Next Level Nutrition: How To Supercharge Muscle Growth With Workout Nutrition

Lifting hard isn't good enough. Cliff Wilson shows you how to maximize your muscle building with proper pre and post-workout nutrition and supplementation.

Workout NutritionIf you ask most bodybuilders to write down their daily diet and supplement regimen you will most likely get a detailed account of when every gram of protein is eaten and when every supplement is taken. Most serious lifters are meticulous about precisely timing every nutrient to make sure that their body will not have to go a second without the nutrients it needs. Some even wake up in the middle of the night to have a protein shake.

However, most bodybuilders tend to ignore the most important times to take in protein, which are before, during, and after a workout. Not only are these the best times to take in protein, but these are also the ideal times to take in many of the other vital nutrients and supplements that your body requires to build muscle.

During training, your body is primed to soak up anything that is in your bloodstream like a sponge. When certain nutrients are taken at specific times they can have an amazing impact on hormone levels. For a natural bodybuilder, precisely timing workout nutrition will help build more muscle and cut more fat than you ever thought possible.

The best method to ingest workout nutrition is to do it in three different protein shake mixtures. One about ten minutes before training, the second sipped on during training, and the third consumed immediately after training. Nearly every time one of my clients or I train, someone asks “Dude, what’s in those shakes you’re always drinking?” I know that they are hoping I will tell them about a secret new supplement that adds 20lbs. of muscle in a month.

I love to watch disappointed looks wash over their faces as I explain to them exactly what is in each shake. They don’t realize the effects that these “super shakes” can have on muscle growth, and I do not wish launch into an overly wordy lecture in the middle of my workout to convince them how important these shakes are. Here is what you will want to put into your workout shakes.


This is the first ingredient you will want to put into your shakes. I know that many of you are already panicking because I did not list protein as the #1 ingredient. Don’t worry… Protein will be included, but I want to emphasize that the carbs in these shakes are every bit as important as the protein.

To understand the importance of the carbs in these shakes, you must first know how your body uses different forms of energy during a set. To lift a weight your body first requires energy. Adenosine Triphosphate, or ATP, is the only source of energy that can drive your muscles to contract. Unfortunately, your muscle only stores enough ATP to support muscle contraction for a few seconds, therefore it must be replaced.

If it is not replaced muscle contraction will stop, meaning your set is over. Luckily your body replaces your ATP stores by breaking down creatine phosphate (CP). This releases energy for fast replenishment of ATP. Your muscle stores enough CP for about 8-12 seconds of maximal effort. When CP stores run out our body switches to glycolysis.

This is when your body uses stored glycogen (carbohydrate stored within the muscle) and blood sugar to replace ATP stores. Your body repeats this process for every single set that you perform in the gym. Carbs come into play during glycolysis. In between sets, muscle cells use the glycolytic pathway to restore ATP. You can preserve muscle glycogen and stay strong throughout your workout by having carbs before and during your training.

Workout Nutrition

How much of a difference can this make, you ask? Well, you can prevent muscle glycogen decline by 50%. You may be wondering, “How does this help me get big? “ Preventing glycogen decline allows you to train with maximum intensity throughout your entire workout. In other words you don’t tire as your workout progresses, your weights go up, and you get a better pump.

Carbohydrates are sounding better and better by the minute. Carbs are also useful post workout for this very same reason. If you can restock your glycogen levels immediately after your workout you are setting yourself up for a better workout tomorrow. This is especially important when on a calorie restricted diet.

Besides giving you energy to keep intensity at a high level during your training, carbohydrates also affect your hormones, most notably, insulin. People who tout low carb diets are quick to tell you about the evils of insulin. Granted, chronically high insulin levels can lead to decreased fatty acid breakdown and, of course, fat gain. You simply need to know how and when to raise your insulin levels to use it to your advantage.

Insulin increases protein synthesis and muscle building, which we know are very good things. One way it does this is by increasing transportation of amino acids from your blood stream to your muscles. Your body is in a very unique state during and immediately after resistance exercise. Immediately after a heavy set, blood flow to working muscles can increase by up to 15-20 times normal levels. So, increasing insulin levels will immediately shuttle any nutrients that are in your blood stream to the muscle being worked. Lastly, insulin will keep cortisol levels lower.

Insulin and cortisol have opposite effects on your body. Insulin is a storing hormone; cortisol is a hormone that breaks down muscle tissue. Not good. Since cortisol and insulin are opposing hormones, when one is high the other is kept at lower levels. This is how you can consume high levels of carbs everyday without gaining any fat.

Workout NutritionMost of my clients gasp when I tell them how many carbs will be in their diet. They always think they will get fat. In fact, many of my clients can take in nearly as many carbs during contest dieting as they had during their offseason simply, by moving the majority of daily carbs to their workout shakes.

The question becomes which type of carbohydrate should you have to enhance these effects.  You’ll want carbs that are high on the glycemic index since these will spike blood sugar quickly, therefore, spiking insulin levels. The best kinds are dextrose and maltodextrin. The amount of carbs that you add to your shakes varies greatly depending on goals and individual body type. Between 20-60 grams per shake would be a good place to start.


The next ingredient is, of course, protein. Protein should be added to these shakes since amino acids are the building blocks of muscle. Protein is made up of different amino acids. As previously discussed, insulin increases amino acid transport and absorption to working muscles. It makes sense that this cannot happen if there are no amino acids in your blood stream to store when insulin is being released. This is why you will want protein in your shakes before and during training.

Protein becomes especially important after your workout. After training your muscles are in a catabolic state, which means muscle is being broken down. Your main goal is to switch from a catabolic state to an anabolic state, which means muscle is being built. The period immediately after training is commonly called the anabolic window. This is because after training your muscles are very sensitive to nutrients for approximately 2 hours.

When a protein/carb mixture is taken immediately after training protein synthesis can increase up to 300 percent. If you wait until 3 hours after your workout to drink the same protein/carb mixture, protein synthesis will only increase 12 percent. YIKES! That shows you how crucial timing is in your diet. You will build 25 times more muscle if you have your shake immediately after a workout as opposed to 3 hours later.

Since timing is so important, we want a form of protein that digests rapidly, just like we wanted a quick digesting carbohydrate. Whey protein works best since it gets to your blood stream faster than any other protein. As with carbs, the amount of protein that you add to each shake will vary depending on many factors. Start within a range of 15-30 grams.


Creatine Monohydrate may be the most popular bodybuilding supplement on the market. We already discussed how creatine phosphate is broken down during training and used for immediate energy. Supplementing with creatine will ensure that creatine levels will remain high. This will allow you to lift heavier weight for more reps. Of course; this is a good thing and can lead to significant growth over time.

Since the high glycemic carbs within the shakes will raise insulin levels, the creatine in your bloodstream will be transported into your muscle tissue along with the amino acids that you have ingested. Therefore, the effects of creatine become enhanced when added to a protein/carb mixture. By adding creatine to your workout shakes, instead of taking it at other times during the day, you will get the best bang for your buck.

There are many forms of creatine on the market but creatine monohydrate is not only the most cost effective but it has also been proven to be more effective than other form of creatine. Start with 5-10 grams of creatine monohydrate in both your pre-training and post-training shakes.


Glutamine has been a staple in bodybuilder's supplement arsenals for years, and for good reason. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body comprising about 50% of the free amino acids in the blood and muscle. Glutamine is considered a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning your body can create its own glutamine from other amino acids. However, during times of stress, such as training, your body cannot create adequate amounts and additional glutamine may need to be supplied through diet.

There are two main functions for glutamine within the body. The first function is to serve as a precursor in the synthesis of other amino acids, and the second is to be converted to glucose for energy. During training it is important to consume glutamine because it will slow muscle catabolism by preventing the breakdown of your body’s intramuscular stores of glutamine and BCAA’s.

Glutamine will also positively affect hormone levels during and after training. When added to a protein/carb mixture, glutamine will elicit a greater insulin response than with protein and carbs alone. This will help restock glycogen levels both within muscle tissue and in the liver.

As stated earlier, restocking glycogen levels post workout will help fuel an intense workout tomorrow. In addition to increasing insulin levels, glutamine also increases growth hormone levels when added to workout shakes. Some studies have even shown that glutamine may be able to up-regulate other anabolic hormones. The effective dosage for glutamine is between 2-5 grams added to each of your three workout shakes.  Start with the lower dosage and slowly work your way up.

Branched Chain Amino Acids - BCAAs

The last on the list, but perhaps the most important ingredient to add to your shakes is Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s). The three BCAA’s are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. It has long been known that supplementing with BCAA’s helps to mitigate muscle tissue breakdown during exercise. This is because unlike other amino acids, BCAA’s are metabolized in the muscle tissue rather than the liver and during exercise they are broken down and metabolized for quick energy.

Newer research is now showing that taking BCAA’s before, during, and after training can have a profound effect on your hormones as well. In a recent study, it was shown that when athletes were given BCAA’s prior to training, post workout testosterone levels remained elevated for several hours, whereas the control group noticed a significant drop in testosterone once training ceased.

The same study also noted that the BCAA group had higher insulin levels than the placebo group, and by now it should be clear how important insulin is during training. BCAA’s also appear to keep cortisol levels lower when taken during exercise, which further prevents muscle tissue breakdown.

It has also been shown that when combined with a calorie restricted diet, BCAA’s have the ability to reduce abdominal fat more than calorie restriction alone. Since BCAA’s have the unique ability to boost muscle building hormones and cut fat this make them ideal when preparing for a competition or just trying to lose a little body fat.

Additionally, some of the most exciting discoveries about BCAA’s, and in particular the amino acid leucine, have only come about within the last couple of years. Amino acids have long been known to be substrates for protein synthesis, but more recent studies suggest certain amino acids can actually influence gene expression. Leucine has been shown to directly increase protein synthesis through the mTOR pathway.

The mTOR is located within the cells and is responsible for detecting an excess of amino acids. Though this process is not entirely understood, mTOR pathway has been discovered to be extremely sensitive to the amino acid leucine. Recent tests have shown that when leucine is taken orally it interacts with the mechanism of mTOR, protein synthesis increases, and cell growth occurs. This is really exciting as leucine may be able to; in essence, flip on your muscle building switch.

Although this is fairly new research, leucine may prove to be one of the most powerful muscle building tools bodybuilders have at their disposal. Overall, BCAA’s and leucine will positively affect athletic performance, increase protein metabolism, and will decrease body fat. The recommended dosage for BCAA’s is between 2-5 grams added to each of your three workout shakes. Once again, start at the lower end and work your way up.

There you have it, no secret supplements or magic potions. These five ingredients, when taken together and timed correctly, will have a synergistic effect on muscle growth. Whether you are a competitive bodybuilder or a weight lifter who wishes to gain as much muscle as possible, adding proper workout nutrition to your training will be the key to push your muscle gains to the next level.

Most will settle to just have a protein shake after they finish training. If you truly desire to build a physique that stands out, you can and must do better. So train hard, keep the shakes coming in, and try not to laugh when you see someone drinking only whey protein after their workout.

  1. Brown, S.P., Miller, W.C, Eason, J.M., Exercise Physiology: Basis of Human Movement in Health and Disease, 2006, 89-91p., 176 p.
  2. Haff, G.G.,Llehmkuhl, M.J.., McCoy, L.B., Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2003, 187-196 p.
  3. Haff, G.G., Koch, A.J., Potteiger, J.A., International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2000, 326-339 p.
  4. Harris, R.S., Munson, P.L., Dicsfalusy, E., Vitamins and Hormones: Advances in Research and Applications, Volume 28, 1970, 66-67p.
  5. Levenhagen, D.K., Carr, C., Carlson, M.G., et al., Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2002, 828-837p.
  6. Levenhagen, D.K., Gresham, J.D., Carlson, M.G., et al., American Journal of Physiology, 2001, 982-993p.
  7. Matarese, L.E., Gottschlich, M.M., Contemporary Nutrition Support Practice: A Clinical Guide, 1998, 252p.
  8. Salomons, G.S., Wyss, M., Creatine and Creatine Kinase in Health and Disease, 2007, 260-266p.
  9. Driskell, J.A., Wolinsky, I., Energy-Yielding Macronutrients and Energy Metabolism in Sports Nutrition, 2000, 139-145p.
  10. Cynober, L.A., Metabolic and Therapeutic Aspects of Amino Acids in Clinical Nutrition, 2004, 124-128p.
  11. Greenwood, M., Kalman, D., Antonio,J., Nutritional Supplements in Sports and Exercise, 2008, 395-397p.
  12. Di Pasquale, M.G., Amino Acids and Proteins for the Athlete: The Anabolic Edge, 2008, 173-175p.
  13. Mine,Y., Miyashita, K., Shahidi, F., Nutrigenomics and Proteomics in Health and Disease: Food Factors and Gene Interactions, 2009, 116-118p.
About The Author
Cliff found a passion for weight training and bodybuilding. Now a competitive bodybuilder himself, Cliff trains other bodybuilders through his training business Team Wilson.

127 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 07/21/2011 - 20:11
Walter Johnson

Thanks for this very informed article. I was thinking of taking creatine and now I will. I will drink my shakes: before,during and after my workout now and see how this works.Again,thank you for your articles.
I have learned alot...keep up the great work.

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Posted Thu, 07/21/2011 - 20:16

This article was exactly what I didn't know and needed to know as a PT. Now I can tell all the muscle building hopefulls what to consume before, during and after training. Thanks a bunch :)

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Posted Fri, 07/22/2011 - 04:59
Dominik Tafi

Hello. I really liked this article. I have a question. If I drink the first shake 10 minutes before training, won't I get sick because I train with heavy weights and sometimes the pain makes me wanna puke. Having a full stomach before training will make me more sick. Thanks:)

dominik from Slovenia

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Posted Fri, 07/22/2011 - 17:43
Cliff Wilson

Hey Dominik, You will have that issue for the first one or two times that you try doing this, but after a few workouts it will just be like drinking a Gatorade or something like that. I had the same problem when I started doing this as well but after just a few training sessions it went away. Thanks for reading.

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Posted Sat, 07/23/2011 - 12:38

Cliff, Thank you so very much for the detailed instructions. Isn't it true that creatine is not easily absorbed during digestion? Please understand I am not trying to contradict you, I am just trying to fully understand the supplements, and how best to use them. It can be very frustrating.
I started taking creatine monohydrate earlier this year. I contacted the manufacturer, NOW Foods, on how to best use the creatine. This is the reply they sent to me:


Wouldn't stress too much about when you take creatine as long as you take it but yes the sugars in Juice may support Creatine transport and protein may compromise absorption. So look to mix it with something that has more of the former or less of the latter. Some simply mix it with water, others mix it with a Gatorade or Endurance drink for their sugars. Avoid taking it with high protein meals but of course fruit and veggies are fine. 1 hour before a meal and 2 hours after are considered empty stomach.

Thank you for your inquiry,
NOW Science & Nutrition Group

Sorry about the long message. Thank you for your time and patience.


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Posted Wed, 08/03/2011 - 01:59
Cliff Wilson

Hey Robert,

No problem about the question. The manufacturer is correct. A lot of the creatine that is ingested will not make it to your muscle tissue. He is also correct that carbs help creatine absorption and protein interferes. The problem is that it is not best to take large amounts of sugar or carbs without any protein. Also since adding protein to a sugary drink will increase the insulin surge, this will also help push the creatine into your cells. This all somewhat balances out. One final thing about creatine, you shouldn't let it sit too long in you shake. When you let creatine sit to long in liquids it will convert to creatinine which is not usable by the body. So taking it your shakes will be just fine and will only help absorption due to the extra insulin. Hope this helps. Just let me know if you have any other questions.


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Posted Sun, 07/24/2011 - 20:34
Tyler H.

Hello, I am new to understanding workout nutrition and have been lifting for a few years now. I typically will consume Whey Protien post workout and only recently started consuming during a workout. Is there any supplements I can mix with Whey that will give me the extra carbs I need during my workout. I feel like eating a sandwhich before a workout (which is what I currently do) just isn't cutting it. Thank you.

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Posted Tue, 07/26/2011 - 10:07
Cliff Wilson

Hey Tyler, the easiest way to get the carbs into the shakes is to use either Dextrose powder or Gatorade powder. Both are really cheap and will give you a great insulin spike.

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Posted Sun, 07/24/2011 - 20:35
Harry the dog

Hello cliff so you see these shakes are they the only shakes you would have for the day or would you still have a protien shake in the morning and at night. And do you just have a cheeky one scoop in the training shake or 2. And what you just have a little sip now and again through out your sets.

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Posted Tue, 07/26/2011 - 10:10
Cliff Wilson

Whether or not to have shakes in the morning would depend on how many total grams of protein you are trying to consume in the day. You do not necessarily need other protein shakes in the day as long as you get all of your protein for the day from food. Also, one scoop in each of your training shakes should be just fine. This will give you a total of 60 grams of protein around workout time which is plenty.

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Posted Thu, 08/04/2011 - 08:25
Tor André Sandum

This is a very informative and good article. My only problem is getting all this down. If I mix it with 1 litre of water in each shake I almost puke because of the sheer amout of water drunk in a short amount of time, and if I mix it with less water the taste and somewhat thickness of the drink make me sick. A lot of air in my stomach during the workout also happens.

Any way to avoid this? I want to get all the nutrients I need before, during and after training, but without beeing sick for two-three hours afterwards.


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Posted Thu, 08/04/2011 - 10:09
Cliff Wilson

You will notice this problem for the first while while doing this but your system will get used to it. Until then, I suggest trying to spread the shakes out a little. Start drinking your first shake about 25 minutes before training and really take your time with it. Then with your during training shake, start drinking that one about 15-20 minutes into the training session. Just make sure to finish it by the time the workout is over. Then you can have your last shake about 15-20 minutes after training. This way you get more time between each shake. As your body gets used to it you can just bring them closer together. The little difference in timing is not going to make that much difference so you will be fine doing it this way.

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Posted Thu, 08/04/2011 - 12:12
Tor André Sandum

Ok, thanks :D

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Posted Mon, 08/08/2011 - 04:44
Tor André Sandum

I have tried this, and it helps. I don't get just as sick anymore. Another thing I did was adding 1-2 grams of cocoa powder to each drink. That way the awful vanilla taste is thinned out a bit, and the taste is more neutral.

But I was wondering another thing: Isn't there a limit to how much the body can absorb in a given amount of time? Have you read any literature on this with empirical studies or is it just anectodal? I just don't want to use a lot of money on supplementation and use more than I need to. It is expensive here in Norway, and I'm a poor student :)


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Posted Mon, 08/08/2011 - 10:34
Cliff Wilson

That is actually a great question. For carbs that is easy. Your body can absorb astonishing amounts of carbs. There is no worries about that. If you need you can refer to my article about rapid backload peaking. That should help.

As for protein, this is somewhat a a debated topic concerning how much can be absorbed within a given time period. The truth is that maximum protein absorption is seen when taking in about 12-18 grams. The higher you go above that the higher % of amino acid waste you will see. The problem is that taking in too many protein feeding will also inhibit muscle growth. To put it simply, it is almost like your body becomes desensitized to the constant amino acids coming in. Not to get too technical but this is called the refractory response.

The best thing to do is have these shakes at no more than 30 grams of protein per shake. If you go higher you will be wasting some. Feel free to load on the carbs. I have had great response from giving some of my clients up to 80 grams of carbs per shake.

Also, to save money I wouldn't waste money on those really expensive proteins. I would go for a very moderately priced brand. It will work just the same as the more expensive ones and you won't hesitate to use as much as you should.

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Posted Mon, 08/08/2011 - 16:30
Tor André Sandum

Ok, thanks :)

But is that 12-18 grams per shake, or in a given time period? Like for all shakes in the window from half and hour before to one to two hours after training or per serving? It all depends, right?

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Posted Tue, 08/09/2011 - 10:26
Cliff Wilson

That is not the number per shake. That is just the amount of protein that is maximally absorbed in one sitting. This doesn't mean you shouldn't take in more at one sitting, in fact you should. I just meant that protein is absorbed best in somewhat moderate doses. The higher the intake of a protein feeding the higher percentage of of amino acid waster you will have. I would do 18-20 grams per shake at the bare minimum.

I wouldn't worry about how much time is between your shakes. Just let the length of your training session dictate that. As long as you don't put anymore than 30 grams per shake you should have very little waste.

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Posted Tue, 08/30/2011 - 15:42

hi i have a question about whey protein and bcaa's. do we have to take bcaa's, i m asking this because whey protein already have those bcaa's u listed in the article and i was also wondering that do we combine all the supplements together in one shake or we drink them separately. like can we mix carbs bcaaa's and protein together and drink it.

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Posted Thu, 09/01/2011 - 12:52
Cliff Wilson

Hey Ravi,

Good question. Yes, there are BCAA's in whey protein but you will still want to include extra BCAA's in your whey protein shake. The reason for this is because the BCAA's in the whey are not in a high enough quantity to get the most growth. The BCAA Leucine is primarily responsible for much of the muscle growth, but the reason you want to add the whey protein is because having all the amino acids available will further stimulate muscle growth.

Lastly, you will actually want to mix them together. There is nothing wrong with mixing them up separately but it is just a pain in the butt.

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Posted Thu, 09/01/2011 - 17:26

thanks cliff for replying and i have another question i am vegetarian and i cant eat any meat fish or eggs for protein can u tell me please what i should be eating for protein and for bcaa's whats a good kind out there in the market. thanks

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Posted Thu, 09/01/2011 - 17:31

thanks cliff for replying i have another question i am vegetarian and i cant eat any meat fish or eggs i wan wondering what i should be eating for protein can u please tell me and i also went to look for bcaa's in supplement store and i wasn't able to decide what to choose can u also tell me what kind of bcaa's r good out there in the market today. thanks

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Posted Fri, 09/02/2011 - 21:23
Cliff Wilson

Hey Ravi,

It is going to be really hard for you to get enough protein while be a vegetarian but it is not impossible. First I think that soy protein powder will be of great use to you. The problem with plant sourced proteins is that they are considered incomplete proteins. They lack certain amino acids so your body has difficulty turning plant based proteins into muscle tissue. Luckily, most soy protein powders on the market will add the necessary amino acids to make it a complete protein. Secondly, you can combine foods to make the protein source complete. One example of this is beans and rice. The amino acids in the rice make up for the deficiencies in the beans. I would do a little research as to which foods compliment each other to make up whole proteins.

As for BCAA's brands, I am not sponsored by anyone, but I prefer Xtend by Scivation or Modern BCAA by UspLabs. Both of these brands are really good.

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Posted Fri, 09/02/2011 - 22:32

So 3 protein shakes, taken before, during, and after workout, and each with how many grams of protein?

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Posted Wed, 09/07/2011 - 10:16
Cliff Wilson

Yes, three shakes total. How many grams of protein per shake will depend on many different factors. Such as gender, body weight, training goals, etc. For most men you will want to stay between 20-30 grams per shake though.

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Posted Tue, 09/06/2011 - 12:37
Tor André Sandum

Hi Cliff, me again!
I just read somewhere that taking in too much protein during a muscle building program can actually fight what you want to accomplish? Because the protein gets turned into glycogen or something thus expanding more energy and making it harder for you to stay in a caloric surplus. The article recommended using just enough protein and push the carbs up instead.

What are your thoughts on that? :)

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Posted Wed, 09/07/2011 - 10:25
Cliff Wilson

I am not sure who wrote this article, but they are simply wrong. First, protein will only be turned into glycogen if carbs are not readily available. If carbs are available then excess protein will simply be turned into fat. So excess protein will definitely have the ability to inhibit fat loss but not muscle growth.

If carbs are in short supply then protein will be turned into glycogen for energy. This process will use more calories than getting glycogen from carbs. This is referred to as the thermic effect. Although the thermic effect is higher for protein it will only account for roughly 30% of the calories you have ingested.
This means that if you eat 200 calories from protein then your body will still be able to use 140 of those calories for muscle growth and glycogen resynthesis.

I do agree with this article on one point though. I recommend not taking in too much protein because it can inhibit fat loss and most often you would be better of getting those calories from carbs. Unfortunately, how much protein you take in is largely based on the individual so I can't give you a number of how much to take in without knowing quite a bit about you.

I hope this helps explain the process a little more thoroughly. Let me know if you need any more details on the subject.

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Posted Wed, 09/07/2011 - 17:03
Tor André Sandum

Great answer, everything I needed to know :) Will get back to you if I have further questions :)

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Posted Wed, 09/07/2011 - 21:20

@ Cliff Wilson.
Whats your option on shakes and suppliments during different parts of the day added to or insted of pre, during, and post work outs if someone like me that does hardscape landscaping (or anyone else that has a heavy manual labor job) all day 5-6 days a week? My days involve on almost everyday i will lift and carry around anywhere from 10-40lbs patio pavers to 50-80lbs retaining wall blocks.

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Posted Wed, 09/14/2011 - 15:24
Cliff Wilson

Hey Chad,

This is a very good question. I would not recommend removing one of your shakes from your training since this is primarily to increase growth. With you high intensity job you should focus on preventing muscle loss and/or wasting. The best way to do this would to be drinking a mix of BCAA's and Glutamine during your day job in between your meals. This will help prevent tissue breakdown without adding excess calories.

This will take care of your problem.

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Posted Tue, 09/20/2011 - 07:53

Hi Cliff.

Been training for a while now and have read about these products previously including the science behind them. I have to say it was a real refresher reading this and has certainly created a new motivation to power on.

Thanks for the excellent article!



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Posted Tue, 09/20/2011 - 12:02
Cliff Wilson

Thanks Vik,

I am glad you enjoyed it. Just trying to help fellow muscle seekers. lol

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Posted Tue, 10/18/2011 - 09:23

Hi Cliff
Just wondering im trying to buld mass muscle but want to still be ripped is this shake allright for me and wat sort of diet do i need to be on thanks im 77 kgs 174 cm 27 years old thank you

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Posted Wed, 10/19/2011 - 13:53
Cliff Wilson

Hey Norman,

These shakes are great whether you are trying to gain muscle or lose fat. The important thing is how much protein and carbs that you put into each shake.

As for you diet goals, I am sorry but I couldn't give any specific diet recommendations because I don't know anything about your metabolism. The amount of protein, carbs, and fat that each person should eat varies greatly from person to person.

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Posted Fri, 10/21/2011 - 05:42

Hi Cliff,

I loved the article. It was informative.

I workout in the morning from 8 to 10am. I have my morning shake at 7:00am.

My questions are
1. Would you suggest me another shake at 8:00am?
2. Best time to consume creatine?
3. Creatine+Whey protein(isolate)+potato(high GI) = Would this be a good post workout meal? or how much time gap should I give after my workout and then have creatine and then protein shake.

Sorry about the long message. But you are the only source whom I can rely on. Thank you

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Posted Fri, 10/21/2011 - 23:57
Cliff Wilson

Hey Teddy,

Glad you liked the article. Thanks for reading.

1. Before I answer this I need to know, Is your 7am shake your breakfast?

2. Creatine is best consumed in your post workout shake. The carbs will help the creatine uptake much better. don't take it in your during workout shake because it will sit too long and turn into creatinine which is useless.

3. I would have your post training shake immediately after training. I would mix it up before you even leave the gym. I would put in creatine, whey, and something sugary, such as gatorade or juice. Then have a whole food meal about 1-2 hours after your workout.

Hope this helps.

Let me know about that first question. Also, if you ever have any more questions you can ask on my Q and A section in the forum. Here is the link. Have a good one.

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Posted Fri, 10/21/2011 - 23:09

Hey Cliff,
I am a beginner and know absolutely nothing about weight lifting so i have a list of questions. I have done very light exercizes with absolutely no supplements or anything and now want to start getting a bit more serious. I recently went into a store and after being recommended a pre workout stimulate called Nanostim, I bought it. He also insisted Whey for post workout but due to ignorance i refused. I am currently 19 years old, 5'11" and weigh only 130 lbs =/. I am trying to change this and the gentleman at the store recommended me this Nanostim to bulk up. I would like to hit between 150-160 lbs or a weight that you think i should be at. Also I want to mainly target my abs and surrounding muscles, i have the six pack muscles but they are becoming a bit covered by some stubborn belly fat, specifically the lower ab muscles, i can't seem to get rid of it. Sorry about this long list but i'm tired of being a wimp and I need help and don't know what to do or who to ask.

Thank You for your time,

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Posted Tue, 10/25/2011 - 10:09
Cliff Wilson

No worries about the questions Mike. I feel where you are coming from. When I started lifting I was 6'1 and 156 lbs. and I didn't even have abs. First I would drop the Nanostim and start with the basics. Whey protein, Creatine Monohydrate, BCAA'a, and Beta Alanine are your best bets. These will help growth the most. Nanostim isn't really a bad product I just think you will get better results from these.

Also, you really need to make sure you diet is on point. You may have to let your abs blur just a bit (not all the way though) to get a little more muscle on your frame. Although it is possible to put muscle on and stay really lean it is much slower this way. I would check out my article below, this should help with a good diet strategy for adding size and staying pretty lean.

Keep training hard!

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Posted Fri, 10/28/2011 - 01:58

hey cliff
thanks for the advice. I'm sick of the nanostim already. It hasn't had much of an effect on me. Some say it gives them an insane "pump" but for me it did basically nothing. I was able to get a few more reps in but towards the latter part of my workout i was completely burned out. I think reverting to the basics is just what i need. I have whey protein now but will be picking up the others very soon. I also heard that when your new to this kind of stuff its easier to get the desired effects. Hope this is true. Thanks for the article i will definately be using that. Another question though, i feel as though i have one of those "high" metabolisms so i can eat like a pig and essentially not gain a pound, i read somewhere else i should limit my workouts and not do more than 20 minutes 3-4 times a week, should i do this or no? It seems plausible, since i dont want to lose all the weight i've been putting on.

Thanks again,

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Posted Sun, 10/23/2011 - 11:29
james davidson

Hi Cliff,
Thanks a lot for the very informative and useful article! I have a question though, as 15 year old teenage bodybuilder, is it safe/recommended for me to be taking these supplements? (creatine + glutamine for example)

At the moment I am just one of the laughable people that just take whey protein after my workout, but I am going to start taking one before during and after, and include some carbs in the forms of dextrose powder.
Also, seeing as you seem to be a knowledgable guy, can you quickly say if, in general, there is anything I should avoid in the gym as a teenager, assuming I know proper form to do all exercises?

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Posted Tue, 10/25/2011 - 11:18
Cliff Wilson

Hey James,

I am really glad you liked the article. It is so good to see young guys getting into training and educating themselves on the subject. To answer your question, yes, these supps are all safe for someone your age to take. Just make sure you take them in responsible doses and they are not bad for you at all.

As a teenager I would avoid any testosterone boosters and/or fat burners. Although a test booster will give you good gains in a short period it will shut down your natural test production since you are so young. This means that for the rest of your life you will have lower test levels and it will be even harder for you to gain muscle in the long run. Once you are in your 30's you could benefit from some natural test boosters but I would still stay away from all pro hormones. I don't recommend pro hormones for anyone.

Also, stay away from fat burners. These can be really harmful to the CNS on someone so young. I would wait until you are at least 20 years old. If you are looking to lose fat just do it with diet. I rarely use fat burners even for my older clients. Muscle growth will be better without them anyway.

If you have any other questions you can ask me at my Q and A section in the forum. Here is the link.

Good luck with your training.

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Posted Sun, 10/30/2011 - 14:53
james davidson

Ok thanks a lot for your reply! Means a lot that you take the time to write all that out for me.

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Posted Fri, 11/04/2011 - 05:31

I am 34 just started back training(10 months out) on a beginner workout. I want to gain muscle but not serious bodybuilding or anything.

I have got my diet sorted pre workout I have eggs on 1 toast(50/50 wholemeal white bread) + cottage cheese + milk.

The problem is during a workout if I hit a couple of exercises hard I just drop off a cliff and have zero energy! (jelly legs)
i.e. 4 sets of leg press, 3 sets of leg extension. I have total fatigue and can't do SLDL.

Is there anything else I can do apart from shake during workout.

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Posted Mon, 11/07/2011 - 00:36
Cliff Wilson

If you have jelly legs it may just be a sign that you are having a good workout. lol. If it is really bad and you don't want to do a during workout shake then I would just try having a pre workout shake. You should drink it immediately before you workout.

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Posted Tue, 11/22/2011 - 15:45

Hello there, I found your article, and I am very interested in the application of the information mentioned above.

Brief history about me. I was 176lbs back in April of 2011. I did the Classic P90X program two times in a row and I dropped down to 154lbs, my muscle content has leaned out pretty well. Since my original plan was to strip away the body fat (and believe me, I wasn’t impressive to look at back in April), and work my muscles back into shape, I have gotten to the point where I am happy with my fat content, and my slightly increased size, well, happy enough from what I came from. I am doing a different weight training program now simply because I get very bored easy and I needed a change, needed to mix it up. Now I want to start gaining some serious muscle, and of course, get as ripped as possible.

Right now I am doing a 6 day/week workout routine.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I do weight training

Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday I do cardio.

For the weight training I am going to be following the diet plan that you mentioned above. I have read, read, read, and when I was sick of reading, I read some more about nutrition over the past month and this article seems solid in logic and great potential for me.

For my Weight days it is a pretty good routine, I did as much research as I could about the best combination of routines to use for best results. I usually workout anywhere from 1 to 2 hours each time. I plan on using the information in the article above.

Now for my main question: For my cardio days I have taken the Shaun T’s Insanity and instead of doing it for the two month schedule, I will be stretching it out over the next 4 months, hence every second day. Each cardio is about 40 to 60 mins of crazy cardio, but I love doing it so I really want to continue.

Basically I have a few concerns.

I can’t take the pre shake before I do the cardio or I would puke everywhere within minutes. The cardio workouts involve allot of plyo movements, up and down, side to side, this way that way. I’m ready to puke with even an empty stomach. Is there anything else I can substitute for the pre-shake. Even during the cardio, a shake could cause me to become nauseous. No problems after the workout of course. Basically I want to apply the same strategy as the article above, but for a cardio routine. Any suggestions on some kind of drink I could take for best energy/results pre, during, and post cardio workout?

With this all said, if I am mixing weights and cardio in the same week, is there any possibility that the cardio could be doing anything to cause a loss of benefit from the weight training? I know that from reading, if I don’t time certain nutrients properly, I end up causing my body to eat its own muscle. Will cardio cause anything to make this a problem for me? Is there a proper dieting plan that can make the cardio workout beneficial to my overall gains?

The reason why I do the cardio is because I needed to get my body back into cardiovascular shape. I was in terrible shape. I walked up a flight of stairs and I was very winded. Now I am very easily able to bounce up the same flight without a problem. I know that weight training is an excellent way to lose weight/cut fat, but I also wanted the other benefits from a good cardio program.

Right now, every day, I eat a bowl of oatmeal 2 hours before I workout. If I plan on following the above article, should I skip this oatmeal serving? Or will it work to help me. I eat it, so that by the time I am ready to workout, the complex carbs from the oatmeal will have started providing me with some energy. Atleast that’s my theory.

You cannot even imagine how thankful I would be for any kind of advice to my questions. I am really looking to utilize the best methods to get myself in the best possible shape possible. Thank and happy lifting.

A fellow builder.

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Posted Sun, 11/27/2011 - 00:08
Cliff Wilson

Hey Paul,

Thanks for reading, I am glad you liked the article. It sounds like you have come a long way. I would still keep the oatmeal in your plan. I still have my clients eat a pre training meal then have the shakes.

As for a shake before the cardio this depends. How long is the cardio session? If it is long then you will want to do the shakes but if it is short you probably don't need it. I am very much in favor of shorter duration but more intense cardio sessions. Here is an article I wrote about cardio that may help you out.

I do worry that you may be doing too long of cardio sessions which will start to inhibit muscle growth so be careful with that. I can't say without knowing how long your sessions are. If you have any other questions you can also ask on my Q & A section on the forum. here is the link for that too.

Hope this helps.

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Posted Mon, 11/28/2011 - 11:47

The cardio I do ranges from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on that day. It's pretty intense, I find myself on the floor about to die sometimes. But I feel great for doing it. Allot of it is interval training where I go very hard for a relatively short period of time (anywhere from 1 - 2 minutes), take a 30 second break, then go hard again. There is no way I could do this on even a half-full stomach. But I just want to make sure that I am not being counter-productive to the muscle gain on the weight days, and if I should still be taking the shakes after the cardio, and maybe sipping on one during the cardio.

I will be reading the link that you sent me on the cardio information, thank you very much for the help and the response.


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Posted Wed, 01/25/2012 - 09:15
Tor André Sandum

Hi Cliff!

Got another one for you:
If my shakes tastes awful, just awful, but I have bought, well, too much and can't just throw it away; can I exchange some of the carbs in the shakes for sugar? Just to get them down, or is this a bad move?

Was thinking from 10-20 grams instead of the maltodextrin. Like 50-50 ratio of sugar and the latter? Not normal refined sugar but some kind of fructose (if that is a good name for it in english? Fruit Sugar?).

Thanks :)

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Posted Sat, 02/11/2012 - 21:31
Cliff Wilson

Actually, yes that would very well. I have done that before in the past. Dextrose works really well to sweeten it up nicely too.

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Posted Sat, 03/10/2012 - 10:21

Hi cliff,
I read ur article n I like it a lot..let me introduced myself first, I m 29 year old n 69 kg weight..want to build a muscle like others have bt I m pure vegetarian..I take only whey after workout..scared abt creatine..shud it effects on kidneys.or shud I follow ur tips n if possible plz suggest me wht to eat..plzzz I m damm confused
Look forward to hear from u as soon as possible

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Posted Tue, 03/20/2012 - 15:01
Cliff Wilson

Glad you liked the article. As long as you have healthy kidneys the creatine will not be dangerous at all. Healthy kidneys have no problems at all filtering out excess creatine. I would definitely add it, it is a great supplement, and safe too.