T Nation

Who Drinks a Shake BEFORE Training?


Title: Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise.

Researchers: Tipton KD, Rasmussen BB, Miller SL, Wolf SE, Owens-Stovall SK, Petrini BE, & Wolfe RR.

Source: American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2001 Aug;281(2):E197-206.

Summary: This study was designed to determine whether drinking an essential amino acid-carbohydrate supplement (6gEAA+35g carbs) before exercise results in a greater anabolic response than supplementation after resistance exercise.

Methods: Six healthy human subjects participated in two trials in random order, PRE (6g EAA+35g carbs consumed immediately before exercise), and POST (6g EAA+35g carbs consumed immediately after exercise). A primed, continuous infusion of L-[ring-(2)H(5)]phenylalanine, femoral arteriovenous catheterization, and muscle biopsies from the vastus lateralis were used to determine phenylalanine concentrations, enrichments, and net uptake across the leg.

Results: Blood and muscle phenylalanine concentrations were increased by approximately 130% after drink consumption in both trials. Amino acid delivery to the leg was increased during exercise and remained elevated for the 2 h after exercise in both trials.

Delivery of amino acids (amino acid concentration times blood flow) was significantly greater in PRE than in POST during the exercise bout and in the 1st h after exercise. Total net phenylalanine uptake across the leg was greater during PRE (209 +/- 42 mg) than during POST (81 +/- 19).

Phenylalanine disappearance rate, an indicator of muscle protein synthesis from blood amino acids, increased after EAC consumption in both trials.

Conclusion: These results indicate that the response of net muscle protein synthesis to consumption of an EAC solution immediately before resistance exercise is greater than that when the solution is consumed after exercise, primarily because of an increase in muscle protein synthesis as a result of increased delivery of amino acids to the leg.

Discussion: First let's talk about what's right with this study. Then we'll tackle what's wrong with it to keep things in perspective.

Here's what they did right. These researchers measured systemic levels of amino acids after the drink, the amount of amino acids delivered to muscle tissue, as well as the uptake of amino acids into the muscle for protein synthesis.

This way they were able to follow the effects of the protein drink from the time it entered the blood stream to its eventual incorporation into muscle protein.

What they found was that systemic (amino acids in the blood stream) levels of amino acids were the same whether you took the drink before or after training.

Amino acid delivery to the leg increased during exercise, and remained elevated for at least 2 hours after training. This is the result of increased blood flow to the working muscle. This increase in blood flow peaks during exercise then returns to normal over the next 2 hours.

Here is where it gets interesting. Delivery of amino acids, meaning the quantity of amino acids delivered to the muscle, was significantly greater when they gave the protein drink before training and remained significantly higher for at least an hour after the workout, compared to drinking it immediately after training.

The increased delivery of amino acids from drinking the protein drink before training increased amino acid uptake into muscle by over 250%!

The superiority of taking protein before training is obvious when comparing the percentage of amino acids taken up by the leg from the protein drink. When the protein drink was taken before training, ~42% of the amino acids in the drink were taken up into the muscle.

The proportion was much lower when the protein was drank after training, only about 16% of the drink was taken up into the muscle. That's over twice as much of the amino acids being taken up by muscle when it is consumed before training. It was estimated that ~86% of total uptake was incorporated into proteins whereas only ~48% of total uptake during the post workout trail was incorporated into proteins. That's a huge difference.

As for the bad, this study only used 6 grams of amino acids! I can blow my nose and produce more than 6 grams of protein. These researchers had previously (1) used higher amounts of protein (40 grams) without carbs, so in this study they wanted to see if they could elicit a similar anabolic response with less protein and more carbs.

Of course, anybody who's serious about putting on muscle weight is going to need more than 6 grams of amino acids before their workout. I would suggest at least 20 grams before and another 20 grams after.

Although they used only essential amino acids in this study, using a whole protein source is equally effective as long as it contains all the essential amino acids.

If you want the most muscle growth from your protein supplements, you must take one right before training, and the another right after.

  1. Tipton, KD, Ferrando AA, Phillips SM, Doyle D, Jr, and Wolfe RR. Postexercise net protein synthesis in human muscle from orally administered amino acids. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 276: E628-E634, 1999



I do one scoop of Surge before lifting, and 2 scoops immediately after. 30 min. later, fruit and a scoop of Grow!. 1 hour after that a C+P meal.


Animal, you will find that the majority of people on this site do a similar thing to the above post with protein or Protein/carb before and after workout and then a meal (either P+C or P+F) within 1 to 1.5 hours after workout.


I've tried to drink 1/2 a Surge pre-wokout but I feel too full and bloated to properly train. So I just stick with 1/2 during and 1/2 right after. Call me old fashioned.


What if you feel like shit when you take one before and start training?



Before workout... I always do... just ask Barr about it. If you had to choose only a shake before or a shake after, science supports the shake before by a hair.


40 grams of whey with 64 grams of carbs and 2 servings of Power Drive before workout.

40 grams of whey, 30g carbs, 5g creatine and 5g glutamine after.


It depends - I drink a shake if I'm just getting after the weights...

But if I'm going for a long warm-up run I avoid having anything in my stomach.



I either have a Metabolic Drive bar or a whey shake (generally not Grow!) 30 minutes or so prior to training and then dextrose and isolate with creatine PWO (or Surge) and then a big carb/pro meal an hour or so later.


Interesting feedback guy. I know Berardi advocates 1/2 during and the rest immediately after but I havn't had a chance to try this yet. I will probably give it a go during summer.


Once I went to half a serving of Surge before and the other after, I've never gone back.

I'm able to keep the intensity up through out the entire session.


I'd say it depends on the level of said shit. If it's a little shit, and you can tolerate it while making it through your workout, then go for it.

However, if this shit prevents you from giving it your all, then just save your shake for after. Better to make it through your workout.

Take home message: don't sweat it.


Dave Barr's presentation on the Anabolic Index at the Test Fest went into the idea of the pre-workout amino acids and the subsequent response. According to his index (which does not take into account carbs and such), pre-workout elicits the one of the highest responses.


I drink a serving of Metabolic Drive half hour before, then sip a full serving of Surge during my workout, then chug whatevers left when I'm done.


45-30 minutes before working out: 20g of whey

Half a serving of Surge during the workout

half a serving 15 minutes after

1 hour after lifting 20g of whey

2 hours after lifting a meal that is on track with my current diet plan..


20g of protein from cottage cheese pre-workout does the trick for me. Shakes or anything else I will be burping it up all workout long.

50g protein powder mixed with water and 100g simple carbs from juice on the way home from the gym.

Chicken, brown rice and veggies 45 mins. later.


That's an interesting study...I guess.

If they were talking about taking 6g's of Branched Chain Aminos pre-workout and just made a typo, that would make a lot more sense.

I've always added a pre-workout shake (25g P, 25g C). Mostly just because I find it hard to workout on an empty stomach.

I also add 6g BCAA, 5g Taurine,
5g Glutamine, 5g Creatine, 25g Dextrose to a big water bottle during my workout.

Works for me!


There's another study out there that analyzed the effects of just taking a protein drink prior to training.
I'm too tired to type about it now though.
I think it too was done by Tipton


The during is totally unneccessary unless you're just looking to sneak in extra calories (that's Berardi's reason in Scrawny to Brawny for a during shake).

(with hydrolysate) peak levels reaching the blood at around 80 minutes (Calbet and MacLean, 2002), compared to 60 minutes for pharmaceutical grade amino acids (Borsheim et al., 2002).

IOW a shake of hydrolysate 10 or 15 minutes before will carry you through an hour workout with ease.

Barr has awesome stuff on this here

It's important to remember optimization and reality are two different things. Use the best information available to do the best that you can.


yes ... before, sometimes during, and after

3-5 scoops (dependent on training volume/intensity) of Surge between this 3 hour window of 1/2 hour before training, up to 1-1/2 hours training, and 1 hour after

some of the experts suggest getting up to 30% of your daily calories within this window ... do the math ... if you are only consuming 3000 calories, that's still 900 calories ... that's potentially a lot of Surge!