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,

64 thoughts on “The Truth About Post-Workout Nutrition

  1. Hey Chad,

    Ori talks about the post work out meal. What about energy drinks during workout ? I usually take fast carbs with my workout water to replenish my glycogen levels. Then only whey post workout.

    What is Ori’s thought about this?

    CW: I’m pretty certain he thinks fast carbs during the workout is a bad idea since the muscles become insulin resistant.

  2. Thanks Chad (and Ori) for the article and sharing what you are doing now with your athletes to get results. Really appreciate it.

    The why behind how something works will always be up for debate, but that it works is the first priority.

    It is true that insulin does work as fuel selector switch, Low insulin = burn more fat for fuel High(er) insulin = carbs for fuel for higher intensity work.

    I have noticed that when I took carbs out of the post training shakes of my clients they got leaner.

    However, if they had to compete in a short period of time AGAIN, I found that carbs helped quite a bit. Again, different circumstance and depends on length of training. intensity, etc also.

    For the research, the studies looking at ONLY timing are actually very few (about 4-5). Again, these looked at ONLY timing and held everything else the same, and the results were mixed.

    Having said that, in practice I find that a whey protein (20-40 grams) post training helps. The research from Tipton I believe did not show any protein synthesis response difference between whey taken immediately post training of waiting up to 2 hours.

    One technical thing (and I am being nit picky here I admit), the body can’t technically convert fat into glycogen. It can take the glycerol backbone and do it, but not with the FFAs. I do agree that the results are similar though as multiple processes are going on simultaneously. How much insulin will put the breaks on fat metabolism post training I am not sure about since many other hormones are elevated then too. I am open to any research you have on it though!

    If people are looking at more protein synthesis research do a pub med search from authors such as Stuart Phillips, Tipton, Lemon, van Loon, Norton, Layman, Paddon-Jones, Rasmussen to name a few.

    Thanks guys!
    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

    CW: Excellent as always Mike! Lots to discuss from your above comments. We’ll tackle those in the near future. Stay tuned for more from Ori.

  3. Hi Chad. Is it ok to use BCAA instead of whey?

    CW: You need whey because it contains all the amino acids, plus the immune boosters Ori recommended. BCAAs can’t touch Warrior Whey.

  4. Chad, great article. I’m torn, I want to save this all to myself. But, I own a gym and am a personal trainer, and its my duty/calling to share my knowledge. Dammit !!!

    I tried the fasting and huge dinners and it doesn’t work for me. I get home from running the gym at 9pm and that much food takes me to 10pm or later and then I can’t sleep from being bloated. I halfed my dinner and put it in my morning feeding after my morning hour walk. Below is what I am doing, and what I will include based on Ori’s recommendations. Please let me know what you think.

    6:30am Wake, coffee, 1000mg Acetyl-L-Carnitine
    7:30am Walk one hour
    9:00am 5g BCAA
    10:00am Beef, eggs, rice, Whey shake, coconut oil, flax seed
    1:00pm 5g BCAA
    3:00 5g BCAA
    4:00-5:30 Workout with 5-10g BCAA and 5g Creatine during
    * (new) put in 40-60g whey at 6:30pm
    * (new) put in 40-60g whey at 7:30pm
    9pm Beef, papaya, salad with avocado or olive oil (for fat), cottage cheese, whey protein drink

    Can I cut down on dinner proteins, such as whey protein drink? Breakfast whey? Add some potatoes for dinner? Thoughts?

    Much Thanks

    CW: Get rid of the BCAAs. Have 1-2 scoops of protein 30-60 minutes after your morning walk. If you want carbs, eat quinoa, corn or oatmeal in the evening meal.

  5. Hello Chad. I love your HIAH workouts. Ive been doing them for a while now and Ive had great results. This is very interesting information. My question is what changes I would make for post workout nutrition if I am currently doing the HIAH Get Big program? Would I follow Ori’s Post-Workout Protocol for Fat Loss and Muscle Growth or Ori’s Post-Workout Protocol for Extreme Endurance Athletes?

    CW: If you need to lose fat and build muscle, have only protein in the two feedings. If you don’t care about fat loss, have raisins in your second post-workout feeding.

  6. Hi Chad, what does this then say about the current concept/fad of drinking Chocolate Milk or G3 (or similar recovery drink) within a 1/2 after your workout?
    Thank you very much,

    CW: A fad, indeed. If you’re going to have carbs, have them in your second post-workout feeding. But either of those choices are pretty lousy. Whey protein and berries or raisins is significantly better.

  7. Chad,
    What about amino acid powder or pills before, during, and after the workouts? Will that effect any fat burning potential ? Or just wait the 30 min after workout and have warrior whey?

    CW: What he outlined is best for fat loss, as I’ve seen with my own clients.

  8. What about creatine? Should this be taken on the second post workout feeding instead of the first?

    CW: Yes.

  9. Hey Chad! Great article! Going to start implementing this tomorrow. I hope I didn’t miss this in the interview or other comments: do you or Ori recommend not eating any high GI carbs at all? Or are they ok in the evening meal? Thanks!

    CW: Low GI carbs are best whenever you eat carbs, that’s for overall health and leanness.

  10. Chad, I know I read something about pre workout nutrition in one of your recent previous articles. I am having trouble finding it. If you choose to follow this plan for post workout, what is the recommended pre workout or should there be any pre workout nutrition?

    CW: I prefer to have my athletes train in a relatively fasted state so the sympathetic nervous system will be at its peak, and because you’ll use more fat for fuel. However, a handful of berries before a workout is a good strategy since it provides nutrients without too many carbs.

  11. Chad, thank you for again for another great piece of information. I wanted to clarify something though. Should this be used only after weight sessions or should it also be used after hiit/aerobics sessions? For example, if I only did a tabata type session on a recumbent bike or 15min of prowler pushing then walked up an incline for about 30min would you still suggest the two whey shakes afterwards?

    And when is your next book gonna be ready?

    CW: One serving of 2-3 scoops of Warrior Whey post workout is sufficient for that workout. Still working on next book.

  12. Hi Chad,
    I’m fifteen and im currently doing Get Lean in your Huge In A Hurry book to lose weight, how would I feed for my post workout because of HIIT. Should I just consume 40-60 grams of protein 30-60 minutes after I do HIIT? I don’t know what to do after reading this article.


    CW: Yes, that’s correct. You do HIIT at the end of your workout, then take protein 30-60 min later.

  13. Hi Chad,
    I like the new post workout nutrition protocol. Thanks for publishing this information.
    Regarding whey proteins do you think Biotest’s Metabolic Drive is close to the same quality as Ori’s product. I know the main difference will be that Ori’s product is organic and grass fed but will Metabolic Drive do the trick?

    CW: Post workout should contain protein that has the fastest assimilation rate possible. That’s why his organic whey is ideal.

  14. I wanted to know if i can add a bit of coconut oil or some flax oil to the post recovery protein shake i make for my husbands workout . Or does fat hinder the fat loss muscle gain ? Thanks

    CW: That’s fine. It won’t hinder any gains – coconut oil is great.

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