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.