Guest Forum: Dr. John Berardi

Welcome to our Guest Forum with Dr. John M. Berardi! JB will be fielding questions all week, from Monday to Friday morning.

In case you don’t know, JB is one of the most respected nutrition gurus around right now and is perhaps best known for perfecting <a href=“"target="new”>post-workout nutrition. He has much more than nutrition advice to offer though, so toss him whatever questions you have.

Just reply to this thread with your questions. Let’s get started!

Dr. John,

Do you think that the longer a person carries bodyweight fat, the longer (or more difficult) it will be to get rid of that un-wanted fat.


Keith Wassung


With the completion of my PhD work and my recent doctorization, Im making time to get back in touch with my roots.

In the next we weeks you can expect quite a few articles from me and, of course, we’ve got this little guest forum thing going this week.

I look forward to fielding your questions (but be patient - although I hope to get to all of your questions, it might take some time).

In exchange, I’m gonna ask a few favors of you.

  1. Play nice with other T-folk.

  2. Instead of just asking questions, I’d appreciate suggestions as to what material you’d like to see from me in the near future.

  3. At the end of this week I’m gonna ask you guys to visit a special page and take a survey for me.

A few weeks back I asked my mailing list to fill out a survey for a PhD friend of mine and we generated over 1000 responses (and the results of the survey will be posted here at T-nation soon. Im hoping to collect some data myself and am expecting that the T-nation can generate 3x the 1000 we already got.


The real difficulty isn’t physiology here - it’s psychology. The longer someone “carries fat”, the more likely it is that habits are formed to support that fat. The habits are much harder to break than the metabolism.

It all depends on what’s occured to promote the fat gain in the first place. If it’s just poor livin’, then it can easily be removed. If it’s poor livin’ plus the development of insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome, there will be some challenges. But if an individual is still reasonably healthy, that fat should come off with a solid program.

Dr John,

I am trying to build muscle and not worry so much about fat right now. My question is about breakfast. I have experiemented with different types of breakfasts (p+f, p+c) but what do you recommend at that meal. I am ususally hungry within 2 hours of eating breakfast.

Also I have started supplementing an extra P+C meal. Usually this is a can of tuna and 1 tablespoon of canola oil and my muscles actually look a little fuller. I really believe I was not getting enough healthy fats in my diet. I went from high protein and carbs, very low fat to more good fat and I can see the difference. Can you briefly comment on the importance of fat in the diet?

Thanks for your time and willingness to share and teach us.

I know the Grow! is being reformulated with Micellar protein.

What is being reformulated with Surge?

Relating to these reformulations, maybe you could touch on the difference between all the proteins in supplements and their derivation.

For example: whey protein hydrolysate, whey protein isolate, calcium caseinate, casein micelles, kappa casein, milk protein, etc.

What are the differences? Whats their derivation? Why so many variations etc?

-Get Lifted

2 Preworkout questions:

I like to limit myself to one shake per day (Grow! on off days, Surge on work days), and I usually eat something right before working out (either a protein bar or a quick P+C snack). Am I right to have a protein snack within a 1/2 hour of working out?

Also, I usually either have some combination of caffeine, green tea, ephedra, or Power Drive…sometimes all of the above. Do you think that these stimulants taken immediately pre-workout could negatively impact my results?


Dr. B

In looking at the last (or “bedtime”) meal of the day in “No-nonsense”, you seem to be leaning more toward yogurt than you previous recommendation of cottage cheese. (This would be a WELCOME change for all the haters of cottage cheese!)

  1. What do you see as the "advantage"of yogurt over cottage cheese?

  2. Do you mind posting an “ideal” bedtime meal and the reasoning behind it?

This is a great teaching moment!

Husker, I typically don’t like questions like “what should I eat for breakfast” because the breakfast strategy is dictated by the entire meal strategy.

Asking about 1 meal among 7-8 is like asking where your left food should be during the squat.

See what I mean?

So your breakfast would be part of a bigger picture Id need to see in order to say what’s “best”.

Thanks, I appreciate the answer.

I want to ask one more question. Do you have any quick thoughts on the pros and cons of regular fasting-not necessarily for weight loss, but for internal cleansing, longevity, metabolic improvement, etc.

Thanks again



Fat is important in the diet. But the right fat is critical.

I recommend 30% of fat coming from saturated, 30% from poly, 30% from mono. Check the tips section on the left of your screen and there’s a tip I gave about fat that you’ll enjoy.

And one tip for now - replace the canola with either a) olive oil or b) flax.

Hi John,

Thanks for taking the time out to do this.

OK I’ll second CTs request: care to comment on CLA? There are articles on its benefits but there is also negative press (see two negative abstracts below). Perhaps you can straighten me out.

The Norwegian food-authorities are now warning the following groups about the dangers of CLA (see UDO’s site):

Pregnant Mothers
Breast Feeding Mothers
High Cholesterol
Overweight and Diabetes 2

Larsen TM, Toubro S, Astrup A.
Efficacy and safety of dietary supplements containing CLA for the treatment of obesity: evidence from animal and human studies.
J Lipid Res. 2003 Dec;44(12):2234-41.

Dietary supplements containing conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) are widely promoted as weight loss agents available over the counter and via the Internet. In this review, we evaluate the efficacy and safety of CLA supplementation based on peer-reviewed published results from randomized, placebo-controlled, human intervention trials lasting more than 4 weeks. We also review findings from experimental studies in animals and studies performed in vitro.

CLA appears to produce loss of fat mass and increase of lean tissue mass in rodents, but the results from 13 randomized, controlled, short-term (<6 months) trials in humans find little evidence to support that CLA reduces body weight or promotes repartitioning of body fat and fat-free mass in man. However, there is increasing evidence from mice and human studies that the CLA isomer trans-10, cis-12 may produce liver hypertrophy and insulin resistance via a redistribution of fat deposition that resembles lipodystrophy. …

In conclusion, although CLA appears to attenuate increases in body weight and body fat in several animal models, CLA isomers sold as dietary supplements are not effective as weight loss agents in humans and may actually have adverse effects on human health.

OBJECTIVE: Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a group of dietary fatty acids with antiobesity and antidiabetic effects in some animals. The trans10cis12 (t10c12) CLA isomer seems to cause these effects, including improved insulin sensitivity. …

In a randomized, double-blind controlled trial, abdominally obese men (n = 60) were treated with 3.4 g/day CLA (isomer mixture), purified t10c12 CLA, or placebo. … Unexpectedly, t10c12 CLA increased insulin resistance (19%; P < 0.01) and glycemia (4%; P < 0.001) and reduced HDL cholesterol (-4%; P < 0.01) compared with placebo, whereas body fat, sagittal abdominal diameter, and weight decreased versus baseline, but the difference was not significantly different from placebo. The CLA mixture did not change glucose metabolism, body composition, or weight compared with placebo but lowered HDL cholesterol (-2%; P < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: These results reveal important isomer-specific metabolic actions of CLA in abdominally obese humans. A CLA-induced insulin resistance has previously been described only in lipodystrophic mice. Considering the use of CLA-supplements among obese individuals, it is important to clarify the clinical consequences of these results, but they also provide physiological insights into the role of specific dietary fatty acids as modulators of insulin resistance in humans.

I don’t think Surge is being reforumulated. Same old Surge - same fantastic benefits.

As far as protein types, here’s a monster amt of text for ya…(comes from Sports Supplement Encyclopedia - you can find it on my site).

It’s a bit older but still great info!

Whole Foods vs Supplemental Protein

Athletes and nutritionists have been arguing for years about whether or not protein supplements are necessary. Nutritionists argue that protein needs can be met by whole food sources. They also say that supplemental protein powders offer no advantages. We don’t necessarily agree with the nutritionists on this point. Certain protein supplements do offer significant advantages over whole food sources. In our opinion, they definitely have a place in any athlete’s nutritional program.

Variety and Convenience

Most athletes and nutritionists will certainly agree that protein intake should come from a variety of sources. Different protein sources have different amino acid, vitamin and mineral profiles. The consumption of a limited variety of any macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates, or fats) or micronutrient (vitamins or minerals) can lead to nutritional deficiencies. So how does one prevent deficiency? Eat variety! Mainstays of the diet should be protein sources like lean beef, eggs, low fat cheese, milk, fish, and chicken.

But there is a problem here. The problem is that most typical nutritional programs, even in athletes, are far from the ideal recommendation for variety mentioned above. Typically athletes choose protein sources that are convenient and require minimal preparation (there goes the chicken, beef and eggs). In this scenario, because the protein sources are limited, the athlete doesn’t eat enough of them. After all what 200lb guy wants to eat 3 whole containers of cottage cheese just to meet his 180g-protein requirement for the day. People don’t often really realize just how difficult or important it is to get sufficient protein. If you can fit in 5 meals a day, this amounts to an average of about 40 grams of protein per meal, every meal. Since a can of tuna or a 4 oz chicken breast only contains about 30 g of protein, getting all your protein is difficult indeed; especially from whole food sources.

In addition to how difficult it is to get enough protein without good planning, the food protein sources chosen for convenience may be missing certain amino acids necessary for growth and repair. If this happens, although the grams of protein eaten may seem to be adequate, there can be serious deficiencies in the diet. Specific amino acid deficiencies from limited variety can seriously impair normal function.

Again, we recognize that suggesting changes in food selection may correct this problem. But these dietary changes may compromise the convenience factor. If this happens, the new diet will not be followed for long before the athlete slips back into convenience mode. And when in convenience mode, meal planning is at a minimum. This leads to poor food choices. Most “on the go” snacks are usually sugar and fat laden while containing very little protein. It’s not easy to find high quality 30-40g protein meals at the local mini mart on your way to work or to the gym!

Protein supplements are the answer to the convenience factor as they can fit quite nicely into any schedule. Protein supplements often contain very high quality protein that require no meal planning short of remembering to grab your protein packet or protein bar on the way out the door. In addition, since these protein powders are often fortified with vitamins and minerals (two other components of a balanced diet that many athletes are lacking), they may provide an easy source of other nutrients necessary for optimal nutrition and growth.

Protein Supplements and Cost

One common and sensitive issue focuses on the cost of protein supplements. Nutritionists have claimed that protein supplements are very expensive relative to their protein content and that whole food sources are cheaper.

Protein supplements, while slightly more expensive in some cases, are not substantially more expensive than whole food sources when compared per 40g of protein. We therefore believe that protein supplements are not unaffordable. Again, taking into account the convenience factor, most supplemental protein powders that offer around 40g of protein, 24g of carbohydrate and 3g of fat are substantially cheaper (and certainly more nutritious) than the fast food meals that some individuals would choose over cooking - lb of chicken or preparing a dozen egg whites. In addition, since many food sources contain other macronutrients, (carbohydrates and fats) if an individual is interested in increasing protein intake with a minimal increase in calories from other macronutrients, fat and carbohydrate free protein powders are ideal.

Protein and Digestibility

Finally, another advantage of supplemental protein sources is that they are liquid and therefore more quickly digested than whole protein sources. In addition to rapid digestion, a very high percentage of a good supplemental protein powder is completely digested and absorbed due to the amino acid profiles of the supplements and the lack of lactose or fat. Today many supplemental proteins are also partially hydrolyzed (broken down) when processed. Therefore they require less natural GI processing before absorption. For athletes requiring an abundance of calories, these benefits are desired since they will allow for more feedings during the day without feeling constantly “full”. In addition they will allow for less GI distress during training and competition.

Protein Types

Since I think we made a pretty strong case as to why you may need protein powder supplementation, let’s talk quality.

Protein Quality

Which protein is best for muscle growth? Well, that question can’t be answered because the best thing for muscle growth is to consume many different proteins. However, much of your protein should come from high quality sources. Quality is measured in many different ways but two of the most common are biological value (BV) and the protein digestibility corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS).

The BV score gives us an indication of how much of the protein eaten remains in the body (the rest is excreted via sweat, urine, feces). Since the BV score is measured relative to a high quality “test protein” (usually egg protein), the test protein is given a BV of 100. Therefore protein sources can either have BV scores less than 100 indicating that they are less useful than egg protein in creating protein retention in the body or they can have a BV score of greater than 100 indicating that they are more useful than egg in creating protein retention in the body. A BV score of 70% or greater is usually considered good quality protein.

The PDCAAS measures the individual amino acids in the protein. As we stated earlier, a deficiency in only one amino acid may cause dramatic negative consequences. Therefore this measure of protein quality examines the essential amino acid content of the protein in question and compares it against the human requirement for essential amino acids. Since a protein is only as good as it’s weakest link, the amino acid that is lowest in the protein source then is termed the limiting amino acid. Here’s an example. Wheat protein is known to be a poor quality protein due to the fact that its limiting essential amino acid is lysine. Since the lysine content of wheat protein is only 8mg/1g protein while the human requirement for lysine is 19g/1g protein, this protein source only provides 42% (8 divided by 19) of the necessary lysine for growth and repair.

So as you can see, animal products seem to score better on both the BV and PCDAAS scales. This is why animal proteins are typically the proteins of choice for athletes. Other protein sources like beans, grains, and peanuts can be eaten but are usually insufficient to provide the body with the amino acids necessary for growth.

Due to the high quality protein in animal sources, researchers have examined whether animal protein is better for getting stronger, gaining mass and losing fat than vegetarian protein. From these studies it has been concluded that an omnivorous diet containing protein from several sources including various meats, eggs, and dairy is superior to a vegetarian diet containing no meat and only a small amount of dairy and eggs.

Milk Protein Components

In addition to the animal protein vs. vegetarian debate, another debate has recently heated up regarding the benefits of different milk protein components, namely whey and casein.

Whey and casein make up at least 90% of the total cow’s milk protein content. You will also see that table 9 contains a listing of the peptides and proteins contained in both whey and casein. Milk is probably more complex than you thought!

We point out these components of milk protein for good reason. Many studies have shown that whey and casein proteins have different properties in the body (NP Shah 2000, L Hambraeus et al 1995, P Roberta and S Zaloga 1994, J Morley 1982, Y Boirie et al 1997, M Coste and D Tome 1991, V Brantl et al 1979, R Demling and L DeSanti 1998, R Demling and L DeSanti 2000). These studies have shown that even the whey and casein peptides listed in table 9 have even smaller subunits that have very profound pharmacologic effects (drug-like effects). These effects include the prevention of cancer, the ability to decrease blood pressure, the ability to stimulate the immune system and fight infection, the ability to increase nitrogen retention, and the ability increase the efficiency of nutrient delivery into the muscle mass.

Protein Processing and Isolation

It is very important to note here that these amazing properties of whey and casein are only available if the processing of the original milk protein is done properly (i.e. the proteins are not destroyed or denatured nor are the active peptides lost; G Bounos et al 1991, A Enomoto et al 1993). The processing of milk can be done in several ways in order to separate out the casein and whey from the lactose, fat and other milk componenets. Since casein is relatively easy to separate and whey protein is a bit more complex, let’s discuss whey.

To concentrate whey protein many companies use 6 major processing steps including: a) partial predigestion b) enzyme hydrolysis c) ultrafiltration and dia-filtration to remove lactose (milk sugar) and fat d) reverse osmosis to separate different sized whey particles e) an ion-exchange processes and 6) high-speed air drying at low temperatures. These steps start with liquid milk and end up giving us a concentrated whey protein in powder form.

In the past, the isolation process was not as streamlined and efficient as it is today. This meant a high lactose and fat content in these original whey protein concentrates. In addition, these methods utilized high temperatures or large changes in acidity in order to concentrate either the whey or the casein. Due to these extreme treatments, whey protein products contained only 30-40% protein and high amounts of lactose, fat and denatured proteins (AJ Vasbinder et al 2001, AC Alting et al 2000, T Desrosiers et al 1991, AJ Law and J Lever 2000, JE Kinsella and DM Whitehead 1989, MP Vasson et al 1998). This means that the whey structure was destroyed and many of the most potent peptides in whey and casein were eliminated.

Today, however, more advanced methods of isolation have been developed (R Rossano et al 2001). The following types of whey protein are available today:

  1. Whey protein concentrates are now processed at low temperatures and low acid conditions. They can contain as much as 70 to 80% percent protein, with small amounts of lactose and minimal fats. In addition, this process ensures that about 90% - 96% of this protein is undenatured. It also contains most of the active peptides discussed above.

  2. Ion exchange whey protein isolates are now processed to contain more than 90% protein content with minimal lactose and no fat. This offers an advantage over whey concentrates in terms of pure protein content. However some of the isolation procedures (ion-exchange procedures) lead to a denaturation or a loss of the important peptides discussed above. Therefore ion exchange whey protein isolates may be higher in protein percentage but may not offer the same health and muscle building benefits as the lower protein whey concentrates.

  3. Cross flow micro (CFM) filtration methods have been developed in order to prevent the problems seen with ion exchange proteins. This method is by far the best for whey protein concentration and isolation. In fact, just like ion exchange proteins, this method produces an isolate that is greater than 90% protein with no fat or lactose. However, unlike ion exchange proteins, CFM proteins are at least 99% undenatured and retain all of the important peptides discussed above. Also, the calcium content of CFM protein is high and this is an important consideration with high protein diets (see side bar #3).

Obviously we are most enthusiastic about the CFM process for isolation of the milk proteins and peptides. The only drawback to this technique is the price. It is a bit higher than whey concentrates or ion exchange isolates but again, you get a better concentration of protein and the important peptides that enhance immune function, decrease blood pressure, and increase nitrogen retention. When we mentioned earlier that price alone shouldn’t determine your choice in a protein powder, this is exactly why. You could pay less, but if you do, you may be getting a protein powder that is of less value (in terms of biologically active peptide content) than plain old milk.

One more recent development that is gaining popularity is the ability to separate out individual portions of the protein (i.e. β-lactoglobulin, lactoferrin) so that they can be taken in larger quantities without all the “extras”. The future may hold a time when you can supplement your diet with bioactive peptides rather than the whole protein.

Protein Hydrolysates

Before we delve further into specific protein types and their effects we would like to make a brief note about protein hydrolysates. Whey or casein protein can be hydrolyzed (broken into smaller pieces) by enzymes that produce small chains of amino acids called peptides. This process mimics our own digestive actions. This makes hydrolysis an ideal way to process protein as long as manufacturers are careful not to denature it. Once hydrolyzed, these undenatured peptides have many benefits over and above whole protein sources. First, since the GI prefers peptides to whole proteins or amino acids, hydrolyzed proteins are more easily broken down and absorbed into the blood stream than whole protein sources (S Ziemlanski et al 1978). In fact hydrolyzed proteins may be absorbed in about half the time that it takes free from amino acids or whole proteins. This can lead to a more rapid delivery into the body, especially when it is needed most (like after weight training workouts – see side bar #2).

Also, hydrolyzed whey protein concentrates have a higher BV score than whey protein concentrates or other milk protein preparations (149-159 vs 104; S Ziemlanski et al 1978). As we already know, higher BV scores translate to better processing and utilization of protein in the body. In addition, this increase in BV may increase the release of IGF-1, which, as mentioned earlier, can stimulate muscle growth (GR Adams 1998).

Finally, studies have even shown that hydrolysates do not stimulate the release of the catabolic hormone cortisol whereas whole intact proteins do stimulate this catabolic hormone (M Slag et al 1981).

Although protein hydrolysates seem to offer some nice advantages when compared to intact proteins, a word of caution is again necessary. Different hydrolysis techniques have been used to break protein down into small peptides. These techniques have had various degrees of success. Older methods of acid-based hydrolysis often led to a substantial destruction of the proteins and peptides. Also, older enzymatic methods often produced incompletely hydrolyzed products that were very bitter tasting and that also lost their functionality (YH Lee et al 1992). Fortunately new methods of mild enzymatic hydrolysis have been developed to hydrolyze whey or casein proteins. So when looking for a good hydrolysate, look for one that has been enzymatically hydrolyzed.

Whey vs Casein - Is One Better Than the Other?

In the previous few sections we focused on the many small active peptides in milk proteins. However in this section we would like to discuss the substantial differences between the major milk proteins, whey and casein. As we already know, whey makes up about 18-20% of cow’s milk protein while casein makes up about 75-80% of cow’s milk protein (see table 9).

While whey and casein may have different bioactive peptides (see table 10), they also have major physical differences. The main difference is how they behave once they enter your GI tract. Both are definitely high quality protein sources with high PDCAAS and BV scores but what differs between the two proteins is their rate of digestion and absorption into the body (S Mahe et al 1996, Y Boirie et al 1997). Simply put, the amino acids and peptides from whey protein move through the GI and into your bloodstream quickly while casein amino acids and peptides “clot” in the GI and therefore are much more slowly digested. Casein therefore takes longer to get to the blood stream than whey.

So what do these differences in digestion and absorption mean to us? Well, functionally this means that the amino acids and peptides from whey will rapidly get into the blood. And these rapid rises in blood amino acids create a quick and short-lived increase in protein synthesis. Studies show that after consuming whey protein, blood amino acids rise and then return to normal 300 minutes after eating). Although this does stimulate protein synthesis, it has no impact on protein breakdown. The balance between protein synthesis and protein breakdown determines muscle gain.

On the other hand, casein creates the opposite effect. The slow delivery of casein will lead to a small but steady increase in blood amino acids over a long period of time. After consuming casein, blood amino acids are elevated for at least 420 minutes. This stimulates protein synthesis to a smaller extent than whey but it does significantly decrease protein breakdown.

So what does this information mean? Well, when the effects of whey and casein were all calculated out and the net protein synthesis or breakdown was measured, you can see from the figure 1 that after 120 minutes there were no major differences in protein balance (the balance of protein synthesis and protein breakdown) between the groups. However after 420 minutes, the casein group had a far more positive protein balance than the whey group (total synthesis was greater than total breakdown).

So what this tells us is that the rate of digestion of your protein has some pretty interesting effects on protein balance in the body. If you recall that a positive protein status is desired when muscle gain is the goal, then you can see why we’re discussing this study. Interestingly a follow-up study to the Y Boirie et al study was published recently to confirm these findings (M Dangin et al 2001). But in this study an interesting twist was added.

In the Dangin et al study, the authors wanted to measure protein balance differences between slow digesting proteins and fast digesting proteins, independent of whey vs. casein. So they compared a slow digesting casein protein to a fast digesting amino acid blend very similar to the composition of casein. Then they compared a fast digesting whey protein to a modified whey protein that had slower digestion rate. At the end of the 7-hour measurement period, the “slow proteins” (whether whey or casein) resulted in a more positive protein balance than the “fast proteins” (whether whey or casein).

So does this resolve the debate? Isn’t it now clear that it’s not a debate between whey and casein? It’s a debate between “slow” and “fast” proteins. In addition, isn’t it clear that weight trainers who eat every few hours probably won’t see a difference between the two types of protein anyway? After all, the only differences in protein balance were seen after 7 hours. At the 2-hour mark, they were the same. Maybe this suggests that a “slow” protein should be taken before bed at night, but during the day, it shouldn’t matter, right? We wish it were so easy!

Last year, a study was published by R Demling and L DeSanti comparing body composition and strength changes in dieting overweight police officers supplementing their diets with 75 g of either a milk protein blend containing mostly casein or a whey only protein blend. Three groups of officers were studied for 12 weeks. One group followed a diet but was given no supplemental protein and did not exercise. The other two groups dieted, weight trained, and received one of the two protein supplements described above. As you can see from figure 4, the milk protein/casein group lost almost 6.5 lbs (3kg) more fat and gained nearly 4.5lbs (2kg) more muscle than the whey only group. In addition, the milk protein/casein group had a 31% improvement over the whey only group in muscle strength.

These are amazing differences. And the study above isn’t the first study that Drs Demling and DeSanti have done comparing these two types of protein. In another project they examined the effects of these two proteins on burn patients. Burn patients normally lose large amounts of muscle as a result of the trauma. In the study, the authors were trying to preserve their muscle mass with weight training and protein supplementation. The results showed that casein supplementation lead to the recovery of lean mass and muscle function twice as fast as whey supplementation (R Demling and L DeSanti 1998).

Why such the dramatic differences in these two studies? The authors claim that several factors contributed to the differences between milk/casein and whey. They claim that the contributing factors were:

a) the slow rates of digestion and absorption of the milk/casein protein
b) the idea that milk/casein protein may promote better protein balance over time
c) the idea that the active peptide components of milk/casein proteins discussed above lead to anabolic and anti-catabolic effects

So which protein source is better? Neither! Use both. A combination of whey and casein may offer the anabolic and anti-catabolic benefits of both proteins as well as all those cool bioactive peptides of both. A protein blend of milk protein isolates, whey isolates, and casein will probably offer the best possible combination whether dieting or trying to gain muscle.

Protein Timing

Well, now that we’ve covered some of the hottest and most interesting proteins in athletic/bodybuilding supplementation today, we’d like to discuss how best to incorporate these proteins into a daily eating plan. Due to the different effects that the proteins have on the body in terms of digestion and absorption, perhaps it makes sense to utilize these special properties when they are needed most (i.e. after the workout). Since we have all this great science, we might as well use it!

It makes sense to categorize protein sources into two groups; the slow proteins and the fast proteins. Slow proteins would be whole food sources like cottage cheese, egg, beef, fish, chicken as well as supplemental protein powders containing milk and casein (isolates or concentrates). Fast proteins would be proteins like whey isolate or concentrate as well as most protein hydrolysates including casein, whey, etc.

The ideal scenario to make best use of the slow vs fast nature of protein is to understand what the body may need at certain times of the day:

  1. First thing in the morning. When waking up in the morning, your body has just been through a long “fast” (6-9 hours for most people). During this overnight fast, the body has been using up its stored energy by slowly sending nutrients out from the liver, fat cells, and muscle cells. The body does this in order to keep blood sugar constant and to fuel the brain and other tissues during sleep. Unfortunately, this constitutes a small degree of body cell destruction. At this time, the best thing you can do for your body is to consume a relatively quick digesting protein source. That way you can rapidly end this cellular destruction. Since the use of stored energy will be rapidly stopped, you will be using the stored energy for building new tissues or saving your stored energy for when it’s needed most (high level training). Therefore a fast protein source would be best to start your day with. One nice way to accomplish this would be to drink a small whey protein or hydrolysate shake immediately upon waking. Then, a little while later, consume your normal breakfast meal.
  2. Immediately after training. Side bar #2 deals with the body’s nutritional needs after training. Basically, after training the body is primed for nutrient uptake, especially the muscles. So this is a great time to consume a quick digesting fast protein. Since whey protein hydrolysates are the fastest to be digested and absorbed, these are pretty much the only choice of protein for post workout recovery nutrition. But don’t forget your carbs and BCAA.
  3. During the day. Since, throughout the day, your goal should be to eat meals every few hours, the need for “special” proteins is limited. Since studies have shown that an omnivorous diet is ideal for promoting positive training adaptations (see sidebar #1), lean meat sources of protein are ideal during the day. While we encourage lean meat sources of protein for most of your day, if you get in a bind, a good whey/casein/milk protein isolate/concentrate blend can be a good compromise due to the combination of fast proteins and slow proteins.
  4. Immediately before bed. Before you lie down and enter dreamland, you should consider taking in a final low calorie meal in anticipation of the 6-8 hour fast ahead. You want to prevent the body from using all of its stored energy during the night. This would be a great time for a slow protein since the slow proteins release their nutrients over several hours. In fact, the studies we discussed above showed that even after 7 hours, the subjects were still in a positive protein balance and still had a slow delivery of nutrients (Y Boirie et al 1997, M Dangin et al 2001). So before bed a whey/casein, milk protein isolate/concentrate blend would be good. You could even go with just a slow digesting cottage cheese meal at this time.


The meal before training is a good idea. I hate to have an completely empty tummy before training.

However I think you should be sipping a P+C drink during training. Have a serving of Surge during and one after and you’ll notice a difference, Im sure of it.


I like Power Drive taken after the workout for CNS recovery purposes. Before the workout some caffeine alone should do the trick (esp if you’re not taking lots during other times of the day). Check out the Think Tank for a great discussion of this topic.


Fasting is a big mistake.

Here’s an older article I wrote.

Summary - if you want to detoxify, simply stop eating toxins - don’t stop eating altogether!!! Talk about throwing out the baby with the bath water!!!

Appetite for Construction
Jun 21 2002
By Dr. John M Berardi, Ph.D.
First published at

Q: I keep hearing about the health benefits of fasting and how a short fast can “detoxify” the body. I know some old-timer bodybuilders would use short fasts sometimes, too. What do you think of short term fasting?

A: I think that short-term fasting makes me hungry - stark, ravenous, prison-camp hungry. That’s right, I’ve tried fasting before and let me tell you, when your nickname is “Massive Eating Berardi,” fasting ain’t easy.

So why did I do it? Well, I’m fascinated by physiology and have always been a physiological daredevil. Some might even call me the Evil Knievel of physiological manipulations. In fact, many of the most hardcore T-men would go fetal if I discussed some of my abuses.

So, when some holistic, papaya-juice drinking, granola-head friends of mine told me about their regular foray into juice fasting and how amazing it made them feel, I stood - metaphorically speaking, of course - at the edge of the grand canyon, ready to jump.

So why and how would one fast? Well, forgive me as I go Eastern medicine and philosophy on ya, but here comes some touchy-feely stuff. According to the fasting experts, juice fasting is the most effective way to detoxify the mind, body, spirit, and emotions, while promoting energization and relaxation. These individuals believe that the average person’s unhealthy, highly processed, and highly toxic diet (their words) contributes to many symptoms of toxicity and ill health - including their physical and mental/emotional health.

In response to this, they believe that the abstinence from food for periods of seven or more days can rejuvenate, purify, and heal the body and bring about greater spiritual awareness. But rather than complete abstinence from nutrition, it’s recommended that one consume easily digestible juices and a whole lot of water. In one holistic practitioner’s words:

“Fresh juices are easily assimilated and require minimum digestion, while they supply many nutrients and stimulate our body to clear its wastes. Juice fasting is also safer than water fasting, because it supports the body nutritionally while cleansing and probably even produces a better detoxification and quicker recovery.”

Personally, I’m always intensely curious and maintain a healthy skepticism about health and dietary practices that seem to have been around for thousands of years yet have shaky sounding physiological bases and next to no research support. Certainly, fasting fits into this category.

When evaluating the merits of such practices, there are two ways to proceed. The first is to simply give them a try and evaluate the outcome. And many individuals who have followed short-term juice fasts are strong supporters of the outcomes. However, there are weaknesses to their testimonies since they often enter into a fast as strong believers of the practice - so, of course, they see some benefit. In research we call this the placebo effect.

The second way to proceed is to deconstruct the practice into its component parts (i.e. physical, mental, emotional, spiritual “regeneration”), evaluate them individually and in relation to the whole organism, and generate a priori hypothesis (a pre-measurement guess) as to whether fasting will offer any benefit or not. While this latter method has its weaknesses (the body doesn’t work as independent parts but as an integrated whole), that’s the nature of empirical research as well as the nature of this column. So here we go.

In my humble opinion, when evaluating the fasting pamphlets and the words of fasting practitioners, there are a few glaring weaknesses. While these weaknesses are certainly not fatal flaws (i.e. not enough to invalidate their claims), they are enough to give one pause.

One of the weaknesses I mention lies in the fact that fasting has a tradition steeped in philosophical and religious rite. Voluntary abstinence from food has been a tradition in most religions and has been used for such things as penitence, preparation for ceremony, purification, mourning, sacrifice, union with God, and the enhancement of knowledge and powers. Even Jesus Christ was a believer in fasting.

Unfortunately for the credibility of the historical argument, many of these same individuals often believe that drinking their own urine is a reasonable thing to do! From the historical perspective, it’s easy to understand how fasting would be vociferously advocated since it’s played such a large part in the tradition of people’s belief structures. As we all well know, religious and philosophical belief structures are the most vehemently adhered to, often in the face of reason and logic (Catholics, see The Crusades).

However, this alone isn’t enough to discredit the practice. Perhaps fasting became such an integral part of the culture because of the consistent physical benefits it offered. One integral part of the Biblical fasting ritual included “going to the waters,” a euphemism for going to a river or lake, inserting a hollow reed into the rectum and irrigating to “flush the evils” from the bowels. This is the precursor to the modern day naturopathic practice of colon flushing.

Therefore, the fasting ritual did include some physiological manipulation. When it’s recognized that people believed that “Satan” or “evil” was manifest physically in the form of illness, it’s understandable that physical ailments and treatments were associated intimately with the spiritual and the religious. So we can’t discredit fasting on these grounds.

Current research in rats and in humans has been showing that caloric restriction increases longevity due to an increase in tissue turnover, altered liver and gastrointestinal structure and function, and a modification of the redox (oxidation-reduction or the oxidant-antioxidant) state of the body. So perhaps there is something to this fasting phenomenon? Unfortunately, short-term fasting is just too short in duration to promote many of the structural and functional changes its proponents claim that occur.

On a side note, I’d like to quickly address the caloric restriction thing. While the caloric restriction proponents are singing the praises of low-calorie diets, part of the benefit of such programs is that these individuals make better food selections when eating their low-calorie diets. So the secret may be in the food choices, not in the lack of food.

Furthermore, many of the changes seen with caloric restriction are also seen with regular strength and endurance exercise. While caloric restriction may be needed to enhance health and longevity in sedentary individuals who have no regard for smart food decisions, for us iron heads that spend our lives dedicated to training and proper nutrition another approach is warranted. If your goals are to maximize muscle mass while being healthy, perhaps the key to longevity lies partly in eating a lot of food but making good food choices (see my “Lean Eatin’” articles - parts 1 and 2). In addition, our regular program of exercise will bring complementary benefits to enhance the positive effects of our smart food decisions.

This discussion is relevant to even short programs of fasting since fasting is justified most often in the condemnation of the average person’s food choices. However, if you follow an excellent dietary regimen, many of the “toxicities” and ailments that fasting is supposed to help are nonexistent to begin with.

Another major weakness of the pro-fasters is the same complaint I have against many chiropractic practitioners. The pro-fasters claim that fasting can and will have opposing effects. For example, I’ve had chiropractors tell me, in colorful language, that the adjustment will either make me feel better, worse, or no different. Gee, thanks for the prognosis, doc! After my root canal my dentist can at least tell me that I’m going to feel like shit.

While they say that fasting is rejuvenating and promotes positive health and big increases in energy, here are some contradictory claims from their materials:

The tongues of most people will develop a thick white or yellow fur coating, which can be scraped or brushed off.

Bad breath and displeasing tastes in the mouth or foul-smelling urine or stools may occur.

Skin odor or skin eruptions such as small spots or painful boils, may also appear, depending on the state of toxicity.

Digestive upset, mucusy stools, flatulence, or even nausea and vomiting may occur during fasting.

Some people experience insomnia or bad dreams as their body releases poisons during the night.

The general energy level is usually good during fasting, although there can be ups and downs.

Every two or three days, as the body goes into a deeper level of dumping wastes, the energy may go down.

Great, so my energy may go up, down, or stay the same. My skin may break out in painful boils, may get better or stay the same. My digestive system will spill out noxious fluid and be upset, may get better or stay the same. Talk about noncommittal!

Again, while these contradictions aren’t fatal flaws, when the most forceful proponents of fasting don’t seem to have a clue as to what fasting does, it makes me wonder why the heck I would trust in their advice.

So at this point, I’ve covered some of the weaknesses of the fasting argument. But what about the benefits? A simple internet search will provide thousands of testimonies as to the tremendous benefits of a short term juicing fast. However, these benefits aren’t necessarily physiological in nature. These case studies often describe the mental and emotional benefits before physiological ones. But I certainly won’t discredit these benefits simply because we can’t measure them. Like I said earlier, there are thousands of years of tradition that point to fasting as a way of enlightenment, and I can see how this could occur.

When dieting for bodybuilding shows, the body is deprived of adequate caloric intake. It slows down and becomes much less physically active. In the absence of physical activity and nervous activity, there’s much more time for calm and relaxed thought. This may be where the spiritual stuff comes into play.

So, to tie this discussion together, it’s important to realize that the proponents of fasting claim there are spiritual, mental, emotional, and health benefits to fasting. The mental stuff I can see, but the physical stuff is questionable. The dramatic claims for benefit tend to be emphasized in those who are sedentary and follow unhealthy eating patterns. These aren’t the same individuals who are reading T-mag, training regularly and intensely, and eating as per my recommendations.

So here are the questions a T-mag reader might ask and the answers I’d give:

Are there any muscle building or fat-loss benefits with healthy fasting?


Are there any benefits to fasting when my diet is already very complete and I’m making excellent food choices?

Probably not.

Are there any spiritual or mental benefits with healthy fasting?


Are there any benefits to fasting for my sedentary, overweight, Krispy Kreme eatin’ mother-in-law?

Yes. (Now be nice and try not to convince her to drink her own urine!)

Diet Vacation

Q: Ian King and others recommend taking an “off” week after so many weeks of near continuous training. Generally speaking, what should my diet be like in my off week? Part of me wants to eat more to help with recovery; the other part of me says to eat less to make up for the fact that I’m not expending as much energy. Your thoughts?

A: Perhaps you can try fasting during your off weeks. You might recover better, you might feel the same or your might not recover at all!

Okay, I’m just kidding.

In all seriousness, I believe that regular off weeks are integral to your progress and that what you choose should depend on whether your primary goal is to get bigger, to recover or to get leaner. I understand many of you want to be bigger and leaner, but in order to achieve success, you had better prefer one of those two. In addition, your psychological state should play a role in your decision. Below I’ll address each of these situations.

Getting Bigger and Recovering

If your goal is hypertrophy or recovery from a sport-specific program, your goal should be to eat as per your normal diet for non-training days. If you’re smart, you should already be eating more calories on training days than non-training days. So during your non-training weeks, simply follow the same diet you ate on the non-training days. You can’t supercharge recovery by eating more. All that extra energy will either be stored as fat or be burned off as extra energy. The decrease in energy expenditure will allow that normal caloric load to help with repair and replenishment.

Getting Leaner

If trying to get ripped, it’s fine to take weeks off from training. Just be sure to factor in the lower energy expenditure by lowering your energy intake.

Psychological State

Often, intense athletes and weightlifters will follow very regimented training and nutrition programs. While they may take regular breaks from training to help with physiological recovery, the value of psychological recovery isn’t discussed often enough. A week off can be very effective in rejuvenating training desire. As far as diet goes, however, athletes often plug away with the same old eating plans, making the diets boring and dull, thus increasing the likelihood to “cheat” more often than necessary.

If dietary staleness creeps in from time to time, the off week from training might be a great time to take a break from your standard nutritional program as well. Sometimes I’ll personally just take a week off training and spend that week eating for pleasure rather than eating like it’s my job. Rather than seven or eight meals, I’ll stick to three good, satisfying meals per day (choosing a lot of very healthy foods but not being afraid to have some meals that would normally be considered “bad”) and throwing in an occasional tasty treat here and there. I usually end up eating about the same or fewer calories than I would have during a regular training week anyway, so my mind benefits, my muscles recover, and my body comp doesn’t suffer.

So, choose your goal and eat appropriately!

CLA is an interesting fat, for sure.

But Im not sure I’m ready to guinea pig my athletes with it yet.

There’s so much weird discussion with respect to quality control, the actual physiological impact of different isomers, etc that I’d rather stick to fish oil and a solid diet and training routine.

John: A week long Forum is very generous, thanks!

For a 21-22 y/o male, how do you think 2 bottles (168 caps) of the old MAG-10 would be best utilized? Two one-bottle cycles, or one two-bottle cycle?

I.e. 6 or 12 caps per day?

Also what is your opinion on D. Barr’s nocturnal meal suggestions as outlined in this article. Is one better than another?

If you were to formulate your own nocturnal meal:

  1. What would it be for a MAG-10 chemically assisted period?

  2. What would it be for a non-chemically assisted period?


RIT Jared

Im no MAG-10 expert so I’ll leave this discussion to the pros…

As far as Dave Barr - he’s full of crap. Completely full of…just kidding. Dave’s a good friend of mine and I support both his ideas and his writing.

As far as meals at nite…

Pre-bed can be any slow digesting protein. Casein works. Beef works. Chicken works. Etc. But don’t forget, it’s like asking where your right hand should be during a squat. You need to make sure it fits into the overall program.

Night-time feedings - if you get up to pee, have any quick meal that includes protein. Doesn’t matter what as much as it matters that you should have it.

Hello john, quickly I just wanted to say how great all of work is! My question for you is how important is it to track fat in ones diet (for all stages cutting, bulking, etc) if he or she knows primarly where most of the fat is coming from, (i.e. cheese, olive oil, nuts, etc). Thank You