Muscle for life

The Definitive Guide to Post-Workout Nutrition

The Definitive Guide to Post-Workout Nutrition

The importance of post-workout nutrition is widely promoted by “gurus” and laymen alike. How vital is it, though?


The post-workout meal is part of the “bodybuilding canon,” so to speak.

If you’ve been lifting for any period of time, you’ve heard the story:

If you don’t eat protein and/or carbs after training, so it goes, you will either a) impair muscle growth or b) miss out on an opportunity to accelerate it.

Furthermore, meal timing is often stressed.

That is, it’s often claimed that there is a post-workout “anabolic window” in which you must eat your food. If you miss this window, you either lose or miss out on additional gains.

How true are these bodybuilding dogmas, though?

Is there scientific evidence to back up the emphasis on the post-workout meal, or is much of it bunk like many other once-cherished pieces of gymlore?

Let’s find out.

Why Post-Workout Nutrition?

best food to eat after workout

When you work out, you start a process whereby muscle proteins are broken down (technically known as “proteolysis“).

This effect is mild while you’re training, but it rapidly accelerates thereafter. If you’re training fasted, proteolysis (muscle breakdown) is even greater, and especially around 3+ hours after training.

Now, muscle breakdown isn’t inherently bad, but when it exceeds the body’s ability to synthesize new proteins, the result is muscle loss. Conversely, when the body synthesizes more protein molecules than it loses, the result is muscle growth.

The goals of post-workout nutrition is minimizing post-workout muscle breakdown, and stimulating protein synthesis. These two effects result in greater total muscle growth.

Now, the question is can post-workout nutrition actually deliver on those goals? And if so, how do you get there?

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

The Benefits of Post-Workout Protein

post workout protein

The primary benefits of post-workout protein are as follows:

Post-workout protein ingestion stimulates protein synthesis, which halts muscle breakdown and initiates muscle growth.

A study conducted by the University ofTexas makes this clear. Researchers had subjects perform heavy leg-resistance training followed by the slow (over the course of several hours) ingestion of either a placebo, a mixture of essential and non-essential amino acids, or a mixture of just essential amino acids.

The result was the group that drank the placebo showed a negative muscle protein balance several hours after their workouts (that is, they were losing muscle), whereas the groups that ingested the amino acid mixtures showed a positive balance (they were building muscle).

While this may seem like a minor benefit, it adds up over time.

Every day that you give protein synthesis rates a little boost, you build a little more muscle than you would have otherwise built. Over the course of several months, or years, those few grams extra here and there can turn into pounds of additional muscle built.

Post-workout protein stimulates more protein synthesis than protein eaten at rest.

You’ve probably heard that protein stimulates protein synthesis, but research has shown that protein eaten after a workout has extra “oomph” in this regard.

This was demonstrated by a study conducted by the Shriners Burns Institute. They took 6, normal untrained men and intravenously infused them with a balanced amino acid mixture both at rest, and after a leg workout. The post-workout infusion resulted in 30-100% more protein synthesis than the at-rest infusion.

So…if post-workout protein is good, the obvious question is how much should you eat?

study commonly cited in connection with post-workout protein needs showed that 20 grams of post-workout protein stimulated maximum muscle protein synthesis in young men. That is, eating more than 20 grams of protein after working out did nothing more in terms of stimulating muscle growth.

That said, we can’t really assume that this 20-gram number applies to everyone. Protein metabolism is affected by several things:

On the other hand, elevated levels of cortisol reduces protein synthesis and accelerates the process whereby the body breaks down amino acids into glucose (gluconeogenesis), thereby reducing the amount available for tissue generation and repair. Some people have chronically elevated cortisol levels, and this impairs protein metabolism.

So, while 20 grams of protein might be enough to stimulate maximal muscle growth under certain conditions, this won’t hold true for everyone.

Some people will need more to reach the same level of synthesis, and others will be able to benefit from more protein (it will result in more protein synthesis).

Personally, I eat 40-50 grams of protein in my post-workout meal to ensure that I am stimulating maximum protein synthesis.

[tweet “Eat 40-50 grams of protein post-workout to ensure you are stimulating maximum protein synthesis.”]

The Benefits of Post-Workout Carbohydrates

how many carbs after workout

The most common reason we’re told to eat carbs after training is to “spike insulin levels,” which is supposed to really kick muscle growth into overdrive.

This isn’t entirely accurate.

Insulin doesn’t directly induce protein synthesis like amino acids do, but it does have anti-catabolic properties.

That is, it decreases the rate of protein breakdown that occurs after exercise. And as muscle growth is nothing more than protein synthesis rates exceeding protein breakdown rates, anything that increases the former and decreases the latter improves this “equation” in our favor.

A good example of this at work is a study conducted by McMaster University that compared the effects of high- and low-carbohydrate dieting with subjects engaging in regular exercise. Researchers found that subjects following the low-carb diet had increased protein breakdown rates and reduced protein synthesis rates, resulting in less overall muscle growth.

These effects, however, level off around 15-30 mU/L, or about 3-4 times the normal fasting insulin levels. “Spiking” insulin levels higher than this doesn’t deliver more “protein sparing” effects.

And it turns out that you don’t even need to eat carbs to reach such a level–you can do it with protein alone. One study showed that the insulin response to the ingestion of 45 grams of whey protein peaked at about 40 minutes, and these levels were sustained for about 2 hours.

If you include carbs with your post-workout meal, however, insulin levels will rise faster, and remain elevated longer. One study showed that the ingestion of a mixed meal containing 75 g carbs, 37 g protein, and 17 g fat resulted in an elevation of insulin levels for over 5 hours (at the 5-hour mark, when researchers stopped testing, insulin levels were still double the fasting level).

So, this is one reason to include carbs in your post-workout meal: to quickly raise insulin levels and keep them elevated for longer periods of time.

Another reason relates to a substance known as “glycogen,” which is a form of energy our body produces from carbohydrate, and which is stored primarily in the liver and muscles.

If you’re weightlifting, keeping your muscles as full of glycogen as you can is important. It improves performance, and research has shown that when muscle glycogen levels are low, exercise-induced muscle breakdown is accelerated.

Now, anaerobic exercise like weightlifting causes marked reductions in muscle glycogen stores, and when your body is in this post-workout glycogen-depleted state, its ability to replenish glycogen stores is greatly increased. In this state, your muscles can “supercompensate” with glycogen, meaning they can store more than they had before the depletion.

This “supercompensation” gives you a nice post-workout carb pump, but it won’t likely affect your workout performance unless you’re engaging in multiple bouts of intense exercise in the same day. So long as you eat enough carbs throughout the day, your body will eventually fill its glycogen stores back up.

That said, the post-workout depleted state does create a nice “carb sink,” which you can use to enjoy a large amount of carbs with little-to-no fat storage (as the body will not store carbohydrate as fat until glycogen stores are replenished).

[tweet “How you can eat large amounts of carbs with little-to-no fat storage:”]

So, in conclusion, carbs are worth including in your post-workout meal to keep insulin levels elevated longer, and because it’s a great time to enjoy a nice big meal.

Is There a Post-Workout “Anabolic Window?”

what to take after a workout

When the subject of post-workout nutrition comes up, it almost always includes opinions on the idea of an “anabolic window.”

The theory of the “anabolic window” is that you have a “window” of time after your workout to eat food, and if you do this, you muscle growth is accelerated. If you don’t however, you will miss out on this benefit, or even worse, lose muscle.

How true are these claims, though?

Well, research indicates that protein ingested within 1-2 hours of finishing a workout may increase muscle growth.

For example, a study conducted by Bispebjerg Hospital had 13 untrained elderly men follow a 12-week resistance training program. One group received an oral protein/carbohydrate supplement immediately post-workout, while the other received the same supplement 2 hours following the exercise bout.

The result: the post-workout ingestion group built more muscle than the 2-hour-later ingestion group.

A well-designed and well-executed study conducted by Victoria University is also worth reviewing. It was conducted with 23 recreational bodybuilders that were to follow an intense weightlifting program for 10 weeks, and were divided into two groups:

  1. A group that ate a protein and carbohydrate meal immediately before and after training.
  2. A group that ate the same meals in the morning and evening, at least 5 hours outside the workouts.

After 10 weeks, researchers found that group 1 (pre- and post-workout consumption) built significantly more muscle than group 2 (morning and evening consumption).

On the other hand, there are studies that have failed to show any meal timing benefits, such as this, and this (although the latter study used DEXA to assess body composition, which isn’t sensitive enough to detect small changes in muscle size).

Considering the research we have available, I advise you eat protein within 1-2 hours of completing your workout, as there’s a good chance that it will help you build more muscle than if you skipped such a meal.

[tweet “Eating protein within 1-2 hours of completing your workout will help you build more muscle.”]

What About Post-Workout Supplements?

best post workout supplements

There’s a wide variety of post-workout pills and powders out there, and all are sold on the basis of improving recovery and/or accelerating muscle growth.

Instead of running through the list of all the types out there, let’s keep it simple.

Here are the only supplements I think are worth taking post-workout:

If you use a recovery supplement, you can take it post-workout, but I don’t know of any research that indicates timing is important with amino acids like glutamine and L-carnitine (two common “recovery” aminos people take).

What are your thoughts on post-workout nutrition? Have anything else you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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Leave a Comment!
  • Pedro Rugeles

    Great article. I have a doubt about liver glycogen. The body depletes both liver and muscle glycogen at the same time during exersice or it prefers to use liver first and muscle then?

    • Michael Matthews


      The body pulls on liver glycogen after it runs out of glucose provided by food you eat. It burns muscle glycogen when you engage in anaerobic exercise, regardless of whether it has glucose in the blood or not.

  • Andrew Schmidt

    I don’t think there’s any doubt that a post workout meal is very important. I usually hit about 50g of whey protein (soon to be Legion) with 60-80 grams of carbs mostly fruit in a smoothie. If you’re hitting your workouts like you should your body needs this replenishment.

    • Michael Matthews

      Nice, that’s what I do too. My carbs are about 1/2 rice milk and 1/2 fruit. Thanks for supporting Legion as well!

  • Mike

    Great article Mike. I don’t stress about meal timing or post workout windows..its about consistency over a period of time..I focus one day at a time..get my nutrients, train, and move on. I have done it both ways and all of the concern about having to do something in a specific hour window is harder on the mind and body than benefits it. At best its a wash. I lean on the side of flexibilty and enjoying the process of caring for myself overall.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Mike! You should definitely get some protein in within an hour or so of your training. And if you’re going to do that, throw some carbs in for good measure. 😉

      But if doing that is a problem due to schedule or such, then I understand.

  • Russ Vanover

    Yet another great article… Though, if I am trying to cut out as I currently am and do all my weight lifting late at night will the ‘Carb Sink’ still apply with low glycogen levels if I am asleep? I believe I read another article that said I need to avoid eating before bed.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Russ!

      I used to train late at night and what I found workable is to cut my normal post-workout carbs in half, and to spread the remaining half throughout the day.

      For instance, if my post-workout was normally 80g of carbs, I’d do 40g, and eat the remaining 40g earlier in the day.

      As I said in the book, this is likely a minor point and I may just be being paranoid, but I’m just sharing what’s worked best for me.

  • Timbo

    As long as we get protein within this window, do we really need BCAA’s?

    • Michael Matthews

      If you’re in a fasted state (if your insulin levels are at baseline), then yes, you need the leucine to counteract the accelerated muscle breakdown.

  • Ben Hunt

    Great information. These articles, in conjunction with BLS, has made it like a continuing education course for me. Ate my big meal of the day post workout. got up at 12, hit gym at 2 with a coffee. After workout ate 4 egg whites, 3 eggs, 371 grams of beans and 6oz of chicken. I am starving by that time and have noticed that going in “empty” to gym I have higher energy level, and post workout I don’t crash and burn. I think I am in the group that could potentially use more proteins, being 43 and hitting your program hard.

    Thanks for your continued support and knowledge. Spent 9 months doing this on my own and weeding through all the BS. The last 2 has shown vast improvement due to you tutelage.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Ben! I’m really glad to hear things are going well.

      Nice post-workout meal. 🙂

      I also like training on a more or less empty stomach (either 10 grams BCAAs for fasted training or a scoop of protein in rice milk).

      You probably don’t need more than 1.2 grams pro/lb per day. That’s plenty high.

      Keep up the good work!

  • Bradnon

    It’s University of Texas…not Texas University

    • Michael Matthews

      Whoops, good catch. Thanks. 🙂

  • Dan

    Hi there. Is there any evidence that you should bother with post-workout levels of GH and whatnot? I am asking because I have read quite a few times that you shouldn’t http://anthonycolpo.com/boosting-growth-hormone-with-diet-training-fact-or-fiction/ and http://www.exercisebiology.com/index.php/site/articles/are_8_12_reps_the_best_for_muscle_growth/

    • Dan

      btw from your book “Another big advantage of training with heavy weights is the fact that they stimulate the most growth hormone and testosterone production…” contradicts to what those links state. The following few paragraphs in your book seem pretty controversial as well. The final conclusion of moving to 4-6 rep range is the same though 🙂

      • Michael Matthews

        Thanks for pointing this out!

        I believe I cite a study for that statement? I remember coming across it in my research at the time of writing the book.

        I do agree that in light of more recent research, such things don’t really matter (they aren’t a primary factor of what makes heavy compound lifting so effective).

        I’ll make a note of this for when I begin working on the second edition of BLS and TLS.

    • Michael Matthews

      Nope, trying to manipulate post-workout hormones doesn’t really matter in the long run.

  • Rômulo

    Excellent Article, as all I saw until now!! Congratulations!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thank you!

  • Left

    Hey Michael. What dosages of fish oil would you recommend post workout? Take the full dose (10 pills, 3g of epa/dha) or only a portion of it?

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. I take 4 grams post-workout and 2 grams later in the day, but I suppose I could do all 6 grams post-workout.

  • I take creatine powder as it is then chug it down with post whey shaked with 2 whole raw eggs.
    second I chew a handfull of black peppers then take two capsules of turmeric powder which is has been proven to accelerate recovery times.

    • Michael Matthews

      Cool, thanks for sharing! No carbs tho?

      • I kinda got used to it. LOL eggs (or even whey) alone are enough to get me bloated—I just try to eat rice ASAP

        • Michael Matthews

          Ah okay, nice. 🙂

  • aa

    wow great article mike. I never took carbs with my post workout shake. WIll start doing that tomorrow !

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Glad I could help! 🙂

  • Jason Timothy

    Glad that I came across with fantastic article. Very informative and love the way it is documented 🙂

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Jason!

  • Ted

    My Stats: 5’11”, 180lb, 15% BF

    Would the following be a good post-workout regimen?

    1 scoop whey protein with creatine and water
    16oz Steal Cut Oatmeal with 1TB brown sugar
    Fish Oil
    Vitamin D

    I’m getting an impression that I should include some simple carbs/fruits instead of or in addition to the above. I’m going to try scheduling my workouts first thing in the morning in a fasted state with the following pre-workout regimen.

    10g BCAA (5g Leucine)
    ~250mg Caffeine
    ~400mg (Catechin) Green Tea
    ~15mg Yohimbine HCL

    Could I get a quick nod, yay or nay 😉

    • Michael Matthews

      That looks perfect. Oatmeal makes a great post-workout carb, and your pre-workout supplementation looks good.

      Let me know how it goes!

  • Don Flournoy

    What are your thoughts on a mixture of proteins post-workout meaning an equal mixture of about 30g of whey and 30g of casein along with adequate levels of carbohydrates? The combination would have enough leucine (more than 3.5g) to trigger maximal MPS and provide a steady stream of amino acids for an extended time. Also, what do you consider to be the ideal carbohydrate ratio to protein? Some recommend about 2:1 carbs to protein.

    I am interested in your take on the subject.

    • Michael Matthews

      I’ve seen some research that indicates a blend like that COULD be superior over time, but it was inconclusive. There’s definitely nothing wrong with it though.

      The 2:1 ratio is a good rule of thumb, yes.

  • bigdlish

    I notice you say Carbs from fruit and rice milk in your post workout meal. Why do you not use honey or mapl e syrup or dextrose. Also should I avoid these if trying to lose weight. Is rice milk and fruit good enough. Im confused.

    • Michael Matthews

      Because fruit has more nutrition and rice milk tastes great in my smoothie. 🙂

      You could use honey or maple syrup if you wanted to though. Even when you’re trying to lose weight.

      Losing weight requires you regulate HOW MUCH you eat, not WHAT:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-lose-weight-fast/

  • Courtney

    I like to workout first thing in the morning so I usually don’t eat beforehand, should I? Or is eating post-workout enough for muscle growth?

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question! Fasted training is helpful for weight loss purposes:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-lose-weight-fast-2/

      If you’re not trying to lose weight, however, I don’t recommend it. The pre-workout carbs will give you energy to lift more weight.

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  • Carlo

    Great article! Please do also a Definitive Guide for Pre-Workout/ Fasted Training!

  • mehran

    can you tell me a workout and diet for my 11 year old son, he is 160 cm and weighs 90 pounds and really thin and muscly

  • Mike, what are your thoughts on Carb Back Loading, where you eat all of your carbs (about 500 g or so) after an evening exercise session?

    • Michael Matthews

      There’s nothing special about it. You can eat that way if it really appeals to you, but it doesn’t unlock magical gains like some people claim…

  • Scott

    Hey Matthew
    Great article with some wicked insight!
    I’m 16 years old, 161 lbs, 6′ tall and around 9% BF. I’m just wondering what sort of post-workout nutrition plan I should follow in order to gain some muscle? I’ve heard stuff that teens need extra carbs post-workout? And what sort of carbs would you recommend? I was thinking maybe low-fat creamy rice as the rice is high-GI and there’s the wee boost of extra protein from the milk? And also, I’m heavily involved in rowing for my school and I was wondering what the principles of post-row nutrition would be in order to maintain or even gain muscle? Thanks again for the wicked article!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Scott!

      Cool on your stats. Extra carbs isn’t the key but total daily calorie intake is.

      Check out this article of mine:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

      Let me know what you think!

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  • Jordan

    Mike, I love how you respond so quickly to these posts… you are going to build a big following!
    What are your thoughts on eliminating Gluten? It’s gaining traction, but is it a fad? Have you heard of or read the book “Grain Brain? If so, what are your thoughts? Or NSNG (no sugar no grains)?
    Haven’t seen much about gluten or grain, so I thought I’d throw it out there!

    • Michael Matthews

      My pleasure! 🙂

      Good question. I need to write an article on this one of these days. Just have to dig into it more.

      What I know is that many of us are sensitive to gluten without realizing it, and if we eat too much, it has negative ramifications in the body.

      I don’t completely avoid gluten but I do limit my intake.

      And it’s also true that the general state of wheat here in the States is atrociously bad. I am picky with the wheat products I eat because run-of-the-mill products will bother my stomach. I prefer sprouted, organic stuff like Ezekiel bread.

      • Jordan

        I’ll definitely keep an eye for your take on it. I appreciate your honest reponse. Too often people are quick to educate before having a solid understanding.

        Keep up the good work!

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks Jordan! Yeah I try to keep a level head about what I don’t know as well, haha.

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  • Lindsay Rice

    Any thoughts on post-fasted-cardio nutrition? I do morning fasted cardio (HIIT of course!) followed by heavy ab routine 2 days/week separate from lifting. If taking BCAAs before, do you want at least a little protein after to stop the muscle breakdown or will continuing to fast for a while continue the fat burn?

    • Michael Matthews

      You don’t have to eat after, but if you want to optimize fat loss you could do BCAAs again. Otherwise protein is fine.

  • Colin Bean

    I don’t know if you still read these comments but what are your thoughts on fat included in the post workout meal/drink? Would say an avocado and some mct oil with protein and carbs hinder any of these little benefits you mention?


    • Michael Matthews

      I do! Sure that’s fine. It won’t hinder anything.

      • Colin Bean

        Thanks for that. There’s so much broscience floating around the internet it’s gets confusing trying to optimise workouts and recovery.

        • Michael Matthews

          YW and yeah I hear you.

  • Serge

    I’m sure you already answered this question many times, but I’m still confused. I usually do my workouts early in the mornings (5AM) on empty stomach. It is fasted state, right? If so, should I take BCAA before my workout or whey protein (which also contains BCAA)? Then after workout, I should repeat this (BCAA or protein shake), right? Then, breakfast. I’m trying to see do I need only whey protein (for all needs), or I have to buy BCAA in addition. How does Legion Recharge fit in this? Is it a substitution for post-workout meal/drink (whey or BCAA) or extra? Thanks a lot!

    • Michael Matthews

      BCAAs before fasted training (10g) and you can have whey or food after. Recharge you would have after a workout as well.

      Does that help?

      • Serge

        Thanks for reply! Two quick questions:

        1) does Pulse replace BCAA before training or Pulse considered to be in addition to BCAA?
        2) After training – Recharge or Recharge+whey?

        Thanks a lot again!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! No Pulse doesn’t replace BCAAs because it doesn’t have leucine, which is really what you want for fasted training.

          Both whey and recharge are good for post-workout. Not mixed together though, haha.

  • João Carlos Clementoni Silva

    I workout before lunch. I was wondering what is the best: after training get 30g of whey protein, and then have my lunch with 70g carbs, or just have a normal lunch with 30g of meat and 70g carbs?

    • João Carlos Clementoni Silva

      Let me improve my question. What I would to like to know is if there is difference between whey and meat (lunch) protein for muscle recovery on post-workout. Thank you.

      • Michael Matthews

        Whey is digested a bit quicker so it MIGHT have a slight edge for post-workout protein, that’s all.

  • Kyle Boettner

    Can we get one of these for pre workout

    • Michael Matthews

      On the list! 🙂

  • Silentbobafett

    If I take protein and creatine (mixed together by me into one shake) powder post workout can I forget about eating or is that still important? I.e it’s hard for me to get to eat right after the gym, but have protein/creatine is fine. I’ll get out the gym about 5pm but won’t get to eat until about 8pm! Just how my life works it.

    Should I have a few bits of pasta ready to knock back along with the shake or if I’m taking protein and creatine then the post workout meal is less important. Ta

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s fine for protein but I would recommend some carbs as well. You don’t have to eat pasta–it could be a couple pieces of fruit if you’d prefer.

      • Silentbobafett

        Oh thats interesting – thank you. I thought it would have to be a heavy/large dose – but a bit of fruit does the job? Great stuff! Thanks

        • Michael Matthews

          My pleasure! Yeah 50 – 80 g carbs is okay.

          • Silentbobafett

            Great thanks

          • Michael Matthews


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  • Steve Crook

    Came across this paper on protein synthesis and resistance exercises. http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/9/1/40#B8

    The take home appeared to be that there may be a longer window post workout, and that depending on your age it may extend for 24 hours post workout. They also reference a paper that showed a better anabolic response after drinking whole milk (reasons unknown) rather than fat free milk.

    The more we know the more we know we don’t know.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, it’s a muddy area of research but if we look at the good research available it’s pretty safe to assume that protein eaten within an hour or so of working out is better than not.

  • marsa

    Salam (means hi),

    good job! but what about women? 20 grams of post-workout protein is good for men. what about women?and what is the post-work out meal, when the goal is to losing weight!? no growing muscles?thanks!

  • Liz

    Great article Mike! I always thought eating right after a workout slows down fat-burning. Glad I found your website!. Im learning a lot!.
    I am newbie in the work-out world. Mostly cause I hate cardio and everytime I joined the gym I quit after 3 months.
    Now with your site I discovered to lift, and I looove it!
    2 months ago I joined the gym, but my schedule is a bit tight and only can do it this way:
    1- Breakfast at 7AM
    2- Work out at 12PM
    3- Lunch after that (about 1PM)
    4- Protein shake (whey) around 3PM as a snack
    … snack, dinner…
    Should I be careful on how Im doing steps 2, 3 and 4?.
    Im a woman, my goal is fat loss and of course getting lean.

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  • moataz kaoud

    what about having creatine post workout with 600ml of milk..is it good or not recommended and why ?..(as if milk is a good nutrition post workout)
    thanks in advance and waiting for ur reply

    • Michael Matthews

      1. Yeah milk is good but you’ll want some more protein. Creatine post-workout is good.

      2. I would do more carbs.

      • moataz kaoud

        I mean creatine is good with milk post workout or not effective with milk due to luctose as people say?
        And what is the perfect meal immediatly post workout with my creatine? as in my country protein shakes are so expensive
        (Taking in considrations that i take creatine with grape juice and 500 ml milk 16 gm protein and 4 tablespoons of peanut butter 16 gm protein)
        Thank u buddy and plz be detailed

        • Michael Matthews

          Doesn’t matter you just want it with carbs.

          50 g pro, 75 g carb, whatever g fat is ideal.

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  • Juan Montaño

    Hi Mike.

    Besides lifting weights I also do HIIT on an empty stomach, looking to reduce BF%.

    What’s your take or recommendations for meals after HIIT ?


    • Michael Matthews

      That’s good. You can eat after. No reason not to.

  • Troy

    Hey man, another good article. Following BLS and is working awesome, its great to be pointed in the right direction as it all makes sense and you back it up. Whats your opinion on Glyco Load by Genetrix Nutrition?
    My life is mega busy and although I get the gym 6 times a week my post workout cant always be proper food, I like to get 70g of carbs with my protein.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! And that’s great!

      I’m not a fan of carb drinks. I’d rather eat food. But if you can’t fit food in you can continue with the drink.

      • Troy

        Thanks, yeah food is a better way.just purchased shredded chef and gonna make use of the protein shake section as much as possible.

        • Michael Matthews

          Great man! LMK how you like them.

  • Karim Ap

    After weightlifting I normally have a Gold standard 100% whey protein shake with creatine mixed with water and after approx. and hour I get a whole meal. Should I get carbs also with my post-workout shake? Or is it okay to wait until the whole meal? I was planning to put peanut butter with the post-workout shake if the carbs are needed but how much will be okay? 2tbsp? 4tbsp? Great article! Thank you for it!

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  • Morgen

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks! Great article! 🙂

    Howver, i’m a little confused about pwo carbs. 1. I thought that if you wait to eat carbs (any type) for 30-60 min pwo your body would continue to burn fat as a fuel source…broscience? 2. You recommend slow digesting carbs pwo but they typically have a low gi/impact on insulin so doesn’t this kind of defeat the purpose of pwo carbs?

    This is what I’m doing-
    Post weight lifting (heavy)/xfit: 1 scoop whey, 1/2cp oats, 1 oz frozen berries, medium banana

    Post cardio (no/very light wts): chocolate milk

    • Michael Matthews


      1. This effect is very negligible. Not worth thinking about, really.

      2. I recommend higher-GI carbs pre- and post-workout.

      What you’re doing is great.

      • Morgen

        Awesome, thanks! 🙂 Another quick question, would something like milk, greek yogurt or cottage cheese be optimal to include in a shake? I know they’re slower digesting forms of protein so could this interfere with the absorption of the whey?

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah sure, this would be fine.

  • Kurt

    Hey Mike! I like to hit my fat macros for the day spread out over my five meals before working out (work out late in the evening), just wondering if i should carry some fat over into my post workout meal ?

    • Michael Matthews

      You don’t have to if you don’t want to. Post-workout fat won’t do anything special.

  • Saulė Aleks

    Hi, Mike!
    I plan on starting exercising first thing in the morning and recently I have been doing full body circuits (1. prone leg curls, side shoulder rise, dumbell incline fly 2. jump squats, wide grip lat pull down, tricep kick backs 3. lunges, pushups, bicep curls >>> been doing all of these 3 sets each with loads of repetitions and low weights with abs session in the beginning as well) and HIIT or rowing machine in the end. What do you think? Can I continue doing this workout first thing in the morning with cardio in the end? Or should I change something to maximise fat loss? Wanna finally get rid of those flabby arms;/
    Thanks in advance///

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  • Vielen Dank für dieses Thema zu diskutieren hier.Ich lasse ein jedes Mal, Lassen Sie eine Antwort schätze ich einen Beitrag auf einer Website oder ich habe etwas zu wertvoll, um die beitragen Diskussion.
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  • Waymore Lonesome

    Something I didn’t quite get, if carbs spike insulin way higher than is needed after workouts, then why then recommend carbs? Also isn’t whey protein specifically known to spike insulin faster than all other protein sources, even faster than carbs? Why do we want elevated insulin levels for hours on end?

  • Michael Matthews

    Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

    Oh and if you like what I have to say, you should sign up for my free weekly newsletter! You’ll get awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious “guilt-free” recipes, articles to keep you motivated, and much more!

    You can sign up here:


    Your information is safe with me too. I don’t share, sell, or rent my lists. Pinky swear!

  • Chris

    What about post cardio meals, any insight?

    • Michael Matthews

      Nothing much to it. Some protein after makes sense.

  • Leon Dropas

    Hey, great article! I was wondering if someone could give me some advise though. After I work out I like to go into the sauna, which -including everything from showering to resting etc. – takes about one hour to an hour and a half, which means I won’t be getting my post work out meal until at least 2 hours after my workout. So would it be a good idea to take a protein shake and something like a banana to the gym, eat these straight after the workout, then go to the sauna and have my post work out meal then?

    • Thanks! Sauna is great. Personally I would lift, scoop of whey, sauna, go eat.

      • Leon Dropas

        Thanks for the quick reply! I will do that 🙂

  • Olivier

    Hi Mike,

    First thanks for all the information you put on your website. That is very helpful.
    I am trying to improve my workouts and my food intakes to loose this very stubborn belly fat.
    At the moment I am doing:
    – Fasted training with pre-workout meal composed of BCAA, Yohimbe, GTE (4 pills), Caffeine (400mg)
    – Crossfit session (6am, 3 times a week) and paddling training (8pm, 3 times a week)
    – post-workout meal 1h30 after composed of 40g of whey, 250ml of rice drink, 2 bananas, fish oil and multi-vitamins

    I am trying to lower my carbs intake during the day. I mainly eat 2 questbars (around 10am and 4pm) and meat/veggies for lunch/dinner.

    Good? not good? any thoughts?

  • NFed

    Hi Mike,

    I was just wondering, what/when should I have my first meal after a morning fasted work out? I was going to trough several google pages and hundreds of comments, however I haven’t seen a clear answer yet. Hope to hear from ya soon,


    • I would have 30 to 40 grams of protein within an hour of finishing the workout.

      • Daniel Caruso

        Mike – should we only have protein as a post-workout meal if training in a fasted state and avoid carbs entirely since they elevate insulin levels?

  • Ryan Malone

    Hey Mike! I’m putting together my post workout me and BLS recommends that I have 1g per kg of bodyweight. being that im 200lbs that Is about 93kg i.e. 93 grams of carbs. I go straight to work after the gym so I only have time for a shake. would you recommend using Gatorade powder (sucrose, dextrose) and my carb source. here’s what I was thinking. 50g whey, 16oz of rice milk (50g carbs) two servings of Gatorade powder (42g carbs), creatine monohydrate (5g)

  • Marco Antonio Brasil

    Hi Mike, your books and site are great!
    What type of carbs do you recommend for post workout shake?
    I’m using fruits, but heard from some people that this is not good because it will replenish the liver instead of muscles.

    • Thanks! I do prefer glucose-rich carbs over fruit but often do a combo.

  • ryan

    Hi mike im new to bodybuilding
    Im 21 yo and 99 kg overweight guy
    I would like to know if im fasting and want to lose weight and also body fat while cutting should i eat solid food like rice tempeh and chicken or should i only drink whey protein soluted in milk for post work-out meal?
    Thx a lot

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  • Aleksandr Prilepa

    Hey Michael! What are your thoughts on sequential eating for better digestion and nutrition absorption? Can’t really combine carbs with proteins like meat together with sequential eating. So post-workout would only mean a chicken breast etc.

    • Food combination doesn’t help with weight loss but if you find it helps with digestion then that’s fine.

      • Aleksandr Prilepa

        Thanks! But for postworkout nutriton when bulking we have to get both carbs+protein in one go right? So we cant do sequential eating.

        • You don’t have to do carbs necessarily. Protein is more important.

  • Lina

    Hi Mike,
    Is an acai bowl good for a post-work out meal? It has several fruits as well as veggies (banana, blueberries, orange, kale) that are very nutritious and that’s why I eat it (plus, it tastes really good). I also add hemp protein and almond butter. Those bowls are also quite big. It sounds good to me but, is it a good option?

    • Fruit and veggies are good, sure. You’ll want some protein too though.

  • Lucy Gregory

    Hi Mike, There are so many questions here, so if you have already answered this one, sorry!

    Firstly I seen that you recommend taking the supplements before each training session. But what if you doing them back to back fasted? And is fasting then doing 20 minutes, and over 30 minutes lifting ok? Should there be some sort of snack in between?

    I also noticed in a reply that you recommend doing lifting first, then cardio- can I ask why? I’ve heard the opposite from sources such as metaboliceffect.com who recommend short HIIT sessions pre lifting, not the other way around.

    Also, if doing a fasted workout, would you recommend taking BCAA’s after as well? I have in my notes from another one of your articles that you do, but then here you said to take BCAA’s pre. I also remember you suggesting that lifting fasted is more effective than fasted cardio? (If you are going to split them up)


  • Hannah Van Horn

    Hi Mike,

    You mention carbs and protein, but what about fats after a workout??

    Thanks in advance!


  • Alex Wunder


    I currently have around 60 grams of protein daily in my post workout shake. Mixed with 1 and 1/4 bannana, ice and some low carb juice (maybe 5 carbs per serving.

    I was wondering if my protein is too high? I have a good amount of muscle and workout strenuously 6 days a week with one rest day and one day where I hit my abs hard but no major muscles. I consider both to essentially be rest days and I do HIIT on both days. I just dont know if the protein has effectiveness for me over 40 grams in my shake. I have a lot of muscle that needs rebuilding and think that even though I am only 160-165 pounds that it has proven effective in the past.

    I also want to know what carbs to put in my shake. Something tells me my 1 1/4 banana and juice isnt enough carbs to effectively spike my insulin after my lifts. I may switch to full carb juice and I am going to start taking ON creatine soon which I just ordered and I heard a sugary juice is good to take with creatine. My questions are, how many carbs should I eat? And what foods can I eat that are high enough in dextrose to give me the spike I need?

    Does the 2-1 protein rule mean anything? (That I should have twice as many carbs as protein)

    Sorry if this was a lot of questions.

    • 60g of protein is totally fine. It isn’t necessary (you’d be fine with 40-50g) but it’s okay to have.

      For the carbs, you want to have 30% of your daily total post-workout.

      For the types of carbs you want, just stick to high GI carbs (white bread, white pasta, white rice, juice, bananas, etc.)

      Doesn’t really matter on the 2:1 carbs to protein. Just do 40g+ protein and 30% of your total daily carbs post-workout, and you’re good. 🙂

      • Alex Wunder

        Thanks Mike I owe you one. Is it true the high GI carbs produce an insulin spike that is quicker that will stop cortisol from being released for too long?

      • Alex Wunder

        Thanks Mike I owe you one! Is it true that the high GI carbs produce a quicker insulin spike that shortens the time that cortisol negatively affects us after a workout?

      • Alex Wunder

        Thanks Mike I owe you one! Is it true that high GI carbs produce an insulin spike that takes place over a shorter amount of time, being beneficial because it shortens the time that cortisol negatively affects us after a workout?

  • Charles Kendrick

    Hi there Mike,

    You’ve busted the myth of the post-workout “anabolic window”. And you’ve pointed out that both fish oil and vitamin D3 boost muscle synthesis.

    So how do you personally spread out your fish oil and vitamin D3? Do you take some post-workout, then some more with your next meal, since there’s an opportunity to boost muscle synthesis then as well?

    Or maybe wait until right before sleep, rather than including with meals at all, since a lot of muscle repair happens then?

    Do you take more of the fish oil with the first meal, less with the second, anything like that?

    PS. love the Legion product line. Gotta keep it in stock though 🙂 I’ve already had to come up with a mix of 8 different products to very roughly replicate Triumph and Phoenix, please don’t make me do it for Recharge too, I’m almost out 🙂

    • Hey Charles!

      I just take them post-workout more out of habit than anything else. If they can boost protein synthesis rates, I’ll take that too.

      The main thing is just get them in. When you take doesn’t really matter.

      Thanks so much for supporting Legion and I’m very sorry about the inventory issue. A rather large SNAFU with my manufacturer but it’s all clearing up in August and I have backups in place to prevent this from happening again. Happy times, haha.

      • Charles Kendrick

        Thanks Mike, appreciate the reply, and great to hear that you’re putting in a permanent fix to the supply chain problem 🙂

  • Vicky

    So how long does it take for the body to replenish glycogen stores before the carbs are stored as fat?

    • We could safely assume a few days of 400 to 500 grams of carbs per day.

  • Scott bennett

    Hi mike can I use good fats and protein post workout for a insulin spike in the absence of carbs thanks in advance scott

    • Fat doesn’t create as good of an insulin response as carbs do. I recommend the carbs if possible.

  • Justin Zamarra

    Hey Mike, I have 2 questions. I have heard that consuming a blend of whey isolate, concentrate and casein post workout out is superior to just 1 type of protein. And also, that you should wait at least 30 mins to 1 hour after weight training before you consume any protein/carbs. Consuming these immediately post workout can rob you of certain chemical processes that are beneficial. I can’t site any specific studies, these are just things I have read. What are your thoughts on these? Thanks

  • Paul Kara

    Hi Mike, I just have a couple of questions, I train in the evening from 6-7pm and I have currently started taking MuscleTech Cell Tech (creatine and BCAA) with the usual Whey Protein. I take Cell Teck straight after my workout at 7pm wich is 12oz as recommended by them. Should I still take the Protein Shake after that?
    Seems like a lot of fluid, and by eating dinner too I’m getting pretty bloated. Also is it wise to wait an hour after these supps are taken to digest them to eat or is it ok to eat straight away? Which do you recommend:-
    A- workout, Cell Teck, Protein shake, dinner
    B- workout, Cell Teck, dinner
    C- workout, Cell Teck, Protein Shake
    D- workout, Protein Shake, dinner
    At time times do you recommend each to be taken?

    Love the Web Site Mike!!
    Many Thanks, Paul K

  • Daniel de Ágreda González

    I´ve got a few questions. When we calculate the total amount of carbs that we should eat in our post-workout you recommend to take 1g/kg of BW (Body Weigth). Do we need to use our Body Weight or our LBW (lean body weight, substracting fat). I’ve got the same questions to calculate our macros in our diet. For example, in BLS you recommend 1,2g of protein/Kg 1 g of carbs /Kg BW and 0,2g of fat/Kg of ¿Body Weight? in our cutting Phase, not using Lean Body Weight right, Am I right?

    And the last question. When I calculate my BMR it Is 1706,6 Kcal. If i calculate my calories with the upper rates it is 1730, so close. I just can reduce 25 grams of carbs for only one week and then I will have reached my BMR, not being able to reduce it more. What can I do?

    Thanks So much! Really love your books


    • Thanks Dan!

      BW is fine but if you want to be fancy you can use FFM. 🙂

      The macros are based on BW. If you need to get a better idea of BMR and TDEE and such, check this out:


      You shouldn’t have to reduce if you’re that close to BMR. Should be able to just ride it out.

  • Paul

    Hi Mike,
    In BLS you recommend eating carbs right after our workouts, about 1 gram per kilogram of body weight. You also mention there’s some added benefit of eating “half of the 1 gram per kilogram amount” 2 hours later. So, if the 1 gram/kg of body weight amounts to 70g of carbs for an individual, does that mean they should eat all of the 70g right after workout, PLUS another 35g 2 hours later (105g total), OR does it mean eat half (35g) post workout and the other half (35g) 2 hours later? Thanks for the help!

    • Both–70g after and then half that later.

      • Tyler

        Mike, I have a question about these numbers…
        I weigh 280 and am guessing my bf% to be around 35%. Because of this, I am using your obese calculations for daily caloric intake and macro-nutrient calculations. This brings my carb intake to about 195 grams per day.

        So, I consume the 40-50g of carbs pre-workout. That leaves me with 145g – 155g carbs for the day. Then I am to consume 1g of carbs per kg of body weight. 280 lbs is 127 kg, so I am to consume 127g of carbs immediately after workout, leaving me with only 18g – 28g of carbs for the DAY. However, you also suggest 0.5g of carbs per kg of body weight within 2 hours of weight lifting (in this case 63.5g, which would put me 35g – 45g over my daily carb intake (140-180 calories OVER my daily intake of carbs).

        My question is:

        Do I really need to consume 127g of carbs (65% of my daily intake) immediately after workout? Since I workout at 6am, that makes the rest of the day difficult to plan for in regards to carb intake since I would have….none left.

        Is there a different recommendation on amount of carbs after workout due to bf%??

        • No, we can tweak this for you. Let’s just do 50 to 75 carbs after your workout with your protein and you can get the rest of your carbs however/whenever you’d like.

          • Tyler

            Great, this sounds better. Thank you for your help!

          • Cool. YW!

  • Aleksandr Prilepa

    Hey Michael! When getting carbs and protein in right after HIIT then are we burning less fat then we would if we would get a meal after an hour or two after the workout? Thanks 🙂

    • Hey! Personally I don’t really worry about that.

      • Aleksandr Prilepa

        Oh ok will continue to drink my shake then after weights+hiit, thanks:)

  • Frans

    Hi Michael, I work out from 6-7:30 pm. Should I have a protein before work out or after? and should I have dinner also with carbs? My intend is to lose weight.

  • Elmert Y. Pitis

    Hi Mike, is it fine to get my protein source from eggwhites and or meats for postwork? Or should stick with whey protein? Eating eggwhites/meats with my am postwork meal, feels like it fills me up for longer periods than whey protein.


  • Excellent! Exactly the info I was looking for. I have quite a few questions, though.

    The first one is that I take only about 25g of carbs with my protein after weightlifting. According to the article, I can take more without worrying about fat storage. But how much can I take? Double that? Also, some of it is simple carbs in the form of sugar that I drink with my coffee. Does it matter in terms of muscle building whether you take simple or complex carbs?

    Then I want to ask you about the post-workout supplements. First of all creatine. You obviously believe very much in it and I want to take it. There is just one question in particular and that is about the hair loss thing. If there any truth to that? And does it draw water into your muscles? Also, how many calories does it add to your diet?

    Then about vitamin D I get some with a multivitamin but don’t know if it’s enough so I walk in the sun in the summer. Better to walk in the sun right after a workout?

    Thank you!

    • Sure you can have more. Have whatever you want just make sure your daily numbers are right.

      Check this out:


      Getting sun is always good. 🙂

      • Thanks. The other question I had about this article is that you said the carbs you take post lifting can be more cause it won’t be stored as fat. Isn’t it about daily calorie intake though? Are you saying those extra calories you take don’t count at all?

        • I wouldn’t think of it that way exactly. Just that you’ve created a nice “carb sink” and your body is going to use the carbs you eat to replenish glycogen stores.

          Yes in the bigger picture it’s all about energy balance.

          • Ok. I just realized I keep asking questions. I’ll slow down now lol.

          • Haha no worries.

  • Lucas

    What do you think of a post-workout shake that consists of dextrose, whey and creatine? I’m a 158-lbl guy, how much of each supplement above should I take?

    • Sure I guess but I’d rather eat nutritious carbs rather than dextrose…

      • Lucas

        In your opinion, what are the best carbs sources for a post-workout meal? Must they be simple carbs? Is it true that fructose isn’t a good choice?

        • Yeah high-GI and high-glucose are going to be best. Some fructose is fine but high-glucose carbs are better for replenishing glycogen stores in the muscles.

  • Fabricio

    Hello, Mike. Your books rock. You the man.
    Whey + banana shake works out well as a post workout meal?

  • Matt Templeton

    Hey mike quick question…
    I only want to do one shake a day and get the rest of my protein from whole foods, would it be better placed post workout or before bed. I will be having a post workout meal with 30-40g protein, 40-50g carbs. I’m thinking before bed as I find it hard to sleep after a big meal, just wanted to get your take.
    Thanks for your time!!

    • I’d go with post-workout and just have some low-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese before bed.

      • Matt Templeton

        I will do exactly that then! Thanks for your time!!
        Love the article on Wendler’s 5/3/1, I bought his book as per your recommendation and I may give it a run in a couple weeks for fun. Keep up the great work man, love the site, love the supps and everything you’re doing!!

        • Great. NP!

          Glad you enjoyed the article. LMK how it goes on the program!

          Will do! Thanks for the kind words and support. 🙂

          Talk soon!

  • BetterInHeels

    Hi Mike. Loving your articles and podcasts! I read from another source a few months ago that fasting after your training for 2+ hours is beneficial since growth hormone is stimulated during and following exercise but as soon as you eat, insulin production takes over and blunts this exercise induced growth hormone response. If getting leaner is more the goal right now than building more muscle, does it still make sense to eat right after working out? Thanks.

    • Thanks!

      That’s a myth, basically. Small fluctuations in GH like that just won’t do anything in terms of muscle growth.

  • Mutungi Cephas

    thanks mike, your awesome. i normally consue Whey protein and a banana or two after workout, is that enuf?? and also on other days, i take white bread spread with peanut butter, plus my protein shake, is that okay as well?

    • Thanks! 🙂

      Yeah that’s fine.

      • Mutungi Cephas

        thanks dude.. your the best. i ordered your book recently, just waiting to get it. might take time coz i am in Africa.. lol but keep the good work.

        • Welcome! Happy to help.

          Thanks for ordering my book. LMK what you think of it. 🙂

          Will do!

  • Kim Jacoby

    The “anabolic window” has just been debunked by two meta studies. Time to update your articles, Mike. http://www.jissn.com/content/10/1/5. http://www.jissn.com/content/10/1/53

    • These aren’t new papers.

      When you look at the body of evidence, there is definitely a trend toward slightly more muscle growth over time with protein after training.

  • Tyler

    Mike, what about fasted cardio post-workout nutrition? I am currently reading “Bigger, Leaner, Stronger” and you say that nothing special is required for cardio workouts. However, I remember reading previously in a post of yours that carbs from fruits after a fasted cardio session is good for accelerating fat loss. Any thoughts on this???

    • Carbs after cardio won’t accelerate fat loss, no. Some protein after makes sense though.

  • Lefteris Georgizas

    Hi there Mike..!! Very helpful post and information from you..!! Really enjoyed..!!
    I would like though to ask you something. What’s your opinion about post workout carbs?
    Right now i am having a shake with protein powder(50%) and either dextrose with fruits (mostly dates and pineapple) or i will have only fruits.I am taking about the 2/3 of 30% total daily carbs in this shake and then about 30-45minutes a solid meal with the rest carbs and protein(50%) and the rest 1/3 of complex carbs(sweet potato, brown rice, beans etc.) plus veggies.
    This i wanted to ask is what do you recommend for carbs ? Should i consume dextrose or fruits with the shake or should i stick with one big meal with white rice-potato-bread ? I am also taking creatine btw in post workout shake

    • Thanks!

      I think having a good portion of carbs after training makes sense if you’re trying to maximize muscle growth, mainly due to insulin’s anti-catabolic effects.

      I’m not a fan of dextrose because it’s kind of just junk. I’d rather eat nutritious foods personally…

      • Lefteris Georgizas

        Thanks very much for the reply really appreciate it..!!
        So you are saying a good amount of simple sugars like fruits its better than high GI complex carbs like white rice pasta etc. ?
        Btw your articles made me turn 180 degrees of what i was thinking and doing in gym.. Also i am watching one by one your YouTube videos. So much good information through them..!!

        • YW!

          GI isn’t so important. Just the total carb intake is what matters most.

          Thank you! 🙂

  • Stephen Mathew

    Hey Mike,

    The perfect article again.

    What if I don’t consume whey protein or other supplements post workout and depend on food sources as my post workout nutrition, should i immediately consume food after the workout or wait a while and for how long?

    Thank you!

    • Thanks Stephen!

      That’s totally fine. Just make sure you have your post-workout within 1-2 hours of your workout.

      My pleasure!

  • Kalin Stoev

    Hey Mike , im pretty sure that somewhere in the site there is an answer to this question, but with so huge database it’s not easy to be found.

    I want to ask you what’s the best protein FOOD source for post workout.

    Thank you so much for your hard work and the attetion that you give to the users.Have a great day!
    Kalin Stoev

    • Hey Kalin!

      I wouldn’t say there’s any SINGLE “best” post-workout food. Any high-quality animal protein will work, such as meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, etc.

      Thanks brother. 🙂 Happy New Year.

  • Wilson

    Hello Mike,

    Great read- what’s your take on high-glycemic-index carbs post workout? Does carb type really matter?

  • Jordan Stein

    I usually lift for about 40-60 minutes. I’ve always only taken whey with water or milk. Just learning about carbs and I just purchased your Legion recommended creatine. How should I get 50-60g of carbs into me fastest with my shake of whey/creatine? white bread? Looking for something super easy/fast. I see you are down on the traditional carb powders b/c they are junk. Would love to just dump something into my shake.

    • You can use rice milk, fruit, fruit juice, etc. Whatever you like is fine.

  • Mohd Alaiti

    Hello Mike,
    I am going to start doing cardio from next week. I’m planning on reducing my % fat so I’m planning on doing HIIT cardio on the stationary bike for 20 minutes-4 days per week- early in the morning before eating. This means I will be training in a fasted state. I read in an article of yours that eating Protiens, Carbs or Fats break fasted state.
    My question is what should I take as a Pre and Post cardio meal?
    Since I’m training in a Fasted state, I guess no Pre cardio meal right?
    What about Post Cardio? What do you recommend? How many grams of Carbs or Protein? After how long does it take my body stop burning fat from HIIT so I can start eating and fill up my macros?

    • Sounds good!

      If you want to do it fasted, you don’t want food pre-cardio, but you do need supps. Check this out:


      For post-cardio, I recommend 20-40g of protein. You should have that within 1-2 hours of the cardio.

      My pleasure. Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Casey Collier

    Say someone finishes training, but knows they have a huge dose of protein coming in 2-4 hours (ex. Steak dinner-60g protein). Could they theoretically sub the PWO protein for 5g BCAA/Leucine post workout and have the same anabolic response?

    • Yes, you could. Ideally though, you’d get your post-workout in within 1-2 hours of your workout.

      • Casey Collier

        I see. I was thinking on special occasion, not daily. Thank you!

        • Ah okay. Yeah, that’s fine for special occasions but on a consistent basis, you’ll get better results with the proper post-workout nutrition.

  • Becky Ramsay

    Are carbs needed after ab workouts?

    • You’re just doing abs in a workout? Even so, it’d be better to have the proper post-workout with protein and carbs.

      • Becky Ramsay

        I do a combination of abs and HIIT intervals. Usually I’ll do 9 ab circuits with 3 minutes of 30 second intervals in between each set.

        • Ah okay. Yeah, I recommend a proper post-workout meal with protein and carbs.

  • psak

    Hi Michael,

    I am finishing my workouts around 9pm, and I am sleeping around 11pm. I am in a phase of loosing fat, which is quite low, but want to get rid as much as I can, without losing my bulk. I am worrying if eating carbs after workouts in my case is a good or a bad thing


  • benzemartin

    Hey Mike, hopefully you’re still reading and responding to comments on this post. My current post workout meal looks like this: whey protein shake and either an apple or a banana. Obviously I can’t go wrong with whey, but are apples and/or bananas a good choice for post workout carbs?

    Your article is excellent, but it lacks practical examples. I always drink my whey protein shake with water directly after my workout at the gym. Do you think apples/bananas are fine or are there better options?


    • Yep. 🙂

      Whey and the apple or banana is great post-workout! You’ll most likely need more than one to get enough carbs, though.

      Glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks for the feedback.


  • stelios auth

    Hello Mike. I’ve experimented several post workout formulas which they seem to work great on me. Now i’m ”fixing” my own , persay mixing whey , dextrose and creatine saperately. It’s been a month now and and seems also ok. Although i’ve been listening that’s not the same and that’s the process of mixture in the labs what it matters rather than the ingredients by themselves,What’s your opinion?

    • Doing your own is fine but I’m not a fan of dextrose as a post-workout carb because I’d rather eat something with nutritive value…

      • Marco Stoller

        Mike, I read somewhere that consuming high GI carbs such as dextrose is critical to raising insulin levels fast enough to be effective. Will a moderate GI index food such as fruit work? What is your take on this?

  • Stefanie Daelemans

    Your website is so inspiring ! I am finding so much information here that I can’t find in the regular “health” blogs. Thanks for sharing your expertise Mike !

    • Happy to hear you’re enjoying it. 🙂

      My pleasure!

      LMK if you have any questions. I’m happy to help.

  • Scott Holcomb

    I train fasted at 5am and continue my fast until noon. I do take 10g BCAA minutes before my workout of heavy weight training. I still have a few pounds of body fat to go but so far IF has helped me shed a lot of body fat in 10 weeks. I don’t want to lose muscle but I want to cut below 10% BF for the 1st time in

  • Scott Holcomb

    15 years of doing the same old high rep pump type training that’s in the magazines. Should I add more BCAA after training or do you recommend protein and carbs as a must?

  • Lefteris Georgizas

    Hello Mike !!
    Wanted to ask you if there is any difference of going all in one carbohydrates ingestion in post workout meal or if it would be more beneficial of getting 1g of kg of bodyweight and the half after 2 hours of it. I read the study but i am just curious about your thoughts on this. Btw in your books you say to stay away from white bread and pasta etc.. But in some comments i see you recommend these types of foods.. I am wondering because i want to pick a good high quality glucose carbohydrate for my post workout.. Can you recommend me some types of foods?? It would be very helpful..!!

    • Honestly it’s a minor point but I thought I would mention it.

      Do whichever is most convenient to you.

      I think you read an older edition of my book because I’ve changed my position on that since doing quite a bit of reading and coaching.

      Check this out:


      • Lefteris Georgizas

        Thanks very much for your reply !!! So no that much to worry about it..!!
        And something else i forgot to ask you is about the timing of the post workout.. I read to ingest high gi carbs within 30 minutes of finishing the workout..
        After i finish my workout i have a bath and then i walk to my home so we are talking about 30+ minutes of getting the pwo meal. Would it be better to drink a shake with some instant oats at the gym or it’s not that a big difference of getting my pwo at my house ?
        Sorry if I’m getting on your nerves..!! 😝

        • Welcome! Exactly. 🙂

          That’s fine. As long as you get it within 1-2 hours, you’re good. So again, whatever works better for you on that.

          No worries! Talk soon.

  • Andrew

    Hey Mike, I’m still trying to figure out this topic of nutrition. So today after my workout, I had a big bowl of home-made chili which I thought would be good, but when I worked out the macros, it came out to only 40g carb and 25g protein so that’s not enough. What should i have added to this meal do you think?

    • Hey Andrew! You can add more meat and more of or a different carb source. Rice, corn, etc.

      Whatever protein and carb source you prefer is fine.

      • Andrew

        Ok, thanks. I actually just another smaller portion of the chile after I wrote you to up the macros lol. I also wanted to ask a question about counting calories. How do you figure out the macros for something you’re frying, like chicken marsala or chicken cutlets? Cuz you’re not using all the oil in the pan and then I pat the food down in towels after it’s done. And also, I’m eating this bread that I like a lot but there’s no nutritional info on the bag so what do I do?

        • Welcome! That works!

          That’s tough to track. Personally, I count all the oil used in frying. Even if you don’t eat it all. It’s hard to track how much of it you’re having so it’s better to be safe.

          Regarding the bread, your best is to look up the nutritional info on calorieking.com or caloriecount.com of rye/whole wheat bread.

          Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Stephen Vera

    Hey Mike!

    Is there an acceptable amount of fat I could eat PWO? Or should one stay away from fat PWO given its interference with insulin effects and slowing of digestion???



    • Eating fat post-workout isn’t an issue. Have as much as you’d like.

  • Jackson R

    Mike, it looks like you would recommend some protein after a moderate or HIIT cardio workout. Is this correct?

  • Imran Kapacee

    Hello I was only using whey protein as post work out supplement . I’ve gotten creatine now and wanted to ask if it’s okay having it right after I have my whey.

    • Yep! Both are great post-workout! Make sure you’re getting carbs too. 🙂

  • Max payne

    Hello Mr. Mathews,

    I just recently stumbled upon your articles about losing weight and gaining more muscle. I am currently in the seventh grade, and I am tired of just being known as the nerdy smart kid. I am a bit overweight, but I did get third in district for the 200m(I got about 30 seconds) sprint in track and field. I would like your advice on how I should approach losing weight and possibly dieting options that are safe for someone my age. I am a bit over 5’8, I weigh about 188 pounds, and I am 13 years old. My waistline is about 32 inches.

    • Hey hey! Hope you’ve been enjoying them!

      I hear you man and good job on placing 3rd for the 200m.

      To help get the weight moving healthily, check this out:


      Hope it helps. LMK what you think.

      • Max payne

        Thank you so much for this information. I read that article and it is very useful, thank you for replying so quickly, I was not expecting that. Also, I have one quick question, should I take whey protein to prevent muscle loss while being calorie deficient? I remember something about it negating muscle loss. – Thanks

        • YW! While in a calorie deficit (ie. cutting), as long as you keep your protein intake high, you can prevent muscle loss. Whey can help you meet that protein requirement, but itself is not needed to do that if you can meet the requirement through whole foods.

          Hope that clears it up.

          • Max payne

            Thank you, so much for your time and information. Also, is it normal with whey protein to become extremely hyper and a lot stronger in the following hours?

  • George

    Hi Matthew – as most people, I train after work, ie late afternoon. I’m a bit confused as to whether I should have a protein supplement straight after my workout and then wait for a few hours for my dinner, or have the supplement, my post workout meal when I go home and then dinner a few hours later. What is your view? Thank you in advance!

    • Hey George! You can have your post-workout protein right after the gym, and then have dinner when you get home. No problem.

  • Johnny Hill

    Hey Matt,

    For a post-workout shake instead of a meal… I found a short article that shows how to make a “poor-man’s” recovery shake using whey protein and gatorade powder (dextrose).


    They don’t give references like you do (haha)… But according to much of what I’ve heard and seen online (in reference to post-workout nutrition):

    “Multiple studies have shown that in order to get the most from this window of opportunity, you need a carbohydrate to protein ratio that is 4:1”

    “When you ingest simple carbohydrates like dextrose after a workout, it causes an insulin spike.”

    I trust you man… Seems like a 4:1 carb/protien ratio is overkill on carbs, right? Do I really want to pound simple carbs like dextrose post-workout, or would it be better to use something else?

    Essentially: Should post-workout shake = (Whey+ and Recharge), or (Whey+, Recharge and Gatorade powder (dextrose))?

    Thx again.

    – johnny

    • Hey Johnny! Nah you don’t need to follow a ratio like that. Just make sure you get at least 30-40g of protein and 1g of carbs per lb of bodyweight post-workout.

      There is added benefit to simpler carbs, but I don’t generally recommend dextrose. I recommend something with more nutritional value…

      Whey+, Recharge (together or seperate) and a good amount of carbs is a good idea! I’d just choose a different source for the carbs. I like having Whey+ with rice milk personally, but you could do fruit, fruit juice, etc.

      Welcome. Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Ondrej

        Is it 1g of carbs per kg or per lb?

  • FC

    I am currently reading your Thinner Leaner Stronger book and I am trying to engage your eating recommendations.
    However, I am not sure how to arrange my pre and post-workout meals. According to your book, one should take 40g of carbs pre-workout and 1g per kg post workout. I am girl, 73 kg >30% fat. 113g of carbs is more than my daily carb allowance. Is there any other way to calculate pre and post workout carbs?

    • Awesome! What you can do is to have the carbs in an actual meal following a workout (or preceding it. It’s a matter of spliting your carb allocation for the day. So if you’re going to have carbs right after a workout and that maxes out your carbs for the rest of the day, then just don’t have carbs for the next meal or rest of the day.

      A good ratio is also 1g protein to 2-3g carb. (ex: 20g protein: 40-60g carb). Pre/Post workout meals aren’t going to make or break your weight loss. Ultimately, it’ll come down to energy balance, so if you aren’t able to fit in the carbs, no big deal! I do recommend at minimum having a post-workout protein shake, though.

  • Augusto Medal

    Hi Mike.

    I would appreciate if you could help me out with this.
    I have been following a meal plan structure for the past 3 years, where I ate roughly every 2-3 hours.
    I always workout late in the afternoon like 6:30 pm.
    I have been adjusting the caloric intake depending if I was trying to bulk or cut, following a surplus or deficit respectively.
    Currently: 165 lbs with 6% bodyfat

    I do have a concern on how to manipulate my carb intake, since what I have been doing for the past years is always the same. I consume roughly 300 grams of carbs per day, getting in about 80 grs with my breakfast, 20 grs with my mid-morning snack, 55 grs with lunch, 50 grs with my pre-workout meal, 35 grs immediately post workout (taking Carboplus), and 55 grs with dinner; this of course if without counting the minimal amounts of carbs found in veggies, nuts, avocado and the vegan protein i take.

    Im looking to increase the amount of carbs in my last meal of the day (that contains carbs) which would be dinner. Do you think I could shift some carbs from other meals like breakfast and lunch (which are pretty high in carbs), and shift them to my meal dinner? For instance, instead of having 55 grs with dinner, take 20 from breakfast and 10 from lunch, adding to 85 grs total with dinner? Or eliminating the fast digesting carb (carboplus) and adding those 35 grams as another source of carbs with my dinner meal?

    I understand that doing this shift will still make me reach my carb intake goal.
    But I just want to know if this could also bring more benefits for muscle growth and recovery, in adding more carbs to my last meal, which could essentially be considered PWO meal.
    I dont want to make this shift causing those carbs to be stored as fat.

    Please let me know what you think/recommend?

    Thanks a lot!!!

    • Hi Augusto, moving the carbs to the last meal of the day won’t cause additional fat storage, and can also serve to refill glycogen stores further (page 112 BLS). Mike actually takes a huge chunk of his carbs at dinner too! Feel free to change your routine.

      • Augusto Medal

        Hi Roger. Thanks for your reply.
        I will start to do it gradually and see how my body reacts to this change.
        Usually when I have to much carbs in one meal, y start to bloat up and retain to much water.
        But considering my body is in need of carbohydrates for replenishing glycogen stores, it should work well.
        Should it still be a combination of High and low glycemic carbs? Or can I just take majority low since the carboplus I take is HG?

  • aseem puri

    Hi Mike,
    I have just finished reading your book ‘Bigger Leaner Stronger’. I’m going to follow the ‘cutting’ routine and as part of that I’m planning to have whey protein as pre and post workout supplement and egg proteins in the night. For the 2 weekdays when I don’t exercise, should I have the same amount of protein or should I ignore it on the non-exercise days?


    • Great to hear it! That’s a good plan. You keep the same amount of protein every day.

  • Johnny Hill

    I’ve read that the heat generated from a blender destroys nutrients. If I use a nutribullet to stack Genesis, Whey+ or anything else undenatured and/or nutritious, to what extent am I denaturing or destroying the nutrients in those supps? Any clue?

    Should I avoid the blender with my high-quality supps, or does it matter?

  • Cole Lomas

    When you are talking about 20g of protein post work out and later about 40-50g of protein, do you mean all protein from a meal?

    Would bread and peanut butter achieving a 20g intake of protein be sufficient or did you mean 20g of protein from a high quality source such as whey?

    • Yes, post workout and a meal later.

      Whey is ideal. That’d be a lot of peanut butter, BTW haha. Way too much fat in one go.

  • James

    Hi Mike! What would an ideal post workout shake be like? Whey protein + Milk + Fruit? Then you’d be getting most of your carbs as simple carbs. You seem to be fond of rice milk in your post workout shakes. Is that a way for you to quickly get complex carbs in post workout? Also, would like to know what the ideal window is to drink a post workout shake. Thanks!!

    • Yep, that’s a good post-workout shake.

      1-2 hours is the anabolic window that may help you with muscle growth.

  • amos

    If someone is on IF and working out in the morning fasted without supplements, will skipping post workout be detrimental? Will the excess amino acid and glycogen fro the last meal be used after the workout?

    • I don’t recommend doing that. You’re essentially running on fumes and asking your body for more fuel that’s not there. Either break the fast, or keep taking a BCAA, leucine, or HMB periodically to keep muscle breakdown at bay until it’s time to feed.

      • amos

        What if you ate a large meal right before bed like more than 1000kcal? I usually don’t feel hungry after my workout.

  • Lauren

    Hi Mike!! I need some help here please 🙂

    I am a college student and only have time to workout at night, around 8:00pm. I lift weights for 45 minutes aprox and 3x a week do 20 minutes hiit cardio. I go to bed normally at 10pm. I read the other day that after you take your post workout protein shake you need to wait at least an hour before making another meal… is it true?? I don’t have time for that! I would take my shake and 15 – 20 minutes later I’d have dinner and then 30 minutes later I’d go to bed. What do you think about this?

    I hope to hear from you soon! Thanks in advance 🙂

    PS I love what you do!!!! You are a huge part of my fitness journey!

    • No, you can have your shake and eat soon after without issue.

      Glad you enjoy my content! Keep up the good work.

  • Luke

    Hello Mike! I have a question about this subject and how to include fasted training. I read a couple articles and did not find an answer.
    Currently; I wake up, take Forge, lift for about 45-60 minutes, and then immediately eat carbs and protein in my post workout meal (5-10 minute gap between last exercise set and eating). My question is: does eating right after my workout hamper my fasted training benefits? If I am trying to cut (which I currently am) and this pattern is damaging my fat loss, when should I eat my post-workout meal that will best prevent muscle loss and even generate growth (as I am still relatively new to this).
    Thanks man! Big fan!

    • Hey Luke! Eating right after your workout is totally OK. Great time to refuel.

  • Wishywashy

    Hey Mike, i have read somewhere and i forgot the site. The writer has a contradictory view with ur points( not directly to u). He said that these study that found that post workout meal to have an effect is because all participant trained fasted and didnt have a good PRE WORKOUT MEAL. He said that the studies that didnt find any difference in post workout meal because they had a good pre workout meal. And the point is if u have a good pre workout then post workout meal does not matter. I forgot the study but he did to point that out in some of these studies and conclude that with good pre workout meal, post workout meal doesnt matter. What are your thoughts about this? Btw do u need a post workout meal after like swimming? Swimming is cardio but i would consider it semi resistance cuz water is very resistant. Any swimmer knows how heavy the water is against you.

    • I’ve addressed that in various places and it’s a valid point, but there’s evidence that even when training fed, some protein after working out can help you gain muscle faster over the long term.

      It’s one of those “why not?” type of things, you know?

      No, swimming isn’t a form of resistance training.

      • Wishywashy

        I would also like to add is fruit+whey a good mix for post workout meal? Fruit has alot of fiber in it, which slows digestion and absorption right? This would make whey less useful. Also since its not mentioned, im assuming that fat should be avoided in the post workout meal and i would also assume its because fat also slows digestion and absorption. If fat is suppose to be avoided then what is the point of taking vitamin D post workout. In the absence of fat little to no vitamin D can be absorbed since its a fat soluble vitamin. Thanks

  • Elise Stevenson

    Hello Mike, I have something to shear with all the followers about Post-Workout Nutrition.
    Usually, Carb is best to eat lower glycemic foods so as not to initiate an insulin spike. But post-workout, the exact opposite is true. It is critical to get the carbs (and protein) to the muscle cells as fast as possible.
    The main cause to consume carbs post-workout is to refill the muscle glycogen that we burned during your workout. As we train, our main fuel source is muscle glycogen. Glycogen is the storage form of glucose. It is collected of long strings of glucose molecules with numerous branches.
    You might have also heard the carbs need to have a high glycemic index, meaning they are easy to digest and have the greatest ability to deliver protein to muscle.
    If anyone want to check more about this I can suggest them to visit at http://www.vegan-body-coach.com/category/nutrition.

  • Ana Pires Veiga

    Hello Mike! What you be a good Post- Workout meal? Can you give an example?
    Thank you!

  • Hey Mike and all, starting another round of cuts on Sunday. Just need a refresher because I can’t find it in your BLS book (I must be lost as to what page it’s on).

    For bulking, I was eating (preworkout) 30-40 grams of protein (in the form of egg whites) and 40-50 grabs of carbs (in the form of bananas) and (postworkout) 50-60 grams of protein (in the form of chicken breast and whey-based protein bars) and 1g/kg of body weight (in the form of veggies, potatoes, and those same whey protein bars).

    IIRC, for cutting, it’s the same or I can do fasted workouts and skip the preworkout meals (but keep the same postworkout meal as I do with bulking). Do I have this properly?

    Thanks for all the help!

    • Fasted workouts will definitely help, so that takes preworkout nutrition out of the picture. You can keep the same post-workout if you’d like, or reduce the amount as needed to fit your macros and spread out your meals to your preference.

  • Leo Davis

    Hey Mike,

    When doing fasted training first thing in the morning, is your post workout shake your breakfast, or do you drink a shake and then still eat breakfast a few hours later?

    • You can do both. 🙂

      • Leo Davis

        Just realized I never said thanks to this however many months ago. Please excuse my manners! And thanks to you guys again for answering all questions.

  • Miz Eloise

    whats yoir recommendation? reverse doeting to 1644 calories 24% body fat. 4 to 6 hoirs worlout in the bls. 32 year old female.

    how much macro split should i ingest lre and post workout?

    is whey better to take pre or post? i d rather eat whole foods but i understamd whey absorbs fast so i reserve 1 serving for myself daily which is 120 caloriez 25 g protein
    24% body fat


    Hi, MFL/Legion Team

    In BLS Mike recommends eating at least 30 to 40 grams of protein in the post-workout meal but in this article, it says to eat 40-50 grams of protein post-workout to ensure you are stimulating maximum protein synthesis.

    Is there a reason for the difference?

    • Good question! I personally have 40-50g to play it safe. Keep it in mind I have more muscle mass than average guys too.

      30-40g is totally fine, but if you want to play it extra safe, go ahead and have 40-50g.

  • Michael Gubbins

    Hi MFL,
    I’ve just changed to late night workouts and didn’t know what/when to eat. I now finish training at 9.30pm and normally go to bed at 10.30pm so don’t have time for 2 meals (fast digesting then slow digesting carb/protein meal) – should I have a fast digesting shake after working out, a slow digesting meal or combine both (i.e. dextrose, protein, creatine & porridge)?

  • Mike

    Hi MFL team,

    I work out pretty early in the morning – I do about 1 hour or so of lifting, followed by 30 mins of HIIT on the recumbent bike.

    Quick about me:
    – I weigh 157 lbs currently
    – Drink whey protein (240 cals, 48g protein, 6g carbs) about 10 minutes after the entire workout
    – Eat a meal with more protein (e.g. egg whites/Greek yogurt) and carbs (banana and steel cut oats), looking to get about 80g protein and 72g carbs total.

    I try to squeeze this meal in within the 2 hour window to get the full suggested carbs and protein, but I’m a slight worry wort/optimizer haha, so I just had some questions:

    1. It takes some time to shower, change, commute, and make breakfast, so I’m wondering when the 1-2 hour window “starts” – does it start after the full workout or mainly after lifting? (i.e. does the HIIT count in this window or am I just thinking too hard on this/rushing?)

    2. Should I eat fewer fat calories during this time, that it slows down digestion of carbs/protein? (based on this article: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/berardi4.htm)

    • 1. No problem. You’ll be fine. It’s not like an On/Off button that locks you out once 2hrs are up.

      2. Based on what you listed, it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of fat in there at all. You’ll be fine.

  • Tyler

    Hi Mike,
    I read somewhere that a blend of whey and casein post workout is superior to whey alone! What do you think about this issue?


    • Personally, I prefer just pure whey isolate. A mix of isolate and concentrate is fine if you prefer, though.

  • Francesco Monopoli

    Mike, i have a question, what about taking protheolitc enzim before taking protein, is it really effective for a better absorbtion, or I don’t need that??

  • Adam

    Mike/Roger, what’s the recommendation for post-workout nutrition when doing HIIT? Specifically, I’m in a cut and doing my HIIT (and my lifting) fasted. It’s clear to me what to eat post-lifting, but I don’t know if, post-HIIT, I should be doing the same thing, something else, or if it doesn’t really matter.

  • Mark Graham

    Whats the talk on post workout shake vs post workout meal is there one better then the other?

    • Technically, the postworkout shake would be better:
      “Whey protein because it rapidly spikes plasma amino acid levels, which is good for maximizing post-workout protein synthesis.

      Creatine because it helps you get bigger and stronger, and because research has shown that post-workout creatine consumption is more effective than pre-workout consumption (when many people usually take it).”

  • Jordan

    Hey Mike,
    Just wondering though it may seem like a stupid question, should I replenish whatever calories I burn after cardio, based on the cutting formula in your book. According to that formual im supposed to eat about 1580 calories. But then I lose who knows how much, but im guessing about 200 cals, after doing 20-30 minutes of HIIT. D I have to eat back those calories I lost? I’m guessing since you havn’t mentioned as such your answer would be its not necessary to eat em back.
    Also, is it necessary to wait about 14 hours between weightlifting and then cardio? Would 9-10 hours be sufficient?


  • sean_noonan

    hey mike I got a quick question. Does it matter if post workout carbs are fast or slow digesting or would just fruit work? I find it hard while cutting to spare 150 g carb for pre and post workout (my appetite is rediculous)

    • No problem, Sean. Those all work.

      • sean_noonan

        Hey also one more thing I bought salsa but it says 5 calories per serving but with zero carb fat and protein would you say it’s safe to just track it as 1.25 carb per serving?

        • Sure!

          • sean_noonan


          • sean_noonan

            I’d honesty eat the whole thing at once because of my retarded apetite lol and it definately has calories.

            Makes sense though because for a 33g serving of sabra salsa is 2 carbs
            and This would be 1.25 for 19g which seems pretty in line

  • Adnan Olmez

    Hi Mike. Thanks for the tips. I’m just trying to find the right balance after workout, and I will definitely try to get more protein (40g instead of 20g). What about fruits like banana after workout? I usually eat this before workout, but I heard it is as good as before or after. Thanks.

  • Hey Mike and everyone, I ran across this on Quora. What do you think? https://www.quora.com/What-kinds-of-nutrients-does-a-muscle-need-to-repair-after-a-workout-and-to-get-bigger Not really sure what to make of what this guy is saying.

    • Well, nothing new here! Eat well, eat enough, rest = gains…assuming good exercise programming and progressive overload.

      • Whoops. The link didn’t scroll directly down to the article I had questions about. It’s from Tim A Ernst (second one on the page) who mentions that the post-workout nutrition window is a myth and it doesn’t matter when you eat it (and says that only protein, not carbs, counts).

        • I see it now. For best results, do try to refuel during the “window” (see Mike’s section on it above). Carbs are also your friend. Regarding an acidic or alkaline body…it’s BS. Greens are great, though, don’t get me wrong. But, your body needs no help from food to regulate pH. It does that by itself fantastically well and without your knowing it.

          • You say you see it now, but it was my fault in the first place for not double-checking where my link was leading. Sorry ’bout that.

            Anyway, thanks, Roger! I put Mike’s advice on this over the guy from Quora, but I wanted to know if you guys had any extra thoughts on it. I’ll stay the course, though, and refuel during the window. And I always knew carbs were my friends. That was my first tip-off. 😉

          • NP!

  • Hey guys, I just received word from my doctor to stay off a few things for the next 3 months, which includes Stevia and supplements. Any suggestions for a good postworkout meal? I’d default back to a chicken-breast salad. Is that a good postworkout meal?

    • Huh. OK…what’s wrong with whey and stevia? You could use choco-milk, Greek yogurt, or really anything to hit those macro targets.

      • I don’t think there was anything wrong with whey by the doctor. As for Stevia, not sure. She wants to check some base levels in my blood, and I guess Stevia messes with those levels.

        Chocolate milk is decent, but for some reason I’m one of the few who can’t stand Greek yogurt. I don’t mind my chicken-breast salad (always a favorite), so no problems sticking with that?

  • imran

    Carbcyclingscience The science behind it you are getting carbohydrates when you need them so you are having two high carb days a week, Going out with family and you are at a restaurant and you want to indulge and you want to be able have those carbs and be able to eat whatever you want another thing it does is it improves the function of leptin in your body.
    So what leptin is it’s your hunger hormone it tells your body when you are hungry and when you are not hungry and how well you respond to leptin determine your hunger levels and carb cycling can help with lepti response, it also improves your insulin you are able to manipulate your insulin and spike it when you need it and improved insulin sensitivity can help your body stay in an anabolic state a muscle building state and you also be able to notice effects from yes that’s the thermogenic effect of food this is how many calories you burn actually digesting your food so it takes to burn calories carbs fats and proteins and protein actually has the tes and with that you are going to have a lot of protein on your low-carb days,

  • James McDowell

    Hi Mike, I’m wondering what your thoughts are on having gummy bears post workout (as well as a protein shake)? I currently do this, followed up shortly after by a proper meal. Is this a better or worse option than a piece of fruit (other than the lack of micro nutrients)? Or no different?

    • It’s not going to make a meaningful difference, especially if you’re having a meal afterwards. You can eat gummy bears if you want, but I always recommend whole foods instead. Plus, I don’t really like candy haha

  • Phillip

    Hey Mike,

    Just out of curiosity, what does your pre and post workout meals look like?

    • Currently, pre is banana and 1 scoop of my vegan protein Thrive, and post is 1 scoop of my whey protein WHEY+ and about 200 calories of dark chocolate. 🙂

  • Taylor Kuzik

    So Mike is your opinion of the “anabolic window” neutral? It’s hotly debated. I have a breakfast of protein and carbs like an egg and bacon sandwich on 100% whole grain, 100% whole wheat bread to keep blood glucose levels stable and work out for about 40 minutes including a 10 minute warm-up. I usually have a whey protein shake after working out for glycogen replinishment. Let’s say I work out around 9 a.m., is it okay to wait 2 hours before the next meal to serve as post-workout replinishment like lunch? I usually eat around 11 a.m. on my work days. It won’t hurt the gains, right? For years I was under the impression that you need to consume your post-workout protein and carbs 30-45 minutes afterward but my opinion has changed as of late. What do you think, Mike?

  • Russell Ward

    Hey Mike,
    I’m an 18-year-old, 159-pound male and have been bulking for around five months. Before this, I primarily focused on running and though I lifted four days per week my workouts consisted of high-rep exercises. In the five months I’ve been bulking using the 5×5 rule for most of my lifts, I’ve gradually increased my weight from 150 to 159 pounds without adding any inches to my waist. I currently try to get around 3200 calories or a bit more each day (I’m in college and spend much of my time walking up hills to my classes.) I usually work out in the mornings around 7:00, and have taken to eating half a peanut butter sandwich before and a large serving of rice and beans (around 400 calories worth) afterwards. My other two meals are eaten at the dining hall and consist of generous helpings of some type of vegetable, carb, and meat. Given this info, my question is this: Is my daily caloric intake fairly correct for adding muscle or could it use some changes, and how solid is my pre- and post-workout nutrition? Oh and also, I hardly ever run anymore (3 times in the past four months.)

  • Anne

    Hi Mike

    I’ve just started Phil Campbell’s Ready Set Go – synergy fitness programme – I’m amazed at my improvement in sprinting – I’m only up to 4 X 30 sec sprints – it builds up to 8 – I am warned to take it slowly as my very fast twitch muscle fibres come back to life – I am a 60 yr old woman – quite fit with yoga and quite an intense power pump class 3 times a week – which I have done for the last 5 yrs – and I’ve built up my strength – I’ve always wanted to lift and so have just started squatting with the 20lb bar and it felt great – my question is this – Phil Campbell talks about growth hormone kicking in after high intensity training – but he says to limit sugar intake for 2 hrs post workout – he does say have protein after a workout – I’m interested in the rejuvenating powers of HGH production – what do you think about it – he says the the sugar stops the production of HGH – so I wondered what you thought – I’ve always had a nice protein shake post workout – but now wonder if the carbs in it are undoing my efforts at getting at my muscles !

    Brilliant site – I know I’m not your typical aspirant – but I love your depth and straightforwardness

    Thanks – Anne

  • Regarding creatine, it’s part of my pre-workout as you mention. Do you have a suggestion for a product that would be good to take it post-workout? Does it make sense to do both (or is that too much)?

  • Shivoham Shivam

    I read everywhere eat this much carbs and protein after workout but no one tells how much fats to eat? And fibres? I eat 1 banana 45 minutes before my hiit workout (3days)/calisthenics(3 days).And I drink post workout homemade shake 30 minutes after workout which has about 30 gms protein, 50-60 gms carbs,15-20 gms fat,fibre-10 gms is this ok?Fats and fibres i mean?

  • Jake Seibert

    Hey Mike and the MFL/Legion team!

    I’m a little confused about timing here (which may be my own fault, I read too much into things). You suggest in your article drinking/eating protein with in a 1 to 2 hour window after a workout, but I’ve also seen a suggestion here of taking it before a workout as well. Does that mean I should have a protein shake before and after to maximize my gains? Or does it matter?

    Also RogerT mentioned “research has shown that post-workout creatine consumption is more effective than pre-workout consumption.” If so, why was creatine added to yall’s pre-workout Pulse? Would it be a better idea to add creatine powder to my protein shake after a workout (even if it tastes horrible)? I know Thrive has creatine added, but I assume a vegan source of protein isn’t as powerful post-workout as whey. Am I wrong there, or should I choose Thrive over Whey+ for my post-workout source of protein since it has creatine added?

    These may have been things you’ve touched on in other articles but I’m a little late to the MFL game. I’m slowly working my way through them each day. They make for some great reading in my downtime at work!

    As a side note, I’ve got Whey+ coming in the mail tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to trying it. Eventually I’d love to give all of yall’s supplements a shot.

    Thanks for all you do!

    • Hey Jake,

      Good question. Unless you’re wanting to workout fasted, it’s best to have some protein within a few hours of your workout. Pre-workout carbs definitely help, as well. You can accomplish this with a pre-workout meal/shake. Check these articles out:


      Also, there is no creatine in Pulse. You’ll find it in my post-workout supplement Recharge, though 🙂

      Thrive is totally fine post-workout. You don’t have to stick with whey protein.

      Thanks for the support man! let me know how you like Whey+ and keep me updated on your progress 🙂

      • Jake Seibert

        Hey Mike, thanks for the reply!

        Since I have to get up by 5:30AM just to have enough time to get to work, I workout when I get home after 6:00PM. By then I’m pretty sure I’m in a fasted state. I like it because my pre-workout hits me faster and harder if I haven’t eaten in at least four hours.

        Not sure why I thought Pulse had creatine… maybe I confused it with other pre-workout drinks that do have it (like C4, which I currently take). My bad. Pulse is next on my list to try.

        And Whey+ is delicious! I got the cookies & cream flavor. I take one scoop in eight ounces of cold unsweetened vanilla almond milk. The “cookies” part of the flavor is a little lacking, but what’s there is really, really tasty. I drink it an hour after every workout, sometimes as a snack, and it makes a sweet breakfast on the way to work if I didn’t have time to make bacon & eggs. It’s too soon to tell how my body will react, but so far it’s a great product and I definitely plan on buying more.

        Thanks again!

        • Makes sense. I’m glad you’re enjoying the Whey+!

          Let me know how you like Pulse after you give it a try 🙂

  • OriginalPouzar

    Hi Mike – thank you for all your help in the PPL article over the last little while.

    I’m looking in to my daily nutrition timing a little bit to try and optimize it even further.

    I eat 30g protein (whey plus cottage cheese) and 30g carbs (instant oatmeal plus bannana) right before I work out at 4am.

    Post workout I eat about 30g protein (chicken breaks) and 60g carbs (english muffin, sweet potato and rice cracker combination).

    I then usually don’t eat anything for about 5 hours (and then eat every hour to two hours right up and till bed).

    That is just how I prefer to eat my food.

    I guess I have two questions:

    1) is that enough calories and carbs post workout (400 calories and 60g carbs).

    2) should I be eating another carb based snack a few hours after my post-workout meal as opposed to waiting for about 5 hours?

    The 5 hour gap is basically to delay food so that I can eat more in the afternoon and evening as I’m up so early (3:30) and workout so early (4-5:30) that I want to ensure I have calories saved for later in the day.

    I could switch a 2pm or 3pm carb based snack to 9am (3 hours after my post-workout meal) if you think it will make any difference.

    Thanks for your thoughts in advance.

    • Hey man, meal timing really isn’t too much of an issue, especially since you’re getting in a decent pre- and post-workout meal with carbs and protein. As long as you’re getting at least 3 or 4 “servings” of protein throughout the day, you’re on the right track. Shifting around your snacks isn’t going to make a noticeable difference, so I’d just keep eating however makes you happiest.

      • OriginalPouzar

        Thanks Mike. I anticipated that would be your response based on your articles, podcasts, etc.

        I’ve read everything you’ve written (essentially) and I trust your analysis and I know you say that food timing isn’t really that important (subject to pre and post workout and maybe some casein protein before bed).

        I just read about the “potential” anabolic window that “might” existing for somewhere between 45 minutes and 4 hours post-workout and it being a good idea to eat most of your daily carbs during that time.

        There is quite a bit of conflicting information on the subject so I figured that maybe its best to change one of my carb-based meals from later in the day in to the first 3-4 hours post workout.

        I mean it can’t hurt?

        Probably won’t have any material benefit though.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Hi Mike – just following up on the message below re: post-workout nutrition.

    Thanks in advance.

  • sean_noonan

    quick question for post workout carbs like if i had fruit would straw berries work
    im kinda unsure wether they work or not

    obviously not the whole 80-90g of carb just from straw berries

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