Mastering Periworkout Nutrition


Mastering Periworkout Nutrition

Mastering Periworkout Nutrition Andrew Berry When you are a hard trainer looking to add muscle mass and lose body fat you look for every advantage possible. You should already exercise intensely on a progressive training program that challenges you. You should also have your daily nutrition down perfectperfect to provide your body with the proper nutrients and set the hormonal stage to maximize both muscle protein synthesis and fat loss. And finally, you should maximize the periworkout window.

The periworkout window is the time before, during and after your training session. This is the time to flush your body with nutrients to maximize the hormonal environment and make gains! Before we dive into what and when to eat around your training time, let’s take a look at how to structure your whole diet to maximize the effects of your training and nutrition plan.

The Overall Diet as a whole.

Now that I’ve introduced the importance for maximizing nutrient uptake around your training time, let’s look at the diet as a whole in relation to adding new muscle tissue while limiting fat gain. The periworkout window is important, but if you are not eating properly at other meals of the day, the gains will go right out the window or you will accumulate too much fat.


I like to structure meal plans to place the majority of carbohydrates around the training time to maximize muscle gain and fat loss. As you get farther away from your training time- both before and after, I like to limit carbs. Here’s why: Carbohydrate intake leads to insulin secretion. Insulin deactivates an enzyme called hormone sensitive lipase (HSL). HSL’s mechanism of action is to cleave fatty acids inside the adipose cell to provide energy substrates for fuel usage. This is called lipolysis. When insulin is present, fat loss is blunted. (1) If your goal is to lose or maintain your current level of body fat, you need to have periods of time where insulin is not present in the blood stream. To me, it makes sense to increase your ability to burn fat by limiting carb intake to the periods around your training session. In fact, lower fat, higher carbohydrate meals actually increase the levels of triacylglycerides circulating in the bloodstream after a meal- possibly due to the extra de novo lipogenesis or the reduced clearance of lipids from the bloodstream. (2,3) Taking in the majority of your carbohydrates after training and in particularly in the evening can have an enhanced effect on your body fat, overall weight lost and lead to an improvement of your insulin sensitivity. (4)


By now, we know that as strength trainers increased protein intake is critical for muscle mass accumulation especially around the periworkout window. (5,6) But protein intake throughout other times of the day at regularly spaced intervals is also crucial to maintaining and gaining muscle mass. (7) Proteins are digested into individual amino acids, transported to various sites (liver, muscle) and then re-assimilated into new muscle tissue, peptides, hormones and neurotransmitters. Having a steady flow of amino acids all day is critical for maintaining a positive nitrogen balance to support this anabolism. (8)

So, knowing that we need protein at regular intervals throughout the day, I like to determine individual protein requirements and then spread them out evenly throughout the day.


Fats are critical for a variety of functions from providing cholesterol, steroid hormone synthesis, energy and many more. Despite what some misinformed medical professionals and the media tend to harp on, you do want the majority of your fats to come from saturated and animal sources. I think this misinformation comes from the disproved lipid hypothesis. This is not the scope of this lecture, but for more information, look into websites such as and The research-cited information on these websites will completely change everything you thought you knew about eating for health.

Fats take a little longer to digest so I tend to move these away from the training sessions. Based on the time you train each day, it’s easy to let these fall into place further away from your training time. For instance, if you exercise at night, and you are consuming the majority of your carbohydrates around this time, it makes sense to consume more of your fats earlier in the day.

The Training Session

An acute, hard training session is equivalent to your body going through a daylong fast. The metabolic stress of training causes a severe depletion of both hepatic and muscular glycogen, significant muscle protein breakdown and an increase in catabolic hormone release. (9) Insulin levels are low and muscle protein synthesis is non-existent unless energy and amino acids are provided during the anabolic window or short period of time after training. (10)

Pre-Workout Nutrition:

A pre workout meal or shake can provide your body with the macronutrients that you need to have an intense, productive workout. The pre-workout meal should include protein, carbohydrates and a small amount of fat.

  • Protein- provides amino acids for the re-building process both during and after training,
  • Carbohydrates- gives the body a readily available source of glucose for use in the glycolytic pathway inside the cell. This reduces muscular and hepatic glycogen depletion.
  • Fats- a small amount of fat can slow down the digestion process so that glucose does not enter the blood stream too quickly leading to first, hyperglycemia and then shortly after, transient hypoglycemia. (11)
  • The source of this meal should be determined by how far out from the training session the meal is to be consumed. For example, if you are eating 2-3 hours out from your session, you might include steak and potato in your meals. If you are eating an hour or less out from training, I would suggest going with something that is digested quicker and easier like whey protein isolate, cream of rice cereal and some type of natural nut butter.

    Intra-Workout Nutrition:

    Muscle gain is the net equation of muscle protein synthesis – muscle protein breakdown. Normally, muscle protein is being broken down while we train. What if we could find a way to turn this process around and actually build muscle during the workout?

    Through the use of an intra-workout shake, we can. Adding high molecular weight carbohydrates and hydrolyzed proteins during this time can actually turn this time into an anabolic process. Enter highly branched cyclic dextrin and casein hydrolysate.

    The Anabolic Cocktail

    Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin

    HBCD is a carbohydrate with a molecular weight of 1,000,000 grams/mole, which is extremely high compared to that of glucose (180 gram/mole). Additionally, HBCD has a low osmolarity. This is the measure of the total number of solute particles (osmoles) that are concentrated into a Liter of solution. This is beneficial to us because the osmotic pressure that HBCD exerts is lower than that of the blood and other body fluids. This creates a hypotonic environment. HBCD can bypass the stomach and small intestine and enter the blood stream at a much faster rate than other carbohydrate sources. (12)This is important because we don’t want blood shunted towards our digestive system when trying to get the most out of workouts.

    Now the other benefit that HBCD exerts is its effect on the pancreas to release insulin. (13) Insulin is the most anabolic hormone available to us and when present, muscle protein breakdown stops and muscle protein synthesis is turned on when there are amino acids available. So how do we provide amino acids to achieve this? Wouldn’t most protein foods including whey protein take too long to digest and end up hurting our performance? Here’s where casein hydrolysate comes into play:

    Casein Hydrolysate

    Casein Hydrolysate is produced under the patent known as PeptoPro and has come into play over the last few years for its uses in sports nutrition. With complex enzymatic reactions, sports nutrition scientists have been able to produce a protein with high concentrations of di- and tri-peptides. (14,15) Casein has proven to have the highest amount over other protein sources (whey, egg, etc.). This is important because di- and tri-peptides are absorbed at a much faster rate than free form amino acids and longer oligopeptides. (16) This benefit allows us to consume hydrolysates during training without the digestion it would take to absorb a more complex protein leading to a loss in training performance. In fact, hydrolysates even speed up the rate that food products are moved through the digestive system by accentuating the response of the gut hormone GIP. GIP (Gastric Inhibitory Peptide) functions to slow the rate of digestion and food movement throughout the stomach and small intestine. Hydrolysates don’t show to be as affected by this gut hormone. (17) One last important thing that hydrolysates do: they increase GLUT4 transporter translocation to the surface of the cell independent of insulin action. (18) So, by including hydrolysates in the mix they in turn actually increase the uptake up the highly branched cyclic dextrin. This combination of HBCD and CH work synergistically as the ultimate anabolic cocktail.

    So, to put it all together, highly branched cyclic dextrin will provide a carbohydrate source for both energy and insulin secretion that when provided with the proper amino acids will support both muscle protein synthesis and decreased muscle protein breakdown. The net effect from all this: you build more muscle, have enhanced recovery, and can train harder and more often. You are moving the anabolic window from after training to the actual training session itself.


Post-Workout Nutrition:

Since you are consumed the intra-workout shake with HBCD and CH, eating immediately after training is not necessary. With the intake of nutrients during your workout, you have moved the anabolic window up to include your actual training session. Just wait until you are hungry as long as it’s within the first hour or so after training. At this point you want to make sure that you get in a good amount of protein and carbohydrates. No need to prioritize fats at this point as the goal is to flood your muscles with amino acids for protein synthesis and carbohydrates for glycogen resynthesis. A good choice would be some grass fed beef or chicken and jasmine rice. My personal favorite is an organic kids cereal similar to Lucky Charms with a protein shake mixed with almond milk. I like to mix the shake and then pour it over the cereal.

Try this regimen to get more out of your training program whether it is by training harder during your workouts with more volume, intensity or even adding extra training days. You will find that you are more recovered, have better pumps and will ultimately see better GAINZ!


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