There are many articles on this site dealing with food – some of our most popular deal with junk food here and here.

Others deal with protein.

And of course, we recently dealt with eating for muscle gain vs eating for fat loss.

But one question that gets asked time after time is what to eat before/after your workouts in order to maximize muscle gain without adding fat.

I’m going to jump right into my recommendations and save the explanations for the end – I’m betting some of you don’t care about the explanations as much as the action plan!

Pre and Post Workout Eating Guidelines

Important preamble:  except for #4, these guidelines apply to all of you, whether you are trying to gain mass, lose fat, or just maintain.  No matter who you are, you should do about the same thing with your eating in the window before/during/after your lifting workouts.  The main difference between gaining and losing overall bodyweight is not different overall eating plans.  The difference comes down to total weekly calories.  More on that here.

1.  Never train on an empty stomach. I’m talking about weight training here (there are mixed reports of doing cardio in a semi-fasted state being better for fat burning, but even if there is a link, it is a small link).  To maximize your lifting, you need to do it intensely.   If you don’t have enough energy in your muscles (stored glycogen) you will be weaker.  That defeats the purpose.

2.  Have a mix of protein and carbs BEFORE your workout, preferably about 30 minutes before.  Calorie mix should be about 60% carbohydrates, 40% proteins.  ADVANCED TIP:  These should be carbs like oats, not simple or processed sugars and not veggies.  Fruits are fine.  (I sometimes have a banana.)  Proteins can be slower proteins like casein if you are using a powder or chicken if you are doing real food.

3.  Have a mix of protein and carbs AFTER your workout, preferably within 1 hour.   Don’t wait 2 hours like some people say.  Calorie mix should be about 60% carbs, 40% proteins.  ADVANCED TIP:  These should be fast carbs – simple sugars are ok.  Honey.  Orange juice.  Your proteins also need to be fast proteins, like whey protein in a shake.

4.  Optional: If you are skinny and really trying to add bulk, have a protein/carb mix shake DURING your workout too.

5. Avoid high fiber meals within 2 hrs before or 2 hours after your workout. High fiber can upset your stomach a bit.  Fiber counts as carbs yet don’t do much for getting protein into your muscles.  Fiber is important, but at different times of day.  Some fiber with every meal is fine (especially veggies), but don’t have a fiber-heavy meal right after your workout.  This guideline is especially important around cardio workouts.

6.  Avoid food with high fat within 2 hrs before or 2 hours after your workout. Fat will slow down the absorption of the protein and carbs.  You still need healthy fats (fish oils, nuts, olive oil, etc.) – just other times of day.

7.  ADVANCED TIP:  Your highest carb intake should be in the time around your workouts. Structure your meal plans accordingly, so that you eat fewer carbs later in the day (except for veggies – good any time other than around your workout because of the fiber).

My Specific Plan

Here’s what I typically do personally (currently).   Keep in mind, I workout in the morning.

a) About 1 hr before my workout I’ll either have a banana [carbs] and a casein shake [slow protein], with skim milk [slow protein and fast carbs] or I’ll have a glass of skim milk and a few scoops of my best homemade protein mix [this has some fat and fiber in it, so I keep the amount small].  I’ve also experimented in the past with having a little caffeine here too.  I’m not sure if it helps with endurance or not, though science says it does.

b) During my workout I consume more calories.  Because I burn a ton of calories all week (weights plus running) I’m scared to death of getting too skinny and thus I need the extra “meal”. I’ll either have a whey protein shake that comes with carbs already, in milk, or I’ll have a whey protein shake without carbs (but in skim milk) and eat a banana about half way through.

c) About an hour after my workout, I’ll have half a bagel, some eggs (half just egg whites), salsa, and some veggies.  My workouts are usually about 60 minutes so this puts me at three “meals” within the space of 3 hrs.  This is a ton of food and you do NOT need this much food unless you are naturally thin (skip guideline #4 above unless you are naturally thin).

Explanations

The common thinking up until a few years ago really focused on what you ate after your workouts.  There were a lot of studies done showing that you had about 2 hours after your workout to feed the muscle.

But like all science, any study is necessarily a limited scope.  For example, the studies often had the subjects of the test fast before the workout!  And then the comparisons were against people who ate protein and carbs right afterwards.  Duh! Of course the comparisons were going to be significantly different!

Very few people really fast before their workouts.  An exception is people who workout in the morning who might not eat until after their workout if they aren’t taught better.

Anyway, for a couple decades – inexplicably – no conclusive studies were done about pre-workout nutrition.

Recently there have been studies showing that pre-workout nutrition can be just as effective as post-workout nutrition.

In fact, the consensus among fitness professionals now is that for the average person (non-competitive athlete), as long as you have lean proteins and simple carbs within a 4 hour block (2 hrs before and 2 hrs after) of your workout, you are going to get most of the benefits.  The mix of carbs-to-protein differs based on if you are doing more of an endurance training (like running) or a strength training (like weight lifting).

You probably already know that during exercise, the body relies primarily on glycogen – sugar/carbs stored in your muscles.  Once that glycogen is used up, your body will either start burning fat or muscle (depending on what activity you are doing).

But it takes insane training to actually reach glycogen depletion – to use up all the glycogen.  Seriously, people talk about “depleting their muscles of all the glycogen” but that’s really rare except after very long exercise bouts.  Think “3 hr lifting sessions” or “running 12 miles”.

However, there is always a curve – as you lose glycogen, you do start to lose intensity for things like weight training.  So during training you want to keep glycogen high. That makes it pretty obvious why carbs would be useful around your workout.

So why the combination of carbs and protein?

Based on my understanding (I don’t have a PhD in this or anything), here’s what’s going on.  During your lifting, you are destroying muscle.  The hope is that by stressing the muscle fibers to the point of damage, that when they heal they will be stronger and bigger.  And that is exactly what happens.

So what do the muscles need to repair themselves?  Amino acids found from proteins.

The idea in eating protein and carbs together is that the presence of carbs actually speeds the delivery of the protein to the damaged muscle.  Study after study shows that just eating the protein helps, but when combined with carbs more protein gets delivered to the damaged muscles in a short time frame.  Which brings us to the time issue…

For a period of about 2-3 hrs after your workout, you are actually in a catabolic state – your body is still “destroying” muscle.  It’s only later in the day (starting about 3 hrs later and continuing up to 48 to 96 hours later, depending on whose research you believe) that you are anabolic (growing muscle).  The hormones in your body change at about the 3 hr point.

To reduce the catabolic effect, and make the anabolic effect more pronounced, you want to get the protein to your muscles as soon as possible – right after they are damaged.  Since even “fast” carbs and “fast” proteins take time to digest and get delivered, eating before or during your workouts ends up hitting your muscles at just the right time – when you have finished working them and damaging them.

Update:  I’ve gotten a few questions on one issue so I want to clarify…  If you workout in the morning and you simply can’t bring yourself to eat both protein and carbs beforehand, then here’s my “minimum” requirement.  Eat some kind of fast carbs before and eat some kind of protein after.  Carbs before will fuel a good workout and protein afterward will speed repair.

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47 Responses to “What To Eat Before And After Your Workout”

  1. I keep hearing about working out in a fasted state. I do work out first thing in the AM becauses I am a momma and need to get it in before the activity of the day starts. I’ve been having just a little bit of banana and whey just before and cottage cheese with berries and whey after.

    Why am I still hearing about this fasted state workout junk?

  2. @HIIT Mama – your eating sounds perfect. And I have no idea why people still talk about “fasted state” stuff. All the evidence I’ve seen indicates that any benefit of fasted state workouts are small, particularly because a simple overnight fast isn’t enough to really make you in a glycogen depletion state. And the big downside of reduced energy (i.e. reduced intensity) negates those small benefits. So, no fasted workouts!

  3. Great post! A lot of people simply gloss over the importance of pre, post and during workout nutrition. One of the most important things that I stress about pre and post workout recovery meals is to just keep them simple. If you like whey protein, then just mix it with some sort of fast acting carb. (I personally like Tang) A lot of my clients have had good luck with plain old chocolate milk — High quality protein and simple sugars to boot and already pre-mixed!

  4. Great article. Question on #5.
    I have a post workout shake immediately after workout consiting of whey, banana and fat free milk.

    But an hour later I have my dinner which includes carbs (sweet potatato), chicken or beef (protein) and some veggies. Should I skip on the veggies or postpone my dinner since veggies contain fiber?

  5. @John – keep in mind that these are guidelines, and even I don’t follow them 100% every single day of every single week.

    But don’t skip the veggies! What I mean by “avoiding high fiber” means high fiber meals. In other words, don’t have a huge bowl of just bran. Or a huge plate of just broccoli. Some fiber is fine and good. But in the meal you described, the fiber content is actually a small %.

    I’ll amend the post for clarity.

  6. Great post, another good reason to join LeanLifters – all your post are very conclusive.

  7. Thanks Abraham!

  8. great article, I have a question..I am a vegan and am having trouble gaining mass. What do you recommend? Also I follow food combining and one of the rules is never to combine proteins with complex carbs..for digestion sake. Any thoughts on that.

    Thanks

  9. @veganlifter – well, I’m definitely not a fan of people adopting vegan diets just because of hype but since you are already a vegan, you can try this plan (click here). Vince Delmonte, who I trust a lot but don’t know personally, was involved in creating this. So it’s worth a shot.

    In terms of proteins and complex carbs, I combine them all the time. Really, every day. That said, complex carbs like veggies, plus lean proteins, will take extra work to digest. This thermic effect is great for people trying to stay lean or lose fat. But it could cause some upset stomachs. If you have a sensitive stomach, it might be tough. Keep in mind that “complex” carbs don’t always equal “fibrous” carbs. So it will take experimentation. But as I said, I have no problems regularly. I do run into stomach trouble with long runs (like 90 to 120 minute runs)… I’d love advice from some of you all on that!

  10. @Darrin

    It wasn’t Vince Delmonte but Craig Ballantyne….

  11. As long as you’re eating 6-8 meals throughout the day, without skipping ANY meals you can train during the morning without eating anything prior to the workout; and by doing this, I have found it is the best way to shred fat and gain muscle. I was doing this for 3 solid months and went from 101kg down to a lean ripped 84kg. Currently I am in bulking phase and I’m basically doing something similar as what you have stated above in your article. So what generally worked for me was if I wanted to drop the weight + add muscle (on-season) was to not eat before my workout, only supplement 12 amino acids in tablet form straight after my workout, followed by 30-45 min cardio then consume first meal (whey shake, supplements, oatmeal) straight after my workout+cardio session, then consume 6-7 more smaller meals throughout the day. I would also include a second cardio session in the afternoon. If i want to bulk up(off-season) I would eat before working out in the morning and continue to eat 5-6 larger meals throughout the day after my workout and reduce cardio to 5 days per week. This keeps my stomach feeling full, whereas during my on-season my stomach feels very flat.

  12. Hi guys,

    First this website is awesome. So many articles explained in an down to earth style. Congrats.

    Then, the question. I’m a total newbie on those things, I used to be on of those guys who didn’t care at all what was on the plate as long as I was full leaving the table.

    So now, I’m starting to work out, not much cardio, just weights and abs. So,

    1. I have no idea about carbs, proteins, amino acids. There’s so much info from different sources i get lost pretty fast. One says milk, the other soya, other steak mixed with soya….

    2. I work during the day so 6-7 meals a day…how?

    3. I’m not skinny, but i do have some fat over the bones, I’m afraid that if I start drinking these shakes and stuff, I’ll get fat.

    So what would you recommend? I allready drink a lot of milk (half-skimmed), I eat steak and eggs but only in the evening after workout.

  13. @newbie – these are good questions for the forum:
    http://worldfitnessnetwork.com/forum .
    Quick answers: as a man, limit soy protein. Don’t worry about proteins vs. amino acids for now. Just eat foods that have lean protein. Don’t worry about shakes, except possibly right around your workout. Shakes are convenient, but not required. Real food works fine, just harder to prepare. 6-7 meals a day requires that you prepare several days in advance. For example, I cook 10 chicken breasts at a time, 5 lean hamburgers at a time, pre-cut all my veggies, etc. but I don’t eat them all at once! I store them and that lasts for several days. Carry a cooler with you at work.

  14. I agree with the author here about eating before during and after. When I want to pack on pounds I eat a peanut butter, honey and cinnamin sanwdwich on wheat or white with a protein shake(40-50 grams) about an hour before workout. Then creatine (10 grams monohydrate or 5grams ethyl ester) with gatorade 30 minutes prior with one or two caffein pills (half a cup of coffee’s worth, 100-200mg). I then start drinking 50 grams of protein about 10 min into my workout and finish it by 30 min. I then consume 10 more grams of creatine with some gatorade finishing about 10 minutes prior to the end of my weighlifting, cardio after this on cardio days, 6-10 min max on bulking and 20-30 min when cutting. I usually workout about 60-75min. 3 days a week is cardio with 6-30 minutes of hiit training on treadmill, 1 minute sprint and 1 walking never letting my heart rate to go under 120(I am 42), usually going high to 160) I then have a big meal with about 50 grams of protein and 100-200 carbs mixed fast and slow within 1 hour. Pounds will come fast. When I am cutting I avoid carbs all together until 12 noon (I workout in the late afternoon), I know most will tell you this will destroy muscle but just increase Protein intake (100-150 grams before noon) and your body will burn fat all morning. I stay away from all sugars and bread when cutting. Oatmeal with splenda and cinnamin is awesome. Cinnamin is a must for me, great for dieting. This works for me, I hate steroids and I have been naturally working out for 30 years. This keeps me just as big as the drug guys and my blood work always comes back perfect with low cholesterol and I eat 4-6 eggs over easy almost every morning! Eggs do not increase bad cholestoral unless you consume an abundance of carbs, mainly sugars. Doctors love to tell you never to have more than one egg a day and then they put you on their favorite pharmicutical reps cholestoral pills(which btw is usually horrible for your liver) just remember, Bad cholestoral can only be manufactured with the help of carbs, take them away or burn them and your body can’t manufacture it.

  15. NEWBIE, protein shakes are cheap, fast and awesome, buy your protein from wallmart 14.98 or 15.98 a 2 lb can, absolute cheapest anywhere. You will be able to bring them to work already made in water bottles. You will pay about 50 cents a meal. Consume creatine(buy monohydrate, one can will last forever and it’s cheap or you can buy a mix at wallmart for about 18 bucks) with gatorade before and after your workout but always 30 min before or after a meal. You don’t need to plan a week ahead, it’s not rocket science, keep it simple. Buy a case of bottled water, (the night before work) empty water into glass, mix 1 scoop(25 grams) protein with water, pour it back into bottle and put it in fridge, bring 2-3 to work with a zip lock bag of raw brocali, apples or some other good carb. If you like peanut butter, bring a peanut butter sandwhich on wheat(no jelly, honey if you must have a sweet, and cinnamin if you like it). This will keep you full, Eat big in the morning(eggs if you like them) and even a strip of bacon(only one), the fat will keep you feeling full. The key is to keep yourself feeling full all day, if you just consume shakes you will get cravings for bad foods so always eat something with them like a good carb. Take caffein tabs(cheap, cheap, cheap, one box of ten cost about one dollar, they come in a box at convenience stores, one pill before a workout will give you plenty of energy. You ever see those ads in muscle and fitness(super workouts, mind blowing power, their secret is shhh(caffein). Drink plenty of water, after you drink a shake, wash the bottle out at the water fountain and then sip on it, do this every time you drink a shake and you will get enough water. If you get gas, you probably didn’t drink enough water. I know guys will tell you to cook all this chicken and every thing else and it is good but shakes are just as good and they are cheap, fast and practical. Good luck brother.

  16. Here’s what I have been trying – and it really has worked for me but I have some questions.
    My preworkout stack is the Dr Max Powers Anabolic Stack, and also 30 Minutes before workout take 20g whey protein
    Questions:
    any good reccomendations on buying the Max Powers Anabolic Stack in bulk ? I want to use the stack for 3 months, off for three months and then on again for 3 months. Any bulk options?

    thinking about adding Vitamin C also, i’m just trying to mix and match to see what my body works well with and buy it all in bulk so i can save money.
    thanks for any feedback.

  17. @Jesse – I did a quick look at Dr Max Powers Anabolic Stack and essentially it’s a “pump” formula. There are two ingredients I’m not familiar with, but the main components (Creatine, Arginine, Nitric Oxide and Glutamine) can all be purchased pretty cheaply separately. The only one of these with conclusive science behind it is creatine. The others have mixed reports of effectiveness (and even creative isn’t effective for everyone).

    If it were me, I’d save my money and skip this. Even the best combination of supplements will only account for about 1% to 5% of your overall effectiveness (unless you go for steroids).

    The real food you eat, your recovery habits, and your workouts themselves are far more important. Unless you are thinking of competition and are already in outstanding shape going for those last few inches of progress, you really don’t need these.

  18. Is there any such thing as a NATURAL “fast protein”? I have nothing against protein powders, but they are very expensive where I live (Thailand). Would egg whites do the trick?

  19. @gene – great question! I am not a nutritionist and searching for an answer in my journals did not find one. Generally, liquid protein acts faster than solid (because your body doesn’t need to break it down) and fats slow down protein absorption (so, lean chicken is a faster protein source than fatty hamburger). What many people drink after their workout – and I think there was even a scientific study on it – is fat-free/low-fat chocolate milk. Milk naturally has a lot of sugars in it plus the protein, so even white milk would be great for speed as long as you limit the fat. [side note, if you are trying to "bulk up" then whole milk throughout the day is a good thing]

    As for egg whites, I guess theoreticaly they are easier to break down (you are cooking them right?) than other solid sources but I really don’t know… But my vote is for milk.

  20. So I’m a college student and I am in pretty good shape but I really need to tone it up. I’m a Dance major but I’m in the stages right now where I am getting my teaching certificate and I’m not even in the dance room any more. I started zumba and that’s ok and after my Zumba class I run/speed walk a mile – two miles. If I don’t go to Zumba class or something comes up I try to do the P90X videos (which I only started yesterday)
    I usually eat a bowl of shredded mini wheats and then about 1 1/2 I go to Zumba which is an hour long and then I run/walk. I come home dink a mug of chocolate milk and either 2 scrabbled eggs and slice of toast or my favorite (usually my go to snack after I workout all the time) a slice of bread with peanut butter, drizzle of honey, and sliced bananas with a glass of milk.
    The trouble is, I don’t know how to eat the rest of the day. and I’m usually hungry even an hour after I eat, its so strange. For example today I got home at about 11:20 and I had my 2 eggs and toast and ch. milk at about 11:45 and it is now 12:25 and I feel hungry!! why? I am at a loss. How small should I keep my meals? Is a sandwich and chips ok for lunch? Dinner I can handle its just during the day I have problems with. I would like to lose about 5-8 pounds and just tighten up; and b/c of this I’m afraid of shakes and if they will bulk me up. I don’t know a thing about counting calories, and what are good and bad carbs, and protein to eat. I feel lost and I don’t want to work out and work so hard to throw it away b/c I’m not eating right.
    Can anyone help me?

  21. @Suzie – this is a great thread for the forum because it might take several back-and-forths to work out something smart for you. Post something over at http://worldfitnessnetwork.com/forum ok?

  22. Great post, thanks! I have a question about this part:

    “4. Optional: If you are skinny and really trying to add bulk, have a protein/carb mix shake DURING your workout too.”

    My question: Since you say having protein/carb mix during workout is for skinny people, does that mean it will make you fat when you’re not skinny?

    At 17% bodyfat and quite an athletic build, I don’t consider myself skinny. I start drinking my post workout out shake halfway through my weight training. Upon finishing my 60-minute workout, I have about half a shake left, which I drink immediately. My shake is a self made mix of whey mixed with water, and a bit of dextrose, creatine and glutamine.

    Is it okay to drink half the shake during workout? Or should I wait untill after?

  23. @Robert – that sounds fine. In my original comment, I meant for skinny guys to have an ADDITIONAL entire shake during work out. You won’t get fat from your plan (unless the rest of your diet stinks!).

  24. Study, after study, after study? Really?

    Fat in post nutrition has not been proven to reduce protein gain. This isn’t science it’s the usual, broscience you can find repeated on any forum. Full fat milk actually boosts protein utilisation over low fat shakes.

  25. @Oliver – what part of the article are you referring to? I don’t think it says that fat reduces protein gain, only that carbs speed/increase protein gain. but maybe i’m missing that point…

  26. This part:

    “Avoid food with high fat within 2 hrs before or 2 hours after your workout. Fat will slow down the absorption of the protein and carbs. You still need healthy fats (fish oils, nuts, olive oil, etc.) – just other times of day.”

    Not only do I no longer worry about post nutrition fat, I deliberately add fat because it has been shown to improve results. Fat in p/w shakes is probably the biggest myth out there- maybe less than 0.1% of gym folk realise it’s a myth.

  27. Thanks Oliver – ok, might be semantics here, but I’m specifically talking about speed of protein absorption, not reducing the total amount of protein. That said, something tells me you’d still disagree so I’d love to see the evidence you have. I have heard that high omega-3 fats might trigger positive hormonal responses (which is a good thing) but even omega-3 slows down protein absorption. So there might be evidence that “better hormonal response” beats “slower protein absorption” but if you have other evidence please share! Thanks!

  28. Hey Darrin,

    I find that with like 2 hours after I have eaten my breakfast I am almost at a starving state.

    I normally eat some fruit, cereal and one boil egg. I have been down to 1 Slice a bread a day.

    Is this good? I also realise I lost a lot of weight within 1 week 162-168 and lower body fat percentage 11.2% from 12.7. I’m 5’9/24 years.

    Is this good? My muscles do not look any bigger! :(

    I have been going to the gym 5 days a week.

    Regards

  29. Hi imdpk – when do you workout, morning or afternoon? Currently, here’s what I eat for breakfast when I workout in the morning (this changes over time of course): 6 eggs, about 2/3 cup copped brocolli, banana, large oatmeal with raisins, protein shake (whey, sugars, strawberries, spinach, water). In other words, no wonder you are starving. I eat like this even when I’m trying to cut bodyfat – when trying to build muscle I’ll eat even more. if you want to get bigger, you have to eat. Now, in your comment you paradoxically talk about losing body fat. it is really, really hard to build muscle and lose body fat at the same time. not impossible, just really hard. best is to keep one constant while you work on the other. so decide which is your most important goal and work that. MY recommendation given your dimensions is to work on fat loss right now, until you get down to about 155 and then try to gain more muscle. Either way, around your workout you need to eat a ton of food. And if you workout at night, then you still need (in my experience) a big breakfast. Food is not your enemy – junk food is. With even a mediocre weight training program, you will be amazed at how much real food you can eat without fat gain. If it was alive shortly before you eat it, then it’s good to eat. If it’s been in a package for more than a week, it’s not so good.

  30. Thanks Darrin, I normally workout around 6 AM in the mornings!

  31. Do the Eggs have to be egg white?

  32. We’re not even going down the road of omega, simply full fat milk. Speed is not important if utilisation is less. Why are you so keen on protein speed post work out? It’s pre work out that is used to build muscle, post is all about replenishing glycogen.

  33. No disrespect to the article writer, but I see a lot of questions being fired. If you folks want answers, you should find a good training forum and ask there. That way there are 100′s of members with a variety of knowledge and experience to look at your queries, rather than you limiting yourself to one person. Again, no disrespect to the author here, it’s just that the internet is a MASS of info, it’s crazy to limit yourself to one blogsite when there are many training websites, each with 100′s if not 1000′s of members, and of course the entire history of Q&A from the forum’s birth. The added benefit is people will disagree with something someone says if their understanding is different, and through discussions like these you get answers with improved reliability much of the time. Every now and then you will find a forum with a real expert on it, who actually writes papers on the particular field you’re interested in. Those forums are real gems and can’t be beaten unless you are actually in a lab yourself.

    My parting gift to anyone to read this is a correction on the “when to eat carbs” statement. It does NOT matter when you eat carbs in relation to gaining/losing weight. Breakfast like a King dine like a pauper is totally misleading as a guideline. Just eat the way you like that works for you. Some like big breakfasts, others dinners, others lunches- unless you are eating big at multiple meals it’s perfectly possible to keep the total intake within your goal.You can eat ice cream and donuts at bed time and not gain weight if your total energy intake for the day is not greater than maintenance. It is impossible to gain fat on a reduced calorie plan just because you chose to eat sugar/fat near bed time, just as it is impossible most of the time to gain muscle if you are eating less energy than needed to grow. This is another stubborn broscience myth, and you will find it everywhere.

    One more gift, almost everyone stresses about eating times. Let me tell you something- it doesn’t matter. There are non steroid users that have normal genetics, nothing fancy, many of them in fact who are stronger than most of you will ever be and they know almost nothing about the theories on nutrition in sports. They don’t skip gym sessions regularly- that is the difference. You are going to have to go out of your way to deliberately try to mess up a work out by changing diet for it to have a significant effect. Food in the tank before and food after, don’t dehydrate or be drunk, or be a day behind in sleep- those are the vitals. The only big issue affecting choice of food or shake preworkout is if you can keep it down while you train. Now you can tweak here and there with a whey shake but know this- it is not worth the hours, or years people spend talking about timing in comparison to the effects of eating SOMETHING as opposed to nothing, or the money. Actually go to a gym every week and improve, a shake isn’t going to do it for you.

  34. well said Oliver!

  35. Hey Guys, exactly what type of carbs should be taken in after the workout? I saw you mentioned honey and orange juice but what would you eat the honey with?

    I’m getting ready to kick my am workout up a notch and here is what I was thnking.

    Before: Casein protein shake made with skim milk and old fashioned oats either cooked or added to my shake.

    After: Mini Bagel (maybe add some honey to it?) with a whey protein shake made with skim milk.

    Can I get some feedback please? I am a complete noobie to this stuff.

  36. @Daniel, generally the anecdotal and science studies both seem to go towards simple carbs that digest quickly. Assuming you don’t have allergies, things like white bread, table sugars, even high fructose corn syrup products. Be moderate though. Things like fruit sugars generally don’t have the same benefit.

    Your plan looks good.

  37. Hi Darrin,

    Great information here and I’m learning a lot by just reading everyone’s post. Cheers to you for an awesome article and discussion points.

    I’m 31, 5’8″ and a body fat content of somewhere around 15%.

    I runt 3-4 miles in the morning (banana and scoop of peanut butter about 30 mins before I go)

    For breakfast,(after cardio) I’m eating 4 egg whites, an apple, orange juice and whole wheat toast

    Morning snack is protien bar with fruit.

    Lunch is chicken breast or salmon with carrots and bell peppers

    Afternoon (3:30pm) is protein shake

    Pre workout evening snack is some chicken and yogurt

    Dinner is either salmon or chicken with sweet potato and milk

    I want to get leaner and then get more toned/muscular. What suggestions do you have and what should I do to switch up the diet if I’m feeling fatigued or dragging a bit? Thanks for your help!

  38. @Paul – it’s certainly hard to tell via the internet, but overall your food looks good except it’s light on veggies. Things like broccoli, spinach, kale, etc would be really good to add more of. But in terms of feeling fatigued, it might just be because you are in a caloric deficit. If you wan to lose fat, you will have to lift (be sure to eat before/after lifting) to preserve muscle and then you will need to eat light throughout the day. And that means having less energy. You can help that by eating frequently but small meals – which is what it sounds like you are doing. But unfortunately, losing fat will mean you just have to accept not feeling great 100% of the time. The other possibility is that you might be eating the same thing every single day, which could psychologically get you down. If so, you can certainly make substitutes.

  39. Hi I am kinda new to all of this. I want to tone my body and shed about 10 pounds I have a eating plan in place with the training I do but to be honest I’m not sure it’s right! I train with kettle belea on monday, cardio and boxing on a Tuesday an Thursday. Weights with squats and lunges on Saturday. My training is all evenings around 8pm!

    Breakfast: Egg whites on 1 small slice of whole wheat bread with a banana and a pint of water

    Snack : Handful of almonds

    Lunch: Brown rice 1/2 chicken breast (small amount of salad or veg) 1 pint water

    Snack: Apple or Berries

    Dinner (5-6pm) Chicken Breast or a Cod Fillet a small amount of compiles carbs and broccoli.
    1 pint water

    Now I’m confused as some sites say protein after a workout, others protein and carbs as its late at night I worry eating to much! Is there anything wrong with this plan of food and what should I have after my workout example please!!! People have said a protein shake but I worry with them as of gaining weight as I still want to lose.
    Any help would be much appreciated :-)

  40. Meant to say complex carbs ***

  41. @Carla – there are probably 1,000,000,000 different eating plans that are great and an equal number of training plans that are great. So many small nuances, etc. As far as good goes and macro ratios, your eating plan seems fine but possibly way too few calories – I don’t know your current weight. As a point of comparison, when I’m training heavily I sometimes have a single meal that is as much food as you listed. Not exaggerating. And then I eat 4-5 additional meals that same day. But I digress…

    The science is really conclusive that protein is needed to start the recovery process. You want to lose fat, not lose muscle, so yes, I’d add in a protein shake if your calorie calculations allow it (if just protein, you only need 20 g so that’s only 100 calories or so). If you are super worried about calories, you can just use BCAAs. In both cases, a tiny amount of carbs with it would help recovery – even just like 5 g of sugar (20 calories) combined with the protein or the BCAAs.

    Good luck with your goals!

  42. Thank you so much for your reply my brother trains and he said the exact same thing :-)
    I’ve now added and extra meal for after my workout such as fish and a small amount of sweet potato, and may add a small protein shake in there too you think that will make it better. I’m 5ft 2 and am around 9.9 ideally I would like to be 9st I lost 3 stone 4 years ago doing slimming world but no exercise an then had baby and managed to lose it all again doing the same thing so this whole eating and exercising is alien to me haha I think maybe some kind of shake between the space of 12 pm and 5-6pm as going to have my lunch around 12 now what you think ?

  43. New plan sorry to drive you mad ! Just wanna get it all sorted lol
    9am Egg whites 1x small whole wheat bread , Banana

    10.30am Handful of almonds

    12pm – 90g chicken, brown rice & runner beans &broccoli

    3pm – Mushroom Omlette & berries

    5-6pm 100g chicken a complex carb & broccoli

    After training:
    8-9pm Fish & Small amount of sweet potato

    When I’m not on a training day cut the crb from the late night meal

    How does this sound ??

  44. @Carla – sounds good. Let us know how it works after a couple weeks!

  45. Just eat sweet potato trust me you will have energy for hours dont forger you need 5g of fat with that sweet potato ,take spoonful of omega 3 fish oil and eat some dates 4 to 6 dates ,fenugreek seed make a drink blend a tbsp of seeds with water those 3 things will make you fly in gym!!!

  46. Its all well and good all these ideas about eating omelletes and tuna with brown rice during the afternoon, but its finding the time and space to do it in the office. I weight train at 7.15am, fast jog/run at 8.30 (to the office) 4 miles, lane swim on lunch 40mins and then I run back home from the office, once home I do a 15-20 mins stomach workout, this is 5 days a week all the above, I change weights routine through daily alternating it. I do all this by 6pm latest so I can chill out or go out (lucky with my job I can fit everything in). I eat every 3-4 hours through the day, boiled egg first thing before weights no toast just hard boiled, 3 hours later a bowl of scottish oats with raisians, then 3-4 hours 5 oranges a banana and a portion of cashew nuts, then about 5ish I have a skinnless chicken leg. 3-4 hours later about 8 Ill have a proper dinner no fat meat 400g+ and half a plate of veg, carrotts, brussels, etc………this is the best I can do when you work 5 days a week and I think its pretty good the way I fit everything in, but reading these comments people are quite simular to mine food wise but they include omeletes twice a day, and tuna aswel, I just cant see where you could fit that in inless you only concentrate on your fittness! …….By the way Im not knocking anyone I just really cant see how you would cook it all during the day (and I like cooking). All the above Ive been doing for 3 years (yeah Im obsesed). Excuse my spelling by the way as I dont work on that haha!!

  47. follow from last comment I also on saturday do weights and cycle, so really 6 days a week I train. Just though Id through that in.

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