Muscle for life

The Definitive Guide to Pre-Workout Nutrition

The Definitive Guide to Pre-Workout Nutrition

Is pre-workout nutrition as important as many people claim? Does it really matter what we eat before workouts? Read on to find out.


Like most things bodybuilding, the subject of preworkout nutrition is riddled with contradictions.

Should you eat protein before you train? Carbohydrates? Fats? If so, what types and amounts of food are best? Or does pre-workout nutrition not matter? Will eating before training have no appreciable effect on your training or gains? Or, last but not least, is fasted training the best, as commonly claimed by many proponents of intermittent fasting?

Well, let’s get to the bottom of these questions and come to some definitive, science-based conclusions as to what is best when it comes to pre-workout nutrition. Let’s start with pre-workout protein.

Pre-Workout Protein: Helps Build Muscle or Is Irrelevant?

As you probably know, how much protein you eat every day dramatically affects your body’s ability to build muscle. Eat too little and you will hinder your gains in the gym.

But what about when you eat protein? Does that matter? Is eating protein before a workout particularly helpful?

Some people say it doesn’t matter, and they’ll cite studies such as this and this to back up their claims. On the other hand, you can find evidence that pre-workout protein does enhance post-workout muscle growth in studies such as this and this.

What gives?

Well, a big “invisible” piece of this puzzle has to do with when study subjects had last eaten protein before eating their pre-workout meals.

You see, when you eat food, it takes your body several hours to fully absorb the nutrients contained in the food. The larger the meal, the longer it takes (research shows that absorption can take anywhere from 2 to 6+ hours).

This means that if you had eaten a sizable amount of protein an hour or two prior to working out, your plasma (blood) amino acid levels would be quite high come workout time. In this state, it’s unlikely that more protein before training would make much of a difference in terms of helping you build more muscle because your body is already in an anabolic state.

On the other hand, if it had been several hours since you last ate protein, and especially if the amount last eaten was small (less than 20 grams), your plasma amino acid levels would likely be low come workout time. In this case, research shows that pre-workout protein likely will help you build more muscle due to it spiking plasma amino acid levels (and thus protein synthesis) before training.

Most people seem to train early in the morning or several hours after lunch (after work, before dinner), and this is why I generally recommend 20 to 40 grams of protein about 30 minutes before training. 

If, however, you train within 1 to 2 hours of eating at least that much protein, you can probably skip the pre-workout protein and not miss out on any extra potential muscle growth.

So, with that out of the way, let’s talk types of pre-workout protein. Are some better than others?

Well, we know that the faster a protein is digested and the more leucine (an amino acid that stimulates protein synthesis) it has, the more short-term muscle growth it stimulates.

And while any form of pre-workout protein will elevate amino acids to some degree, you’ll get the quickest and greatest elevation from a faster-digesting form like whey protein, which is also very high in leucine.

This is why whey protein is a particularly good form of pre-workout protein, and one I use and recommend. (Research shows it’s also great for post-workout nutrition for the same reasons.)

In terms of which whey protein product I use and recommend, I’m very picky when it comes to artificial sweeteners and food dyes, MSG, and other chemicals commonly found in whey protein powders. 

I like my workout supplements naturally sweetened and as free of artificial additives as possible, and recommend the same for my readers.

These requirements have really limited me in the past, and the whey protein powders I used were particularly expensive (upwards of $25 – 30 per pound).

Fortunately, I’ve been able to leverage my success as an author to launch my own line of naturally sweetened, filler-free workout supplements, and it includes a 100% whey protein isolate product.

It’s called WHEY+, and it’s essentially the whey protein powder I’ve always wanted.

  • WHEY+ is 100% whey isolate protein, not a blend of isolate and cheaper forms of protein.
  • WHEY+ is made from milk that comes from hormone-free cows.
  • WHEY+ contains undenatured protein made with cold micro- and ultra-filtration technologies.
  • WHEY+ is naturally sweetened with stevia, and naturally flavored.
  • WHEY+ has no artificial junk like MSG or artificial food dyes.

Pre-Workout Carbohydrates: Improves Performance or Not?

Fortunately for us, the research on pre-workout carbohydrates is much more straightforward: they improve performance–period.

Specifically, eating carbohydrates 15 to 30 minutes before exercise will provide your muscles with additional fuel for your workouts, but will not directly stimulate additional muscle growth.

I say directly stimulate because while eating pre-workout carbohydrates doesn’t accelerate protein synthesis, it can help you push more weight and reps in your workouts, thus indirectly helping you build more muscle over time (so long as your training and diet are right).

So, if pre-workout carbohydrates are good, what types are best?

Again, the research is pretty straightforward: low-glycemic carbohydrates are best for prolonged (2+ hour) endurance exercise, and high-glycemic carbohydrates are best for shorter, more intense workouts.

In terms of what to eat, I don’t like pre-workout carbohydrate supplements. They’re little more than over-hyped, overpriced tubs of simple sugars like dextrose and maltodextrin. Don’t buy into the marketing BS–there’s nothing inherently special about these types of supplements.

Instead, I much prefer getting my pre-workout carbohydrates from food. My favorite sources are rice milk (tastes great with whey protein!) and bananas, but other popular, healthy choices are instant oat meal, dates and figs, melon, white potato, white rice, raisins, and sweet potato.

And last but not least, how much pre-workout carbohydrate should you eat, and when?

I recommend you eat 25 to 50 grams of carbohydrates 30 minutes before training to feel a noticeable improvement in performance.

Pre-Workout Fats: Are They Ignored For a Good Reason?

Almost all talk of pre-workout nutrition revolves around protein and carbohydrates. What about fats? Do they not matter?

Well, there are theories that by increasing pre-workout fat intake, you can reduce carbohydrate utilization during exercise and thereby improve performance. Research has proven otherwise, however:

  • One study demonstrated that increased dietary fat intake 24 hours before exercise (cycling, in this case) reduced time-trial performance compared with a high carbohydrate diet.
  • Another study demonstrated that even when your body becomes “fat adapted,” it uses carbohydrate more sparingly while exercising, but performance isn’t improved.

A review conducted by researchers at Deakin University contains the following conclusion about pre-workout fat intake:

“Thus, it would appear that while such a strategy can have a marked effect on exercise metabolism (i.e. reduced carbohydrate utilization), there is no beneficial effect on exercise performance.”

So, feel free to have dietary fat before you work out, but don’t expect anything special to come out of it.

Want a workout program and flexible diet plan that will help you build muscle and get strong? Download my free no-BS “crash course” now and learn exactly how to build the body of your dreams.

Fasted Training: The Way of the Future or a Recipe for Disaster?

Most people equate “fasted training” with training on an empty stomach, but that’s not quite it.

Whether or not your body is in a “fasted state” depends on plasma (blood) insulin levels.

You see, when your body digests food, it breaks it down into various types of molecules that your cells can use (amino acids, glucose, vitamins, minerals, and so forth). These molecules are absorbed through the walls of your small intestine into the bloodstream. Insulin is released as well and its job is to shuttle these molecules into cells for use.

Now, depending on how much you eat, your plasma (blood) insulin levels can remain elevated for several hours (anywhere from 3 – 6+), and when your body is in this “fed” state–when its insulin levels are elevated and its absorbing nutrients you’ve eaten–little-to-no fat burning occurs. This is because insulin blocks lipolysis (fat “mobilization’).

When your body finishes absorbing all the nutrients eaten, plasma insulin levels decrease to a low, “baseline” level, and research has shown that in this state, exercise-induced fat loss is accelerated. Weightlifting in a fasted state has proven to be particularly effective in this regard.

There is also evidence that fasted training favorably affects the post-workout anabolic response to food, but more research will need to be done on this mechanism before we really know what’s happening here.

There are downsides to fasted training, however. 

All things considered, fasted training is a useful tool for weight loss purposes, but if you’re maintaining or bulking, I recommend you have carbohydrates before training to get the substantial performance boost that they provide (as you’re trying to maximize muscle growth, not fat loss).

If you’re interested in accelerating fat loss with fasted training, check out this article to learn how.

Pre-Workout Supplements: Worth It or Not?

Pre-workout supplements are incredibly popular, but are they worth it?

Unfortunately, the majority on the market are more or less junk, and are notorious for several deceitful practices:

  • Including ineffective ingredients to make long, impressive nutrition labels.

  • Citing misinterpreted, cherry-picked, flawed, or biased studies to sell you on the effectiveness of certain ingredients.

  • Under-dosing key ingredients and hiding it behind the “proprietary blend” labeling loophole. This allows companies to not disclose the actual composition of each part of the blend, and thus hide the truth about what you’re actually buying.

  • Using substantial amounts of caffeine and cheap carbohydrate powders like maltodextrin to give a kick of energy. This is an easy, inexpensive way for supplement companies to make you think their product is good.

  • Using chemical names of everyday compounds to mislead you into thinking the products have special ingredients. For instance, epigallo-3-catechin-3-O-b-gallate is just green tea extract, and 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine is just caffeine.

Why do these things?

Because it’s extremely profitable.

What most consumers don’t know is supplement companies make very little money on certain products, like protein powder, and need to make up for that by making exorbitant profits on others. The pre-workout supplement is one of them.

The scam is very simple: fill the product with cheap stimulants and skimp on everything else. In many cases, you’d feel just as wired on a few caffeine pills (and save a bunch of money).

There are, however, several other safe, natural molecules that can improve your performance…if they’re dosed properly. 

Well, you’ll find 6 of the most effective performance-enhancing ingredients in my pre-workout supplement PULSE:

And what you won’t find in PULSE is equally special:

  • No artificial sweeteners or flavors..
  • No artificial food dyes.
  • No unnecessary fillers, carbohydrate powders, or junk ingredients.

The bottom line is if you want to know what a pre-workout is supposed to feel like…if you want to experience the type of energy rush and performance boost that only clinically effective dosages of scientifically validated ingredients can deliver…then you want to try PULSE.legion-pulse


What did you think of this pre-workout nutrition guide? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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Leave a Comment!
  • Just about finished with my first container of Pulse. I’m loving it! I’ve used just about every pre-workout on the market, and Pulse is the only safe one that actually seems to make a difference.

  • stephenfarrelly

    I take Muscle Pharm assault as a pre-workout shake (with Whey Isolate). Today was the first time I forgot to take my pre-workout shake and I really felt it. Good recognition in money spent well ;-). Too bad Pulse is on the expensive side for shipping it to the Netherlands.

    • Michael Matthews

      Cool! I’m not a fan of Assault but that’s good you feel it. And yeah I understand–I’m working on getting EU distribution set up.

  • Hey Mike, question for you: I am currently cutting and training on a fasted state. The only two things I take before working out is 10g power BCAA (from ON) and around 120-200mg of caffeine.

    Is Pulse still recommended if you’re doing fasted training?

    • Michael Matthews

      Cool. Yes you can take it while training fasted. 1 scoop will give you 175 mg of caffeine plus enough performance-enhancing aminos to make a difference.

      • … and here I go order it 🙂 Thanks!

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks man! Let me know how you like it!

  • Don

    I was recently reading that many companies hide MSG or MSG analogs under various names including yeast extract, autolyzed yeast, sodium caseinate and “natural flavor” The one that I’m curious about is natural flavor. As I understand it, natural flavor is legally protected (not required to be labeled as MSG) as it can be naturally occurring glutamate and glutamate bi-products like MSG. Is this the case with all natural flavor labels and is there anyway to distinguish potentially harmful additives labeled as natural flavors?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah MSG can appear in many different forms and AFAIK there’s no way to know as a consumer. 🙁 It comes down to trusting the companies themselves.

  • Abhijit

    Thanks for the in-depth article, Mike! I am presently bulking and typically workout fasted early in the morning. I see that you recommend BCAAs to mitigate muscle breakdown. But I am just wondering if taking BCAAs prior to fasted training is necessary to maximize muscle gains?

    • Michael Matthews

      My pleasure!

      I wouldn’t train fasted when bulking. Use the boost from carbs to push more weight.

      Save fasted training for cutting.

      • Abhijit

        Aye aye captain!

        • Abhijit

          Had some pre-workout carbs along with Pulse this morning and smashed through a bench press plateau. You THE MAN, Mike!

          • Michael Matthews

            Hahah perfect! 🙂

  • Daniel Drennen

    I really like that you are picky about what you put in your products. It drives me crazy that all these supplement companies add so much junk/artificial dyes to their products. I was looking at the label for pulse and noticed that it listed a artificial flavors.. Is this correct?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Daniel! Yeah I’ve always hated it.

      Yes artificial flavoring was necessary for Pulse because aminos are quite bitter.

      That said, I did quite a bit of research on artificial flavoring and couldn’t find ANY reason to worry about it. There’s just no science whatsoever to indicate that it could be harmful.

      Artificial sweeteners are a whole different story, which is why I will never use them.

      Hope this helps.

  • Jim

    Hi mike what do you think of rusty moore’s work? Good or bro science?

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m not familiar with it. Just know the name.

  • Joe

    Just notice what strong jacked animals do: they fight to death and then eat the looser. So workout in a fasted state and eat after that.

    • Michael Matthews


  • Jay Mauhay

    Tried Pulse for the first time this evening. I was pretty skeptical about pre-workout products in general but was very thrilled with the product from Legion. Thanks a lot Mike!

  • strong

    I wish you made a lower caffeine version of your pulse product =( (50-100mg caffeine per serving)… I workout in the evening and can’t fall asleep if I take caffeine later in the day (I can sleep fine from working out in the evening though). Please do consider it.

    • Poppy

      Pulse is a powder, I sometimes only take 3 grams instead of the recommended 23g and it makes a difference for me. 12g made me want to sprint a mile. Can’t you just take a smaller serving?

      • Michael Matthews

        Haha nice!

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m going to do a caffeine-free version!

  • Ed

    Hi Mike, my problem is I work from 11pm to 8am, what’s the best diet you think I should follow? Should I work out after shift or before shift? thank you

    • Michael Matthews

      Totally up to you. Nothing particular needs to change due to shift work. Just have to hit your numbers every day before you go to sleep.

  • Great site here, Mike. And some real quality information. I agree with you wholeheartedly on the usefulness and/or necessity of pre-workout supplements. The #1 option should be an effective pre-workout food about 45min – 1 hr prior to the workout, but I guess when we’re short on time, those suckers (PWOs) do come in handy.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Byron! I totally agree. I like food and PWO. 🙂

  • Shaun

    Hi Mike, can you ship Pulse to New Zealand. i am cutting and want to start training fasted. i do 3 x weights and 2 x boxing training but struggling to get my fat below 18 – 19%. My diet is clean and only 1600 calories. I am 35 years old, 70Kg, 171cm high.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup we can! Cool on what you’re doing. I think you’ll really like Pulse.

  • DevilDevine

    Hey Michael, first of all sorry for stalking your articles:) but they are very thought provoking and hence some questions arise.

    In BLS(and here) you suggest carbs by percentage but proteins by average of grams. What is the percentage for the pre workout and pre sleep meal?

    I am asking this because even on bulking, my protein intake is not that high (1lb of bodyweight=132grams) and most if the time i do not have any other room for protein and a lot of room for carbs which can be pretty hard to fullfill since most low GI carbs like quinoa, whole brown rice ect contain proteins as well.


    • Michael Matthews

      Haha no worries.

      30 – 40 grams pre-workout and pre-sleep is fine. 20 – 30 is probably fine for pre-sleep really.

      You want to make sure you’re hitting 1g/lb when bulking.

      • DevilDevine

        Was wondering about percentages instead of grams as i suspect 30g might be too much for me(wont leave room for the other meals). Will try to reduce the pre sleep to 20ish then since you said its probably fine:) thanks for replying as you always do. Appreciate.

        • Michael Matthews

          Protein is better calculated in grams because it doesn’t need to increase as calories increase.

          20 g before workouts and bed is enough.

  • Luis

    HI ,Mike! What do you think about l-carnitine?

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  • Wendy

    Hi Mike. What is your opinion on Kill Cliff, the recovery drink? My gym just started selling it and I’m not sure what to think of it.

    • Michael Matthews

      Haven’t heard of it but canned “recovery” drinks are almost always shit.

    • john max

      JOIN THE ILLUMINATI CALL +2347059014517 OR info. [email protected] JOIN THE ILLUMINATI FROM NIGERIA, USA, OR ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD TODAY BE RICH, FAME, AND POSSES POWER.email us on info [email protected] OR call us on +2347059014517 for immediate initiation New members registration is now open online now !!!!! BENEFITS GIVEN TO NEW MEMBERS WHO JOIN ILLUMINATI. A Cash Reward of USD $300,000 USD A New Sleek Dream CAR valued at USD $120,000 USD A Dream House bought in the country of your own choice One Month holiday (fully paid) to your dream tourist destination. One year Golf Membership package A V.I.P treatment in all Airports in the World A total Lifestyle change Access to Bohemian Grove Monthly payment of $1,000,000 USD into your bank account every month as a member One Month booked Appointment with Top 5 world Leaders and Top 5 Celebrities in the World. If you are interested call the agent now +2347059014517 or send your e- mail to [email protected] for immediately initiation.New members registration is now open online..

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  • Samuel Sander

    Great article, thanks! :))
    Started reviewing these posts as I’m about to purchase supplements again.

    I’ve been on a cut, doing fasted training so my pre-workout supplement has been exclusively BCAA’s.
    I enjoy the intermittent fasting protocol though. For bulking, is it ok if I don’t eat anything til lunch >> then take 25g of whey and ~50g of carbs for pre-workout >> work-out >> creatine and relatively high carb and protein meal for post-workout?

    Also looking to purchase D-Aspartic Acid – I would take this along with whey and carbs pre-workout, right?

    Many, many thanks in forward!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Great on what you’re doing. Yes that’s totally fine.

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    I usually train in the morning and before I hit the gym I have one scoop of protein with water and an orange and that’s been working fine for me. But I changed brand of whey last week because of a “deal”. Now when I take it in the morning along with my orange it makes me feel nauseous and slow and affecting my performance. My question is, how much of an impact will it really have on things if I skip the powder in the morning and just have say 50g of carbs? I will be changing back to my old brand again but with money being an issue I am stuck with what iv got just now. Thanks mike

    • Michael Matthews

      Arg that’s annoying with the protein. You’ll want either protein or BCAAs or leucine. You could just eat some food though. 20-30 grams of protein is all you need…

      • AJ THEODAS

        I think ill make up a batch of Peanut Butter Protein bars and have one each morning. They seem to hit my macros just fine. How long do they keep safely in the fridge Mike?

        • Michael Matthews

          Good call. Mine never lasted more than 5 days but they were good for that long haha.

  • Sifu81

    Hi Mike I just received your meal plan and includes a protein shake before workouts.. Would it make a big diffrence if I drank it after my workout.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! You will want some protein before training for sure…

  • Guest

    Hi Mike,

    Recently discovered your site and am liking your philosophy and methods

    • Michael Matthews

      Thank you!

  • Guest

    Hi Mike

  • Angela

    Hi Mike,

    Any word on when Pulse will be available in the UK?


    • Michael Matthews

      Yup later this year!

      • Angela

        Excellent! Thanks!

        • Michael Matthews


  • Alok

    Hi, Can I have half scoop of protein half an hour before wrkout and the same after?

    • Michael Matthews


      • Alok

        Thanks Mike, I workout 4 days a week. Is this a fine routine? Or you wan to suggest something?
        Mon : Chest
        Wed : Shoulders & Triceps
        Thu : Back & Biceps
        Sat : Legs

        • Michael Matthews

          Yup that’s great.

  • Luka

    Hi, I just want to say that I like how many studies you use when writing your articles. It is great to see that behind some important (underlined) statements you have scientific support. This way nobody can say that you’ve made something up. I only discovered this site recently but already can say that this is one of better sites I’ve had chance to read from. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with others. That’s what makes people great, but very few are like you. Stay smart, healthy and unselfish.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thank you! I really appreciate it. Let me know if I can answer any questions!

  • vander

    I typically train in fasted state with some BCAA’s about 15 minutes before I start my workout. Thinking about adding some Pulse to my routine, any suggestions on appropriate pre-workout timing between BCAA & Pulse?

    • Michael Matthews

      Great! You can take them together. It works well.

      • Vander

        Mr. Matthews:

        Thank you for the reply and all the information you have provided. You have been instrumental in helping me make some very positive changes in my life.

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks! I appreciate it. 🙂

  • mario

    Hey mike , what do you think about HMB for cutting? Some researches say it’s much way better than BCAA for preserving muscle in a big calorie deficit. Thanks for your generosity and knowledge.

    • Michael Matthews

      It’s actually great as an anti-catabolic agent. Just expensive.

  • Ezra

    Hey Mike,
    You mention that the whey powders you used were quite expensive (“upwards of $25 – 30 per pound”). Are you just talking about whey protein isolate? It is quite easy to find whey protein concentrate online (vitacost.com, for example) for $10-12 per pound… so I find your claim a bit misleading. It is fine to promote your product, but it is a bit of a stretch to say that whey protein without additives is otherwise 2.5-3 times more expensive than it actually is… do you have a big preference of isolate over concentrate? Thanks for replying.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hydrolysate actually. A good isolate will be closer to $15 per pound, yes.

      Yeah isolate is easier on my stomach because the lactose is removed…

  • Zay

    Hey Mike, Im a newbie to the supplement game. I was wondering if you can mix whey and a pre-workout supplement, like fuse, together before a workout. Or is either alone effective enough? Thanks

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  • Victor

    Hi Mike, great article. I’m into my 3rd week of Bigger, Leaner, Stronger (bulking phase) and it’s going very well so far. I would appreciate your thoughts on my pre/intra and post workout shake. For both pre/intra and post respectively, I use one scoop whey(22g protein), 2 scoops of glucose/dextrose(60g carbs), 1tsp glutamine and 1tsp creatine. Greetings from South Africa! 🙂

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks and that’s great! I’m glad to hear it.

      What you’re doing is fine for pre- and post-workout, but intra isn’t necessary. Personally I like food over carb powders too but that’s just me.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Victor

        Schweeet!! Thanks Mike. All the best!

        • Michael Matthews

          You too! 🙂

    • john max

      JOIN THE ILLUMINATI CALL +2347059014517 OR info. [email protected] JOIN THE ILLUMINATI FROM NIGERIA, USA, OR ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD TODAY BE RICH, FAME, AND POSSES POWER.email us on info [email protected] OR call us on +2347059014517 for immediate initiation New members registration is now open online now !!!!! BENEFITS GIVEN TO NEW MEMBERS WHO JOIN ILLUMINATI. A Cash Reward of USD $300,000 USD A New Sleek Dream CAR valued at USD $120,000 USD A Dream House bought in the country of your own choice One Month holiday (fully paid) to your dream tourist destination. One year Golf Membership package A V.I.P treatment in all Airports in the World A total Lifestyle change Access to Bohemian Grove Monthly payment of $1,000,000 USD into your bank account every month as a member One Month booked Appointment with Top 5 world Leaders and Top 5 Celebrities in the World. If you are interested call the agent now +2347059014517 or send your e- mail to [email protected] for immediately initiation.New members registration is now open online………

  • ABetterMe

    Thank you for this insightful article. I do lower body strength training with weights 3x/wk, and must admit my workouts have suffered because my carb consumption was to low. I now know what I must do to change. I do have one question, if you could clarify this for me please. On my non workout days (two days/wk) should I decrease the amount of carbs I consume and focus on high protein foods to lose weight? Or, in your opinion, is my current workout plan enough for me to lose weight and build muscle at the same time? Thank you in advance.
    *FYI: 148lbs, 5’3″, petite build, looking to lose about 12lbs. (26.75%BF TO 18%), then build muscle (primarily glutes, hams, calves, etc). Currently using “LoseIt” fitness app to log meals/and exercises. Also use a Nike Imara HRM to track calories burned while doing exercises.

    -Weighted Hip Thrust-M, W, F (Currently at 55lbs, 10set, 8 reps) Light cardio for 15 minutes (jump rope intervals)
    -Variety Ab Exercise w/5-8 lbs weight for resistance (woodchopper, bicycle, planks, etc) Light cardio for 15 minutes (jump rope intervals)

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question! Check this out:


      We’ll keep it nice and simple. 🙂

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • ABetterMe

        Hello Michael,
        Thanks so much for your reply. The issue I’m concerned with is the app I’m using to track weight and daily calorie intake has my “daily calorie budget” at 1,204 (a woman at 5’3″, 33y, and losing 1.5lbs/wk). As of today, I now weigh 144.6 and my calories have been adjusted to 1,181. Even before you replied back to me, I read the above article you referenced, and calculated different numbers from what the app gave me. Honestly, I don’t know which to follow. I like the app because it keeps me accountable for what I eat, and allows me to see (via pie chart) where I am for the day for protein, carbs, and fat, with the protein/carbs being the priority since I feel they are helping me to lose the weight, plus I feel so much stronger during my workouts. Here’s the numbers I got from the above article for BMR, etc:
        -BMR 1432.6 * 1.35 (I exercise five hours/wk)=1933.413 (my TDEE) * .8 (to create mild 20% calorie deficit)=1546.73

        I am still keeping my protein intake high and monitoring my carbs during my workout days. For the week of 9/29/14, my average was Fat-41.7g, Carbs-131.7g, and Protein-118.3g.

        FYI, this app does allow for adjustments in daily calorie intake “if your metabolism and/or occupational activity level is higher/lower than average.” It allows you to add or subtract in 25 calorie increments. Not sure if I need to adjust my intake in calories and continue to lose weight. They also use the Mifflin equation. If I need to, I will recalculate my numbers using the formula referenced in the above article or if you could kindly advise how much of an adjustment I need to make, if any.

        Thanks again and any feedback is greatly appreciated.

        • Michael Matthews


          Ignore the app. Just follow what’s in my article and you’ll do well.

          • ABetterMe

            Thank you! 🙂

          • Michael Matthews


  • Debbye S. Sparks

    Would you recommend to take Pulse and Whey as pre workout? I mean that’s a lot to drink! lol or can I drink Whey and then drink Pulse throughout the workout or vice versa? Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Not together, but yes they make for a good pre-workout meal. 🙂 Gotta have some carbs too though!

  • 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!

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

  • Shakil

    Hi Mike,

    Once again, thank you for everything you are doing for the world! Let me run some numbers by you: I am 29 yrs old, 6ft 1.5 and 240 lbs. I’m fine tuning my diet to finally fit my macros – which I am currently following 1g protein, 1g carb and .33 g fat per lb body weight (this puts me at about 2640 calories per day). This formula is based on a maintenance calculation. I am not particularly trying to bulk or cut, but I obviously have a lot of fat and flab to lose. I am just trying to get into the swing of things and let things fine tune and enjoy my newbie gains while they are still going strong. Few questions:

    1. What % of macros do you recommend we should eat in the pre and post workout meals? I saw hard numbers in the article, but as you mentioned, everybody is different with a different body composition. As a rule of thumb, can you recommend a % we should be shooting for in the pre-workout and post-workout meals?
    2. Do the above %’s change if we do IMF?
    3. Do you recommend I follow a different macro calculation?


    • Thanks!

      Cool on your macros. That may work for cutting at first but I suspect you will have to gradually reduce as you get leaner.

      Check this out:


      1. Let’s keep it simple: 30 g pro and 50g carb before, 30 g pro and 100 g carb after.

      2. Not unless you want a larger post-workout meal, which is okay.

      3. Maybe. See the meal planning article above. Depends how your body responds to 2700/day…

      • Shakil

        Once again, thanks so much for sharing your wisdom. I have no idea how you are able to make time to reply to us little folk on this journey, but I hope that never changes! Thanks again!

  • Carlo

    Hey Mike,
    This post really helped me. Another thing that bothers me is that,( call me crazy) but I’ve stopped loosing weight no matter how hard I try.. I’m from Nigeria, I’m 18,. Started at 150kg about 3 months ago and right now I’m currently 129kg , I still wanna go a long way, just the fact that people started noticing made me work harder… I’m on a diet and I workout 2to3 times daily but, the weight stays the same.. Really need your help cause I’m not going to quit now..

  • Joseph

    Mike, I have some questions regarding the study about fasted training.
    1) What is a (positive / negative ) protein balance ? Common sense tells me negative means protein built < protein destroyed. Right ?
    2) Are there studies about what happens after 195 mins after fasted RES ? I mean,can the body ''catch up'' and repair the damage that was done,after ingesting a lot of protein later ?
    3)Ingesting pre workout bcaa would probably be great for reducing protein breakdown. But won't the leucine spike insulin, thus preventing fat loss short term ? ( which is one of the reasons people start fasted training )

    • Hey Joe,

      In case you haven’t seen this yet:


      Yes negative balance is degradation greater than synthesis.

      Not sure on point #2. Personally I wouldn’t “risk” it and would just have leucine or BCAAs before.

      The insulin response is small and fleeting. It’s negligible even when using something sensitive to insulin like yohimbine.

  • Hey Mike, have you heard of Old School Labs supplements? Love Legion, but was curious about a few of their Vintage supps, and how they compare to Legion

    • Yeah I have and if you just compare supp facts panels I think you’ll quickly see who wins. 🙂

  • Hey Mike, I’m a big fan of Legion supps, but was curious about your thoughts on a few other companies. One I’ve looked at recently is Jacked Factory (terrible name).

    • Thanks!

      JF is hilarious. They’re trying to straight rip me off. I’m talking with my lawyer about it actually. They’re walking a fine line.

  • Chance Archuleta

    Hi Mike,

    I just started a cut and like the idea of fasted training. Would taking Pulse and some BCAAs be too much to recieve fasted training’s fat loss benefits? I’m taking acetyl l carnatine and yohimbine before my workout, as well.



  • Livo

    Hei. I normally go from work to training. That means after 4 hours and 30min after work and my last meal. Will you recommend me to eat 25 gr of protein? Or can I just take 10gr of BCCA? Or do you think that in 4 hours and 30 min I am not fasted and then I shouldnt take BCCA? Thanks

  • Lloyd

    Is there any further evidence to suggest that pre-workout carbs are beneficial to performance? That article states that carbohydrates are beneficial to performance but it doesn’t really suggest that taking them pre-workout is any more beneficial than training fasted. How I see it, is that provided enough carbohydrates are ingested the day before training, then the difference between training fasted and consuming pre-workout carbs is negligible. What are your thoughts Michael?

    • They definitely are. Pre-workout carbs give you a nice boost of strength/energy.

  • Steve Goguen

    Mike, what type of macro nutrient balance would you recommend pre workout and post workout? also, I’ve been reading lately about para workout nutrition – actual downing some carbs and protein during the workout to reduce catabolism. Any thoughts on this? Thanks for your time.

    • Pretty simple:

      Pre: 30 to 40 g pro and 50 to 60 g carb

      Post: same pro and 1g carb per kg body weight.

      No need for intraworkout.

  • Gemma Smith

    Hi Mike, i train in a fasted state first thing in the morning, is it ok to take bcaas and legion PULSE together before my workout if i am cutting? or would you recommend just the bcaas?


  • Gemma Smith

    i read on one of your replies that you shouldnt take bcaas that contain l glutamine before a fasted workout, did i read that right? i was going to buy the bcaas that you recommend but that contains glutamine…

  • Jeffrey

    Fasted training is definitely a recipe For disaster Pre workout nutrition is The best and most very important for maintaining muscle.

    • You’ll definitely perform better and be stronger with a pre-workout meal. That being said, fasted training does have its uses in accelerating fat loss while cutting.

  • Francis Amolenda

    Silly question, but can you still be considered in a fasted state if you take whey say 30 mins pre-workout?

    • No worries! For whey isolate, you need to wait 2 hours before being considered fasted.

  • Nick G

    What would you recommend for nutrition if I begin my workout around 5:30 am and wake up around 4:45 am? As of now, I am only taking a caffeine pill after waking up to give me that boost of energy. Should I also include a quick protein shake paired with something like a banana? I’m on my 6th week of lifting following your five-day program and I feel like my growth is happening but slower than it should be.

    • That would work. It’s up to you. You just want to make sure you’re getting enough protein and carbs per the article. 🙂

  • David

    Your article states :
    WHEY+ has no artificial junk like maltodextrin, MSG, or artificial food dyes.
    When I read the nutritional facts label it shows to have maltodextrin as an “other ingredient.” I was actually going to try this until I read the label.

    Funny how the same deceit you speak of in your article is on your product ingredient label.

    • There’s less than 1 gram of malto per serving because it DRAMATICALLY cuts down the whey’s natural bitterness better than just about anything else.

      Malto per se isn’t bad but excessive amounts is because that’s simply a filler.

      I’m going to clarify this on an FAQ that I will be adding to the sales page.

      • David

        Thanks for the reply, I’m struggling with the fact that you labeled maltodextrin as “junk” (I agree because it is highly processed junk) then justify it as a necessary ingredient. In my most humble opinion, all the other efforts to obtain a pure ingredients are rendered useless once maltodextrin is added. Irregardless of the amount an no matter which way you cut it maltodextrin is junk. I would take your product if that was removed as an active ingredient. With that stuff in there your protein is no different than any other supplement companies protein.

        • Ahh I didn’t realize this article said NO malto whatsoever.

          That’s because one of the first formulations of WHEY+ had none but we’ve since added a small amount in each serving because, again, it REALLY helps with taste and it’s not a harmful substance in any way (and especially not in the tiny amounts in the protein).

          I updated the article.

  • Wow, you really have a wealth of information on this site. And the best part is that it is free. Thanks, Mike, I really appreciate it. If I still lived in the states I would buy your products but since I live in South Africa now that’s a problem. The whey I use here is probably garbage compared to what you sell lol. Just gotta make the best of it for now.

    • Thanks man. My pleasure!

      I understand not being able to get the products. Not sure if it’s available over there but a good alternative I recommend is Gold Standard by Optimum Nutrition.

      • Hey Mike, yes it is actually available here. It costs $80 for 5lbs, though. I see it costs $58 on Amazon for the same thing but since you vouch for it I’m gonna buy it. Thanks for the advice.

  • Roberto Brunori

    finally my four bottles of pulse arrived. Which is the timing for taking then with a carbo+protein meal for those who train first thing in the morning? Do I have to take pulse, wait some time, than have a meal, wait 15 minutes and then hit the gym?

    • Nice! Hope you’re enjoying them. 🙂

      You can take both Pulse and your pre-workout protein and carbs 15-30 minutes before training.

  • Luis Braga

    Mike, what good pre workout do you recommend?
    They don’t sell pulse in my country.

    • Your best bet is to just pick up L-citrulline DL-malate, beta alanine and caffeine.

      You’ll be able to put together a great pre-workout with just those–better than any I could recommend.

  • Eric Zwerneman

    You ever consider making Pulse and Recharge flavorless? I mix them into my pre and post drinks, and they don’t always taste great with chocolate… Not that big a deal, because I’m still going to buy and use your products, just my $.02.

    • Not Pulse, that’s something I’ll have to look into.

      Recharge unflavored will be releasing this month so stay tuned. 🙂

      Thanks for the feedback and support. It’s always appreciated!

  • Aikas

    Hey Mike,
    I like to have 70-80gr of Carbs and as well as 7gr of fat in my Pre-workout and I wondering if this is okay as it’s above what you recommend? Also, what do you think about fruit jams/honey as an additon to the pre-workout bananas? 🙂

    • That’s fine. You don’t need that many carbs, but if you want that many, that’s fine. Just make sure you stay within your cals and macros for the day.

      Fruit jams and honey are both fine.

  • Alex A

    Hi Mike

    I’m doing your 5 day BLS programme and about to start HIIT sessions in the evenings. I’m lifting weights fasted 6.30 am and doing HIIT in the evenings. Do you think its better to have my last meal around 3ish and have 10g BCCA 15 mins before cardio or just eat whenever (as long as it fits with my macros)?

    I just want to get pre workout nutrition right for my evening cardios


    • Cool you’re rolling on the 5-day BLS split and are now starting to do HIIT.

      If you’re trying to accelerate fat loss and are okay with doing the HIIT fasted, let’s do that.

      Remember, it takes 3-6+ hours to be fasted depending on the meal so make sure you put enough time between your last meal and your HIIT.

      Also, I recommend leucine or Forge over BCAAs. Check this out:


      Hope this helps! LMK what you think.

      • Alex A

        Very annoying your products are expensive to ship to the UK! I’ll just make do with your books!

        I’m taking 11g BCAA which has 6g Leucine and Jack 3D and Yohimbine before my fasted weight training on the BLS 5 day programme (awesome programme btw!)

        Having 50g protein and 80g carb shake post workout then 40g carbs 2 hours later and then lunch at 12.. About to do 25 minute HIIT from next week at 6pm (3 days) with 11g BCAA 15 mins before (6g leucine)

        Then eat until I meet my daily cals and macros for fat loss.. Please critique and tell me any major errors for peace of mind

        Thanks in advance

        • Sorry about that Alex! I’ll be setting up distribution in the UK this year. 🙂

          In the meantime, feel free to shoot an email to [email protected]. I’ll have him hook you up with a discount!

          Cool on the supps you’re taking before fasted training!

          Great on your post-workout meal and on the fasted HIIT you’re going to be doing as well.

          That all sounds good.

          My pleasure. LMK how it goes!

  • Kal-El

    How much HMB can you take in a day? I weight train in the morning and do HIIT cardio in the evening( both fasted). 3gm before both is fine?

  • Dan


    – “I generally recommend 20 to 40 grams of protein about 30 minutes before training.” – Is it OK to take whey immediately prior to workout?
    – “Well, we know that the faster a protein is digested and the more leucine (an amino acid that stimulates protein synthesis) it has, the more short-term muscle growth it stimulates.” – Can we take straight leucine (instead of whey), then?
    Thank you.

  • Alex A


    I just have a few more points for clarification. I am following your 5 day BLS programme (fasted) and your macro and calorie calculations for fat loss (I’m currently 15% body fat).

    I have been taking BCAA fasted before my morning weights to preserve muscle. I have just this morning also started to take Yohimbine (working towards 0.2mg per kg) to burn fat. However, there are so much contradiction about stacking the two together..

    BCAA’s, if I read correctly are highly insulinogenic… meaning taking them with yohimbine will render the yohimbine useless. I really don’t want to be taking two very useful sups if by taking them combined negates it’s usefulness. Any studies that show stacking the 2 with/without 200mg caffeine is beneficial for fasted weight training? (if not which would you recommend I drop?)

    Also several forums cite Yohimbine is most effective for people with around 10% body fat to get into single digits and therefore not for people like me who are 15% and should only be taken before fasted cardio and not weight training (Lyle Mcdonald i believe amongst others state this)

    Please clarify your position with BCAA/Yohimbine stack

    thanks again for your time

    • Great on what you’re doing.

      The insulin response isn’t large and sustained enough to completely negate yohimbine’s fat loss benefits. I’ve combined the two many times myself and have worked with hundreds of people that have done the same. It works.

      Best is HMB though because of the nil impact on insulin.

      Yohimbine gets more effective over time (as it accumulates in the body) so I’m not sure why you wouldn’t hit it right from the get go…

      • Alex A

        Thanks Mike

        I just can’t fit in cardio on seperate days/evenings with your 5 day BLS programe which I do fasted in the morning and really feel I need to. What I will do then is do 30 min low/moderate cardio after a couple of weight session days a week

        1. Martin Berkhan believes that yohimbine should be taken after weights:

        Immediately take 0.2 mg yohimbine and do 30-45 min of steady state cardio; cycling, treadmill walking at 3-3.5 mph (slight incline optional), brisk walking outside, etc. The yohimbine will rapidly take affect

        2. Lyle Mcdonald believes that yohimbine should be taken prior to weights:

        Yohimbine can cause some really weird heart rate effects around high intensity activity. the best way to take it for a weight -> cardio workout is to take the yohimbine an hour before you’ll be doing cardio. That is, if you have a 40 minute weight workout planned with cardio afterwards, take the yohimbine 20 minutes before the start of the weight workout.

        So you worked with people and you yourself have done something similar to Lyle’s protocol? If you support that which I think you do I’ll go with that

        I’lldefinitely look into HMB rather then BCAA (although I just bought a new BCAA tub high in Leucine!)

        Cheers again

        • Cool. That’s fine.

          I’m not sure why MB would recommend that because yohimbine can improve workout performance and weightlifting generates a large increase in catecholamines, which is what we want for fat loss.

          So I’m going to go with Lyle here.

          I generally take it about 15 to 20 minutes before exercise, regardless of whether lifting or cardio. My heart rate is definitely higher with than without, but it never gets so high that I should be worried.

  • 吳凱蒂

    Hey Mike!
    I’am a female and my goal is to loss weight to become “skinny ” so can I train in the fasted state without taking HMP or anything? (not available in my country and also don’t want to spend the money:p)
    I usually do HIIT in the morning(fasted) and if I do some weightlifting in the afternoon (eating window) can it somehow prevent me from losing muscle?

    • Not really, no, but you can give it a go and see how your body is affected. If you don’t notice any loss of strength in your weightlifting, you should be fine.

  • Phillip

    Hey Mike!

    What do you recommend for eating in the morning in order to fill up glycogen stores as fast as possible. Usually I have 1 Scoop of Whey, along with some HI GI carbs usually about 100 grams. 1-Is this sufficient? 2-what foods do you recommend I get these carbs from? should i stick to white/ sweet potato and rice milk and oatmeal?

    • Any of the carb sources you mentioned are fine. Pretty much whatever you prefer will work, really. The amount of grams you need of the carb source depends on how many actual carbs you get per gram. You want to make sure you’re getting 25-50g of carbs pre-workout.

      Personally, I like getting my pre-workout carbs from rice milk and bananas.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon.

  • Phillip

    Another Question!

    What do you generally eat before HIIT when you were bulking?

  • Pavan S

    If you had the choice between fasted training or 2 packs of smarties(dextrose) pre workout early in the mornings while bulking, which would you do ?

    • I don’t recommend training fasted when bulking. You’ll perform better with protein and carbs pre-workout. I don’t recommend dextrose as your source of carbs, but it is better than training fasted.

      • Daniel Vroman Rusteen

        What! Damn…I purchased a tub of dextrose and I take 20g post workout as high GI carbs…not good? Why don’t you recommend?

        • Simply because it’s devoid of nutrition. I prefer to eat food over drinking sugar.

  • Becky Ramsay

    Are carbs more important pre or post workout? Thinking about whether to have some carbs (0.5g per kg) a couple of hours after post workout meal like recommended or put them in pre workout instead.

    • Pavan S

      If you’re ‘lean bulking’ to put on some muscle, I’d spread my meals out throughout the day, so some preworkout carbs would help indeed for some people. I’m always working out in the morning and never find myself to be hungry until 3-4 hours after waking up, also I tend to also just save my calories for later on in the day when I’m really craving.

      If you’re working out in the middle of the day say 3-7pm or around that time, I’d have like 45-70 carbohydrates around 2 hours prior to working out.

  • Becky Ramsay

    What do you think about having beetroot before workout and how much?

    • Pavan S

      Ohhh nitrates pre workout are usually solid !

      • Becky Ramsay

        How much beetroot then?

        • Pavan S

          That really depends if you’re talking Beetroot extract, juice or the solid food itself.
          Not many studies on beets themselves, but you should definitely give this a read! 🙂


          • Becky Ramsay

            Already read this but thanks. Great minds think alike 😂

          • Becky Ramsay

            I would probably include some whole beetroot in whey shake btw… Thoughts?

          • Pavan S

            I guess you could go by weight to mg ratio
            It states that effective dosages were 436mg in a 150 lb male which would be 500 grams of beet root, so for like a 125lb female it would be around 400 grams of beet root.
            You could start with something similar to that if you’re going for the nitric oxide effects 🙂

          • Thanks Pavan. 🙂

  • Rajith

    Hi Mike,

    Supplement with pre-wokpout booster in a long term bad for health or any side effects?


  • Michael West

    Hi Mike,

    Working to cut BF down to about 9-10% before bulking. Do any of your ingredients in Pulse or Phoenix trigger an insulin response? I am using Forge and engaging in fasted training to help with what consider to be stubborn fat. I also know that eating after a workout will immediately put the kibash on fat burning. Previously you had suggested to me to use 20-40 gms of protein after working out. Where is the time balance if using Forge after a workout where best fat burning slows down (EPOC) and the risk of catabolism increases so eating is most beneficial. Does use of Phoenix impact any of this?



    • Hey Mike,

      Nope, Pulse and Phoenix don’t affect insulin levels. You can use both before your fasted training (that’s what I do, along with Forge).

      I’d say eat your protein within 60 minutes of finishing training. Dragging that out isn’t going to do anything for you, really.

  • Ron

    Hey Mike, do you eat bananas with your rice milk as part of your pre-workout nutrition or do you consume only 1 of those? Up until now, I’ve been eating a banana with my why protein as a pre-workout but it looks like a ripe banana is only a 62 on the glycemic index and you said to eat carbs in the 70-90 range in your book.

    • I eat a bit differently these days but at one point I was having 1 cup of rice milk with a scoop of protein and 1 banana about 30 minutes before training.

      The GI value is fine. The point here is something like green beans isn’t optimal, haha.

  • Curtis Browning

    Hey man! Great article. I didn’t see this question specifically stated in the article, but I was just curious to know if pre workout carbs are a good option while cutting? I haven’t gone completely over to fasted training due to it being somewhat inconvenient with my schedule. However, if I hit a plateau I may try it before I drop calories again. Thanks!

    • Hey Curtis! Yep, they still are! However, yeah when cutting, you also have the option to train fasted if you feel okay training fasted and would like to accelerate weight loss.

      Sounds good! Keep this in mind to help keep the weight moving.


  • Larry Weaver

    Hey Mike! Does taking caffeine with food lessen it’s affect?

    • Hey Larry! You know, that’s a good question. I haven’t done too much research on it, but I can say from personal experience that it does.

  • Greg Oneal

    Hey Michael,

    I have a particularly slow metabolism so I usually train 5-7 hour after lunch.

    Sometime when I’m under-slept I feel weakened but mostly always I’m fine.

    Still, I’d like to add a little protein before workout without filling the stomach.

    So my question is:

    Which is the best option?

    Will 20 gram protein before workout suppress muscle breakdown?

    Is there any difference when it comes to workout and cardio, regarding my case?


    • If you’re waiting that long, I recommend you get the protein and carbs pre-workout as I recommend in this article.

      Yep, definitely want to make sure you’re sleeping enough too.

      To build muscle and lose fat at the same time, check this out:


      If you’re not new to this style of training, this is your best bet:


      Yep, 20g of protein is enough to prevent muscle break down. I still recommend the carbs to help performance.

      Before weightlifting, I recommend both protein and carbs. Before cardio, just protein is fine.

      Welcome! Talk soon.

      • Greg Oneal

        Thank you, that’s really helpful. 🙂

  • Aikas

    Hey Mike,
    So up to how much Fats could one have in a Pre-workout?

    • You can have as much as you like. There just aren’t any particular benefits to it.

  • jb9573

    Good morning. I’m going on your recommended 5 day workout plan and I’m trying to figure out my pre-workout nutrition. I’ll be lifting at 6 AM, so I’m needing to get some carbs and protein in ahead of that time. I’m planning to use your Whey+ for the latter (about 30 minutes before beginning to lift), but I’m conflicted on the former. Thinking back to my cycling days, Gu Energy Gels seem convenient and I assume they’re relatively quick to be absorbed. If I’m trying to get the 25-50 mg of carbs in, would this be a good option? How about Gatorade or a similar sports drink? Or do I need to be thinking more about real food to get the carbs I need ahead of the workout (15-30 minutes ahead of lifting)? I’m trying to not have to make noise in the kitchen and wake the family… Thanks! -John

  • Hey Mike, how’s this for preworkout and postworkout nutrition? I’m 155 lbs., about 10% body fat, and currently in a bulk. Without a source of whey at my disposal that I trust not to be full of sugars, this is what I eat. I’d consider myself an ecto, and have a really hard time gaining fat or muscle, but a really easy time losing fat when it comes to cuts. (To put my ectoness in perspective, I weight-training 5 times per week according to your 1st Year book and HIIT run once a week, I’m eating 2700 cals right now, and I’ve been RDing and then bulking since mid-May, and I’m still sitting at around 10% body fat, though I suspect I’m not eating enough and I’m ready to bump myself up another 100 cals per day. I’m not gaining the .5-1 pound a week.)

    Anyway, to the meat of the question. For preworkout, my macros add up to about 30-40g of protein and 40-50g of carbs (according
    to Myfitnesspal.com, which albeit has a horrible reputation). I typically eat banana with lean cuts of chicken breast. That’s about 90-95% of the time, but if I’m running out of chicken breast, I use egg whites. I think you mentioned in BLS that eggs weren’t a good source of protein for pre- or postworkout, but I hope egg whites are different from eggs. The bananas will sometimes be russet potatoes if I’m out of bananas. I eat this meal about 25-30 minutes before my workout. It’s hard to time it for a half hour before I hit the gym because I go by bus, and the bus’s timing is unpredictable. But I do my best and, most times, I’m in the 25-30-minute range. I have to confess, on weekends when I go by car, I usually jump in the car early, about 10-20 minutes after I eat, but after hitting red lights and changing, I can get that into the 25-30-minute ballpark as well.

    For postworkout, my macros add up to about 60g of protein and 68-75g of carbs (I overshoot because this usually doubles as my dinner and I figure it’s safer to aim high than low). I typically have a salad with high-protein veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, and high-carb veggies like carrots and sweet peppers. This goes with chicken breast (I always prioritize my postworkout over preworkout if I’m running out of chicken breast, and I’ve been pretty good so far). I combine this with a Quest protein bar for the whey (and pay attention to use the true calorie amount rather than the number on the package). I eat this immediately after I work out. I don’t even take a shower first. I just gobble it down.

    Is this ok or is there room for improvement? Are egg whites good for preworkout (I’m hoping it’s the yolk that makes the egg a less-than-optimal workout meal)?

    P.S. You wouldn’t think it, but egg whites and banana actually taste good together! It’s like a sweet egg!

  • Rafa Campos Salles

    Hey Mike, there’s a super shredded doctor who’s pretty popular these days in Brazil. His name is Dr. Barakat and he uses coconut oil, butter and coffee as his pre-workout. He says it prevents energy crashes. He also does intermittent fasting. Do you think it would be a good idea to ingest fats instead of carbs before training? I have been living a pretty low-carb life for the past 3 years ever since I lost 60lbs. Plus I have been training fasted… I was wondering if I would do best taking some fat as a pre-workout. Any thoughts?

  • Miz Eloise


    please help im confused. you said to train 5 to 6hours after a meal to be in a fasted state. but then you mentioned protein amd carbs some minutes before a training. wont that negate the fasted state? also i only can afford so much calories that i dont take a pre workout drink. i allot my calories to solid foods and one whey protein scoop. i have 32 percent body fat to lose but i am not overweight just skinny fat


    • You have two choices:

      1. Train fasted
      2. Train un-fasted.

      If you choose to train un-fasted, then you can have that pre-workout protein and carbs.

      If you choose to train fasted, then you do not have a pre-workout meal.

      Does that make more sense?

  • bandoogiemanz

    Hey, Mike. What is your opinion on this pre-workout supplement? I used to take it and it seemed to work, but it’s been a long while since I have used it:


    • Tough to say. They don’t list the amounts of what goes into their proprietary blend, so consumers have no idea if they are even at clinically proven amounts that give the desired effect.

  • Miz Eloise

    thank you so much for responding mike. i will train unfasted but need supplements. i lost 4 pounds lean muscle in 1p days ughhh doing unfasted training and trust me im not undereating.

    1) will bcaa before / intra workout and creatine & whey portein after mitigate muscle loss?

    2) i weighed using the handheld scale and showed i dropped 2 percent body fat but lost 4 pounds muscle 🙁 that was depressing. is there any way to reverse this while cutting

    • YW.

      1. BCAA prior to workout is sufficient. Post-workout protein is a great idea!

      2. I wouldn’t trust the handheld electronic device. If your macros are on point, then you shouldn’t be losing that much muscle. Double check your numbers:

      Protein is 1.2g/lbs body weight if BF% 30%

  • Nick Lim

    Hi Mike, is pasta a good source of carbs for pre workout?

  • James

    Hello Mike,
    I have read your article and it makes sense to me. Coincidentally I workout in the morning within an hour of wake up time. A few minutes before I commence my workout, I down 6 – 8 oz. of soy milk with whey and 1-2 servings of raisins, fat is minuscule. This puts me in the middle or on the high end of your suggestion. Is this about where I need to be or what do I need to change?

  • Marian Boricean

    Mike, I am training fasted and I use Forge. I just ran out of Pulse, so I bought some Pre-Workout from Optimum Nutrition (http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/optimum-nutrition/gold-standard-pre-workout.html) until I get back my new Pulse. Question: Will this preworkout break my fast? It has 34 Kcal / serving!

    • Hey Marian, the ON Gold Standard pre-workout looks to be 5cal/serving from what I see. It’ll be fine for fasted training.

      • Marian Boricean

        Hey Mike, thanks for answering so quick. The link I sent above is a generic one. The product I hold in my hands (bought in Spain), clearly shows 34 Kcal on the label / serving. I will take a picture later and show you :). So how many calories would break my fast? 🙂 If 5 is OK… what about 6? 🙂

        • NP! Ah okay. 6 is fine too, haha. 34 cals is risking it. Especially since they’re probably from carbs. That’ll most likely break the fast.

          • Marian Boricean

            That’s what I was afraid of :). I stopped taking it anyway a couple days ago. I’ll do without until I get “Pulse”. Right now I’m in Europe and it takes a long time for parcels to reach me. Hopefully I’ll get it before my cut ends 🙂

          • Sounds good, Marian. Don’t worry. It’s great for maintenance and bulking too!

  • amos

    I’ve been training fasted in the morning for a while now and I would say I’m rather adapted to it. Now that I’m bulking, I tried eating oatmeal with milk (300kcal, 30g carbs) before my morning workouts and didn’t see much of a difference in my performance. Maybe it’s because it’s the first day I’m actual trying it and might take longer to notice the difference in performance. Will that be the case?

    • Could be you had enough fuel going into the old fasted workouts. Also depends on whether or not you had time to digest and absorb your oatmeal and milk.

  • Mike, great article. I have a few questions. I am a “high level” CrossFit athlete, needing to be strong, fast, enduring, great with bodyweight etc.. my questions revolve around pre workout carbs and caffeine and I honestly can not find the answers so I am really hoping you can help!

    1. If I am training 2+ Sessions per day preparing for a tamper pre comp should I use pre carbs before each session?

    2. The research that you have listed speaks to activating the PDC complex faster then without pre workout CHO but doesnt effect glycogen rates or lactate rates. I also can not find anything researching over 70% max oxygen intake. Have you seen anything to specifically indicate the pre workout carbs can increase performance at max oxygen intake or at least higher rates of anaerobic performance?

    3. Caffiene works. When I take it for max lifts, or pure anaerobic work or pure gymnastics work. HOWEVER I seem to have a problem in competition where when I take caffiene on “workouts” around 8-20 minutes in duration (all high intensity, for time and in competition) my body temperature seems to sky rocket, and breathing begins to ramp up higher then when I do the same workout without caffiene. What the hell is that about? I cant even get close to 400mg even at 185lbs and 9% bf. Worthy to note I take all of this in pill form, and may have better results with powder?

    • Thanks Devin!

      1. Yeah, pre- and post. Stick with high-GI, glucose-rich carbs.

      2. Shit, I feel like I’ve seen this in research but I just crawled my PubMed and don’t see anything. I want to say yes but I can’t link you anything. Meh.

      3. Sounds like individual physiology? I also find that caffeine “hits me harder” when I’m doing high-intensity work. I just deal with it.

  • Joh96

    Hi Mike

    1. Why do many people take L-Tyrosine and Caffeine together?. And why dont you have Acetyl-L-Carnitine in your Preworkout is maybe because Acetyl-L-Cystein has the same effect

    2. Can Rhodiola ans Spirulina also help taken Preworkout?

    3. Can you tell me all the fat-burning ingridient that decrease muscle lose and increase fat lose? I am not interested in those that increase basal metabolic rate

    4. Do you have in plan maybe adding some new ingridient in Pulse, Recharge or Phoenix?

    5. Why did remove Lavander from Lunar

    Best regards

    • 1. Caffeine deplete’s the brain’s tyrosine stores, but you have to be having way too much caffeine for this to really be an issue.

      Some people say they get a better “high” from caffeine when combined with tyrosine, too.

      2. I’d love to have ALCAR in it but it tastes HORRIBLE. I’ve tried twice and can’t even come close to something that tastes right.

      3. Doesn’t matter when they’re taken.

      4. Nothing natural is going to deliver noticeable results along those lines.

      5. Yeah adding taurine to Pulse and have a couple things in mind for Recharge, but have to see taste. Phoenix is pretty solid as-is, IMO. Not sure what I’d even do.

      6. Didn’t remove anything from Lunar.

      • Jon96

        Why Taurine. And what would you add to Recharge.

        I know that the most important thing in fat loss is caloric defict and i know that you lose fat and muscle at the same time. I want to know which just help you lose more fat and keep muscle. I know that Forge is great it has HMB the best known anticatabolic to help perserve muscle and doesnt spike insulin which can interfer with fat burning. As well yohimbine which decreases the activity of alfa “stubborn” receptors. That is already a realy great combo. And a combination of maybe caffein which increases adrenaline and green tea and hordenine which inhibit 2 enzyems which degradate adrenaline and noradrealine when we spike insuline. I am not interested in those that increase basal metabolic rate like synephrine and compounds that increase its effect and forskoline. They only help to lose weight faster not fat. Do you know what I mean. So what do you think did I get this right. If not tell which supplements should i use. I want to make my own fat burner because in Croatia it is teally hard to get all those supplements for cheap.

        • I’ll explain when I update the copy. 🙂

          Honestly if you combine Forge and Phoenix, you’re getting at least 80% of the fat burning and muscle preserving benefits available in natural supplementation.

          You could go ECA, but that’s not natural.

    • Tyrosine is a fantastic addon to caffeine. I would even say that it could be as good for mental focus during workout as EC. Obviously EC + tyrosine is the greatness.

  • Amanda214

    Hi there,

    Just read thinner leaner stronger. Love the step by step program. Thank you! I am a female with high body fat percentage and am interested in fasted training. Just purchased pulse and bcaa to take before (concerned about the 5htp in forge) Anything to know about timing of taking both before the workout? Any particular order? They are both watermelon flavor – can I mix them together? Thanks!

  • Miz Eloise

    hello. im trying to ration out my food throughout 15 hour day. im female 32 years old 24 percent body fat. how much protein carb fat should i be taking pre and post training? im not cutting. im afraid that eating my food pre and post workout will leave me hingry for the most of the day. i get hingry easily

    • Easy fix is to arrange your schedule so that you eat something 1-3 hours prior to working out, and soon after you finish a workout. Fruit and a shake will do for your post-workout.

  • Mike and Roger, just a question, but what’s your favourite preworkout meal for both/either taste and the kick it gives you? I usually have bananas and egg whites with caffeine in the form of green tea. I’m hoping green tea gives me the extra jolt I need, but I know it’s low on caffeine, so I add extra bags.

    I have a protein powder (whey) that I want to switch to for pre- and postworkouts, but I’m saving that for when I bulk and have the extra calories to be able to eat before lunch as well (I work out in the mornings and my pre- and postworkouts are breakfast). I’m on a cut right now.

    • 4 big dates, a scoop of Whey+ (about 340 cals) then 2 scoops Pulse as I’m heading to the gym, and I’m ready to rock!

  • Salah El Mackawi

    Hey Mike,

    I usually took a meal of chicken and rice about two hours prior to my workout.
    1. Do I benefit from taking another high Gl carbs 30 mins before training or what I have in the meal is enough?

    2. If the meal is enough, should it be low gl carbs and slow digesting protein?

    3.good sources of low GL carbs?


  • Tiago S.

    Hey Mike,

    Been training fasted lately and found out I do better this way than with stomach full of sweet potatoes or oats. Do you think something like rice milk with whey and honey would do the trick in terms of being lightly digested and helpful to workout performance?

    I see you recommend something similar, but not sure what is the opinion about honey 🙂


    • Hey Tiago, that’s great you’re liking fasted training. If you take rice milk with whey and honey, that will take you out of a fasted state, however. But, for a pre-workout snack, it’s good.

  • NikkiB

    Hi Mike,
    I am currently listening to you audiobook TLS and loving it. Thank you for helping so many of us on this journey. I have a question about pre and post workout nutrition. I am a female 5’3″ 130 pounds looking to lose fat and add muscle. My current macros are 115,128,42. I am struggling with eating that many of my macros before and after workouts which doesn’t leave me with with a lot left for meals. I know someone asked you this already and you said to plan your meals around your workout. I am finding that difficult on more days than not. I am wondering if taking an amino supplement would be enough to take and eliminate one of the pre or post nutrition meals/shakes? I have been taking Her amino burner during my workouts. Thanks for your help!

  • StevenD

    Hi, Mike,
    As always very informative!
    What’s your take on intra-workout nutrition?
    Just water? Simple carbs? Electrolytes? BCAA? Whey?
    Curious to hear your opinion!
    thanks for the good work!

    • Anytime! You can check this out for how to maximize the effects of supplements: https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-take-workout-supplements/

      Intra-workout nutrition is a good suggestion for an article. Thanks!

      • StevenD

        Great! Looking forward to it!
        Anytime soon? 🙂

        • I can’t say for sure! Must do the research first, as you know. Thanks for the suggestion!

          • Natalee C.

            Hi Matt! I’m also looking forward to the intra-workout article!

  • Ryuuin

    Why didnt you put Alpha-GPC in your Preworkout and do you take it?

    • There isn’t enough research at this point to say that it would really give you any boost in performance. And no, I don’t take it.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Mike – I’ve been training fasted forever – Although, as you know, I’m quite lean now (7-8% body fat) but I’m afraid of gaining fat so am always in a state of maintenance or a small deficit.

    I train at 5am so fasted training is easy – don’t worry, I always take Forge (as well as Pulse and Phoenix).

    My question, will the fat burning effects of fasted training reduce over time – I take very few days off so likely train fasted almost 35-40 times a month (I sometimes fit in fasted HIIT later in the day).

    Even when I’m in maintenance I train fasted as my calorie intake is low (1700) and I prefer eating later in the day so I save my calories for late afternoon/evening.

    • There’s no problem training fasted often, and the fat burning effects will not change. However, I’d definitely recommend giving fed training a shot if/when you decide to bulk. Most people experience more energy during their workout and better lifts 🙂

      • OriginalPouzar

        Thank you for the response Mike – yes, I know that training fasted is best for bulking. Unfortunately, I have a mental block around bulking. I would like a gain some more muscle (and I have lost some muscle size in the last year) but I don’t want to gain the fat. I’m at 7-8% and I love it. I know one can’t bulk without some fat gain but thinking about being back at 12-13% isn’t something I want.
        I’d love to eat more food though but, unless I’m actually going to bulk and have the additional 200-300 calories, I think I’ll continue to train fasted – I do pretty well with it and really like saving those calories for later in the day.

        • Makes sense. If you can maintain 7-8% without much trouble, that’s great. You can slowly increase calories with a reverse diet to try to get your calories up as high as possible while maintaining that body fat percentage. http://www.muscleforlife.com/reverse-diet/

  • Hey Mike, how long after a meal can it be effective fuel for a workout? I normally eat at around 11:30 am, and my workouts are generally around 4pm. I don’t eat in between, I usually have my second meal after the workout. I usually don’t want to eat something before the workout to break my fast, but maybe that is working against my gains? I was in fat loss mode, but I just have a small amount left in my belly. I want to work more on building back up and maybe remove the last fat over time. (I’m still in a small deficit like 5% and still intermittent fasting). So bottom line, do I start having a pre-workout meal before or is what I ate at lunch enough? I do use a preworkout drink that has aminos, beta-alanine and 2g creatine.

    • Hey Tom,

      It can take quite a few hours to fully digest a meal, depending on the size and composition. That said, I definitely recommend having some food before working out if you’re trying to bulk. You’ll have better workouts, and it’ll be easier to progress on your lifts. I don’t recommend fasted training unless you’re cutting.

      Check this article out: https://legionathletics.com/pre-workout-nutrition/

  • Sym

    Hi Mike, I’m a skinny 18 year old looking to bulk up (5.8 59kg), just started following a similar training program as the 5×5 strong lifts.

    So just to confirm, if i’m waking up at say 10-11AM for example this is everything i would eat:
    – First thing: I’ll eat half a melon with a glass of water.
    – About 50 mins later (Which is around 1-2 hours before my workout): I’ll eat say a few potatoes, Little bit of beef, 400ml milk, Maybe 10-30g worth of cheese, butter. (Probably around 20-30g of protein)
    – Then half hour before workout: 5 dates, Grapes, Oranges maybe and maybe a small glass of milk..
    – Then during my workout i’ll drink 400ml worth of fresh orange juice with 100ml of water..

    I’m pretty OCD and always end up just stuffing my face with random stuff between the time i wake up and the time i go to the gym, feeling like i need tons of protein or i’ll end up with muscle wastage.. Would the amount i’m eating be okay to prevent this from happening? Would you give a minimum amount of protein/carbs that should be consumed before working out to prevent muscle wastage?

    And is my timing okay? How long before the workout would you recommend my first meal with potatoes, Bit of beef, Milk, cheese, butter?
    And then how long before my workout would you recommend i get the dates, grapes, oranges etc in?
    And do you think orange juice during the workout is okay?
    Any thing you’d add to my morning diet before my workout?
    Thanks so much Mike!

    • Eating 30-40g of protein before a workout is a good idea if you haven’t eaten in the previous 3 hours or so. Carbs also help prevent protein breakdown, so it’s not something you need to worry about. If you’re working out in a fasted state, protein breakdown is accelerated, but even this can be mitigated by taking HMB, leucine, or BCAAs.

      Give this article a read:

      For the pre-workout carbs, anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes before the workout is fine. Orange juice during the workout is also fine if you enjoy it. It’s not necessary, though.

      I hope this helps!

      • Sym

        Great thanks Mike, big re assurance.. So would you suggest my on the heavy end meal of 200-300g Potatoes, 50g worth of beef mince, Cheese, and 400ml milk around the 60 minute before workout mark and then my more sugary carbs like Dates, Grapes etc a bit closer to the workout?

        Are you saying also that its only worth consuming the carbs etc within 60 mins before workout, for example, could my first meal with pots, meat etc go over the 60 minute mark and if so, what would be the maximum amount of time to consume a meal like that before workout? (I know i am overthinking this, but until i get that re assurance i don’t know what i would do lol)

        Also would appreciate your opinion on the following: Would you say as long as i’m getting the carbs and protein in before and after my workout, will i prevent protein breakdown even if i don’t hit my daily requirements for protein for that day? E.g i weigh 135 pounds and i get say 60-80g of protein in total that day, but i make sure i am getting in protein and carbs before my workout and after it.. but if for what ever reason that day i don’t hit 140g of protein.. i know that it will make it harder for me to gain muscle, but will it actually cause protein breakdown? If i’m weighing 135 pounds do you have a minimum amount of protein to consume in the day to prevent protein breakdown? I know its all down to how intense my workout is.. Atm i’m doing a 5×5 stronglifts based workout in the early stages meaning my weight is fairly light but still feel it after the session. (Also carbs if thats whats important, because thats never a problem)

        Thanks very much Mike! And sorry for following up with these questions, i have read the article you linked, just these few things i would feel better with having the extra re-assurance.

        • 30g-40g of carbs 30 mins before your workout is totally fine. Unless you’re doing endurance workouts, there’s not much need to micromanage this aspect of your nutrition. If you just eat a meal containing protein and carbs within a hour or so of your workout, you’re good to go. I go over all the details you need to know in that article I linked.

          Protein timing matters, but your total protein intake is even more important. Check these out:


          You should be getting around 1g per lb of bodyweight. Let me know if I can help with anything else!

          • Sym

            Thanks again Mike! Last question.. How important is meeting all macro requirements, overall calorie requirements for non training days? i’m currently in the early stages of strong lifts 5×5 training 3x per week and the weights i’m doing are fairly light at this stage as i add on every workout.. Some of the exercises i’m struggling with at the moment like i’m stuck at 27.5kg for overhead press and kind of plateauing a bit on pendalay rows at 35kg, but progressing okay on the other exercises okay..
            I make sure i’m meeting ALL my needs on training days, but i go a little bit lax on non training days, the reason i do this is because one: I know in weeks to come i will be eating every single thing in sight to meet my requirements on a consistent basis so in a way i tell myself i’m keeping my self for this time? and also With the light ish weights i am using, i don’t really feel any soreness or anything after (Which i know is not really expected anyway with 5×5 training even at extremely heavy weights) .. But saying that, Do you think i could be hindering my progression on the exercises that i am struggling more with such as the barbell Overhead press and the pendalay row? And as a skinny ‘hard gainer’ i should be eating the large amounts every single day of the week? (Meeting protein/carbs/fat and overall calorie requirements EVERY single day of the week)? Thanks Mike!

          • Unless you’re doing calorie cycling (which is a more advanced technique), hitting your macros and calories is something you do every day, not just training days. There’s no need to adjust your diet on rest days.

            Remember, your body is recovering on rest days, so you still need protein, carbs, adequate calories to rebuild your muscles and grow, etc.

            You don’t have to eat “a ton” to gain weight either. If you do, you’ll put on more fat than necessary. You should eat just enough so that you’re gaining weight slowly. Check this out:



            Keep me posted!

          • Sym

            Thanks for the reply Mike! Still think there’s importance to meet the macro/calorie needs on rest days when I’m in the early stages of the 5×5 StrongLifts program and weights are fairly lightish and I’m finding the squat/deadlift/bench press easy but A slight struggle on the overhead press and pendalay row? I’m about 2-3 weeks into the program: benching 37.5kg, squaring around 40kg etc.. Apparently there is no need for soreness in this program anyway but wondering your opinion.. thanks Mike! Sorry for overthinking this and pestering you also. Yes I do agree with you with the eating a ton thing, but generally more the what I’m eating now to 100% meet my needs on a daily basis and upping the cost of my shopping list!

          • Yes, regardless of being a beginner, still hit your macros on rest days. Sore muscles aren’t necessarily a sign of a good workout, so no worries there. Check this out:


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