The Truth About Post-Workout Nutrition

Two years ago I started reading Ori Hofmekler’s work. I was late to the game since he’d been writing for more than a decade, but as the saying goes: better late than never. I was not only fascinated by Ori’s knowledge of biology and human physiology, but his recommendations were also in-line with some of the more progressive research I was seeking out on gut health and hormones. Especially during the period after exercise when we need to maximize post-workout nutrition.

Since the spring of 2010 I’ve been implementing Ori’s unique principles and supplements with myself and my clients. The results were so impressive that it was time I met the man in person to talk shop. Listening to Ori speak about nutrition must be what it feels like to sit in a room with Bill Gates and hear him discuss computer technology.

Yep, I was blown away by the meeting. And since we all try to maximize post-workout nutrition, I wanted to share what Ori Hofmekler had to say.

I’m honored to have Ori here in this exclusive interview.

CW: Ori, throughout the majority of my career I’ve recommended fast-acting carbs with protein powder in the post-workout meal in order to get an insulin spike and shuttle amino acids into the muscles for growth and repair. But after consulting with you I’ve realized that I might have been wrong with this approach.

Can you explain the problems with ingesting simple carbs such as raisins or cherry juice immediately after training?

Ori Hofmekler: First off, after training your muscle becomes temporarily insulin resistant. That’s due to tissue micro-injuries which impair the mechanism that utilizes glucose in your muscle. Putting a high glycemic fuel in your muscle right after exercise will jeopardize energy utilization and disrupt your insulin sensitivity. High glycemic fuel includes all kinds of sugars, dried fruits and refined flour.

One of the biggest misconceptions is the idea that an insulin spike is necessary for boosting protein synthesis in the muscle. The truth is quite different. The real factor is not insulin spike but rather insulin sensitivity.

It has been proven that as long as insulin sensitivity is high, even low (fasting) insulin levels along with amino acids will be sufficient to trigger mTOR/AKT – the cellular pathway that deposits protein in the muscle towards repair and growth.

Overly spiking insulin with simple carbs immediately after exercise impairs insulin sensitivity and diminishes your capacity to sustain a healthy metabolism and a lean, strong physique.

CW: We all know that the few hours after training are important to maximize for muscle growth and fat loss. What’s the best approach to post-workout nutrition when a person is trying to add muscle without inhibiting fat loss?

Ori: The post-exercise period isn’t just your window of opportunity to build muscle, it’s also your ideal opportunity to burn fat.

What many people fail to understand is that exercise only initiates the first phase of fat breakdown; it does not grant the completion of the fat-burning process.

After exercise there’s a substantial increase in the level of circulating free fatting acids coming from adipose tissue, and unless these are mobilized to the liver and muscle for final utilization, most of them will be re-esterfied into triglycerides and re-deposited back in the fat tissues.

Yes, all your hard work to burn fat will be wasted!

In order to grant an effective completion of the fat-burning process you must manipulate your muscle to suck in the circulating free fatty acids that were released by exercise. And the way to do that is to wait for 30-60 minutes after exercise before having your recovery meal.

CW: So much for the notion that post-workout nutrition must begin as soon as the workout is finished.

Ori: Yes, by waiting 30-60 minutes it will give your body the time needed to remove circulating fatty acids for utilization and thus prevent re-deposit and build-up of fat in your adipose tissue.

CW: So why is the post-exercise period a person’s ideal window of opportunity to burn fat?

Ori: It’s because of empty glycogen reserves. Glycogen is your body’s most immediate and preferred fuel for survival activities, such as the fight or flight response. Hence, your body regards glycogen replenishment as a top survival priority. And that’s what happens after intense training: your body is forced to swiftly convert fatty acids into glucose, via gluconeogenesis, which are then used for glycogen replenishment in your muscle.

What this means is that fat breakdown and utilization reaches a peak, not during exercise, but right after exercise. Importantly, this process can only reach its peak in a fasting state. It will be utterly inhibited by carbohydrate feeding.

CW: Fascinating. I can’t tell you how many times I recommended carbs during and immediately after training to clients who wanted to burn off excess fat. Eliminating carbs during this period has drastically increased my client’s rate of fat loss. 

Ori: You’re right, Chad. I was glad when you told me that you removed carbs from Ronda Rousey’s first post-workout protein feeding as you prepared her for her title fight against Miesha Tate.

CW: Yes, that was a key component for leaning Ronda out so she could drop a weight class. So when is the best time to eat carbs in general? 

Ori: The right time for eating carbohydrates is at night when the muscle is no longer insulin resistant like it is directly after training. For effective glycogen loading, eat slow-releasing complex carbs from whole plants the night before training or competition. Ideal sources are corn, quinoa and oatmeal.

With all that said, you still need to feed your muscle to grant repair and growth in the post-exercise period. And you need to do that without inhibiting the fat-burning process.

Therefore, you should use quality whey protein with no sugar added. This is your best bet. Quality whey protein not only nourishes your muscle with essential amino acids and bioactive immune-boosting nutrients, but it also promotes insulin sensitivity via peptides such as CCK and GLP-1. Importantly, insulin sensitivity is necessary for both muscle growth and fat burning.

CW: So what’s the best approach to post-workout nutrition?

Ori: If your goal is to burn fat and build muscle, you must take advantage of the post-exercise window of opportunity. Avoid feeding for 30-60 minutes after training, and then have 40-60 grams of whey protein with no sugar added for recovery. Three scoops of grass-fed whey is ideal at this time. To further enhance muscle build up, have a second recovery meal – same amount of whey protein – about 60 minutes later.

CW: What if a guy isn’t interested in burning fat? Can he have carbs in the post-workout window?

Ori: Yes, but carbs should only come in the second post-workout feeding. And this is only applicable when you’ve trained hard for more than two hours, such as long, intense sparring session or other very high endurance activities. The first feeding should be immediately after exercise from 40-60 grams of quality whey. This is for people who aren’t worried about burning fat – they need to feed their muscle with fast assimilating proteins to stop the catabolic process and promote recovery.

The second feeding should come 30 minutes later and it should include another 40-60 grams of whey. At this time you could have a handful of organic raisins or a bowl of berries. Fruits are densely packed with antioxidants and yield an alkalizing balance effect on your body, which is typically over-acidic after intense, prolonged training.

CW: Terrific information, Ori. Thanks for your time and incredible insight.

Ori: Thank you, Chad.

Ori’s Warrior Whey is the best protein powder I’ve ever used. Through research and development he has created what I consider not only the most effective protein powder for supporting muscle growth and fat loss, but it also tastes incredible. It’s the only whey protein I currently use.

For only $24, you can try Ori’s Warrior Whey. I bet you’ll never use another whey again. You can find out more about grass-fed whey at this link.

Ori’s Post-Workout Protocol for Fat Loss and Muscle Growth
30-60 minutes after exercise: 3 scoops of whey in water.
60 minutes later (for maximize muscle growth): 3 scoops of whey in water.

Ori’s Post-Workout Protocol for Extreme Endurance Athletes
Immediately after exercise: 3 scoops of whey in water.
30 minutes later: 3 scoops of whey in water with a handful of organic raisins or a bowl of berries.

Stay Focused,
CW

64 thoughts on “The Truth About Post-Workout Nutrition

  1. Chad how would this work with intermittent fasting and fasted training? When I am finished a fasted training session, I am usually dead and starving. Nothing feels better than a shot of carbs at this point.

    CW: Do you need to lose fat? If so, stick to pure protein. If not, have carbs per Ori’s recommendations.

  2. Awesome information! Does Ori and yourself ( Chad ) still recommend eating the Warrior style way? ( no or little food until dinner?) And can one have there big feeding meal at lunchtime as appose to at night? I’m just really on a quest to keep my gut healthy and make sure I have a six pack. Thanks Chad, Your the best!

    CW: Yes, that’s what we both recommend.

  3. I usually take in about 10-20 grams of BCAAs during my workout. Should i skip these to wait the full 30-60 minutes or can i just cut back on the amout of whey protein afterwards?

    CW: You can skip the BCAAs with this protocol.

  4. Also, how long do I need to wait after the whey before I can eat a whole meal?

    CW: 30-60 minutes.

  5. Great piece. I have always heard use simple carbs after weightlifting as well…I will try this method for awhile. I love conflicting ideas…

  6. Great interview Chad!! .. So do you recommend the whey 30 to 60 minutes afterwards and then a 4 hour feasting period from fasting?

    CW: Yes, if you train at night you can start the feeding phase 30-60 minutes after the protein.

  7. What an interesting interview Chad! It makes perfect sense to me that your body would convert fat to glycogen in the absense of carbohydrates. In practice, it will take some creative thinking and adaptation for those of us who train in the evening after work and then have their largest meal of the day. This information was quite a revelation.

  8. Wow, way to punch bro-science in the face Chad, really great article! So do I understand that if muscle growth, not fat loss, is the goal, still stick with just protein about 30 min after workout? Would you still recommend starches like sweet potatoes etc during the evening meal(s) on the Waterbury/Warrior Diet?

    CW: Yes, starches in evening meal.

  9. Great interview! I have been eating raisins pwo for years as per your recommendation in Huge in a Hurry. However, as of late I’ve been having sweet potatoes with my first pwo meal. What does Ori mean when he recommends complex carbs from whole plants? I avoid grains, wheat, flour, etc. and use sweet potatoes and the occasional white potato and (very rarely) rice as my carb source. I generally fast anywhere from 16-20 hours, train fasted, then feast. Also, at the end of my training sesh I immediately take in 10g BCAA’s and 5g Creatine. I don’t that should affect this fat burning window.

  10. I liked this interview, Chad. I had never heard of Ori Hofmekler. Thank you for providing this information. It never did feel natural to consume a lot of nutrients within a few hours prior to, during, or immediately following a challenging workout of ANY kind. Water and some or no nutrients has always felt much better during this window.

  11. Warrior Diet is too legit to quit, Ori is the man! I have never felt better, and my digestive health is so strong. Chad’s workouts like huge in a hurry and Warrior Diet = Winning Combination

  12. Although brief, that interview was incredibly helpful. Clear and to the point. Thanks very much for posting it.

  13. I have two questions.
    Are Ori’s recommendations mainly for bodybuilders or do they work for athletes, fighters for example? As a fighter I train twice a day and don’t feel comfortable cramming all my carbs in at night before i go to bed.

    Second, what is he considering the end of a workout? I often stretch, cool down and do prehab movements after my workout. These take about 30 minutes so should i do pw nutrition after that or wait longer. If I have to wait another hour after working out for two I might end up eating the head rest in my car like that dog from the Tom Hanks movie. : )

    CW: This info is for any type of athlete or trainee. Your workout ends with your last set of intense exercise – stretching doesn’t count toward the workout.

  14. Hi Chad, I’m a big fan of yours and have been following your blog and writings for several years. Your advice has been instrumental in many of my training changes and improvements. This latest blog entry of yours seems like it may have a similar impact on future diet protocols. What I am very curious about is if you can point me in the direction of scientific studies that validate Ori Hofmekler’s findings. Any new information would be much appreciated. Thank you for your time.

    CW: It would take an entire post to reference all of the studies he’s gone through. Trust me, the research supports what he says.

  15. Ok, so now I’m a bit confused. After reading your interview with Hofmekler, I sought out some more information by him. I came across an article he posted this past summer (June 19, 2011) at Dr. Mercola’s website where he says the following:

    “Your post exercise recovery meal is critically important. It’s needed to stop the catabolic process in your muscle and shift the recycling process towards repair and growth. If you fail to feed your muscle at the right time after exercise, you won’t just miss this window of opportunity to restore and build your muscle, you’ll actually let the catabolic process go too far and potentially waste and damage your muscle.

    So you MUST EAT within 30 minutes after your workout. And you must feed your muscle with fast assimilating proteins. If, for whatever reason, your fail to supply your body with the protein it needs you may actually accelerate the damage you are seeking to repair. Let me STRONGLY warn you that you are playing with fire here. You need to be ultra-careful and use this program as described or you will pay the consequences.”

    Which is it? Eat within 30 minutes, or wait 30-60 minutes? This contradiction (and the dramatic language of “must eat”) is, to say the least, a bit problematic.

    CW: He’s probably talking about a different type of situation, person, or athlete. What he says here are his latest views (I constantly modify what I recommend).

  16. What about pre-workout? Is this for only weight training and/or endurance training?

    CW: Train on an empty stomach to force your body to burn fat for fuel.

  17. So how would this new information affect the Waterbury Diet?? No more eating carbs post-workout?

    CW: If fat loss is the goal, get rid of carbs post workout and have them in your evening meal.

  18. Hi Chad
    I have been experimenting with Warrior Diet since you first wrote about it and I might say that the results are impressive. What I always do is to add a few starchy carbs before my workout and later have a big post workout meal. Do you think that adding carbs before a workout may hamper the fat loss results?

    CW: Yes, I think it will.

  19. Great info Chad! Thanks for not being afraid to change directions and always providing your readers the most current protocols. I don’t guess the half-full jug of maltodextrin will be of much use to me going forward…which is probably a good thing.

    Considering this new information are there any other changes to the “Waterbury” diet for muscle gain that you’d recommend?

    Thanks!
    JD

    CW: No carbs post-workout when fat loss is the goal.

  20. Great interview. Very interesting. I follow the logic, especially for fat loss. But, by extension, why not let the period go longer than 60 mins? What is it at that point that necessitates protein? Why not force the body go into reserves (i.e. stored fat) to get the nutrition it needs. Or, to put it another way, if you were to follow the Warrior or Waterbury Diet and train in the morning, what would be the problem of letting the fast go until evening?

    CW: Your body will eat up muscle if you wait longer than 60 minutes. By 60 minutes all the fat loss that can occur has occurred.

  21. Hi,

    So if I were to follow the fatloss guidelines you posted in November, it would look something like this (based on my current schedule)?:
    Wake up at 6am
    Workout at 12:30-1:30pm
    Whey protein at 2:30pm
    Feast from 5pm-9pm
    Repeat.

    CW: That’s good.

  22. I’ve always done the workout nutrition before and during training. Going to give this a shot along with the 20 hr IF diet from earlier. Chad, was wondering if you still do any juicing and how you integrate it if you still do?

    CW: Juicing veggies is always fine during the day.

  23. Chad how does this tie into the Waterbury diet style of eating. For example 16 hr fast workout 6-8 30 mins later30-40 grams of whey, 30 mins 30-40 grams protein with steel cut oats. Then what? thank you for the articles and the evolution of your work

    CW: If you train at the end of the day start your feeding phase 30-60 minutes after last protein meal. If it’s earlier in the day, wait until evening for your big meal.

  24. Interesting. So does that mean the long standing recommendation of carbs and protein following a strength training session for all these years has been wrong? Also , would it be detrimental to take in a small amount of carbs with the whey protein? i.e. 40 grams of whey to 20 grams of a complex carb found in the creatine supplement I take.

    CW: If your goal isn’t fat loss, carbs in the second feeding post-workout is fine.

  25. This is very confusing, it seems to go against all of the standard recommendations … would this post workout feeding that Ori recommends (no carbs added) work with more standard diets (with moderate carbs) where carbs are consumed throughout the day and not just at night (for fat loss)?

    And if I am not mistaking, you also recommend no carbs in recovery drink after workout for fat loss in Muscle Revolution, so what is different with Ori’s recommendation, except for at night carb feeding?

    Wouldn’t eliminating carbs during/after workout promote catabolism?

    CW: No, eliminating carbs doesn’t promote catabolism. It’s key for insulin sensitivity.

  26. Yeah I bought like six containers of his plain Warrior Whey. Good stuff, I think it’s one of, if not THE highest quality protein on the market. Not sure how the plain protein will taste by itself as I usually add blueberries and raspberries.

    CW: I think the plain protein tastes fantastic – it’s what I prefer. It has a natural creamy flavor, and it makes you realize how clean and pure the protein is.

  27. Chad.

    What have the results been for your clients or yourself using this post workout guidline?

    For one reason or another I haven’t been able to workout for the past few months, but I have just started back on one of the HIAH plans and have been using the pre and post workout nutrition guidelines from the book Nutrient Timing. For me this is;
    Pre
    Whey protein = 7g
    Maltodextrin = 20g
    Beta-alanine = 2g

    Post
    Whey protein = 17g
    Maltodextrin = 40g
    Beta-alanine = 2g
    Creating = 5g

    With my goal being to loose fat and put on some muscle mass, is changing to the guidelines in your article more conducive to this than what I am currently doing?

    Also, one final question, there is no pre workout nutrition in the article, is that right that you dont need to have any thing prior to a workout?

    CW: Yes, Ori’s recommendations are much better for fat loss. No reason to give your body carbs post-workout when the muscles are insulin resistant.

  28. I may be totally wrong, but I’ve heard and read from multiple sources that if you don’t consume carbs post-workout, your body will use the whey you consumed or protein in your muscles through gluconeogenesis to replenish muscles. I want to trust this aproach but there’s alot of red flags going off right now. Is Ori saying that waiting 30-60 minutes for gluconeogenesis to burn up fats in your blood, then consuming whey protein to stop your body from then using protein stores???

    CW: Correct. You shouldn’t feed your body carbs when insulin resistance is low – post-workout.

  29. How does the whey feedings fit into your meal feedings? Are you taking the whey along with your meals or separate from your meals?

    CW: Separate from meals.

  30. Carbs post workout was included not because it increased protein synthesis, but it decreased protein breakdown. Atleast this was the reason in research. SM Phillip showed that protein breakdown is not decreased with carbs post workout/increase in insulin.

    But carbs after workout is a good way to lower cortisol, increase AMPK, and shuttle some glycogen back into muscles when it is primed for uptake. I guess cutting down carbs to a 2:1 than a 4:1 ratio is more reasonable. Will have to wait for along term study I guess.

    CW: It depends on the athlete and type of workout, but overall Ori doesn’t want carbs immediately post workout because that’s when the muscles are temporarily insulin resistant.

  31. Thanks for you willingness and ability to change directions when new information comes to light. I appreciate that. Does Ori like to go into his workout in a fasted state? If not, what is acceptable prior to your workout? Thanks!

    CW: A semi fasted state is good to keep your SNS activated while making your body use fat for fuel. Some berries before a workout is fine, though.

  32. Very interesting article. I’m currently doing HIAH. Should whey protein and a fast-acting carb still be taken pre-workout if I workout first thing in the morning?

    CW: You can eat carbs before a workout if it doesn’t make you lethargic, and if you’re not trying to burn fat.

  33. So, what about the pre workout protein/carb intake? I workout in the morning and have a protein only shake 30min before workout. I’m trying to gain a bit more muscle and lose the last of the the fat. Should I keep having the protein before the workout or just wait for the two shakes 60min and 120min after working out?

    CW: For fat loss, you can have some berries before the workout, but stick to the post-workout protocol mentioned.

  34. One question I had when I read this article was if it was possible to convert fat into glycogen via gluconeogenesis. I had always thought that only applied to protein. A quick internet search will give you the answer of NO most of the time. BUT there is a blog post on “The Daily Lipid” that explains that it is possible and all the text books are wrong/outdated (in case anyone was questioning the science). So, the science and general believes are always changing and it’s good to see that Chad is staying on top of things.

  35. Hi Chad,

    Great interview. I want to make sure that I understand Ori’s recommendations for PWO protocol. For maximum muscle growth, I am to take 3 scoops of whey 30-60 mins after exercising, then 60 minutes later, another 3 scoops?

    CW: Correct.

  36. So where did the ancient warriors get their isolated whey protein from?

    CW: Ha! They couldn’t get it from anywhere, that’s why they didn’t have more muscle.

  37. What type of carbs/protein should you take in b4 workout..or should you take any?

    Thanks for the write up..good stuff!
    Don

    CW: Berries before the workout is fine.

  38. Great stuff -been on it for a year-If I’m rushed in the morning 2 scoops-1cup of 1%milk-few blue berries -good to go

    CW: I would get rid of the milk unless it’s raw milk.

  39. Awesome info Chad! This is definitely one of the best blog posts I’ve read. I respect you for having the willingness to continually adapt to new things when you find them effective and not try to “save face” by continuing to recommend the same thing as so many seem to do. I always come to you for no BS info, so thanks buddy.

    One question about all of this- do you feel it is necessary to have BCAA (or anything) prior to training if training in a fasted state? I fast from 8 pm every night until noon the next day and usually train at 9-10 am in a fasted state- do I need to have anything prior to training via your current recommendations?

    CW: A scoop of whey 20 minutes before the workout is better than BCAAs for the reasons he mentioned (immuno factors, etc).

  40. Chad: Great interview. I recently came across your teachings and have been very impressed. I just finished up your ‘7 day detox’ plan and was able to drop 12lbs. in 7 days.

    Would the Warrior Diet plus ‘Ori’s Post-Workout Protocol for Fat Loss and Muscle Growth’ be a good routine to get into post detox?…for continued muscle growth and fat loss?

    CW: Yes.

  41. This makes so much sense! How will you break it to Berardi?

    I don’t use any pre-workout stimulant formulas, but I eat a lean protein and carb meal about 30-60 minutes before my workout. Is this ideal or would that inhibit my insulin sensitivity for my first protein feeding?

    Keep up the good work!

    CW: Some carbs before the workout is fine if you’re not trying to lose fat.

  42. Am I to assume the Warrior Whey Plain is the optimal protein powder to use 30-60 minutes after your workout, since it has the lowest amount of carbs in the Warrior Whey selection? Thanks in advance.

    CW: They’re all equally good because they have no sugar added.

  43. Chad, I’m following your Muscle Revolution programs for Strength and Mass. Would you make any changes to your original recommendations (carbs + protein before and after the workout) for this program or is it just for fat loss? Thanks.

    CW: Do what the post says after the workout. Before the workout you can have some carbs if you’re not interested in fat loss.

  44. So if I’m understanding correctly when combininhg this PWO protocol with the warrior diet philosophy, No carbs pre workout, no carbs post workout, and no carbs in the second meal after workout. Is it ever OK to have carbs when trying to lose fat?

    CW: At night in your feeding phase, as mentioned. Also berries can be eaten earlier in the day before the workout.

  45. Great post, but was curious on what would you recommend for those who are lactose intolerant? I have not tried to add lactose back in since I have been following more of a warrior style diet and finally removed the lactose. Thanks again.

    CW: Many of my clients who are lactose intolerant can handle his whey. It’s worth a try.

  46. Hey Chad,

    So I’m assuming you’re no longer recommending the tart cherry juice mixed with the warrior whey?

    This is a better way to go unless you’re doing 2 hours or more of physical activity.

    Thanks!

    CW: I’ll use it in the second post-workout feeding if the workout fits the criteria mentioned.

  47. Thanks Chad,
    This info from Ori about no carbs after your workout agrees or is similar to some degree with that of Dr. Mercola who says: “no sugars and no carbs for 2 hours after your workout if you are interested in loosing fat and getting utilized the release of your HGH. For young athlets who do not care about loosing fat or HGH and need fuel to quickly recover their energy, strenght, etc. the 2 hrs of no sugars and no carbs do not apply.
    Thank you,
    Ben

  48. Like always I love your articles Chad, Thank you. However; what do I put in place of 3 scoops of Warrior Whey since I am completely allergic to anything containing dairy?

    CW: You can use this vegan protein instead Sun Warrior

  49. another OMG moment that changes things:
    1. basically to maximize fat loss: no carbs or fats, just two 50 g doses of protein over almost a 2- hr post workout period(assuming an early morning/afternoon workout).
    2. the post workout protein of choice is the fast acting whey. would other sources such as egg whites or lean meat digest too slowly to be effective?
    3. Would this echo what Vince Geronda mandated : proteins and starchy carbs should not be eaten together?

    CW: 1. Yes. 2. Must be fast assimilating protein like whey. 3. Depends on when you eat them, at night when insulin sensitivity is high it can be fine for leaner people.

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