Pre, Intra and Post Training Nutrition For Fat Loss

5-jim-cordova-bodybuilderSo far we know that there are many options available to use when it comes to pre, post and intra training nutrition. We also know that those options will dictate things like energy levels and strength during training, protein synthesis during and post training, post training inflammation, fat loss, and hypertrophy. What you now want me to tell you is what the best combination of these possibilities is to reap the greatest rewards, right? If you have been reading my posts for a while, you know that’s not going to happen. Nothing is ever that simple, and this will not be an exception. I will, however help you to figure out what your best options are going forward for you to maximize your efforts in achieving your goals.

First I need to ask you a question, and your answer will greatly determine your choices. What is it that is your goal? The goals regarding fitness are many, so I’m going to break them down into some of the basic categories, and then from there I’ll try to point you in the right direction. Those categories are: fat loss, strength and performance, muscle-building, and lastly the best of all combinations, which is a happy medium of all of the above that I would consider to be the best overall option.

First, I’ll address fat loss and weight training (nutrition for fat loss LISS or HIIT cardio is another article altogether). It’s the time of year when getting ready to look great naked is on everyone’s mind. Personally, I think looking great naked shouldn’t just be seasonal, but you didn’t tune in for my opinions, at least not those kinds. Fat loss is the type of training where I feel hormonal optimization is of the utmost importance. The easiest way to do this is to train fasted. Why? It is because the easiest way to increase our anabolic, as well as lipolytic hormones, is to not eat. The quickest way to lower their output is to eat. In this case, it is literally that simple.

This is evolution in practice. When food is plentiful, and nutrients abundant, then the body has all of its recovery and metabolic needs met. When the opposite is true, and food and nutrition is scarce, then the body and all of its amazing adaptations kick in to compensate. Growth hormone production and its release goes into overdrive in an attempt to hang on to precious tissue and organs. When under stress, like weight training, output of testosterone and catecholamines increases. fitness-girls-whos-hot-and-whos-just-scary-30-photos-f02251All of this is extremely beneficial to the entire process of fat loss and muscle retention during said process.

In the case of testosterone, due to the fact that you’re already in a caloric deficit, and muscle recuperation and growth is already compromised, any boost is going to help that process of protein synthesis and hypertrophy. Regarding growth hormone and catecholamines, both are extremely lipolytic, and will serve you well in utilizing fat for fuel. So why on earth would you ever want to hamper this process by chugging a protein shake with or without carbs immediately before training?

If you train the first thing in the morning, I would strongly advise you take advantage of your fasted state, and train on an empty stomach. If you feel this is too extreme, then some branched chain amino acids mixed in water will work. I mean the straight kind, not the great tasting kind with lots of food coloring and sweeteners added. The last thing you want when you’re trying to lose fat is any type of insulin reaction before training (which still occurs with artificial sweeteners, even if there is no sugar present). If you can’t stand the taste of those, then some whey protein powder mixed in water will also work. Whey is extremely rich in bcaa’s and will digest quickly.

I would still wait at least an hour before training however, but that’s my opinion. I don’t feel that having a load of protein that is just digesting and becoming available is ideal when training for fat loss. You want your body using fat for fuel at every opportunity, not converting protein for that purpose. You can at least minimize this by waiting a while in order to let the whey digest. If you’re a get up and go kind of trainer, I urge you to try just drinking coffee and heading to the gym. If you are training later in the day, then refraining from eating carbohydrates until after training is your best course of action.

As far as intra training nutrition is concerned, there are two schools of thought. One is that you should drink nothing but water, and allow for the greatest amount of fat usage possible during your session. The second is that you should drink branched chain amino acids during your session in order to prevent muscle breakdown. What your opinion is on those two options is of course your own. If you want mine, and I assume you do at this point or else you wouldn’t be reading this, then I would say that water only will suffice. Your body will just be converting those amino’s into glucose, which will spare muscle, but also hamper fat loss.

What about the muscle breakdown and the catabolism that will take place, you ask? Nina-EckertProtein turnover is a fact of life. It happens all day long. Even in the case of fasted training, the net loss will be a gram or two of protein catabolized from muscle tissue. This will be easily replaced during post training in a process called protein re-synthesis. I’ll only touch on this, as it’s a whole article itself, but post training nutrient uptake is greatly enhanced when training in the fasted state. I’m pulling this number from memory, (as I am the information for this entire article) but it is at least double that of normal uptake in the fed state. Basically everything you lose by training fasted, you make up during the post training nutrition phase. As far as fat loss is concerned, that’s a double win.

Finally, I’ll deal with post training nutrition when fat loss is the ultimate goal. I personally feel that waiting to consume carbohydrate is a good idea. The minute you consume them, your fat burning that is still happening at a good rate due to the training you just endured, will stop once there is a ready supply of glucose. Wait an hour or so and have either a protein shake made up of a blend of whey and casein, or wait an hour and have a protein meal. Either is equally effective. This is specifically if you are training in the morning.

If you are training in the afternoon, or early evening, then carb back-loading is ideal. This is because insulin sensitivity is highest in the morning and early afternoon. By the evening it has hit its lowest point, however weight training due to muscle contractions will heighten the sensitivity of the muscle cells making them responsive to insulin. This means that by eating most of your calories in the evening following training will cause the largest daily net loss of body fat, while at the same time offering some of the benefits of preservation of muscle and possible hypertrophy.

As you can see, there is a lot to cover when it comes to the specifics of pre, intra, and post training nutrition, as today I only covered fat loss. In the next edition I will move on to another category When I get there, I will address the most well-rounded approach that you may wish to employ if your goals are general fitness and performance based. If you have questions, please ask, and I will be sure to either answer it in the Popular-Diets-Hale’s-Review-–-Part-Icomments section, or possibly write an article addressing your concerns.

Like I said in the beginning, there are no easy answers when it comes to the complicated mechanism that is your body. The answers I am giving here are the result of years of research and testing all of the available methods. If you have different information that goes contrary to what I have outlined here, or in any other article, I welcome your feed back. It is through discussion that we all benefit.

Happy Lifting!

This article was researched and written by Matt Taylor

All the information contained within these World Wide Web Pages is Copyright

16 comments for “Pre, Intra and Post Training Nutrition For Fat Loss

  1. Nestor Cano
    June 28, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Matt, I am a 52 year old that has been training for 20 years without any significant progress other than keeping healthy. I am a financial analyst sitting all day in front of a computer, weigh 190 pounds and would really like to get down to 180. I have breakfast at about 7am a banana with half of a protein bar at about 10, lunch at one and would like to not eat anything after my workout which is at about 5. I do pull – push split and workout every other day. I do ten minutes warm up 45 minutes weights and 25 minutes cardio at the end. What would be your advice for me? Should I have the post workout whey shake right after my workout? Would it be ok for me to do fasted cardio first thing in the morning on the days I do not do weights?. I know that’s a lot of questions but I would really like to do this well. I really appreciate your help.

    • Matt Taylor
      June 28, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      I would still wait an hour after you train before you consume your whey shake to let the post training inflammation begin it’s processes unimpeded. A small amount of carbs with your shake would be beneficial so that proteins aren’t oxidized to be used for energy. I highly recommend a mix of whey and casein, ideally micellar casein, if this is the last meal of the day. The prolonged amino blood levels will greatly enhance protein synthesis and minimize catabolism while you fast until your first meal the following day.

      And yes, of course do fasted cardio on your non weight days. I also suggest doing HIIT type training fasted BUT at least consume some BCAA’s before this type of training. If fat loss is your goal I would suggest you focus on this second option.

      • Nestor Cano
        June 28, 2015 at 5:18 pm

        Thank you very much Matt, so if I don’t eat anything form 1 pm when I have my lunch until one hour after my 5 pm workout it would be like six hour without eating anything, is it not too long?

        • Matt Taylor
          June 28, 2015 at 6:23 pm

          You may want to add a pre workout shake as well. A protein and carbs drink an hour before your workout. The extra energy will fuel you and your results will be more dramatic. The majority of your fat loss will happen at night, believe it or not. Don’t be overly concerned that you’re eating too much during the day as your diet seems a little lean. It’s the long period between your post workout shake and your first meal the next day when you’ll lose the most fat. Yes, even if you’re asleep. Our metabolism doesn’t actually slow down as we sleep, it’s just that we use less energy because we aren’t moving around as much. If you aren’t eating from say 6pm until 8am, then that’s a huge fat loss window. Make sure you get your nutrition during the day and have enough energy to work hard. The results will come from hard work in the gym and by getting adequate nutrition and rest.

          • June 28, 2015 at 8:54 pm

            Some research even suggests that the leaner you are your metabolic rate actually increases more during sleep. 🙂

  2. Mike
    April 11, 2013 at 8:21 am

    I put a few packets of a sweetener in my coffee. Could never drink it black. No way! So if I were to do a fasted weight training, you are advising no coffee if we use sweetener?

    Also, nothing for about an hour after weights? I usually drink a store bought protein drink right after.

    So it’s basically a fasted state before and after weights correct?

    You provide great info, but it’s text heavy, so I’m trying to simplify it 😉

    What about cardio? I usually do mine fasted, first thing in the morning. One hour typically at 60% of max, so not very hard.

    I’ve plateaued and that is why I’m researching this and came across your website. Been a trainer for 30 years, but not bodybuilding. Now retired from PT and doing internet consulting.

    Anyways, enough babbling.


    • April 11, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      I definitely recommend not using sweetener in your coffee before you do cardio. It isn’t fasted cardio if you do. You have supplied your body with glucose to run on and that’s what it will use instead of relying on fat as its primary fuel source, which is the point of fasted cardio. Try making it the night before and putting it in the fridge. Add a little cream and drink it cold. Drink it fast and go do fasted cardio.

      I would wait an hour after lifting weights to consume that protein shake or eat a meal in order to let the post training inflammation have time to begin the recovery process. Ideally I suggest training fasted also in order to enhance the anabolic hormonal response, but if you are doing cardio am, and weights pm, you can try what I suggested in the article of a whey shake an hour before training and another or a meal an hour afterwards.

      No worries on the babbling Mike! I enjoy helping and welcome your questions. If those of us that write here can help you along, we are more than happy to do so.

  3. February 14, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Really enjoyed this article Matt. I’m always experimenting with different methods when it comes to eating for training. I almost always do my cardio fasted (well a nice big coffee, but that counts right?) first thing in the morning and my strength training in the afternoon. I have been going to the gym after a gap of two or so hours after a small meal and then eating a meal that is protein heavy within an hour or so afterward. If I’m reading what you’ve written correctly then it sounds like I’m on the right track yes?

    • February 14, 2013 at 6:09 pm

      It sounds like your well on you’re way to a low level of body fat Stacia!

  4. February 12, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    Great info here, Matt – thanks for breaking it all down like that… Looking forward to the followup!

    • February 13, 2013 at 5:00 am

      Thank you Doug, I’ll have the next one for you shortly!

  5. February 12, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Great stuff Matt! So I usually train in the evening, around 7:00pm, and I’m in bed by 10:00. Would you say it’s best to take the post workout shake of casein and whey (like I usually do) as well as a carb source such as quinoa, lentils, farro, etc. together about an hour after? Since our last discussion I had moved back the shake until 30 minutes post workout with a carb source.

    Seems strange to not do the whey pre or post shake for so long based on everything else you read. However, you’re batting 1.000 with all the other advice you have ever given me so I’d be crazy not to listen! 🙂

    Well timed article since I’m in fat loss mode, however, I’m very curious to hear how it differs for a bulk and of course the overall method you mentioned. Keep it coming!

    • February 13, 2013 at 5:07 am

      I’d suggest waiting an hour and having your whey/casein and carb source together. It allows time for the post training inflammation to begin the recovery process, and it also allows time for the accelerated fat loss as the result of your training to continue unimpeded.

      Regarding timing – if you have your pre an hour before, and your post an hour after, it’s at most 3.5 hours without nutrients. That isn’t all that long and there are benefits to having your amino level drop to as low as possible in order to take advantage of the uptake in the post. Unless you’re using steroids etc, there is no need for a constant influx of nutrients. They will in fact hamper your progress, not encourage it.

      I’m now very happily writing weekly, so the information will be coming to you regularly now!

      • February 13, 2013 at 8:53 am

        Thanks Matt. Interesting, do you think that’s why you hear so much about getting pre and post and everything else in-between all from the big time bodybuilders and magazines? Because for them it makes sense likely being on steroids? Nice to give advice assuming everyone is on steroids….

        It almost seems like I’d be best not to have anything pre for 2-3 hours and then a post an hour after.

        I’m pumped you are back to writing weekly!

        • February 14, 2013 at 5:36 am

          I think that’s why the pros endorse its use so much, because that’s what they do so that’s what they advise. The reality is that both the pro and the magazine wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the contracts/ad deals they have with the protein companies, so the main goal of those magazines it to protect their investment, so to speak, and promote the use of protein powder and supplements. That’s why they are mentioned so frequently.

          If you ever read The Medium Is The Message, all of this will make more sense. You aren’t reading a bodybuilding magazine, you’re reading an advertisement for protein powder and supplements. It’s just sold to you in a way that you’ll accept.

          • February 14, 2013 at 8:36 am

            Interesting take and makes complete sense.

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