Post Workout Shakes? Not If Fat Loss is Your Goal!

March 30, 2009

I have been avoiding post workout shakes for quite a few years now.

In fact, I typically wait 1-2 hours after working out before I eat any type of calories. This flies in the face of the standard “science based” idea of post workout nutrition. Why do I wait so long, when others are rushing to the locker room to chug down protein shakes? It is actually pretty simple.

surfers in puerto vallarta
[A brilliant picture of two surfers in Puerto Vallarta continuing to catch waves as the sun goes down. Surfers go hours and hours without food after periods of tough effort, breaking the “fitness rules” while maintaining outstanding physiques.]

Here is the Traditional Advice to Post Workout Nutrition

Ingest whey protein and 60-70 grams of simple carbs within 30-45 minutes of finishing your workout.

What happens is that your muscles are “hungry” to replenish the glycogen stores and basically “soak up” the sugars and protein. It enhances recovery time and helps build lean mass.

So Why Am I Suggesting for You to Wait a Bit?

Drinking a post workout shake leads to an insulin spike. Any time you spike your insulin, you are shutting down HGH output. So a lot of the benefit derived from your intense workout is cut short.

The negatives caused by the insulin spike outweigh the positives. You are adding a lot of unnecessary calories and shutting down a bit of fat burning activity.

Insulin is Antagonistic to HGH

When you are trying to lose body fat, you want to avoid insulin spikes. When your insulin level is high, you will stop your body’s ability to burn body fat.

Although I’m not a fan of the Atkins diet, it works because it ensures that insulin levels are kept low at all times. Again, maintaining low levels of insulin is a big key to getting ultra-lean. I like keeping insulin levels low by eating protein, healthy fats, and vegetables together.

What to do Instead?

I recommend waiting an hour after working out before eating.

If you are really serious about weight loss, then eat a balanced meal with protein, fat and a lot of vegetables. I used to allow myself to eat “loose” after working out, but this small adjustment to a clean meal has made fat loss easier than ever.

Another benefit that whole food has over shakes is the added thermogenic effect of food.

Note: I realize this post is shorter than normal, but the resulting fat loss you get by following this advice is big.

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

DJ March 30, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Great Post, but i have a question. I know this website is for getting the lean Hollywood sex appeal by having a natural level of muscle on your body and not having so much that you look like an oversize marshmallow, but anyways back to my question. I want the sleek look, but i dont have a decent amount of muscle on me, i read somewhere that insulin is a more anabolic hormone than hgh, so would it be beneficial for my muscle growth to create the insulin spike after the workout? By the way im 17 years old 6 foot tall 176 pounds with 12% bodyfat, i don’t know if you need that info but i just thought i would throw it out there if it would help.

Helder March 30, 2009 at 5:48 pm

I only took post workout meals while i was bulking (yes i had that stupid phase once) i always say this because i believe it is very important to tell everyone DON’T BULK

Anyway regarding post workout meals i was never a big fan except on that bulking period, and the why is simply because my body looks much better when i don’t take those post workout meals, i’m more defined, more dense, i always think about the summer when i spend days at the beach without eating, i keep swimming and running, playing around all day long, and that’s when i look better, and in better shape

Another important thing to say, even for those who want to gain mass, look at bodybuilders from the past, like Reeves and others of his time, they didn’t take post workout meals, Reeves was known for training very hard and very focused, but after his workout he would stay sometimes a couple of hours talking with other guys at the gym

A friend of mine who’s a nutritionist, believes that letting more time go by will be more efective for both muscle gains and fat burning, i didn’t ask him why, but for my own experience i believe his right

Top post this one Rusty, and a hot one too, it goes against the fitness mainstream, but in the right way

Jonathan March 30, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Great Post Facts… But if I now were concentraiting on losing weight and prosponed eating 3-6 hours after my cardio work-out would it be benefitting or is it to damaging to the muscles ??? :O

mickieb March 30, 2009 at 7:13 pm

nevermind on the previous post…that was for the eat stop eat and workouts on a fasted state and it says to eat after an hour also…all these posts are starting to confuse me! I have been reading them all and it seems all so much! I have started jogging, but I have to take it easy bc my left leg is not doing so good with the impact. Jump rope was great, so if jogging doesnt work out, I will go back to the rope. I also added all the exercises I could think of as part of a circuit training. I did it today and it lasted 1 1/2 hours! Wow, I’ll be sore tomorrow! Thanks for all the info here!

BurritoKid March 30, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Are you working out during your fasts these days?

Marco March 30, 2009 at 8:50 pm

What about if I just consume a protein shake, no carbs, fat, etc. Is that ok after post workout? I would normally have a shake with protein, plain oats (no sugar added) and one banana. Should I have this prior to my workout instead for more energy?

Arya - weight loss blog March 30, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Wow! what timing with this post. I have been worrying lately about waiting an hour after my workouts to eat out of fear of muscle loss. My workout consists of strength training followed by 15 minutes of HIIT then 20 minutes of steady state. After my steady state I wait one hour and then eat. I usually do this workout first thing in the morning and it usually takes me about two hours. I know the strength training portion should only take a half hour with 8-10 sets per muscle group but I guess I am resting longer in between sets which extends it to an hour. This workout is extremely intense and I push very hard the entire time. I do the workout four times per week. I began fearing muscle loss because I dropped two pounds in one week. Since I believe I am very close to my ideal weight 5’10 1/2 157 I thought two pounds in one week was too fast and feared I may have dropped some muscle. Since I am taking in an adequate amount of calories (1900-2100) I concluded it must be that I am working out too hard in a fasted state. As a result I have started drinking 1 scoop of whey 15 minutes after the two hour workout and then consuming my regular healthy meal of 99% lean ground turkey and a bunch of veggies 30 minutes after the whey shake. I also confess that I have begun taking ten grams of glutamine powder upon waking. (I am excited to read your supplement book to see what your thoughts are on l glutamine) My only goal is fat loss however I am terrified of losing any muscle. Do you think the whey shake and glutamine powder are necessary or can I go back to working out without the glutamine before and whey after and simple waiting an hour before eating the healthy meal. And if so should I consume the healthy meal an hour after I finish the lifting portion or an hour after the entire two hour workout. Thanks. As you know I am having great success on the plan you gave me, but am trying to learn as much as I can at the same time to not only get to my goal faster but maintain it for a life time. One last thing. When you get the chance check out my new post on my blog. It introduces your website to my readers. Let me know what you think. Thanks again peace brotha.

Chris - Zen to Fitness March 31, 2009 at 2:12 am

Awesome advice. I have been doing this myself since reading Devany’s work. Usually I will wait at least 45 minutes after working out before eating (usually wait for a proper hunger pang). I break the P/W fast with fruit, eggs and green tea usually.

Methuselah - Train Now Live Later March 31, 2009 at 7:00 am

Arya – it sounds like you might be overtraining – a two-hour workout four times per week is pretty hardcore, especially if it is intense. If I remember, Rusty has done some great posts in the past about how less can be more. Your use of the words ‘feared’ and ‘terrified’ are quite telling – I used to be exactly the same until I read about the body’s ability to preserve its muscle even when fasting. But I also had to let go of the idea that more is better where muscle is concerned. I guess it all depends on your goals and it’s not for me to tell you what yours should be. But I would just say that deciding you’d rather look like Brad Pit in Fight Club than Arnie in Terminator can be very liberating because it frees you from the fear and let’s you eat and workout around your life instead of running your life around eating and working out.

Sid March 31, 2009 at 7:58 am

Thanks a lot for all the info over here. This post could not have come at a better time.
I’ve been on an information overload since I found your site, and I just can’t seem to get enough of it.

So I’m 25, 5’7” and 156 lbs.
My training splits are as follows (on a 12 week plan)

Odd Weeks (1,3,5,7,9,11)
Monday – Shoulders (5 sets 6,6,10,10,12), Abs, HIIT (10-15 mins)
Tuesday – Bicep, Tricep (5 sets 6,6,10,10,12), HIIT (10-15 mins)
Wednesday – Legs (5 sets 6,6,10,10,12)
Thursday – Chest (5 sets 6,6,10,10,12)
Friday – Back (5 sets 6,6,10,10,12)
Saturday – Cardio – 1 hour (Steady State)
Sunday – Off

Even Weeks (2,4,6,8,10,12)
Monday – Shoulders (5 sets 10,10,15,15,20), Abs, HIIT (10-15 mins)
Tuesday – Bicep, Tricep (5 sets 10,10,15,15,20), HIIT (10-15 mins)
Wednesday – Legs (5 sets 10,10,15,15,20)
Thursday – Chest (5 sets 10,10,15,15,20)
Friday – Back (5 sets 10,10,15,15,20) HIIT (10-15 mins)
Saturday – Cardio – 1 hour (Steady State)
Sunday – Off

Usually have 4-5 exercises per body part on an average.
So the thing is, early last year, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). It started off with an inflammation of the retina, and I was on steroids (corticosteroids, the good ones that the doctors prescribe as opposed to anabolic steroids that get you jacked up). As a result i put on a lot of weight since water retention and hunger are one of the side effects of these steroids.
I am lucky now that my eye’s much better and I’ve been off of them for almost 2 months.
Before I started taking them I was a fit 145 lbs. I was fit in the sense that I did not have too much body fat and I was skinnier than what I am now.
So in the year and a half i went from 145 to 167 lbs. But since I stopped taking them in the end of Jan this year, I have come down to 156, which is where I currently am.

This is how my diet looks
Morning – 1 Scoop Whey Protein (24gms protein/serving)
Afternoon – 1 Apple + Blended Protein (24 gms protein/serving)
Preworkout – Nitric Oxide ( I know you are against this, but the only reason I take it is cause I just want to get rid of the last tub I have lying around, decided not to buy any more crap. Thanks to your e-book πŸ™‚ )
Postworkout – 41 gms Protein + 35 Gms Fast Carbs + Creatine
Dinner – Whole Wheat Bread ( the nan that you so like, but we make it with whole wheat instead of white flour) + a small serving of veggies
Before Bed – Casein (24 gms protein, around 11pm)
I get a cup of coffee (milk + sugar) first thing in the morning, and 2-3 glasses of black coffee ( half a teaspoon of sugar) during the day.

I work out around 6:30 in the evening and by the time I get home ( usually 8:00 PM) its time for dinner. So my postworkout and dinners are usually back to back, mostly before 9:00 PM.

So a couple of things now.
I am not fat par se, but i do have a little tyre sticking out as far as my lower abs are concerned, and they won’t seem to budge. My other trouble area is my chest which seems to hold on to the every bit of fat. (check out my fb profile pic)
If I look at myself in the mirror from the side, I am very lean, and have a flat stomach. But when I look straight up front, I can see that stubborn fatty lower abs. What would you suggest I do to get rid of that and how do you think I can have a flatter chest?
How much do you think I would have to weigh to make my abs pop out? My waist size is a 32? What do you think that would have to be at my height (5’7”)?
Any other suggestions on attaining that slim, toned look would be more than appreciated.

pnw fitness March 31, 2009 at 8:26 am

I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now. Also been doing tough workouts during fasts. Fat is melting off.

Good info.

Kanadian05 March 31, 2009 at 8:29 am

DJ I believe that insulin slows down your metabolism and makes the body take glucose and stores it as glycogen when high amounts of it are present. Im not %100 on this but its what I understand about it.

Chris - March 31, 2009 at 9:23 am

I have to disagree with this advice, both from a science perspective and from my personal experience.

From the point of view of science:

While hGH is important, it is not the be all and end all any more than insulin is. Multiple peer reviewed studies have shown that insulin sensitivity is increased after a workout. This means that while you do get a large insulin response to a post WO shake, the muscles are primed to respond to the insulin and shuttle additional glucose into themselves. It’s easy to demonize insulin, and chronic elevated insulin levels are a VERY bad thing, but it does serve a very important role in the body.

In this state of elevated insulin sensitivity, its actually possible to shuttle MORE glucose back into the depleted muscles that was originally there. There supercompensation will allow for better recovery and better performance on subsequent workouts.

There is also at least one study that showed a large (up to 200%) increase in serum testosterone with the consumption of rapidly absorbed carbs after a workout.

To compound this, hGH in normally secreted in “pulses” throughout the day. The majority of these occur during sleep. This suggest that one should avoid eating (especially carbs) an hour or two before bed. I think that by not eating right after a workout you’re running the risk really limiting your gains and recover in hopes of a hGH response that is not well proven on understood.

From personal experience:

I get MUCH more sore and recover much less well when I don’t get some carbs down to after an intense workout. I eat fairly low carb/paleo the rest of the time, but the window right before and after an intense workout is the exception.

Note that this isn’t an excuse to go overboard with the sugar bombs, if you feel a crash after consuming a shake you’ve overdone it.
You energy levels should NOT dive – that’s the sign of a blood sugar spike and subsequent plummet in response to excessive insuln secretion. What we’re after here IS additional insulin secretion, but just enough to optimize recovery. Overdoing it will result in the excess being shuttled into fat cells, which is usually the last thing we want.

Play with it, see what works for you. Ultimately your individual response and trial and error will mean a lot more than people (myself included) pontificating on the internet

Son of Grok March 31, 2009 at 10:57 am

What are those surfers doing in Puerto Vallarta… and they still have their heads on their shoulders! πŸ˜‰ lol.

I tend to eat after working out (egg salad or something… no shakes). If I go for 30 minutes real intense, I tend to be pretty lightheaded post workout whcih grubbing alleviates. I have heard many arguements for fasting to get an HGH spike but have not expiremented with it too much myself.

The SoG

Son of Grok March 31, 2009 at 10:59 am

P.S. From the primal aspect… I think of it as expending great energy catching food and then like taking a bite of the heart in victory celebration!

The SoG

james March 31, 2009 at 11:40 am

I just wanted echo the comments about the post. Awesome post! I used to have a lot of misconceptions about strength training and losing weight. Your site is great. Since I found your site, I have lost a lot of weight and a much of that is from following your advice and the advice of individuals you’ve mentioned in your posts. You have a lot of great information and I definitely wish I had found your website much earlier.

Patrick March 31, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Hey bro, thanks for the explanation and addressing this topic in further detail. I always workout in the 4-5 hour fasted state and then wait at least in the 30-45 minute range after the workout, not because i’m that hungry, but usually just bored waiting to eat my whole food meal that always consists of protein, complex fibrous carbs, and good fats. (p/w meal is always whole foods and never a drink) because of my schedule and the wait, i dont usually eat until late night say 9ish I will make myself wait the full hour if necessary, but do you think 15 min give or take makes much of a fatburning difference if I’m in “maintenance mode” from here on out. Always look forward to your take.

Methuselah - Train Now Live Later March 31, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Chris – – I guess it depends on your training schedule. If your training frequency and volume are low enough then there is no need to shuttle glucose into the cells any quicker than it would naturally be shuttled in with normal eating patterns. I prefer to take at least one rest day between short, intense workouts, and find I am never short of energy in spite of leaving at least an hour between workouts and food.

DR March 31, 2009 at 4:41 pm


I agree & disagree with your position on post-workout nutrition.


I think that for most people trying to melt some body-fat, excessive carb intake is the biggest problem. So, the first thing I do with clients is eliminate all moderate to high GI/GL carbs. All they are left with is fibrous vegetables.

I used to allow them to chug down a high gi post-workout shake, but over the past year and a half, I have moved towards improving post workout protein synthesis by loading them with post workout protein & BCAAs.

So, for this reason, I agree with you.


Based upon my review of the literature and my personal/professional experience, I have found that trying to induce muscular growth / induce fat loss through GH spikes to be a waste of time.

If you have any tips that have worked for you, I would love to guinea-pig them on some of my clients

Yash March 31, 2009 at 8:38 pm

Hey Rusty,
Valuable post. When I’m gearing for fat loss, like right now, I tend not to eat that much, especially after workouts. I don’t get a chance to work out until about 3 or 4, and I have breakfast at 10 or 11 [yeah I know, the perks of being a college student and not having to get up like everyone else]. I find that even though I’m usually hungry by my workout since its anywhere from 4-6 hours since my last meal, my workout totally wipes that out. Not only am I not hungry during training, but I feel like I can easily go another few hours, and I usually do. Plus, I don’t know if this is just in my head or something, but I’m convinced my body has adapted to my weight loss phase by shrinking my stomach. If i eat too much post workout [by too much, i mean the same amount as I normally would on a non-fat loss meal] I feel a little off in my stomach. Basically, this all goes back to ignoring every single piece of advice you pick up everywhere and just listening to your body. I’m not hungry so I don’t eat. The reduced calories can’t hurt fat loss.

Increase carb consumption post workout is not related to greater protein synthesis. As for subsequent workout performance, you have a point about being able to make sure that glycogen goes directly to the muscles and not anywhere else when you eat carbs post workout. This is one of those topics that’s hard to take sides on. Personally, I’ve worked out both ways, and haven’t seen huge differences. I’m indifferent in regards someone who has a moderate/low carb intake otherwise. For people who eat pretty high carb all the time, then I think it’s just unnecessary.

Yash March 31, 2009 at 10:36 pm

[side note to Rusty: any reason my first comment isn’t showing up? maybe because there was a link in it?]

@DR: the popular consensus seems to be that HG production sparked by intense training has a big part in either muscle building/fat loss/etc. Could you provide the sources or literature that refutes this? I’m also kind of a nerd so yes, I’ll read through a journal article if you know of one [i just can’t seem to find any]

ro April 1, 2009 at 4:10 am

I’m 5’9″ and was 188 (muscle and fat) and have since dropped to 163 in the past 3 months. i have a little more fat to get rid of on the lower abs and outer pectorals. i’m making an effort to cut carbs but was wondering if a post workout shake of 40 gms protein (AND NO CARBS) will have a negative affect the fat burning process???? thanks.

DR April 1, 2009 at 8:08 am


I will try and locate the articles for you.

This is what I believe to be true:

(take that with a BIG grain of salt – what science believes to be true today may be completely false tomorrow)

Exercise does play a role in GH release.

However, that effect is mainly limited to people under 30 yrs of age. As we age, the GH spike caused by exercise flattens out into a tiny little mole hill.

Most (estimated 66%) of our GH is released 60-90 minutes after we fall asleep.

And, what we eat or don’t eat prior to hitting the sack may have a strong impact upon that nighttime GH surge.

Where insulin spikes are caused by carbs, GH spikes are positively influenced by fasting. There is also a correlation between carb/fat intake and a reduction in GH release.

Another good reason not to eat for the 1-2 hrs prior to sleep.

Like I said, I will try and find the science to back up my beliefs

Chris - April 1, 2009 at 9:39 am

Methuselah –

You’re absolutely correct. I’d encourage anyone to experiment with both methods and find what works better for them.

I personally don’t recover well if I don’t eat (protein and carbs) right after a workout, but different people will absolutely respond differently. The supercompensation effect isn’t so important if you’re not planning on rushing the recovery time before you beat yourself up again.

I also have trouble eating enough to maintain my weight while eating paleo – I.e. I have trouble getting enough calories to support my training volume. But I’m a “sport performance” guy, not an “aesthetics” guy. If you’re just in it for health and appearance I don’t think there’s any need to train that much.

Fred April 1, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Thanks for the post, Rusty!
I used to down a small chocolate milk and a PowerBar after every training session (~3x week)…Then about a month ago I started waiting for an hour or so before eating/drinking anything and it seems to be having a positive effect on me losing weight. And I’m still getting stronger so it makes sense to me. I’m sure, as with everything, it really depends on the individual…

Thanks again!

Mike Haydon April 2, 2009 at 5:40 am

I know for me, like Chris @ FitnessFail, if I don’t have a protein shake with equal protein/carb levels BOTH before my workout and after, I’m really sore for the next couple of days and my energy levels are woeful. I believe in experimenting with nutrition and for me, if I have those two shakes, I barely get DOMS, no matter how hard I train. Maybe it’s coz I’m 26 (as DR suggested) or maybe it’s just me. I have a high metabolism, am 6 ft 5, 230 lbs with 15% body fat (still trying to increase muscle, so not worried by 15% right now). I get great results having that shake and terrible results without it. I guess we’re all different πŸ™‚

Kevin April 2, 2009 at 8:50 am

Hey Rusty

I work out at the ass crack of dawn.
What could i eat an hour after my strenth traning followed by HIIT,
I dont want to eat like chicken and veggies at 8 a.m.??
Also do you eat protien shakes any time?

admin April 2, 2009 at 4:36 pm


If you want to gain mass, maybe just do a whey protein shake after working out and then eat an hour later, but I still think you will have a better body composition if you avoid that shake altogether. Experiment and see if you are able to stay lean with the shake.


That has been my experience as well. It makes sense when you think about it.


I think the negatives would outweigh the positives if you waited too long. You do need food at some point. No need in going past two hours.


Don’t do everything I list on the site. These are tips to help you “piece together” the perfect workout to fit your circumstances.


I have my best workouts on the days that I fast. I think I get a bigger HGH response as well.


Don’t eat anything 3-4 hours before your workout for max HGH release and using stored body fat for energy (instead of “food energy”). If you drink that shake…wait 1-2 hours.


Fat loss goes in streaks…sometimes you will stay at the same weight for 2 weeks and then lose 3-4 pounds in one week. Nothing to worry about. Just maintain your strength while losing weight by hitting each muscle group twice per week and you will be fine. You might want to cut down the sets a little. Try to get lifting done in 45 minutes max…and cardio to 30 minutes max…that would put you a bit over an hour total. I’d skip the shake and wait an hour or two and then just eat the meal. I used to recommend shakes a bit more, but they may not be that necessary…especially if you are just trying to lose fat. Thanks for the recommendation on your blog!


I like the idea of fruit and eggs. Natural foods that we were meant to eat.


Yeah…great point. Once people accept the “natural level” of muscle on their body, they don’t worry so much about muscle loss. They also wind up getting lean and sharper looking. Eating every few hours and downing protein shakes on a regular basis is a sure way to never getting ultra-lean.


In my opinion you aren’t working each muscle group often enough to reach your full potential. You are splitting your body parts up over too many days. This is more of a bodybuilder approach, because they “tear down” their muscles with the type of workout that they do…so they need a lot of days in between for those muscles to repair. I also think you would be better served to lower your reps and do strength training. Instead of working your entire body over 5 workouts…break it down to 2 or 3 day splits. So on day one, do Chest, Back, and Abs and day two do Shoulders, Triceps, and Biceps. Do a low volume of sets and reps. Maybe just start out with 5 sets of 5 reps. If you do intense HIIT after each workout, you won’t really need to lift legs…but if you really want to work legs, just do them once per week. So that would be 5 times per week total (the two upper body splits..the leg workout…then the two upper body splits again). A few things that will hlp with losing that last little bit of lower ab fat…drink your coffee black, either drop the nan or drink a lean protein shake that is low in carbs (between the two, you are getting too many carbs)…everything else looks solid, I just think you are a little too “carbed up” to lose that last little bit of fat.


This strategy works wonders.


Insulin is a “Storage Hormone”….it gets released in response to a blood sugar spike. Takes that sugar out of the blood stream and stores it into the fat cells (a simple explanation for a complex process). You body can’t burn fat when it is present, because it is busy storing body fat instead.


It is an individual thing. I just wanted to have people give this a shot…because it works well for a lot of people (not everyone). As far as recovery goes…I suggest more of a low volume, low rep strength program that doesn’t “tear down” the muscles like a typical 6-10 rep bodybuilder workout. By the end of these types of workouts my muscles don’t feel tired or fatigued like a traditional tough bodybuilder workout. I’m not reaching faliure and if anything the muscles feel energized. Now, I do kick some butt on HIIT…so after that I’m sweating…but I don’t feel like anything needs to be repaired. I remember the days of high volume lifting and puching past failure and getting sore, but I avoid all of that now to aim for a higher quality of life when I’m not working out.


Puerto Vallarta has good surfing, but you have to go to a few specific places. They don’t look like they are in the right place…they should be at that point in the distance. If your body is really craving food badly, then it probably does need it. I actually lose my apetite from HIIT and just get a bit thirsty. As far as eating the heart in celebration…I’d pass out from seeing all of the blood…I’d suck at being primal πŸ™‚


Thanks buddy. Many of the people who comment here have outstanding blogs. You could scour this site in the comment section and find 20-30 fitness blogs with great info. So much info…so little time!


Don’t change what you are doing. You are in maintainance mode and it is working.


I train more like you…low volume of lifting, never reaching failure, and not breaking down the muscle at all. The lifting part of the workout is easy, yet I continue to gain strength. The HIIT or bodyweight circuits get me sweating, but still don’t induce any type of muscle damage.


I have read similar things about GH spikes…arguing for and against. Either way it makes sense to me to limit any insulin response when the metabolic rate is jacked up after a tough workout. I completeley agree with you about excessive carb intake. When people are “carbed up”, fat loss becomes extremely tough.


I find that working out kills my apetite as well…which makes it easier to get lean. People who have that tiny little bit of fat on their lower abs, should certainly give this method a shot. Waiting that extra hour or so, could make all the difference for them. Sorry about your post…I had to make it a non-link in order for the post to show (my blog does weird things sometimes).


The longer I workout, the more I realize that it is actually hard to lose muscle if you are doing resistance training a few times per week. For years I was worried about dieting too hard or not getting enough protein, etc…but I think most of that is vastly exaggerated…especially for people who want to be slim and defined.


If someone is doing a high volume bodybuilder type workout, pushing failure and inducing damage in their muscles…then I could see the need for more nutrients. I know that working out to gain mass is much different than the type of training I recommend.


I have an emergency box of Myoplex (Strawberry Flavor). I will drink one of these shakes if I am too lazy to cook dinner…which is only once every two weeks or so. Usually I’ll have a shake and then eat an apple. A good post workout meal in the morning would be an omlette with vegetables. If you are strapped for time, a Fuji apple and a bowl of yogurt.

Great comments!


josh pittman April 4, 2009 at 1:58 am

Good tip, although I am actually one of the wierdos out there who is trying to put ON weight instead of lose it… the shakes work good for me but I still dont gain much since i have recently been spending so much time on the tredmill with this new i360 headband i picked up. It gets rid of all the annoying ipod wires and makes running fun again! I would def check them out:

Febs April 7, 2009 at 3:12 pm

First, thank you for your website.

Second: this fitness world is a hell. This page does states the opposite: http://yourtotalhealth…after-working-out.html
of course it’s possible that they are related to any supplement resellers. But, it would be so nice if for anything about fitness everybody would agree πŸ™‚

I finished up taking HALF protein shake πŸ™‚


Kash April 9, 2009 at 1:58 am

Very interesting post! Totally different then the common ” get your shake as fast as you can after your working because of the “anabolic window”” I do take protein shakes but i think it is common now adays that every one wants a quick fix. Sure protein is great to have, and debateably very necessary for muscle growth, but people seem to forget that the first step to muscle growth is HARD WORK, i look at things like your diet, sleep, and supplements ( as the name suggests, to SUPPLEMENT to an already good diet… ) as just secondary, or kinda extra boosts. The bottom line to me is hard work is always going to be the decideing factor in personal developement and meeting your goals, In life if you look at any one successful most of them had to work very hard to get there, espiecially in fitness! no one got in great shape sitting around drinking shakes, pigging out, and playing video games. this just prooves that people probably overlook the effectiveness of some HARD WORK! of course this must be what seperates boys from men! sorry for the long rant. i kinda get a bit to excited with the topic of “fitness”!

JohnnyG April 11, 2009 at 2:04 am

Great Work Rus! Enjoyed the article.

Matt April 13, 2009 at 4:51 am

Hi Rusty,
Another interesting article – thank you.

I personally prefer to use a branched chain amino acid supplement immediately post workout when looking to keep fat loss at a maximum – and leave the carbs for a meal to be had within the hour – and never from a simple carb source.

admin April 13, 2009 at 4:42 pm


There are a lot of approaches to reach the same goal. This method that I’m talking about here will allow you to reach your fat loss goal much quicker than if you drank a shake right after. Both will work…but I just want to save you a lot of time and money.


Hard work is key. Pushing the pain barrier during interval work is what makes it extremely effective. Diet needs to be on-point as well.


Thanks buddy!


Good approach as well.


Jason G April 14, 2009 at 4:52 am

As a person who has lost forty pounds in four months using similar methods I must say this is another great article. People who want to lose weight need to have periods of time where there body is empty of fuel. There is some room for argument on whether or not this is the right method for a person who goes to the gym first thing in the morning. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day after all.

However I posted this comment because there is an elephant in the room and I feel obligated to point out a couple of things. Chris from is the elephant. I must begin by saying that Chris has a valid argument and appears to be a very smart guy. I am just hoping that people take these scientific studies in the right context. By consuming simple carbs ”sugars” with protein after workouts you will optimize protein absorption and replenish glycogen faster as Chris has stated. I just wonder why we think we need to optimize protein absorption and replenish glycogen as soon as possible. The truth is that in less we are planning to work out our chest four times a week we probably do not need to worry about protein timing and/or protein absorption. We also do not need to immediately restore glycogen in our muscles unless we are going to the gym more than once a day. I recommend using vegetables and fruits to gradually restore glycogen not simple carbs. There are a lot of studies that suggest we are ready to work out any major muscle group after 48 hours of rest, and many of these studies do not use subjects who were given abnormal levels of protein or carbohydrates. Most weight lifters have a workout routine that allows adequate rest and they also have diets with adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates. It is important that we do not entice people, who ultimately want to be thin, to take up bad habits like using sugar as a performance booster.
No person should go out of their way to increase insulin to high levels. Sugar should not be a tool in your muscle building arsenal. The supplement industry is also promoting these high sugar supplements as having advanced absorption capabilities. Perhaps I am missing something and these supplements do create superior muscle gains. If this is the case I warn people that for every month they spend using these sugary supplements they will have to spend another month chasing calorie deficits. The irony is that these same hard gainers will have to have many months of calorie deficits (that is if leanness is also a goal) to offset these sugary months, and these low calorie months will not provide optimal nutrition for either maximum strength increases or mass gains. Furthermore some muscle will be lost when dieting.
{NEW SUBJECT} Many of us forget that some people may need to increase size before they reach the maintenance stage where definition becomes the focus. To these people I would recommend keeping insulin levels low by eating high protein meals with a low glycemic load. Glycogen is important for muscle endurance, but a reasonable amount of vegetables and fruits the day before a work out should provide a gradual healthy build up of enough glycogen to sustain an hour workout. People looking for mass will also need to get a calorie surplus. These two factors will send your body the right signals. The calorie surplus will tell your body to grow and the low glycemic foods will keep the β€œstore fat” signals to a minimum. Monitoring your body fat percentage with a body fat scale is also useful to help you determine whether or not your calorie surplus is too large.

Rachel April 21, 2009 at 1:27 pm

a ray of light in a world of over nourishment, appreciated!

Curt May 24, 2009 at 8:39 pm


I agree with your points but think that there are supplements that can benefit you post-workout without blunting the GH response, etc. Studies show you don’t necessarily need complete proteins and carbs post-workout to see benefits. Simply drinking a mixture of essential amino acids in the right amounts can do the trick.

If I remember correctly, the subjects in one study drinking EAA gained muscle even if they weren’t lifting weights.

shelly June 5, 2009 at 11:40 am

it is great.your article is my need article

John July 7, 2009 at 3:49 am

Great post Rusty..
This is something that has a great impact on losing weight..
But there’s something that I’m not sure about though… what should you then be eating after workingout ? If fat loss was the goal, wouldn’t it be bad to eat fats because of the mucles need energy?

Ian August 4, 2009 at 9:46 am

I love this post and I agree with Rusty that you do not need to drink a post workout protein shake. I have experimented with shakes, tuna and chicken breasts, and taking honey and other simple carbs after workouts. the conclusion i came to was that it does not make any difference as long as you eat a good healthy meal an hour or two later. What a lot of people do not understand, however is that building lean muscle and burning body fat are two sides of the same coin. If you build muscle, fat will disappear without effort and your metabolism will increase so that you will burn body fat without effort-even while your sleeping. I will have to respectfully disagree with the idea of working out in a fasted state. Although it sounds good in theory and probably mimics how our paleolithic ancestors lived I am from the camp that it will undermine your workout intensity. INTENSITY(followed by rest and recovery) is the most important concept in all fitness endeavors and the lack of it is the #1 true reason why many people do not achieve their fitness goals. Our own negative subconcious thoughts and emotional baggage around our bodies is usually the #2 reason. Thanks for the post, cutting edge and controversial. Ian out

Hotta August 4, 2009 at 7:47 pm

now lets say i do cardio right after my weight training, will that affect my HGH?and what will be the best type of cardio to do(HIIT or Low)?and do i wait 30 minutes after my cardio for my POW shake?

David - The Fat Loss Authority August 14, 2009 at 9:32 pm


Quick question because I just finished a workout:

What if your ingesting a protein shake with straight water (0 carbs)? Does the waiting still apply? I consider the insulin spike to be influenced directly by the sugars and carbs, not really by the protein.


JOEY June 30, 2010 at 9:13 am

Hi Great site, love your advice.. Im 9% body fat and goal is to be 6/7% Ive been 9/11% for ages and cant get lower…I train first thing in the morning upon waking(1hour heavy lifting followed by 10-20mins HIIT and then 20mins steady) Should I consume a whey shake before training ? My last meal other wise would have been a slow realease shake before bed around 9.30 pm!! I just cant seem to get any leaner and I dont know weather to even stop the shake before bed?? your help would be amazing!!

Josh August 3, 2011 at 8:15 pm

I’m glad I ran into this site by accident… Iv’e learned so much from it. There are so many magazines out there that provide poor information. There still preaching side bends and biased nutritional advice.

Bigtransformation January 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Hmmm. Interesting. Do you think perhaps that in your example of surfers they actually do experience a bit of muscle loss but not enough obviously that they would look “skinny”? Body builders especially harp on about the “15 minute window” post exercise, even when cutting.

Cheyenne March 4, 2012 at 7:49 am

Most of these posts seem to be about losing weight and the importance ,or lack of, for the PW insulin spike. I am 6’1″ and very thin. I want to gain muscle but not bulk up. My body won’t support bulking up anyway, it’s just too thin framed. So should I be avoiding the insulin spike with my whey shake after workout or not? This is a very confusing issue for there are so many different reports. I eat low GI foods the rest of the day.

Pond guy April 1, 2012 at 9:48 am

Check out the book Protirn Power by Michael Eades,M.D. Backs up this post with medical studies

Pond guy April 1, 2012 at 9:49 am


mcell May 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm

OH NO!!!! this article not good news for me!!! Arghhhhhhhhhh! There goes my excuse to eat jelly beans, grape juice, bananas and angel food cake post workout. lol! in addition to that , ive been Intermittent fasting for a week so i only have 4 to 6 hour feeding window and now i cant even have my favorite carbs doing that short period. oh crap!!! I cut all of this out of my diet during the earlier 2000 because i was trying to lose weight and experts said that these high carb items were making us fat, then a wonderful thing happened , toward the end of the decade, i started reading that dextrose, waxey maize and these other favorite goodies that i gave up were actually ok to eat BUT ONLY during post workout, that was the only time, so i was so happy that i could kill 2 birds with one stone, get aminos to my muscles and enjoy my old time favorites and not get fat. Ive been losing weight steady so this has been working for me. now reading this article my head hurts!!!!! First the experts say you gotta have whey protein and fast carbs within 30-45 minutes of finishing your workout to replenish the glycogen, now i’m reading (if FAT LOSS is the goal) the opposite. Now I’m totally confused .

Sheryl September 20, 2012 at 11:57 am

..Ugggg…. I hate to see so many people working out in a ‘fasted’ state…. this increases cortisol levels – stress hormone in the body – we dont eat before bed..but we SHOULD absolutely eat before a workout….and I tend to agree with other’s who’ve posted that postworkout carb/protein shake 1:1 ratio is best for muscle development – remember – gain and maintain muscle at all cost – keep carbs ‘slow’ and low every other meal/snack and you’ll get great results…. I’m a low body fat woman for yrs and do no workouts on cardio machines..just weight training, deadlift, press, squats and chin ups and get amazing results… keep it simple, never starve yourself and live life with energy!

superbadkitty November 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm

FINALLY! Logical, no-nonsense information. What a breeze finding a site that doesn’t parrot-on about the same things from other websites! And the bonus – this is actually from someone who gives advice from personal experience. Unfortunately, most of the rubbish out there actually gets fed down the line through personal trainers to ordinary, non-fitness people like me. I’ve had advice over the years from personal trainers to down shakes after my workout (also seen women at the gym do it), to eat a hamburger loaded with cheese if I felt like one “because I’m now training”, and to always eat breakfast before I train and to eat immediately after my workout. The truth was, I got better results from waiting an hour or two before I ate anything after my workout and it’s great to read about this here and not have to worry in the back of my mind about whether I’m doing the right thing because so many fitness sites and personal trainers say don’t do it!
Thank you!!

Bellerophont November 27, 2012 at 1:41 am


I usually eat 7 egg whites 45 minutes after my resistance workout. And about 1 hour later I eat my dinner which is cottage cheese(2,2%) with flax seed oil and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

Is it ok?

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