How to Maximize Muscle Performance and Fat Loss

What you eat before you suit up for the gym can have a profound effect on your performance and results. There’s no shortage of pre-workout supplements out there that all claim to help you build muscle, gain strength, or burn body fat. But do any of those workout boosters you see in muscle magazines actually benefit your muscles?

In my previous interviews with nutrition savant, Ori Hofmekler, we covered post-workout nutrition and thyroid health. So now it’s time for Ori to set the record straight with regard to pre-workout nutrition. Get ready for some surprising revelations!

CW: Ori, is it true that you’ll burn more fat if you train in a fasted state? Is this equally true for cardio and strength training?

Ori: In theory, fat burning is maximized when you train in a fasting state. That’s because exercise while fasting forces a fast depletion of glycogen and an increased utilization of fatty acids for energy. Furthermore, this regimen improves insulin sensitivity, which is essential for burning fat and maintaining a lean body. Nonetheless, training while fasting has a serious drawback: it compromises your peak strength and durability. Apparently with a more profound effect on strength.

CW: So is there any viable way to maximize fat burning without compromising your strength?

Ori: Yes, indeed. In fact you there are two good options. First, you can use whey protein as a pre-exercise meal, about 30 minutes before training. Whey protein serves as the ideal fuel for your muscle during prolonged intense exercise and there’s evidence that it actually increases your capacity to burn fat during and after exercise.

CW: That’s pretty exciting to hear. Please explain the mechanisms involved.

Ori: First, whey protein is the richest natural source of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), which primarily serve as a muscle fuel substrate via the alanine-glucose pathway. This pathway is your body’s most cost-effective fueling system. It converts BCAAs into glucose in the liver which is then released to your muscle in exactly the amount your muscle needs without overly-spiking insulin. Hence, whey protein enables you to sustain prolonged intense performance in times of carb deprivation and glycogen depletion. Also, whey protein allows you to perform at a higher intensity for longer periods of time so you’ll burn more energy and fat than training while fasting.

For that purpose I use 2 scoops of grass-fed whey 30 minutes before training.

CW: Ori, since I consult with you on a regular basis, I know what the second option is and I think people will be surprised and excited to hear it. Fire away!

Ori: Yes, the second option will surprise many people. An excellent pre-exercise snack is dark chocolate. I’m talking specifically here about the kind with no sugar added. Chocolate has the highest concentration of flavonoid polyphenols, which, along with energy boosting co-factors yield the most powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and energizing effects on your muscle. Furthermore, cacao demonstrates fat burning properties, and it has the most profound effect on boosting nitric oxide, which is essential for the regulation of muscle performance, repair, and growth.

CW: Over the last few years, nitric oxide-boosting supplements have become the rage amongst strength and muscle-building athletes. Can you talk a little about nitric oxide, its role, and is it beneficial to boost it while training?

Ori: Nitric oxide (NO) is a small molecule that functions as a modulator of muscle function, and it participates in the process of muscle repair and growth. The enzyme that produces NO – nitric oxide synthase (NOS), plays an essential role in the regulation of blood flow (vasodilation), force development, and muscle contractile properties. Nitric oxide triggers gene expression and growth factors that facilitate muscle fiber repair after mechanical stress or injury. In addition, it promotes insulin sensitivity and regulates testosterone production via the NO-cGMP pathway.

CW: Wow, since dark chocolate boosts NO production, and since NO helps repair damaged muscle while potentially boosting testosterone and improving insulin sensitivity it sounds like chocolate could also be an ideal post-workout supplement.

Ori: Correct, that’s why I also use it after the first post-workout feeding of pure Warrior Whey.

CW: Are there any side effects from boosting NO too high?

Ori: Yes, NO may act in your body like a double-edge sword. Nitric oxide’s metabolism yields some of the most deleterious free radicals in the form of oxidized nitrites and peroxynitrites. These are highly reactive molecules that, when in excess, lead to accumulated oxidative stress, inflammatory disorders, mitochondrial and DNA damage, lipid per oxidation, insulin resistance, and impaired energy production.

CW: That sounds pretty bad, indeed.

Ori: Unfortunately, the story gets even worse with excessive or chronically elevated NO: it can inhibit testosterone production. Accumulated excess of its free radical metabolites have been shown to cause damage and destruction of the Leydig cells that produce testosterone. This, by the way, is one of the reasons why testosterone production is shattered during chronic inflammatory disease, or after steroid abuse.

CW: I always suspected that those NO-boosting supplements you see in newsstand muscle magazines were garbage, that’s why I never used them. Am I correct?

Ori: The problem with those NO-boosting products is that they’re typically formulated to boost NO, but are not designed to protect your body against its toxic metabolites and related side effects that I just mentioned.

Virtually all NO-boosting supplements are made with free form amino acids and synthetic ingredients that are applied in excessive dosages that don’t fit human biology. If you shove in stuff that artificially boosts NO to unnatural levels, sooner or later you may experience those side effects.

CW: Well, I certainly haven’t seen any fine print in those muscle magazines that state the side effects you mentioned. Now we know why they kept that info out.

Ori: You’re right, Chad. You can’t expect to get this information in muscle magazines because their livelihood depends on advertising money from these same companies.

CW: So we know now that boosting NO production can be beneficial, but we must not boost it too high with any of those NO-boosters you see in muscle magazines because you might eventually experience just the opposite of what you’re after. Is there any natural alternative to those supplements? Is there a natural, effective way to get the full benefits of nitric oxide?

Ori: Yes, by eating chocolate with no sugar added. Chocolate is not just the most viable NO-boosting food, it actually helps protect your body from the side effects of its metabolites by binding and neutralizing these free radicals.

Indeed, chocolate has been associated with reduced inflammation, improved blood circulation, and enhanced cardiac function. It’s also been attributed as an immune supportive, muscle repairing, and libido-boosting food. And based on recent reports, chocolate has been demonstrating insulin sensitizing and weight loss promoting properties.

CW: Wow, people are going to love to hear that the right kind of chocolate can provide so many benefits from fat loss to muscle growth.

Ori: Yes, I believe that along with whey protein, chocolate is probably the most effective functional food for your muscle before and after exercise. The problem is that virtually all chocolates today are made with sugar, fructose, synthetic sweeteners or chemical alkali. All of those additives negate the benefits of chocolate.

This is why we created our new innovative whey chocolate product – ChocoWhey. This chocolate treat combines all the benefits of whey and chocolate into one product. It’s made with no sugar or alkali added and based on my experience, if you use it as a pre-exercise snack, you’ll certainly notice the difference in your muscle performance and overall conditioning.

CW: I’ve definitely noticed that I’m stronger and sustain my strength for longer periods of time when I use ChocoWhey before training. Tell the readers how you recommend they take ChocoWhey.

Ori: I eat 3-4 nuggets or half a bar (30 grams) 10-15 minutes before training. And then, for post exercise, I eat 5-6 nuggets or one 2-ounce bar about 30 minutes after my first whey recovery meal. Whenever I have a training workout that’s a few hours long, I eat ChocoWhey bites before, during breaks, and after the training session, a few bites at a time.

ChocoWhey consists of 45% whey protein and 55% dark chocolate. This product can nourish, energize, and naturally boost NO in your muscle, acting as both an anti-inflammatory and anabolic food.

CW: Thanks again Ori for another fascinating interview!

Ori: It’s my pleasure, Chad.

Who would’ve guessed that research is accumulating to support the use of chocolate as a super food? And Ori made it even better by combining it with his outstanding whey protein. ChocoWhey not only tastes incredible, but it could be the missing link for helping you build a bigger, leaner, stronger body!

Ori’s Workout Nutrition Protocol

30 minutes before training: 3-4 nuggets or 1/4 bar >85% cocoa chocolate
30 minutes after training: 3 scoops of grass-fed whey
30 minutes later: 5-6 nuggets or 1/2 bar >85% cocoa chocolate

Stay Focused,

19 thoughts on “How to Maximize Muscle Performance and Fat Loss

  1. Where do we add in and train with these nutrient timings?. For example if i had a scoop of whey 30m before training, trained for 60m, had another scoop 30m later, then started my feeding phase 30m after that, thats a 17.5 hour fast followed by a 6.5 hour feeding phase on training days. Does that sound about right?

    I’ve consistently ate chocolate since you recommended 85% and above in your 10/10 transformation. Have your thoughts changed much on 85% – 99% dark chocolate?

    Also i was listening to a podcast where Ori spoke about emptying a capsule of probiotic into his whey, i wandered what your thoughts are on this, especially if its your typical store bought whey and whether you think its beneficial to do add the capsule to pre (all the capsule), post (all the capsule) or both shakes (half in each).

    CW: Yes, that sounds about right. However, I prefer 4-hour feeding phases. Dark chocolate is great but Ori’s is even better because it has his whey protein in it. Interesting about the probiotic, I’ll ask him.

  2. Hi Chad,
    I find it curious that Ori now recommends pre-workout nutrition when everything up to now pointed to working out in a fasted state. It seems like a ploy to sell chocolate. Sorry to be skeptical.

    CW: His recommendations are based on the latest research with regard to nitric oxide. He’s never recommended that people eat nothing in the “fasting” phase. A few bites of chocolate won’t negate the effects of the phase. The reason why I consult with, and interview, Ori is because he doesn’t change his recommendations to just sell products. Try his chocolate pre workout and decide for yourself. It helps me stay stronger in my workouts.

  3. hmm, Ori sure never stops amazing me with his nutritional-nuggets (phun intended) of wisdom.
    So. If i’m not mistaken, mixing pure choco powder or mashed cacao beans in my preWOshake. Now we’re taking dieting/summerprepp to a whole new level of …dare i say it… endulgance. comfort shakes for fatloss. Chocolate dripping protein delights for leanness…

    When it seems too good to be true it often is. However, if Ori says it’s so, who am i to argue.

    CW: Correct. Try it and see if it helps you.

  4. There are 2 types of Warrior Whey which are completely different, the plain which has hardly any carbs, and the flavored which is almost half sugar. Which one are you recommending?

    CW: His flavored wheys have no processed sugar added. Check the label and you’ll see a huge amount of fiber to offset any carbs from the natural sweeteners he uses. But if that’s a concern, just use the plain version (my favorite).

  5. Dear Chad……….and what about bcaa and l-glutamine pre and post a workout?

    CW: All the BCAAs and glutamine you probably need are in the whey.

  6. Thanks again for all the great info. If we do not have the ChocoWhey product, how much chocolate is recommended? Is 100% cacao, basically bakers chocolate recommended? Also, with regards to the whey protocol, I have issues with lactose and casein, but have taken peptopro successfully, do you have any comments on that as a replacement for the whey? Thanks again.


    CW: I had problems with whey for years. And I have many clients who had the same problems. However, no one has had a problem with his plain organic whey (that’s the reason I promote it). Maybe try that product first and see how it works. If you don’t have ChocoWhey, try a few small squares of 80-90% cacao chocolate with whey 30 minutes before training.

  7. Hey Chad, really digging these great interviews! Just a thought I was reading some older T-Nation articles and came across the “first person Waterbury” article about how you were training at the time. I think a cool post idea would be a couple days in the life of CW training, nutrition and supplement-wise.

    CW: You’ll see that soon when I finish shooting the instructional videos.

  8. Hi, What about some one with no access to supplements (limited money to buy good quality ones)? Are there any whole food possibilities?

    CW: You can always use 80-90% cacao chocolate to achieve a similar effect.

  9. Hi Chad,
    What’s your opinion on adding caffeine for preworkout preparations? Caffeine in the form of either tablets or coffee. Could we combine Cocawhey with some coffee? I rely on caffeine before a workout to get me pumped and motivated. Would love to hear your take on this matter.

    CW: I like caffeine pre-workout, but not from pills. I prefer people use coffee or tea (coffee puts me to sleep so I use iced tea). I see no problems with having Chocowhey with some coffee, but remember that there’s some caffeine in dark chocolate so it might give you all the boost you need.

  10. Chad,

    Liking your interviews with Ori. Would drinking raw milk mixed with 100% cocoa 30 minutes before training work? Or is raw milk not suitable because it spikes insulin? Thank you.

    CW: I would avoid raw milk pre-workout for the reason you mentioned. But if you feel good with raw milk and cocoa, stick with it.

  11. Hey chad. Would I be able to use cocoa powder for the chocolate part? and would rice protein powder have the same effect as whey? I’m allergic to whey.

    CW: Cocoa could be good. Rice protein doesn’t compare to whey, but if you can’t tolerate his plain organic whey, rice protein is better than nothing. I would add 3-5 grams of BCAAs to the rice protein.

  12. Hey, thanks for the article! Do these protocols apply to non-fasting people as well?
    And I know it’s a bit off topic, but is it possible somehow to train your legs properly without any weights (by using single leg squats and glute-ham raises with high frequency perhaps)? Or is it important to get under a heavy weight from time to time? Thanks!

    CW: Yes, this info applies to any kind of diet. For leg development, pistols, GHR and box jumps work well. But you should try to lift heavy once per week for the full benefit (DL or squat variations).

  13. Hi Chad,
    Thank you for the great interviews with Ori. I am surprised Ori is now advocating pre-workout nutrition when he has been pretty adamant about training on an empty stomach. What made him change his mind? I personally train empty but have a lot of energy during my workouts. Should someone see better muscle gains with the whey and chocolate combo or is this just for energy production?

    CW: For strength and muscle building, ChocoWhey pre-workout will help. But if you’re just interested in overall health and fat burning, training fasted is good too.

  14. Chad thank you for another great article. Unfortunately, I have to say that I’m confused by several things in this article. I’ll try to keep them short though.
    1) Ori Hofmekler states that whey protein is great pre-exercise to boost fat loss because of its bcaa content. Why not just use bcaa’s instead? Or one of the casein hydrolysate protein supps that are purported to be absorbed even faster than bcaa’s?
    2) The amount of whey protein present in 2 scoops of his whey products(32-42 grams depending on the type) is much greater than the amount in half of one the chocowhey bars he suggests using in his pre-workout protocol. What’s the reason for the discrepancy? The same situation is present in the second post-workout meal of his protocol(much less protein than the 3 scoops of whey he recommends).
    3) I’m guessing Ori doesn’t taylor his protocol for fat loss since he doesn’t look like he needs it. So if we were to use his methods for fat loss would it go something like this:
    30 min pre-workout: 1/2 bar chocowhey
    30-60min post-workout: 3 scoops of whey
    30-60min later: 3 more scoops of whey
    Also, can we use one of his flavored whey powders instead of the plain one even though the flavored ones have additional carbs(which are mostly fiber)? Not a big deal if we can’t but the plain is just that: plain.

    Thanks again Chad. Btw, I know I should be patient but I’m still eager to read your next book.

    1. Because whey contains all the other amino acids and immune boosters that BCAAs don’t have.
    2. 2 scoops of whey is for BCAAs and immune booster and other aminos. The purpose of chocolate is to boost NO and provide antioxidants.
    3. Ori is always thinking about fat loss, because that’s what his brand was built on. For fat loss: 1/2 bar or 2 scoops of whey pre workout, 3 scoops whey 30 min after exercise, then another 3 scoops of whey or 1 full bar of chocolate 30-60 min later.

  15. Hi Chad,
    Thanks for the info. So if I read this right, 30 mins before each workout is pure whey protein and if I remember correctly another protein shake 30-60 mins post workout then in another 60 mins a 3rd protein shake. That seems like a lot of time between “meals” and just pure protein shakes. Is this accurate? This could mean a total of about 4+ hrs before consumption of other food besides protein shakes.

    CW: Personally, I avoid whole foods for 20 hours each day, except for a handful of berries here or there. With regard to the pre- and post-workout nutrition, it’s best to avoid “real food” during this time and focus on powders that are fast assimilating. But ChocoWhey can fit into that scheme too, and it’s certainly a food.

  16. Chad – I’ve had great success with your workout routines and usually find the information you provide very useful. However, this “interview” seems like an informercial for Ori’s products. Don’t you think that $4.25 per bar is a tad pricey?

    CW: High quality dark chocolate and whey from pasture cows aren’t cheap. For a comparison, a bar of Ghirardelli dark chocolate is $4.35 on their site. Now when you consider that Ori’s ChocoWhey also has 14 grams of his whey protein in each bar, the price doesn’t seem so expensive.

  17. If you’re training fasted (ie: Warrior Diet), how long after eating the post workout Warrior Whey / ChocoWhey should you wait to begin your overeating phase?

    CW: You can start as soon as 30 minutes after the ChocoWhey.

  18. It seems that if you do your aerobics in the morning and take the whey and chocolate before and after, then you do your weights in the afternoon and take the whey and chocolate before and after, that you are eating most of the day. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of fasting and having the one large meal at night?

    CW: This advice is for building strength and muscle. Do your aerobics in a fasted state. For strength training, ChocoWhey is a good pre-workout option, but it’s certainly not necessary. Do what feels best, but be sure to have whey after your strength training so you don’t lose muscle.

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