T Nation

Carbs & Protien timing?

Question: should I be concerned about which I eat/drink first and or how much time in between each? Basically, as I understand it, a high GI carb like O.J. is going to spike my insulin and as insulin is a transport system for nutrients - both good and bad, it will transport the protien into the muscle cells along with the carbs.

SO, for best results, does it matter what order I take a high GI carb & protien? And should I be taking one before the other or anything like this?

At times I think “Hell, it all goes into the same place…” but then I’m thinking “Maybe the protien should be present first before the insulin spike or maybe the insulin spike should be first before ingesting the protien…”

So am I thinking way too much about all this and I’m just a freek or is there any science behind this part of nutrition? Thanks for any factual responses from the vets & mods.

  • WVM

You’re getting way too deep, young man! Just have your protein and carbs together. This is another episode of minutia.

It’s not like as soon as the glucose touches your tongue, your insulin gets cranked up and if you don’t have amino acids present in the next 100 msec you’re not going to stimulate protein synthesis. And, it’s not like if you don’t get carbs into you within a certain time frame of ingesting amino acids (i.e. protein) that you’re not going to be able to eventually utilize those aminos.

I’m really oversimplifying here, brutha, but just go ahead and eat your foodstuffs like a normal meal.

Jeda Zelda- Timbo’s right essentially. However just as a side note here, I’d like to make sure you’re not talking about OJ as a post-workout carb source?

High fructose content carbs is not ideal for muscle glycogen replenishment post-workout- it needs to be processed by the liver first. Try maltodextrin or dextrose in preference.

Also, be careful in choosing your OJ- freshly squeezed from oranges is by far the best. (Sorry if I’m preaching to the converted). SRS

Timbo & SRS - thanks for the feedback. I’ll try to give you an idea of
what I’m doing with out making this topic go on forever.
I do my workouts first thing in the AM so about 1/2 hr before I eat
about a half a banana as a medium level GI carb for overnight muscle
glycogen replenishment (I think I understand that by morning I’m in need
of this right?) Then, during my training I’ve been drinking between sets
a mix of creatine(5g) and one serving of whey protien (22g protien +
BCCAA etc…) in about 24oz. H2O (read this in a MAG - I know, flame me).

Then, about a half hour after my workout I have 1.5 cups of eggs whites
with 3/4 cup of oatmeal+H2O and 8oz. OJ (Not fresh squeezed sorry).

About 3hrs later I do about 6oz. of whole wheat pasta, 6oz. chicken, dab
of sauce and 42g of the same whey protien I used as described earlier.

At noon I up the pasta and chicken to 8oz. each

At 3 PMish I just do 42g of the whey protien

At 6 PMish I do something whole food protien with veggies

At 9 PMish I’ve been doing (as recommended by a trainer) one serving of
“Muscle Milk” for an overnight slower digesting protien source.

Oh, yeah. As you might see I’ve been trying to add mass (not Fat). Before
starting this I was 194lbs @ 13.5%BF. After a month break and a reloading
phase of creatine, I’ve shot upto 208 w/ ?BF (my Tatina says 19%)

Basically I’m trying to get maxed out before trying a 8 week MAG10 cycle
and I’m trying to get a grasp on my diet as well as figure out what changes
I’m going to need to make. Thanks again

I think you should have atleast 1-2 scoop of quick absorbing protein (e.g whey isolates) and some malto/dext (30-40 grams, e.g gatorade) before your am workout, 1/2 banana is only like 14g of carbs & not enough ( U will loose lots of muscle). The during workout drink is still a good idea for muscle sparing. The rest of your diet dosent sound bad, except ditch the OJ and take malto/dext (30-40g) for your post workout drink, also this will be a better time to take creatine than during the workout. Look for a previous article, I think the title was “Solving The post workout puzzle” or something like that. Hopefully this helps.

God dam that Berardi is good! This place is like meathead paradise. Ask and ye shall receive. Thanks for the tip Spuddy - just what I was looking for. I’ll post after I read all of Part I & II.

That’s what I was worried about-

Ditch the OJ post-workout. If you still want OJ, take it during a different time of the day (not pre-workout either!). Try for dextrose/maltodextrin as suggested instead.

Creatine is best absorbed/utilised post-workout vs during. Happy reading, and get back to us if you have any more queries. SRS

Ok SRS & Spuddy - I’m going to look it up but in your own words what is dextrose / maltodextrin? I got the ‘GatorAid’ reference but I’m guessing it’s the highest GI carb go’n? Again, I’ll look it up so I’m not a doofis newbie waiting for everyone to give me the answers but if you have some other examples I’d appreciate it.

One other thing - at the end of part II in Berardi’s “Solving The post workout puzzle” he talks about a new BioTest product - what did it turn out to be?

Otherwise - Berardi is the man! I just can’t say enough about him and I’ve only read a handful of his work. Thanks again guys.

I found the “Recovery Update” in issue 144 - for anyone else who’s been following along but still no mention of the product.


I’m hijacking this thread for a moment…

A question to Spuddy and SRS,

why do you say you will lose lots of muscle if you dont have a pre work out “P+C” drink?

I wake up at 5 am, have a liquid P+F meal, then hit the gym at 6, Am I really missing out or sabatoging my muscle grwoth that much by not eating “carbs” pre-workout?

I need all the muscle gain I can get and am curious…

I have heard mixed opinions before on this, so am curious to your guys thoughts.

Well, actually Greek I didn’t mention anything so far about pre-workout nutrition. That was Spuddy.

Anyway, if you want my opinion, then yes, I would agree that a P+C is preferable to a P+F pre-workout.

I see where your “problem” is- the P+F you currently consume is kind of like a hybrid between a during the night meal, and a pre-workout meal.

As you are working out within an hour of this meal, IMO I would advise you switch to P+C. Most of the studies (and the logic) I have read point towards the favourable effects of P+C vs +fat pre-workout:

  1. Fast energy availability for muscle glycogen levels to be maintained/replenished. Certainly with the onset of high intensity training, and a high degree of anaerobic metabolism, fat oxidation just can’t keep up. The rapid rate of muscle glycogen depletion with just a few sets of intense exercise has been demonstrated on multiple occasions, even with good stores pre-workout.(However, with lower intensity, longer duration aerobic activity fat utilisation will be enabled).
  2. The combo of carbs plus protein is the best to stimulate the hormonal milieu for anabolism (increased insulin, decreased cortisol). Whilst Protein/aa’s supply a readily available replacement source for the muscle protein turnover.

If you (or anyone else)have evidence for the superiority of a pre-workout fat/protein meal over P+C, for muscle building, then I would love to see it.

Otherwise, might I suggest that you take your P+F meal earlier during the night, and then take a separate LIQUID P+C meal (for good absorption/availability) pre-, and during your weights workout? It is the availability of this macronutrient profile WHILST working out that is important. So if you take it in liquid form it can be taken as close as 10-15 mins pre-workout and continued into the workout.

Post workout nutrition advice remains similar- P+C is best. But I think you are in agreement with that anyway aren’t you?

Hope this helps/stimulates debate. SRS


thanks for the tips and suggestions…

You are right in assuming about my P+F meal…I take it immediately upon rising (I also take one immediately before bed)

I am trying to maximize muscle gains as much as possible…

Even if one is in a strength cycle, woudl the carbs still be necessary? We all know stregth work has less metabolic demands…

I’m curious as to others opinions as well on pre work out carbs and muscle gains…TT where are you?

OK, I’m hi-jacking my post back for a quick regressive question - what happened to Surge then? I don’t see it in the BioTest Store.

Please keep the other posts going in here though - I’m very interested in what SRS is talking about. For that matter SRS, can you just write up a newbies guide to a whole days nutrition (PRE, During & Post)? Or can anyone site any past articles like that which was mention earlier in this string?


[Note from Mod: Surge is still at the store.]


Nobody is going to write you up a whole days nutrition plan… There are hundreds of diet plans here in the previous issues, FAQ section, and in this forum itself, just type in “diet”…you’ll be here for days…

And Surge is everywhere, including on this website…

Thanks Mod!

To Greekdawg- No, I don’t think my advice would change if you were on a strength cycle.

  • The need for efficient muscle contraction remains, and indeed one could argue that due to the generally increased anaerobic nature of strength training, the need for rapidly available muscle energy sources (simple carbs) may be greater for a strength cycle (lower reps, heavier weights) than a hypertrophy cycle.

    I think the only reasonable use for a pre-workout P+F, would be either a small meal pre-cardio, when BF loss is the objective (greater stimulation of onset of body lipolysis?), or endurance training, where the requirement for anaerobic metabolism is less, and the body has a chance to oxidise fat sources(provided the body has been adapted to using fat as an energy source).

    To J_Z- Once again, our friend JB has written a lot about this topic, and you only need to search the archives to find relevant information. In essence though, if you want advice on pre-, during- and post workout nutrition, the recommendations are similar: Protein, and simple carbs (glucose, dextrose, maltodextrin) to provide energy and substrate for the muscles during the workout, then replenishment and rapid onset of repair post-workout. Liquid is best here for quick absorption.

    As far as the rest of the day is concerned, I would generally concentrate my solid food carb meals around the workout too, when they are most needed. Adequate fat is essential too, and if you’re bulking will also give a concentrated calorie boost. It should be provided for in the other meals of the day.

    Plenty of threads and articles out there. Happy reading! SRS

Sorry Greek & SRS - got a little greedy. Was totally overlooking the Surge on the BioTest site <:-) Thanks again for the info above - very helpful.

  • WVM


good stuff again, you impress me with your nutritional advice that actually makes sense…

Along those same lines off matching the proper diet with training, do you think it is possible to try and gain muscle while on a stength cylce?? It seems as if most everyone here advises a cutting phase matches nicely with a strength cycle…what are your thoughts? If im the middle of a strength cycle and I’m getting much stronger…should I stop “massive eating”? and take advantage of this potential “cutting” phase?

I agree with your pre-HIIT/aerobic diet reccomendations…What do you think about post HIIIT meal? I usually go P+C and start my day with the other 3 P+C meals…


SRS, as you know, I do the low-carb thing; <30g/day, except for my carb refeeds. I’ve been using a variety of strength protocols since November; 5x5, 6x3, 5x(5,3,2,3,5). By choice I eat either a P or a P+F meal about an hour and a half to two hours before a workout.

I don’t have any studies that I can point you to that prove the superiority of that particular macronutrient combination, but I can say that annecdotally/personally, I have no trouble lifting heavy with low reps. My energy levels following a strength protocol type workout are significantly higher walking out of the gym than when I was trying to do an 8x3 hypertrophy protocol. The interesting thing is that I wasn’t doing low-carb while following the 8x3 protocol; I was just hypocaloric.

I know you’re not talking about “energy walking out of the gym.” But I seem to have the energy I need to lift heavy and (add to/improve upon/up) my weights.
DLs and squats, in particular, I’ve been adding/upping weight weekly. Of course, I’m fairly new to those exercises and am currently just lifting/pulling a little above BW. But at a 5-10 pound increase per week, I’m hoping for 2xBW within the next 6 months.

The thing you touched on, though, that I agree with is that a person’s goals might influence their choice of pre-workout meals. My goal IS fat loss. And for that reason, I would prefer not to spike insulin prior to workout; i.e., if insulin is present, fat mobilizing hormone is absent.

Thanks for throwing this one out on the table for discussion. I hope others will stop by and share their thoughts on the subject. I always enjoy examining and questioning my most dearly held beliefs.