The Religion of Pre and Post Workout Nutrition.

Pre- and post-workout nutrition is all the rage these days, and for good reason. For some, however, it’s become more than a science—it’s become their religion, or perhaps just a place to focus their OCD-like tendencies. Regardless, people have taken the topic of pre- and post-workout nutrition to a level that is not justified by the research, or at least not confirmed by the research that currently exists.

Readers should realize I may have my membership card to the Bodybuilding Nutrition Guru Society torn up and thrown at me for what I am about to share in this article…

As expected, supplement companies—and self–proclaimed ‘net guru types—have used what does exist for research to convince everyone that that if they don’t take in exactly 98.7 grams of carbohydrates and 37.2 grams of protein within 28 seconds after they leave the gym, their muscles will be attacked by every muscle-hating hormone they possess in their body by second 29; with the prior year of hard work in the gym totally wasted by second 30!

People are fixated on this particular topic like nothing else, and when you throw in the other possible ingredients that can be added to the post-workout drink, such as creatine, glutamine, and many others, it’s taken to the level of psychosis!

Of course supplement companies have come out with their own “techno-functional ultra-repartitioning multi-dimensional”* post-workout drink formulas that are claimed to be the latest breakthrough. Besides the carbs and protein in these formulas, many of the additional compounds are either under dosed (ergo the ‘label decoration’ syndrome), have no particular justification for being in the formula in the first place, or both (ergo, the ‘shot gun’ approach)…but I digress.

Now I have to take at least some blame—or credit—for this predicament, depending on how you want to view it. I have written extensively about the importance of post-workout nutrition in all manner of articles, and give the topic extensive focus in my Bodybuilding Revealed e-book.

Unlike many of the supplement companies and ‘net experts’ out there, however, I never claimed you would shrivel up into Pee Wee Herman in a matter of minutes if you didn’t get your ultra high-tech post-workout drink 29 seconds after your last set of squats. I have always taken a balanced view on the topic, by pointing out that food is still more important in the overall equation of muscle growth.

Thus, what I can say is that research—and common sense—tells us it’s advantageous to get some fast-acting carbs and protein after a hard workout to optimize the time we put in the gym. From there, however, people have relied more on wishful thinking than science for their pre- and post-workout nutrition. People who have poor diets and poorly thought-out training routines, but focus on the latest magic pre- and post-workout elixirs are missing the point. Their approach is like trying to hold up a three-legged stool with one support leg and the other two missing.

General Considerations of Research vs. the “Real World”

As we all know, a great deal of research is performed that—although interesting—has very little “real world” application to bodybuilders and other athletes.

This is because scientists do everything in their power to study their chosen topic in isolation. In other words, they go to great lengths and trouble to control variables that will impact the outcomes of their studies. For example, in a study looking at the effects of a drug or supplement, a placebo group is matched to the “active” group. The scientists want to make sure the effect they get—or don’t get—is due to the drug/supplement and not the placebo effect. Making the study double-blind is another way of attempting to prevent the bias of the scientists from influencing the study.

The point is that, when they attempt to isolate an effect of something being tested, scientists often end up with results that may not always be directly applicable to the “real world” of Joe Schmoe gym goer.

When study designs don’t reflect “real world” conditions, they need to be taken with a grain of salt. Were the study participants fasted? What type of exercise did they perform? What effects did the researchers actually look at and how does that apply to the “real world” or athlete in question? Were the study participants new to the form of exercise being utilized in the study or were they experienced athletes? How many people were in the study? Who do the results apply to: endurance or strength athletes? Both? Neither?!

Those are just a few of the essential questions that have to be asked and answered before you can even begin to draw any useful “real world” conclusions from the studies that come out. Yet this doesn’t stop people and supplement companies from jumping on the latest studies as the last word in nutrition and start making recommendations from them. They also tend to ignore the studies that contradict or fail to replicate the advice they are giving out. Let’s look at some examples…

The Fast vs. Slow Protein Craze..

The use of fasted subjects in nutrition studies illustrates how researchers can end up with results that may not apply well to the real world. As the name implies, the study subjects are a group of people who have not eaten for an extended period of time. In many cases, they haven’t eaten for 8 – 10 hours or more, which of course does not reflect how the average person eats, at let alone how the average athlete eats—especially bodybuilders looking to add muscle mass.

Enter stage right, the “fast vs. slow” protein craze. The study that got this craze rolling was called “Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion” and was responsible for causing a resurgence of interest in casein. The basic premise of this much-touted study was that the speed of absorption of dietary amino acids (from ingested proteins) varies according to the type of dietary protein a person eats.

The researchers wanted to see if the type of protein eaten would affect postprandial (e.g., after a meal) protein synthesis, breakdown, and deposition. To test the hypothesis, they fed casein (CAS) and whey protein (WP) to a group of healthy adults, a single meal of casein (CAS) or whey WP following an overnight fast (10 h). Using this specific study design, they found:

•WP induced a dramatic but short increase of plasma amino acids.
•CAS induced a prolonged plateau of a moderate increase in amino acids (hyperaminoacidemia)
•Whole body protein breakdown was inhibited by 34% after CAS ingestion but not after WP ingestion.
•Postprandial protein synthesis was stimulated by 68% with the WP meal and to a lesser extent (+31%) with the CAS meal.

The basic non-science summary is: the study found that CAS was good at preventing protein breakdown (proteolysis), but was not so good for increasing protein synthesis. WP had basically the opposite effects: it increased protein synthesis but didn’t prevent protein breakdown. The problem is that they were using fasted subjects for a single meal. ***

Keep that in mind as we move along here…

So far so good right? So what can we conclude from this study and how useful are the results? Like so many studies, the results were interesting—and of little use to people in the real world. Do these results hold up under more “real world” conditions where people are eating every few hours and/or mixing the proteins with other macronutrients (i.e., carbs and fats)? The answer is probably not, which is exactly what the researchers found when they attempted to mimic a more realistic eating pattern of multiple meals and or the addition of other macronutrients. The follow up study was called “The digestion rate of protein is an independent regulating factor of postprandial protein retention.” Four groups of five to six healthy young men received:

• a single meal of slowly digested casein (CAS).
• a single meal of free amino acids mimicking the composition of casein (AA).
• a single meal of rapidly digested whey proteins (WP).
• repeated meals of whey proteins (RPT-WP) mimicking slow digestion rate of casein (i.e., reflecting how people really eat).

So what did they find? In a nut shell, giving people multiple doses of whey—which more closely mimics how people really eat-—had basically the same effects as a single dose of casein, and mixing either with fats and proteins pretty much nullified any big differences between the two proteins.

Even that’s not the end of the story, however, as multiple follow up studies done by the same group and others found these effects could also be different in older versus younger people and male versus female! How messed up is that?! So how much press did these follow up studies get? Little or none, as I recall.

Now, a later study did attempt to examine the actual net amino acid uptake after resistance training with whey vs. casein, and found both proteins had essentially the same effects on net muscle protein synthesis after exercise despite different patterns of blood amino acid responses.

Does that put to rest the issue or debate of one protein vs. the other post-workout? No, as there are yet more conflicting studies out there and my bet is still on whey as the superior post-workout protein, but it’s important to realize the answer is far from established at this time.

Got Milk?

Milk: nature’s original MRP. Despite all the fancy proteins out there all claiming to be the next step in the evolution of proteins that “will blast you past your plateaus in the gym,” good old milk seems to be competing—and winning—against some “high tech” products on the market. We have various studies finding increased protein synthesis and other positive effects when a purified protein supplement (e.g., whey, soy, casein, etc.) ingested right after or before a workout—usually in conjunction with carbohydrates—but what about good old milk, a “real” food?

One recent study found good old milk to be an effective post-workout drink that increased net muscle protein synthesis after resistance training. Yet another recent study compared 2 cups of skim milk as a post workout drink compared to a soy drink and a “sports drink.”

In this study, the milk and soy drinks were matched for basic macronutrient ratios and calories and all three were matched for total calories. 56 male volunteers were split into three groups, with all put on a resistance training program for 12 weeks. The volunteers were then randomly assigned one of the three drinks to consume as a post workout drink and again one hour after the workouts.

Although no major differences were found in strength between the 3 groups, the group getting the milk had the greatest increase in muscle mass (via increases in Type I and II fibers) with researchers concluding

“…chronic postexercise consumption of milk promotes greater hypertrophy during the early stages of resistance training in novice weightlifters when compared with isoenergetic soy or carbohydrate consumption.”

But it gets better: how about our favorite childhood drink, chocolate milk? How about chocolate milk vs. two commercial energy/fluid replacement drinks, such as Gatorade and Endurox R4?

One recent study—albeit a small one—found chocolate milk as effective as Gatorade, and more effective than Endurox, as a recovery drink for trained cyclists between exhaustive bouts of endurance exercise.

Now is this a condemnation of sports drinks and an endorsement for milk/chocolate milk as the last word on post-workout drinks? Not at all: remember those essential questions I mentioned above? You have to look at such a study in context—in other words, at the experimental design and how that applies to the “real world.” The subjects fasted for 10 – 12 h prior to the chocolate milk experiment, and these drinks were the only food these guys had for 14 – 16 hours. The results may have been quite different had they been following their normal eating patterns.

They also measured effects on endurance vs.—say—strength or increased protein synthesis, etc.

So, in the context of this particular study design, look at it this way: chocolate milk has casein (a “slow” protein), and whey (a “fast” protein) as well as calcium, some vitamins and a bunch of carbohydrates—so it makes a pretty good, cheap MRP, if that’s all you are going to get all day long. It’s not a half-bad post-workout drink either. It’s not the best MRP—or post workout drink—I could design, but it’s cheap and easy to find. The reality is that there are some inexpensive foods out there can be used, and most of your old school bodybuilders and strong men used milk as the original post workout drink/MRP.

The study that looked at milk vs. soy and sports drink, was done in novice weight lifters, so that too needs to be taken into consideration. Regardless, milk, in particular chocolate milk, should make a perfectly acceptable and inexpensive post workout drink and people who think it’s too “old school” or not “high tech” enough to be if any use are clearly misinformed and the victim of marketing.

Now the study we need to see that does not exist, of course, is milk or chocolate milk vs. a well thought out post-workout drink of—say—whey and maltodextrin (high GI carb source), in experienced weight lifters who are not fasted—but don’t hold your breath on that one. Studies like that get expensive quickly and also pose practical issues. For example, if you wanted to match the protein content of—say—2 scoops of whey isolate to chocolate milk (so the groups were getting an equivalent amount of protein), the subjects would need to drink a large volume of milk (remember, milk is mostly water).

My hunch is that a correctly designed post-workout drink would be superior to chocolate milk, but it would be nice to see the two compared, no?

The Pre-Workout Drink

The pre-workout drink craze followed the post-workout craze after a study found pre-workout nutrition may be more effective than post-workout nutrition.

The study that got this craze going was called “Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise” which found that drinking a mixture of essential amino acids and carbohydrates induced a greater anabolic response (i.e., a net increase in muscle protein balance) when taken right before weight training vs. right after. ****

This study had everyone taking in a pre-workout drink as well as a post-workout drink in an attempt to cover all the bases. It should be noted, however, that—once again—they were using fasted subjects. Think of it like this: you have not eaten in 8-10 or more hours, then you are made to work out on a (very) empty stomach.

Under those particular circumstances, does it not make sense getting something to eat before the workout would be superior to after the workout? We all know hitting the weights on an empty stomach is not an optimal method to preserve—or build—muscle mass. Nor is it reflective of real world eating patterns where the vast majority of people have eaten a full meal at least a few hours before they hit the gym.

After this study, everyone started drinking a protein drink before they hit the gym. Interestingly, however, a recent study done by the same group who did the pre-drink study mentioned above, found whey taken before hitting the gym did not result in an improved net protein balance vs. taking it after the gym.

“Well wait a dang minute Will, now I am really confused!” you are saying angrily to your comp screen! Does this new study show pre-workout nutrition is no more effective than post workout nutrition?

No, and here’s why. It’s an apples vs. oranges study. The first study used free amino acids plus carbohydrates, and the follow up study used whey alone without carbohydrates—which is very odd if they were truly trying to see if free aminos were superior to a whole protein such as whey.

Unfortunately this latter study really didn’t do much to confirm or deny the first study’s findings. And, don’t forget my comments regarding using fasted subjects, which adds yet another wrinkle to all this.

So does that essentially disprove the pre-workout drink vs. the post-workout drink studies? Nope. One recent study did look specifically at the issue of timing and does support the idea that the pre- and post-workout window is the most effective period for ingesting some fast-acting protein and carbs.

This study, titled “Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy,” has gotten a fair amount of attention in the bodybuilding/sports nutrition oriented publications. The researchers examined the effects of a drink of whey, glucose and creatine given to two groups of experienced weight lifters, either morning and evening (M/E) or pre- and post-workout (PP), to see if the actual timing of the drink had an effect on muscle hypertrophy or strength development.

The study found that the group getting the drink PP had an increase in lean body mass and 1RM strength in two of three assessments that were tested. The group getting the drink PP also experienced greater creatine retention and glycogen resynthesis, which means timing of specific nutrients is an important strategy for optimizing the adaptations desired (e.g., increased muscle mass and strength) from your hard work in the gym.

So does this study finally put to rest the issue of pre- vs. post-workout nutrition? No, it did not compare one strategy to the other per se, but did confirm that nutrient timing is an important aspect.

One obvious issue is that this study used a drink that contained creatine throughout, so technically it’s not a pro + carb study, but a pro + carb + creatine study. On the plus side, it was done in experienced weight lifters and they were not fasted, so it does at least represent the metabolic realties of “real world” people looking to get the most of their nutrition. Either way, it supports the idea of taking in the right nutrients both pre- and post-workout, but people should not be under the impression that this issue of timing has been “put to bed,” so to speak, and realize there are still plenty of unanswered questions yet to be explored.

Of course, there are more studies than just the ones mentioned above, so there are plenty of measurements on indicators of recovery from exercise, such as effects on glycogen resynthesis, alterations in hormones, and hormone levels. Nonetheless, I prefer to look at the actual endpoint that really matters at the end of the day: did this person gain muscle mass, strength, or performance by using this product? Without that, everything else—though potentially interesting—is mental masturbation.

Conclusions, and Real World Recommendations.

Now I didn’t write this article to confuse you, but to demonstrate that the optimal strategy for increasing strength and LBM in response to resistance training is not as cut and dried as you are often led to believe. However, it’s also probably simpler than you are led to believe, as the human body is far more adaptable to the types of protein it receives as well as the amounts it receives.

Thus, the people who stress over whether they got 35g of protein and 60g of carbs in their post workout drinks vs. 32g of protein and 70s of carbs in the drink are probably wasting their time, and causing what is known as “paralysis by analysis.” Put more practically, the amount of cortisol you produce from worrying about such minutia probably offsets any gains you might make from one drink vs. another!*****

I also wanted to dispel some of the hype over one protein vs. another, and the fact that expensive pre-made high tech drinks that are all the rage right now are just that: expensive and over hyped.

In the real world, people have used variations of the idea that fast acting proteins and a good dose of simple carbs can improve the effects of resistance training for many years. My good friend, the late Dan Duchaine, used to give people whey mixed in water and Corn Flakes with skim milk as their post workout meal.

One bodybuilder I knew who went onto be a well known IFBB pro, used to have a drink of whey after his workouts and several slices of apple pie at the local Friday’s restaurant next to the gym for his post-workout meal.

Most of your old time strong men and bodybuilders drank quite a lot of milk, and as we have seen from the research, it’s not a half bad post workout drink either.

If people want to buy pre-made carb/protein mixtures with other nutrients added (e.g., creatine, glutamine, various vitamins, etc) out of convenience and don’t care that they can “roll their own” for less money, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Just don’t think there’s anything magical about the pre-made post-workout drinks, no matter what the marketing material or web site says to entice you to purchase it.

Comments of interest:

* = yes, I have seen every one of those words used in the marketing of a product; sadly it’s not exaggeration!

** = Brink’s Body Building Revealed

*** = The reason for this is that whey is absorbed rapidly (being a highly soluble protein) and much of it is oxidized while casein forms a “clot” in the gut and is absorbed slowly (being a fairly insoluble protein), thus causing a steady level of amino acids. That’s why they dubbed whey a “fast” protein and casein a “slow” protein.

**** = Measured as the Phenylalanine disappearance rate – considered an indicator of muscle protein synthesis – via femoral arteriovenous catheterization, as well as muscle biopsies from the vastus lateralis were used to determine phenylalanine concentrations

***** = Credit for that statement/joke has to be given to nutrition writer Lyle McDonald who said something very similar in a post on the news group misc.fitness.weights a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away about a topic I don’t remember….

References

Boirie Y, et al. Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Dec 23;94(26):14930

Dangin M, et al. The digestion rate of protein is an independent regulating factor of postprandial protein retention. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Feb;280(2):E340-8.

Dangin M, Boirie Y, Guillet C, Beaufrere B. Influence of the protein digestion rate on protein turnover in young and elderly subjects. J Nutr. 2002 Oct;132(10):3228S-33S.

Dangin M, et al. The rate of protein digestion affects protein gain differently during aging in humans. J Physiol. 2003 Jun 1;549(Pt 2):635-44. Epub 2003 Mar 28.

Demling RH, DeSanti L .Effect of a hypocaloric diet, increased protein intake and resistance training on lean mass gains and fat mass loss in overweight police officers. Ann Nutr Metab 2000;44(1):21-9

Tipton KD, et al. Ingestion of casein and whey proteins result in muscle anabolism after resistance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Dec;36(12):2073-81.

Elliot TA, et al.Milk ingestion stimulates net muscle protein synthesis following resistance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Apr;38(4):667-74.

Hartman JW, et al. Consumption of fat-free fluid milk after resistance exercise promotes greater lean mass accretion than does consumption of soy or carbohydrate in young, novice, male weightlifters. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Aug;86(2):373-81.

Karp JR, et al. Chocolate milk as a post-exercise recovery aid.
Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Feb;16(1):78-91.

Tipton KD, et al. Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Aug;281(2):E197-206.

Tipton KD, et al Stimulation of net muscle protein synthesis by whey protein ingestion before and after exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jan;292(1):E71-6.

Cribb PJ, Hayes A. Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Nov;38(11):1918-25.

Additional citations of interest:

Rankin JW, et al. Effect of post-exercise supplement consumption on adaptations to resistance training. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Aug;23(4):322-30.

Børsheim E, et al. Effect of carbohydrate intake on net muscle protein synthesis during recovery from resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol. 2004 Feb;96(2):674-8. Epub 2003 Oct 31.

Bird SP, Tarpenning KM, Marino FE. Liquid carbohydrate/essential amino acid ingestion during a short-term bout of resistance exercise suppresses myofibrillar protein degradation. Metabolism. 2006 May;55(5):570-7.

Baty JJ, et al. The effect of a carbohydrate and protein supplement on resistance exercise performance, hormonal response, and muscle damage. J Strength Cond Res. 2007 May;21(2):321-9.

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36 Comments
  1. Gary 9 years ago

    Nice job, Will, of guiding us through the conflicting findings and their applicability (or lack thereof) to our own training. Thanks,

  2. Harry, Athens-Greece 9 years ago

    Great article, Will… helps to put things in perspective.

  3. justin price 9 years ago

    great article will. i really enjoyed it, while at the same time learning a lot also.it takes all the confusion away in regards to the pre and post workout drinks.you have saved me a lot of stress and probably a lot of money also.
    thanks will… keep up the great work

  4. Anoop 9 years ago

    Hi Will,
    I am curious to know what do you think about the article which showed that you only need 20 gms of protein post workout to maximize protein synthesis. i posted a review of it on my website. I would love to hear your thoughts about the study that I missed.
    http://www.exercisebiology.com/index.php/site/articles/how_much_protein_do_you_need_after_your_workout/

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      Anoop, study abstract (vs a write up by a third party…) can be found here:
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19056590
      Honestly, I don't see much "real world" application to this study for some of the same reasons I outlined above regarding various shortcomings of such studies. It's an interesting study to be sure, but it's not something that would say alter my recs on diet, or post workout nutrition, etc. Is 20g the magic number, 22? People worry too much about such issues honestly….

      • Anoop 9 years ago

        Hi Will
        I have read the study.
        I do think the study shows that the rate of protein synthesis is limited and you don't need 40-50 gms of protein as most recommendations suggest.
        And I agree the participants were fasted. But that can only make the amount of protein required to be lower. What else do you think can be a problem with the study?

  5. HS Mom 9 years ago

    Great info, makes sense…
    What is your take on HS athletes living on Protein bars or
    energy bars for lunch and quick fueling after school before
    there sports training or games?

  6. Author
    willbrink 9 years ago

    Other then the post workout drink, all meals should come from food if possible. I'm not a big fan protein bars really for anything other then a snack between meals if needed.

  7. Big 9 years ago

    Will what exactly is your pre during and post workout routine?
    Does it differ when you do a conditioning type workout vs a weight training session?
    Currently I am "rolling" my own for my approx hour lifting session – About 30 grams dextrose, 30 grams Maltodex and 30 grams whey isolate – 5 grams creatine included. I sip on it and cold water before, during and finish what is left after the workout is over. Then eat a balanced meal about a hour later.
    Thanks for your suggestions and info..

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      If I'm using a pots workout drink, it's usually the same thing I always use. I don't alter the ratios myself, but some will "tweak" carb levels depending on how long, type of, etc the workouts. Sounds to me like you have a good handle on it with the above drink and schedule.

  8. Jona 9 years ago

    Hi Will,
    Your name has been in my vocabulary for a long time, since the first time I had read tom venuto's most famous e-book..
    I'm not trying to insult you, but I need to make this comment.
    I do not understand that you are a fatloss expert, …, simply because I think you don't look toned, you look like a 20% bodyfat to me …Even though you have a fair amount muscle
    Is this because your the classical bodybuilding guy that has his on- and off season ?
    Or are you just happy the way you are? Or aren't you following your own guidelines ? Or are your guidelines not working?
    Anyway, if you are the guy that is the fatloss expert we'd like to see some pictures where your @ low body fat.
    I just think it makes you much more sense to follow someone's advice if you could see that the benefits work for that person.,
    On the other hand, I do know that some people can have just natural low levels of body fat, whatever they eat, so this could be misleading if they would advocate their eating plangs to the whole fitness community. But that's not the case with you and with most 20+ bodyfat people, where the fatloss guidelines are written for in general.
    In terms of marketing, people like to get what they see, and if they see a bulky guy, they won't automatically assume the person is a guru in fat loss..

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      Jona, I don't think those are unfair comments per se, but I guess it depends on your perspective. I have taken various pro bodybuilders from off season to shredded, the type of shredded few mortals ever achieve. Many many athletes and others are low bodyfat, and either someone else did their diet for them, or they have great genetics. Various coaches, gurus, etc don't reflect per se what's in their head for knowledge. I think a simple view of my bio on the "about" page will show you my experience levels and knowledge base is extensive. Ripped has never been a personal goal, but in my 20s I was 210lbs lbs, single digit BF levels, at a tad under 5'7". I turn 45 this month BTW, I'm 45 as if end of the month, tad under 5'7" (still!) and tad over 200lbs, and much lower then 20%, but not ripped by any means… Currently, I'm not as focused on strength or LBM these days, and have been doing more "functional" stuff added to the lifting (due to my focus on working with tactical Law Enforcement, etc), but strength has been decent when one factors in age, some medical issues, not being totally focused on LBM/strength, etc.
      So, if you choose not to follow my info because I don't reflect visually what you may feel fat loss gurus should, I understand, and as I don't think you made the comments to be mean, I am responding in kind.
      Good luck. 🙂

    • Anoop 9 years ago

      There are lot of nutrition experts like Lyle Mcdonald and Alan Aragon who looks like regular guys. But they are one of the best in their field. They look like that is because looking ripped is not their priority. It is as simple as that.
      Getting down to low body fat levels and maintain those levels needs as much motivation as much as the right knowledge. So if you don't have the drive, you won't do it.
      And I agree that most people tend to believe you if you are built like an oak. That's how they get those stupid people to buy their ab machines.

  9. Jasper 9 years ago

    Will, I read your articles quite often and usually use them to give guidance with the supplements I use. I want to ask a quick question about the Creatine test you did with the warm versus cold water for disolving Creatine. I have used Creatine before so I know its benefits. I have been out of the weight lifting scene for a minute so I am now getting back into the swing of things. I did a test of my own and here is what I did: I want to do the “load” phase of this supplement. So I am using Dymatize micro-creatine. I know about how much I need to have per day so I scooped the amounts into HOT water to ensure disolving, then let it cool down and drank the amount as needed to load. My concern and question are these: 1. How long does the creatine remain “active” doing it this way, assuming I wanted to scoop the entire 5 load days and drink for the duration? 2. Is the creatine still potent after the dissolving in the hot liquid then cooling down? Even though I used Hot water only for a few scoops at a time, I noticed there was crystals (not powder) at the bottom of my jug after cool down. I thought it was due to super-saturation so I strained the crystals from the juice. I then poured the crystals into hot water hoping to disolve but now the crystals won’t dissolve. 3. Are the crystals poisnous or are they a waste product and I should not use? I think this is where the stomach irritation in cold liquid everyone complains of. 4.What do you think?

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      (1) you don't need to load. (2) I recommend only companies that use Creapure as their source of creatine. See vids and articles… (3) I would dissolve one dose at a time in hot water, then drink when it cools down. Would probably not do 5 days worth, but there' no need to load anyway as mentioned.

      • Alex 7 years ago

        I have never loaded and i get very good results.. usually i just take 5 grams each morning and another 5 after my workouts (3 times a week). i notice some strength increases and also i gain usually around 8 to 9 pounds while on it.. i cycle it.

  10. Alex 8 years ago

    Very complex post… but as usual you didnt explain what would be best to take and the amounts.. 🙁

    • Author
      willbrink 8 years ago

      Because other articles cover the topic. 😉

  11. Terry 8 years ago

    Will, I would gain additional clarity on your writings if we could for a moment compare two seperate types of training. For example #1, training will be focused on building 40% aerobic endurance + 40% speed skills + 20% muscular force (this would primarily be aerobic training such as cycling, running and cross training mixed in with some weight training) ..training would be sport specific for triathlon, cycling or mid range running event(s). My instincts suggest pre and post workout fuel would be 80% simple+complex carbs and about 20% whey protein mixed with water. A 4:1 ratio of carb to protein. Question #1, is there "less" of a need for more protein because aerobic training versus weight training is less taxing on muscles ?? Question #2, generally speaking pre-post workout calories should primarily focus on simple+complex carbs because ….???
    Once I understand above, it makes it clearer to understand why protein and a more equal mix with simple/complex carbs makes sense for example #2 which would be 80-90% weight training mixed in with only 10-20% aerobic ……this seems so simple as you have stated …mix whey + carbs drink 1/2 pre + 1/2 post and you are all set.

  12. Tom Mortensen 8 years ago

    Will, I have just recently subscribed to your newsletter and website. And contrary to others I really appreciate your down to earth way of covering important aspects of our training. Instead of showing off old photos of yourself in peak condition, which many fitness gurus are guilty of, you have the courage to step into the lime light, the way you are and look. We all know that only very few genetically gifted and single minded persons can walk around shredded and "sixpacked" all year round. Its simply not compatible with a "normal" social family life. But of course its all a matter of choice.

    • Author
      willbrink 8 years ago

      Tom, glad you enjoy the info. I have older pics of me in my 20s when I was bigger and harder. I'm a tad over 200lbs and a tad under 5'7" and approx 11% BF last time I checked. So, I'm not exactly a slouch, and at 45, can still hold my own to most half my age in the gym, in addition to all the other things I focus on. If people want to get their advice only from some ripped 20 something, that's OK by me, and their loss. B)

  13. Tom Mortensen 8 years ago

    Back to the topic: I would like know if there are any defintive studies that support the alleged half to one hours window of opportunity for feeding your body with proteins? Is everything lost after one hour, or how do look at it? I guess its pretty clear to all trainees that your body needs replenishment of nutrients after a hard workout. Well, even wihout working out your body needs to be fed. So is there really so much difference between not working out, just using your muscles for functional work and doing resistance training? Isn't it just a matter of keeping your body topped up with the necessary nutrients all day long, and then the body will use what it needs.

    • Author
      willbrink 8 years ago

      Tom you will find I cover the topic of the "metabolic window" post workout in my various articles here. Yes, studies suggest there is a window to take advantage of to optimize time spent in the gym. In my book Body Building Revealed, I go into greater depth on the topic,

  14. Wil 8 years ago

    I looked through some of your articles and was unable to find anything in regards to Hemp Protein (You may have made an article, but I was unable to find it). What is your take on hemp protein? Is it worth the buy? If it is good, how should one take it, post workout, pre workout, with a meal?

  15. Fredrik 8 years ago

    I just love reading this.. Well written, sources and no BS. Great article 🙂

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  18. Alex 7 years ago

    Will, i have never seen any article of yours in terms of intra workout nutrition.
    I’m currently using a mixture of BCAA’s, Glutamine and Citruline Malate during my workout, if im working out for more than one hour i might throw in some carbs too.. the results in terms of performance towards the end of the workout and in terms of recovery are just AMAZING !!
    I like to workout very hard and allways trying to set some PR, so i was used to soreness for 2 days.. it’s now completelly gone since i use this mix.
    The second part of my workout is almost as good as my first one and even my mood is better.
    I used to just have a complex carb and whey meal before and a simple carb and whey meal after my workouts and alone, it didnt have the effects that this intra workout mix has..
    What’s your oppinion on this ?

  19. Jay 7 years ago

    I just had a thought about my question – is it possible that the biological effect of having post workout carbs to replenish glycogen stores doesn’t happen at the time following a workout. That any carbs ingested at the time gets preferentially stored as fat and, depending on how efficiently our body releases those fatty acids to be broken down and taken up as an energy source over the following 24 hours may be the the actual effect we’re seeing from post workout carbs. Just a thought.

  20. Al 7 years ago

    I thought that it was best to take creatine on an empty stomach, one hour before working out. You talk about putting creatine in the pre-workout drink. Can you give me some guidence here? What is best?

  21. Marc Alan 7 years ago

    Some decent commentary on the various studies, but overly verbose for an artivcle that doesn’t truly provide an answer or recommendation for pre/post workout nutrition. Rather than only offering a critique, it would be great to read more specifically about your pre/post nutrition findings. Thanks!

  22. Alan 7 years ago

    Would like your thoughts.
    I really have to wonder about the importance attached to post WO nutrition. I’ll quote from Doug McGuff MD in Body By Science:
    In the twenty-four hours that follow a workout, inflamma-
    tion sets in, during which white blood cells (neutrophils) are increased and
    are mobilized to the site of the injury.'” It is during those first twenty-four
    hours that lysosomes—enzymes that break down and metabolize damaged
    tissue—are produced, which adds to the inflammatory process.- For the
    next several days, additional cells (macrophages) that assist in synthesiz-
    ing other chemicals in response to inflammation aid in the accumulation
    of lysosomes. One of these is P C E 2 , a chemical thai is believed to make
    nerves within muscles more sensitive to pain. This process explains to some
    degree the perception of soreness that typically follows twenty-four to
    thirty-six hours after a workout and can, in some instances, last a week or
    more. This inflammatory response brings further damage to the muscles
    and can continue for several days after the workout.”
    After these inflammation responses have been completed, signs of tissue
    remodeling, or building of muscle, are then observed. The muscle fibers
    build back to their preworkout size and then, if further time is allowed, will
    build up to a level that is greater than it was before the workout. END QUOTE.
    So if muscles are still breaking down and rebuilding DAYS after a workout why the rush to gulp protein within 30 min etc?

    • Author
      Will Brink 7 years ago

      Alan, see ISSN position paper on nutrient timing:
      http://www.brinkzone.com/supplement-science/issn-position-paper-on-nutrient-timing/
      Note in the article I wrote above, I’m stressing people over think it and worry too much about it, but data is generally supportive that PW nutrition is important for optimizing time spent in the gym. Current trend is to totally question the worth of any timing for PW nutri, but I think that’s swinging too far in the other direction…

  23. Yung 7 years ago

    Hey Will. This article puts my mind at ease. Back in the day when i was religious about training, I was raising a young family and getting my gym business off the ground, so money was tight. All I could afford what spray dried albumen powder and i would mix 2 scoops into a 500ml carton of chocolate milk. At the time i would think “better than nothing i suppose…one day i will be able to afford MetRx..”
    So maybe i was doing ok…

  24. Becky 6 years ago

    love reading articles where people actually think about things! Great work.

  25. doug zarubin 6 years ago

    Good info. is casein good for bedtime or does overnight protein matter

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