T Nation

Carbs and Berardi's 'Metabolism Advantage'


I was always told that you have to eat carbs before you workout, but I was reading in John Berardi's "The Metablosim Advantage" that you only eat carbs during, and after your workout (up to 3 hours after you workout). Before workout and breakfast he says to eat foods low in carbs, which is what I always thought was false. I was always told for breakfast eat carbs, before you workout, and then immediately after you workout. Any other times, your supposed to limit your carb intake. Is what Berardi says true?

Another thing, somewhat related, before my workouts, I seem to have more enegry when I eat something like white bread or a potato as opposed to oats, or even wheat bread. Any ideas why?

Thank you!


I think it is important to think about this question in context of your goals, and then in terms of your own response to carbs. I always have much better workouts when I've had some carbs with breakfast/before going in, but much better results with fat loss when I just cut them out completely.

I know some people can still have some carbs in the morning and/or after their workout and still lose fat, but cutting them out completely seems to work for me much better. This is something I only learned through experience.

For the second question, I can have a more intense session with fast acting carbs consumed right before or during the session, so that might be what you are experiencing, too.

But, I would just put Berardi's ideas to the test and see how they work. The articles here can be helpful when you are trying to generate ideas, but you really need to test them and see how they work for you. If they work, use them. If not, drop them. That isn't a knock against the authors, just a recognition that there a lot of individual differences.


I just do not see what will provide energy for me before my workouts? It is the carbs that give me energy before the workouts?


Berardi was talking about the partitioning of P+F and P+C meals before most authors on T-Nation. In fact, Berardi has long employed a para-workout protocol to run alongside this eating system which is equally enlightening. The latter involves consuming a high-volume of fast-acting carbs, e.g. dextrose around the workout peroid - so there is your workout energy!

The idea of consuming P+F meals prior to an evening workout is designed, among other things, to maximise the insulin response created by the para-workout protocol.

So I think you are perhaps mis-reading Berardi's work.


Ok, so let me get this straight, you are saying that is good to eat a fast-acting carb (pasta, potato) before your workout? because in this book, he defnitely reccomends carbs during or after you workout. Im gonna take a guess that dextrose is not found in oats, or whole grains which are slower digesting carbs?

So, do I evevn bother having carbs for breakfast or before workout?


Berardi uses the phrase "nutrient timing". In summary:
Energy Phase - 10 mins prior; then during workout = liquid P+C (e.g. whey+dextrose at 2:1 ratio)
Anabolic Phase - immediately after training = as above
Growth Phase - 1 hour after = as above (liquid at 1:1 ratio); 2 hours later = P+C meal at 1:1 ratio
Recovery Phases - 3-4 remaining meals of the day all P+F

Now when you train determines how these phases are arranged. A morning workout would match the outlay above. An afternoon workout, e.g. noon, would see you start in Recovery Phase mode with 1-2 P+F meals in the morning before starting the Energy Phase for the workout session. Finally, a evening workout, e.g. 6pm, is similar to afternoon with the exception that around 20-30g low GI carbs are pemitted for breakfast, with all other meals until the workout being P+F.

Regarding the liquid P+C workout drinks, Berardi recommends quite a high carb intake - especially if you're a natural hardgainer. On average this works out at 40g whey and 80g fast-acting carb per drink. Recall you are having three shakes during this peroid (1st 10 mins before; 2nd during; 3rd immediately after) - not to mention another an hour after the workout at a 1:1 ratio followed later again by a P+C meal at 1:1. So your carb intake during workout days is pretty high, e.g. 320g. Obviously this is for mass gaining. Fat loss would require a sizeable drop in carb intake.

I hope this helps to clarify things for you. I have read Berardi's works quite closely and, although no expert, I think I have a decent grasp of his core principles.


Thank you so much for allt he information! i appreciate it very much. Its just kind of hard to understand since my whole life I am told eat carbs BEFORE you workout, and some after. What is used as energy then if you dont eat carbs before you workout? Just the dextrose (fast acting carbs)?

In this book, he also says you can have carbs up to 3 hours after you workout, after that to stay away from it. Carbs are never eaten during breakfast either then correct?

I apologize for all the questions, for a program for my job at school, I want to do a powerpoint on these foods and methods that speed up metabolism, so that I can pass information to students who do it wrong. So I am trying to make sure I do not get anything mixed up, especially since they will also think that carbs should always be eaten before workouts.


I don't fancy a bollocking from your teacher - unless she's a babe - so I will err on the side of caution here. As stated, I'm no expert just a Berardi fan who studies most of his stuff.

The best advice is to stick with Berardi's broad guidelines to eat P+F at all times except the 'workout window'.
Now remember 'workout window' is immediately before, during and up to 3 hours afterwards (as you point out). So P+C during this time is the norm. At all other times it is P+F.

Regarding workout energy and the need for pre-workout carbs, remember Berardi talks about 80g dextrose before and another 80g during the workout - that's ample carbs for energy expenditure. It also creates a greater insulin spike - given the earlier P+F pre-meals induce more even blood sugar levels. This insulin surge helps drive nutrients into the muscles as a crticial time (pre/during exercise).


I would think slamming 80g of dextrose 10 minutes before your workout would be plenty of sugar to not have to worry about eating carbs an hour before your workout.

The distinction betwee "before" and "during" workout kind of disappears at that point.


Now, the thing with dextrose, that is a fast acting carb correct? I did a search online, and found that dextrose is contained in junk food. What is it that I would eat right before a workout?


A lot of this crap is dumb. Eat what makes you feel energetic. If you haven't figured out after so many years on the earth what type of meals make you feel satiated and energetic rather than hungry and lethargic with energy swings, that's an individual thing that you should start experimenting with. The signet mrt food tolerance test is good.

Personally, a whole meal with a mixture of carbohydrates, proteins, fat from fruit or potatoes and vegetables and animal sources an hour or two before my workout works best for me. Fast acting carbohydrates only work for me post-workout, or very diluted peri-workout.


Plenty of people do just fine on a "Zone" type diet, eating all three macronutrients in a significant portion in each meal.

There is also sufficient evidence to suggest that consuming fats in lieu of carbs first thing in the morning has a negative impact on glucose uptake later in the day.

As far as maintaining a consistent level of energy throughout the day, Jeff hit it on the head with balanced meals. If you want to see how to maintain a consistent energy level, look at what those whose well being depends on doing just that do. Diabetics are often prescribed a "balanced" diet where no one macronutrient is excluded and proper food choices, balanced meals, regular eating, and appropriate portions are emphasized.


I believe the original post regarded John Berardi's take on this topic - not your personal experience. While I agree there is plenty of "dumb" stuff out there, it's fair to say most people would progress by following the guidelines from authorities like Berardi rather than relying on one trainee's experience. Berardi's work on nutrition for bodybuilders cannot be understated.