Post-Workout Craze

Ive been getting lots of emails that theorize that taking a post-workout drink before the workout would be more beneficial than waiting till after…I disagree and here is why:

1) During training, digestion is very poor due to decreased localized GI blood flow (and shunting to the muscle). This means that the preworkout shake will probably not be efficiently absorbed. 2) The insulin response to the drink will cause a negative effect on blood sugar during training, reducing intensity and work capacity. When blood sugar is low (as it would be about 15min after a pre-workout drink), total work capacity (even in anaerobic training) is poor. 3) Hydrolyzed whey protein is 70% absorbed within 30 minutes. So in fact that protein is absorbed almost immediately.

I personally have been fine with a pre-workout shake. The difference between it and the post-workout drink is that you do not consume carbohydrates with the pre-workout drink. I use only whey hydrolysate, BCAAs, ribose/creatine, and L-Glutamine in water about 45min before and since the majority of the hydrolysate is absorbed within this time the lack of GI blood flow will not matter. At about 15-20min before training I usually consume a few simple carbs and low blood sugar should not be of concern because insulin secretion is blunted by the workout, antagonizing effects of glucagon increase. This allows for a higher level of glucose available in the blood. I reasoned that the amino acid levels in the blood will be high and without the spike of insulin to push them into the cells the levels should remain high. Therefore, protein stores in the muscle tissue will be affected to less of a degree making it easier to recover from the training session. If you find anything faulty with my reasoning please let me know, but I have never had any problems with lack of energy using a pre-workout drink this way. I started these exact pre-training and post-training meals about a year ago and have noticed a marked improvement, more so than any other year. There seems to be more of a pump and training drive as well. If anyone has the materials to make this pre-workout drink I would like to know how it affects them too. I may just be different than everyone else but I know what works for me.

John U…I have to say that I have been closely following the post-workout concoction posts, especially yours. To say that I am impressed and intrigued by your methods and reasoning would be an understatement. While I don’t have the materials that you mention at my disposal, I am very much tempted to scrounge up that which I don’t. I am always looking for a way to improve recovery and make gains. It is evident that you are very successful and confident in your methods. Props to you, buddy. I am very “anal,” for lack of a better term, about both pre- and post-workout nutrition. As I study for my Anatomy and Physiology exam, your reasoning regarding insulin, glucagon, amino acids and blood glucose seem very reasonable to me.

Timbo, like you, I too am “anal.” Well, actually a perfectionist. It pretty much rules my life, which consists of eating, studying, school, training, and sleeping, in that order. Even in the summer I study new subject on my own. This summer looks like I need some more endocrinology and biochemistry. Some will think it is pretty pathetic that someone would spend their free time studying when they don’t have to, but I believe in expanding my mental capabilities. What school do you go to and what is your major? I am always interested in other people’s studies. You know communicating with people is the best way to learn. As for the pre/post-workout concoctions, I do feel that these will revolutionize the supplement industry. Balancing the training stimulus, which puts you in a catabolic state, and recovery/anabolism is the key to muscle growth. Why else do steroids, or any anabolic agents, work so well, even in the absence of proper nutrition? This is the reason I have great respect for John Berardi’s work. He is a very knowledgeable guy. John, a little advice, if possible you must patent this product. For those of you who think this post-workout drink and recovery stuff is a load of bull well use me as an example. In high school I started training seriously at a weight of about 135lbs. In two months I gained 30lbs, not all muscle but most and that is decent considering a beginner. Each year after I gained about 20-25lbs more. Then I was stuck around 205lbs for longer than I can remember. I tried everything imaginable, even steroids, with no lasting affect. About a year ago I began using hydrolyzed protein and glutamine before and after my workouts. Now I am up to 242lbs at 10-11% bodyfat. This has been a steady increase and has not slowed down yet. Interestingly, my bodyfat is actually lower now and my strength to weight ratio is much greater. I cannot force anyone to try these methods but if you buy and mix your own, or use Biotest’s when it comes out, for at least month, I guarantee you will SEE and FEEL the difference. I’m pretty sure even within one week you will notice a change as I did.

John U, reading over your post again I did have a question for you. You initially mention that the majority of the hydrolysate will be absorbed in the time frame before training. A few sentences down, you said that without the action of insulin, the amino acid concentration in the blood will remain high. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not questioning what you’re doing at all, as it is working very well for you. I just wanted to clarify, for myself and others, will the initial protein meal cause only a glucagon response causing the high plasma concentration of amino acids? Or is it possible that the action of glucagon has a stimulatory effect on insulin, thus absorbing the hydrolysate? If this is true, then is the high plasma concentration of amino acids due to glucagon secretion during exercise or the individual aminos taken with the pre-workout drink? Thanks, John U, I appreciate it.

John U, I was just curious what you use to flavor your mix. From everything I’ve heard, Hydrolyzed whey tastes like complete shit. Thanks!

I have a concoction that I have been preparing for awhile that I think has helped. Each serving has 5g glutamine, 5g leucine, 2.5g each of isoleucine and valine, 3g tyrosine and 200mg of DMAE (all powdered, from Kilosports). I add sugar-free country time lemonade mix for flavoring. I was mixing this into 16oz of water and sipping it during my workout, with noticeable improvement in my endurance. Now I drink it all 30 min before my warmup and drink plain water during the workout and I think it works better.
I do have a meal 1 hour before the warmup that is high in protein with a few slow carbs like dried apricots or peaches.
I have been making up reduced carb protein shakes with standard protein powders to drink as soon as I return to the locker after lifting. I chase this with a Mountain Dew and a pop tart during my drive home for the simple sugars to generate insulin.
The timing seems to work pretty well, for by the time I have a shower, get dressed, and get rolling (I have a 30 minute ride home), it has been 30-40 minutes after the protein shake before I have finished the simple carbs. Plus I satisfy cravings, too.
After all the recent discussion, I have added the glutamine and BCAA’s (minus the lemon flavoring, since the protein powder is chocolate!) to my post workout mix as well, and removed the psyllium husk to help speed up absorption.
Sometimes, now, I will drink the soda while I am in the sauna, just a few minutes after downing the protein shake.
I believe the pre and post workout nutrition is a huge factor in growth (aside from learning about proper training from T-mag), as I have gained 25 lb since last June.- Nylo

John U…(BTW, I wrote my second post before your’s showed up. This is in regards to your #2). Truly astounding, my man. From the sounds of it, you are absolutely ripping things up in both training and nutrition. And all this at such a young age! It’s hard to imagine that someone my own age (20) is making so much progress, both in the gym and out. I am truly in awe and greatly respect what you’ve accomplished, John. Perfectionist, huh? Well, those first few sentences about what takes priority in your life was pretty much a biography of myself. I dedicate just about every bit of my time to the following eating/cooking, training, studying, school and resting (and of course, this forum and t-mag). But it became obvious to me that while I thought I was learning new things and expanding my horizons, for the most part I have just been reading rehash of things that are already known to me. While this isn’t totally for naught, I know that I can better utilize my time and energy searching for new things. I don’t find it at all pathetic that you choose to expand your mental horizons. Actually, I respect and envy you for that, as I try to do the same. I am currently studying Movement and Sports Science at Purdue. And yourself? In one of my classes we just discussed endocrinology. Absolutely fascinating stuff. When Dr. Berardi mentioned that he has been working on this cocktail in the lab and researching for over a year, I realized just how important and complex the key ingredients are. I have read Dr. Berardi’s work and I too have great respect for the man. He’s done some awesome work. I think it goes without saying that a patent is in order for this product, if possible, as it has the potential to be revolutionary (See John U’s auto-bio). John U, your success is truly enviable. I have a long history behind my weight lifting/bodybuilding career that I don’t think you’d care to hear. But to make a long story short, I have literally been fixed at the 155/160 mark @ 5-6%BF for, I would guesstimate, two years. However, with the help of T-mag and other sources, I have slowly but surely made progress. Even though progress and size is slower than molassas in January, I love this sport/lifestyle and will continue to strive for my goals. I too have added l-glutamine to my pre- and post-workout meals. I definitely feel that it has a marked effect on my training energy, intensity, focus and endurance.

Let me add that I just started preparing the amino drink (glutamine, BCAA’s, tyrosine, DMAE) with a 4 oz of orange juice and 16oz water for an eye-opener immediately upon rising in the morning to kick my body out of catabolism. After a shower, I down a conventional protein shake.
Seems like morning time is also appropriate for an anabolic cocktail since it has been so long since you have eaten. Nylo

John U…had a few questions for you. How much ribose and l-glutamine do you use in the drinks? I have been using .17g/kg (~12g) of l-glutamine before and after training, as per Dr. Serrano. I just got some D-Ribose–I had good experience with it in the past–and wondered what your thoughts were on dosages. Also, I know you mentioned the ingredients and timing of your pre-workout shake and carbs and I noticed there were no fats included. The reasons are obvious. But I was just wondering what you might consider to be ideal contents of a traditional food meal. For example, if one eats an hour to an hour and one half before training, will fat–like natural peanut butter or udo’s–cause an undesireable effects on training? Or do you feel that a meal should consist solely of protein and carbs, for quicker absorption? Thanks, John U.

Hey John. Great to meet you at the seminar. Still trying to assimilate all that info! I am currently using the following post-workout; 40g glucose, 40g maltodextrin, 2 servings of Glutacene (managed to pick some up at the airport on the way home!) and 2g arginine. I then follow this 15 minutes or so later with 40g hydrolysed whey(seems to digest easier…should I be taking it WITH the other stuff?). The glutacene is giving me 6g glutamine, 4g leucine, 4g valine and 1.5g isoleucine. Anything I should add? I am a littl econcerned about the licorice in the product as I heard it has estrogenic properties. Is that true John??

Timbo…In regards to your first post, I don’t think that the glucagon response to the initial protein meal is of much concern. Glucagon is the antagonist of insulin and is produced during training to keep steady levels of glucose in the blood. The high levels of aminos are caused by the hydrolysate and individual aminos. Hydrolysate contains a large percentage of di- and tri- peptides that are easily broken down into the individual aminos to be used. From this is where I believe the bolus of the plasma amino acid concentration to come. It is a relief to find someone that shares the same interests. Currently, I am studying Chemical Engineering at GA Tech and hopefully I will get into the Bioengineering graduate program. The field is relatively small right now so it is hard to find an internship. I would really like to work with some receptor modeling right now but do not have the time. I think the progress you’ve make thus far is probably pretty good considering genetics. You have a much lower bodyfat than most people, which suggests a higher metabolism. The post-workout drink would probably help. I also share your view on glutamine. It definitely has a number one rating on my supplement list.
NK…I don’t use flavored protein and yet it is the nastiest tasting substance on earth. It is masked by the sugar and other flavorings used, like Kool-Aid without the sugar added.

For glutamine, I currently use 15g before training and 20g after training. I love ribose but it is still too expensive to take the right amount. It seems like creatine when it first came out. At 5g, 2.5g before and 2.5g after, it has a slight effect for me. At 10g is where the difference is most noticeable and 20g worked best for me. Now you see where it gets expensive and I pay $19.95 for 100g. For most of my meals I stick with low or no carbohydrates and an equal caloric intake of good fats and high quality proteins. The exceptions are after or before workouts. I’ve tried the EFA’s an hour before training and they seem to blunt the amino elevation. On a side note, for some reason I have less muscle and joint pain afterwards when I do so. I still cannot explain this phenomenon.
Scott…I believe the Glutacene has been reformulated and does not include the licorice. Either way I don’t think there is enough in there to make that much of a difference.

John U…I did not expect chemical engineering. Engineering is a very difficult and demanding course of study and profession. However, the hard work will pay off, trust me. My big bro went to Rose-Hulman for an undergrad degree in Mechanical Engineering. Just two and one-half years out, and he’s kicking some major tail in the real world, bringing home the bacon and well-prepared for all of life’s endeavors. I’m sure you’ll reap the same fruitful rewards. I plan on going on to graduate school and would also like to get a doctorate degree. I aspire to be a strength and conditioning coach at the professional level as well as teach as a professor at the university level. Your point about glucagon and the aminos was as I suspected, but I just wanted to be clear. I find it interesting and am intrigued by the nutrient makeup of your diet. I have pondered over the idea of shifting to a more ketogenic based diet, with strictly EFAs and good fats along with high-quality proteins. I obviously believe that pre- and post-workout nutrition are essentials, and like the idea of carb consumption. I would be interested in learning more about your approach to dieting. Yeah, ribose is quite pricey. I just got 150g for $25, and I plan on using the 2-5g dosages as you mentioned. I might try the higher protocol as you described to see it’s effects. Thanks, John, for the updates and info. I look forward to sharing more conversations with you. If anything interesting pops up, or you ever have any questions, feel free to post. Just in the few posts that you have put up in the last week, I have benefitted and they have sparked my desire to further my mental capabilities.

Hey guys, good post. Thanks for your positive feedback regarding my work! In reading over JohnU’s stuff, I have some comments. Taking the protein 45 min before training is a good idea. Adding creatine/ribose before is sound as well. However I dont thing glutamine and BCAAs are necessary at this time. They cant hurt but I really think that they are most crucial after the workout and that taking them before is a bit of a waste of money. Remember, the body is catabolizing nutrients at a rapid rate during training (yes protein and aminos too). My concern is that glutamine and those aminos could be used as energy and not as muscle building substrates. Either that or their presence will simply be superfluous. You may argue that their presence might prevent the destruction of muscle protein but that may not be so. Scenario #1…The muscle will catabolize the aminos in the cell first. So the blood ones will only come into play if the levels in the muscle get really low. So during training, those extra aminos will do very little to prevent muscle catabolism. The will just float around the blood. Scenario #2…Now, let’s assume that this isnt true and that the muscle prefers blood aminos for energy. Then the muscle will be spared and the BCAAs and the glutamine from the blood will be oxidized. That sounds good but I think that one of the the training stimuli for further growth is that catabolism of some muscle proteins during training. So either scenario shows us that those blood aminos will either be unnecessary or actually counterproductive. I think it’s the first scenario, however. Now, with that said, here is what I would do on a mass phase(much like JohnU does)…1)eat a protein meal (regular or hydrolysate) 45-60 min prior to training with added creatine and ribose…this will top off the amino pools in the organs and the blood - just in case - and will add energy substrates for the atp-pc system 2) sip a glucose drink during training to delay fatigue and provide stable blood glucose 3)Immediately after training, do the pw concoxion with the works (creatine, ribose, bcaas, gln, hydrolysates, and glucose). The pw drink will promote glycogen and protein recovery. So I guess the only difference is to save the BCAAs and Glutamine for after training and also to use carbs during training rather than before. Other than that, JohnU’s program is tight. Also, you guys discussed glucagon…well for a 100kg guy, taking 50g of protein leads to a 100% increase (doubling of glucagon). This doesnt matter too much during the preworkout period because you dont want insulin to be too active at this time. In addition, glucagon will be kickin during the session anyway. So no worries there…just dont go too overboard. Also for my british buddy Scott, your concoxion sounds good. Add the hydrolysate to your first beverage. And dont worry about the licorice. JB

I do see couple of things that I do dispute.

Hi T-Men!

My name is Kandi and I hope you all don’t mind a female joining in for a bit. I’ve found all of you who responded to this topic very knowledgeable and inspiring, hoping you can offer some guidence my way! I’m not a bodybuilder although I did previously weight-train. Don’t know if I really miss it now that I have been freed from the obsession that became of me and must say I commend you all for your determination and strength.

My goals and energies are now spent on developing top-quality performance horses whose basic diet is very similar to what would be recommended for a human athlete - i.e., high carbohydrate/low-fat.

I've read John Berardi's articles on the post-workout craze and have to say I agree with him 100%! Fantastic work John and I look so forward to using your formula on my horse. My question would be: at what time, dosage, and formula is ribose most efficient? Any help would be appreciated. So far, ribose has no effect taken alone and no major effect with creatine. Results were best obtained with creatine, certain AA's and high glycemic base. No desired effect was seen in speed strength with the latter.

For Scott: Licorice does have estrogenic properties. Some are, Beta-Sitosterol - Estriol (minute amount) - Stigmasterol - Anethole - Apigenin - and Glycyrrhizin at a whooping 150,000ppm.

For John U: Flax is very good at decreasing the level of joint and muscle pain. The reason being that excessive and incorrect PG (prostaglandin i.e., hormone-like molecules) synthesis has been implicated in the cause of various disorders. Don't get me wrong PG's are involved in various mechanisms in the body, joint function being one. If a deficiency in the EFA exists too much AA (arachidonic acid) gets converted and becomes PGE2 (inflammatory response). The main strategy of supplementing with EFA's is an attempt to raise the body's own formation of PGE1. PGE1 as well as PGE3 have an anti-inflammatory/antispasmodic effect on the body. By supplementing with EFA this is achieved as well as PG balance.


Dr. Berardi, thanks for all your comments on the topic of pre-workout nutrition. Actually, thanks for the load of knowledge-bombs you’ve been droppin’ on me. I just had a few questions regarding the pre-workout protein meal. You said it could be regular or hydrolysate. Do you suggest that it should be a liquid meal or could it be a solid meal (ie. chicken or cottage cheese)? Also, what are your thoughts about including fats (EFAs, peanut butter)? I was wondering if the fats would have a negative effect or they might possibly sustain higher levels of plasma aminos. Thanks for the insight, Doc. I appreciate and greatly respect all your work. I’m looking forward to reading more–particularly about the Post-Workout Drink and Massive Eating (I want to be huge!!!).

Hey Kandi, you T-vixens are more than welcome you know! The more the merrier, bring some friends on here too PLEASE! So, would the amount of licorice root extract be enough to impart estrogenic effects? If it has been reformulated, I am not aware of where it is available. Charles Poliquin said to me that he found sugar in the product (!?) and immediately avioded it since that occurence. Odd, since it was him that was most enthusiastic about the product originally, due to the gains it had produced in athletes working with him and Eric Serrano. Kandi, I am not really aware of the estrogenic compounds you listed…that is beyond me, so I defer on that one! By the way, what amino acids did you experiment with and gain positive results from?

John, I do believe you are correct on the amino issue. I don’t think the body chooses the catabolism of all the aminos in the cell first though. I think there is balance between the two. Why would there be a preference to strip the aminos out of the cell when they are readily available in the blood? Well it seems that the glucagon produced would have this effect but I am assuming it would be blunted by the higher concentration of aminos. I can’t be totally sure so I guess I’ll take your word on that. The glucose drink during training should offer some benefit in this area as well. I have tried this with good results but I seemed to be consuming too much sugar over my training time. Maybe a lactic acid buffer like potassium citrate or sodium bicarbonate should be added but as you stated this may lessen the training stimuli for growth. Originally I added in the aminos for energy substrates, but this was not effective until large dosages were consumed, at least anything I could feel. Kandi…thank you for your input. This is the same as I have speculated before. I could not find any definitive proof that this was the case and seemed I was missing something in my logic. As for your horses, I am no expert but in lectures I have attended horses are not thought to have digestive systems that respond the same way as humans, pigs I believe are the closest. This is not to say that they are not similar in some ways. I am not completely sure that the “formula” would have the expected reaction. Animals seem to vary tremendously in response to certain drugs and diets. The reason I say so is that I have studied the effects on a friend’s ferret. They have very strict dietary requirements. I do suspect that the ribose is not being taken in an effective dose though. It would be hard to do so with the current prices today anyway.

John U…again, my friend, your posts leave me in awe. You are one helluva knowledgeable fellow, and have definitely kicked your share of butt in the gym. It has become quite clear to me that the pre- and post-workout formulas that you have employed in the last several years, combined with intelligent training and excellent genetics, has led you to great strength and bodybuilding achievements. This has really intrigued me. After reading the T-mag articles, I was more or less fixated on waiting for their formula to be released. However, I was wondering if you might be able to point me in the right direction, as far as mixing up my own batch for a test drive. John U, I would really appreciate you giving me some advice/insight as to the formula that would best suit me. If you are for any reason hesitant to pass on any info, I understand–it took you hard work, research and money to get where you are. I am looking to pack on some mass–I would love to do so at a rate in which you did and continue to do. I am 6’ with a BF% of 6% and weigh in at 160 (on a good day). I pretty much follow a Zone-type diet (40/30/30 carb/pro/fat). Thanks again, John U, for sharing all this critical information. I would gladly be willing to give you a token of my appreciation in return for your counsel. Your buddy, Timbo. Also, John U, I was wondering what type of texts and/or journals you direct your independent studies towards.