' by maximuscle back to Bahrain from the UK. It has carbs, protein, some fats, 10g creating, 10g glutamine, 3g HMB, amino's etc.... so i used that peri-workout. much better to go with an all-in-one. like you mentioned, im not competing. My pay wont change if i have no peak on my biceps, etc. keep it simple i guess.

    October 8, 2010 at 5:38 am

  • trust

    great topic!!! Pre workout: I use complex creatine energy giving products like superpump no explode, jack 3d, etc. During work out: I use bcaa + glutamine combinations like extend and mrm's glutamine + bcaa Post work out: i made my own shake having a good quality whey protein, waxymaize, grapes, banana oats, nuts, peanut butter etc.

    October 8, 2010 at 4:11 am

  • Nicole

    I used to have 2-3 scoops of whey protein with a banana and 200ml of milk, but recently decided to stop using powders and use natural foods instead... Now I have: - 1 banana - 200ml organic skim milk - 1 whole free range egg - 2-3 teaspoons of organic cocoa powder :)

    October 8, 2010 at 1:52 am

  • Alex

    I generally eat a large salad with plenty of mixed veggies and chicken maybe some nuts or avocados and some vinegar, about an hour before workout, sip on some coffee and digest while caffeine gets in my system. Then i make a shake with: 2 scoops whey 5g creatine 15g Bcaa I sip about 1/4 as i warmup, 1/2 during workout between supersets and 1/4 post training. I should mention i am a former fat ass trying to add lean muscle while not blowing back up and maybe even slimming down a bit. Thanks for your insight Roman! I love the blog.

    October 8, 2010 at 12:23 am

  • Cory

    Right before I workout I drink 8 to 12oz of water, take 4 grams of BCAA's, and eat an apple. After workout I usually make a shake with 48grams of Gold Standard Natural Whey from ON, 1 1/2 cups of water, a banana and various frozen fruits. SOMETIMES I'll actually use a smoothie reciepe that came with Dave Ruel's cookbook. Regarding BCAA's; anyone come across suggestions on how many grams to take prior to a workout? Some kind of formula using your lean body mass or something? I think the recommendations on the bottles are way to generalized.

    October 7, 2010 at 9:57 pm

  • Tracy Gunnels

    Great post. So many opinions out there about workout nutrition. I've tried fasting before and it definitely doesn't work for me. I have been using Prograde Workout post workout. I'm going to try it pre workout. Thanks for the info.

    October 7, 2010 at 8:48 pm

  • Dave

    Great post, Roman. Ironically, Vince Del Monte just sent around an email today with a link to a free trial of Prograde Workout, so I jumped on it. I'm psyched to see how it works. I've been trying to mix my whey with dextrose, Like Dave Ruel recommends, but getting the right carb/protein ratio makes the shake pretty disgusting. Also, I'm really glad you recommend Jack3d; I've been using that stuff for a while and I love it. Back to Dave Ruel, you said you would send me his Delt workout since I picked up Anabolic Cooking back in April. I know you're a busy guy so I didn't want to hound you with reminders. Just thought I'd bring it up. Thanks, Roman. You're the man!

    October 7, 2010 at 7:41 pm

  • Justin

    Hey roman, how much time before should the pre workout drink be consumed before starting the workout?

    October 7, 2010 at 7:36 pm

  • Paul Browne

    I was on FPFL program (which is fantastic for those who haven't tried it) for a couple months and gained a surprising amount of muscle considering its a fat loss program. I attribute it to my post work out shake. 2 scoops protein powder 2 teaspoons creatine 2 bananas 2 kiwi 2 yogurt Now that I'm back in school this is a little too expensive shake. So after my workout, Lee Haywards Blast your Biceps program, I have a single scoop protein shake and a couple apples. I judge if I had enough by if I'm hungry later in the night, seeing how I work out after I eat supper.

    October 7, 2010 at 6:41 pm

  • wendy

    Im kinda with Pete on this one. I use FPFL and must have breakfast at least 1 1/2 hours pior to working out. Less time for digestion will make me sick. I have a glass of Glutamine w/water 30 minutes prior and glutamine w/water right after. It takes about 30 minutes for me to cool down enough to eat some oats and whey protein which is meal #2 , then 2 hours later meal#3 and so on. Sometimes I add cratine to my gltamine- but no sugar in my diet at all. Am I screwing myself out of proper muscle repair?

    October 7, 2010 at 6:27 pm

  • Clement

    I agree with Pete. I don't take any supplements at all. I just don't like the idea of spending money on some chemicals - and they're not cheap, mind you - when I could enjoy good, real food anyway. Ok, maybe some of the food that I eat post-workout aren't whole, natural foods. But they're not calorie-containing drinks, which I don't think is worthwhile or necessary. As you might know, I follow Martin Berkhan's leangains principles that recommend eating the bulk of your calories 1-3h following a workout. This is not post-workout nutrition per se - post-workout meals are those that people make a point to consume asap following a workout - but is actually a meal in itself. This ensures better nutrition partitioning and Tom Venuto's Holy Grail research does explain it very clearly and so does Berkhan at his site. However, I don't engage in pre-workout nutrition. The most I do is eat 20% of my daily calorie allotment 1-3h before a workout and don't consume anything during a workout but trace amounts of water. I've no results to speak of, personally, as I've only just started training seriously, but Berkhan's testimonials certainly are proof that it works. P.S. Alan Aragon is a brilliant nutritionist. I usually look to him, Venuto, Berkhan and Lyle McDonald for nutritional guidelines.

    October 7, 2010 at 6:10 pm

  • Kadi

    Post workout is my juice time! I either mix the protein powder with it OR drink a glass of kefir and another of juice. Sometimes I envy men who can obviously gulp down loads of kcal without a second thought...

    October 7, 2010 at 5:28 pm

  • Shaun

    p.s. i'm doing Nate Green's Built for Show and using Cheat Your Way Thin's carb cycling template. If i'm low to no carbs, I will not eat any carbs with meals (except veggies if that counts) and just use that as my total carb intake for the day. If John or anyone was wondering.

    October 7, 2010 at 5:02 pm

  • Shaun

    My pre training "protocol" goes like this. LG Sciences Andraulic Sate GT an hour before training. Whey and LG Sciences Postal (waxy maize, amino acids, dextrose) post workout. I know i'm blowing some minds right now, watch out! haha.

    October 7, 2010 at 5:00 pm

  • Pete - The Dirty Dozen Abs Workout Program

    Dude, Pre, Post, Peri...way to freakin' complicated to worry about. Seriously, why not just keep it simple? If you follow a healthy, balanced nutrition plan eating 5 or 6 meals spaced througout the day, won't your body really have all it needs to grow and be healthy? Plus, I can't eat right before doing the Final Phase Fat Loss workouts anyway. You're bustin' my ass and I'll puke if I eat too soon before working out. ;-) Or is that the point? Now I know why FPFL is so effective! The workouts are so hard you toss whatever you have in your stomach. So you basically stop eating. Nice! LOL Take care bro! ~ Pete

    October 7, 2010 at 4:55 pm

  • David

    Great read, thanks. It seems to me that, in the UK at least, the recovery drink market isn't anywhere near as saturated as that for general whey shakes. It's amazing how supplement companies and staff in shops will just recommend a normal, low carb whey shake for PWO, which is really missing an opportunity (and you end up drinking a load of unnecessary artificial sweeteners, which aren't as tasty as sugar). John, what are you thoughts about the inclusion of antioxidants in PWO shakes? I assume this is what you alluded to when you mentioned "recovering from soreness". There was a mention on T-Nation a while back about some studies that found antioxidants inhibited PWO recovery (something to do with reactive oxygen species, as I recall). Worth considering, or majoring in the minutiae?

    October 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm

  • Sean

    Pre-Workout: Good balanced meal consisting of complexy and fibrous carb and a lean protein (eaten a 1-1.5 hours before workout). Post: I usually make a smoothie with a banana, berries/frozen fruit, almond milk and vanilla whey. Question: I like using udo's oil to help maintain a better omega 6:3 ratio. What do you think of putting some in the post workout shake? Would that interfere too much with the insulin response?

    October 7, 2010 at 4:44 pm

  • Mond

    I'm incorporating some high GI junk food like cake, cookies and whatnot with 5g of BCAAs pre workout. So far, it's been working well pretty nicely, I always keep the total carbs from the junk limited to 50-60g. During workouts, I take 30g of BCAAS. As for post, I usually just toss in some whey and call it a day.

    October 7, 2010 at 4:33 pm

  • Kevin

    I am 44 now; I spent 20 years in the US Army and I spent nearly all of that 20 years trying to gain muscle. I did use GNC off/on to find things I thought (Through my research) would help me. As John R. says, GNC is not a company anyone would want to deal with. They are in many ways "old school" in the not good way. You will spend way too much $$$ and still have inferior advice.

    October 7, 2010 at 4:33 pm

  • Glenn

    At 0530 I have a preworkout smoothie of Whey Protein Concentrate (unflavoured), 20g rolled oats, 1 egg, 1/2 tbsp flaxseed oil, 1 tsp vegemax powder or spirulina, 1/2 teaspoon fibre, 1/2 tsp coffee, 1 banana. I'm at the gym within 30 minutes. Straight after my workout (before my shower) I have my postworkout smoothie of Whey, 1 egg, 1 tsp creatine mono, 1 banana. Breakfast at work (normally muesli with milk) about 1 hour after this.

    October 7, 2010 at 4:32 pm

  • John Romaniello

    @Randy - 0nly problem there is having to deal with GNC. As a company I just don't care to give them my moniez. @Matt - basically yes. The main problem I have there is flavoring. The powdered gatorade I used was tasty, but the whey I had was GrossTown USA. Hated it. Just put me off the whole bit. As long as you're using a quality whey, you're golden, Pony Boy.

    October 7, 2010 at 4:20 pm

  • Matt

    I've just been mixing a whey isolate with powdered gatorade both pre and post-workout. Seems to work well for me and it's a lot cheaper than those $40 15 serving buckets of basically the same stuff. That works, right? Right? Eh?

    October 7, 2010 at 4:16 pm

  • Randy Prater

    What do I take pre/post workout? Whatever was on sale at GNC during gold card week. Seriously. I think people get way too anal about this.

    October 7, 2010 at 4:10 pm

  • John Romaniello

    @Daniel - nice! Keepin' in simple. Alan had nice post about chocolate milk vs. traditional pwo drinks. Glad it's workin' for you

    October 7, 2010 at 4:05 pm

  • Daniel

    After my resistance training workouts I have a glass of Organic Valley Chocolate Milk. I like to keep it simple!

    October 7, 2010 at 4:01 pm

  • John Romaniello

    @Matt - will hit your email as soon as I get home; filming some workout vids at the moment. Regarding you question/comment. Sadly, it simply doesn't taste as good as the Surge, but few things do...that stuff is like liquid awesome. But, nah, it's not TOO big of a deal if you drink it all at once. I prefer to spread it out because I feel nauseous drinking that much liquid all at once pre-workout, and I feel spreading it out is just more manageable.

    October 7, 2010 at 3:48 pm

  • Matt Crandall

    Roman great stuff! Been using the Prograde Workout per your recommendation for about 3 weeks and my workouts and recovery time have been awesome. My only issue with the stuff is that it doesn't taste that good compared to Surge Recovery or Surge Workout Fuel. I normally finish my first shake before I even start working out. Is it a huge deal if I don't spread it out over the workout? Also I shot you an email with a question!

    October 7, 2010 at 11:46 am

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