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Post Workout Nutrition: The Window of Gainz – Episode 178

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This week on Barbell Shrugged we talk about post-workout nutrition, including the exact foods and supplements you should be consuming after training to get the best possible results. Also, we talk about some of the most common, easily avoided mistakes. This will save you from wasting immense time and effort in the gym.

Listen, you can train as hard and fast as you want for years and years. But if you don’t eat enough of the right foods, at the right time, then you’ll never reach your potential. It’s that simple.

Fortunately, we’ve got you covered.

First thing’s first, you’re probably under-eating.

Just look around at your Instagram feed. Most of the time, whenever someone posts an “Epic training meal! #GAINZ,” the amount of food on the plate is actually very small.

Most athletes appear to have the appetite and eating habits of a fussy toddler. That’s just not good enough when high performance is the expectation.

Listen, you have full permission in the post-training “Window of Gainz” to eat a giant carbohydrate rich meal. Whatever you want, minus the fat at this particular meal. People pass up on this opportunity all the time, which is incredibly silly. Especially if you’re looking to gain strength and size.

#windowofgainz

A photo posted by CTP (@ctpcam) on

 

What your plate look like after training. The answer is, mostly carbs and protein. Remember, this is an opportunity, not a meal to make you fat, even with the carbs. Rice, oats, potatoes, this sort of thing is perfectly fine. It’s pretty important. Load-up half of your dinner plate with those carbs. The other half should be piled high with a great animal protein source. All that fuel will go right into the muscles, not to body fat stores. This is what will build muscle during periods of growth, and it’s also what will preserve your muscle mass and strength during a period of hard conditioning and dieting down. Regardless of your training goals, this window is super critical. Sure, it’s possible to train and cut carbs. You might feel fine for a while, but this is largely a delusion. Just like with sleep, it’s hard to know what you’re missing until you start eating more. You will immediately feel stronger, and you’ll never go back to those under-rating ways.  

Keep this meal in context. Remember, this post-workout window only represents one meal per day. While an excessive amount of starchy carbohydrates certainly can be bad, you should still be consuming numerous paleo-ish meals throughout the day with tons of veggies, healthy fats, minerals and micronutrients, all that. That’s our assumption with this show, actually. Before you worry with this post-workout business, make sure you’re eating a balanced diet first. For many new athletes, this and sleep are the larger, more urgent missing pieces.

How much time do I have before the window closes? There’s no hard and clear threshold for when the opportunity to re-feed passes, but typically, you should have a carbohydrate and protein rich meal down within 30-60 minutes of your final repetition of the day. Eating that meal right away maximizes the amount of carbohydrates stored in the muscles as glycogen, instead of fat. This is when your insulin sensitivity and capacity for proper carb utilization and storage are at their highest. Just remember, sooner is better. For that reason, you might choose to sip on a shake during your workout. This accounts for digestion time, so those nutrients hit your muscles right when the Window of Gainz is opening. That’s ideal. daily Click for your free eBook. It’s 100% free and awesome.    

So what should go into a great workout shake? We mentioned high-quality carbohydrates. Ideally, you should utilize something like Dextrose powder in your shakes. It’s easy to measure out, incredibly cheap, rapidly absorbed post-WOD, and metabolically speaking, far more favorable than fructose and other sugars. It’s actually most like glucose, which is the sugar that’s already flowing around in your blood stream. In terms of the amount of carbs, that all depends on your training. For strength work, a ratio of 1:1 or 2:1 carbs to protein is ideal (about 40/80 grams of carb with 40 grams of protein). For longer conditioning sessions and hero WODs, you should probably consider a 3:1 ratio. Those are great starting points. Add to that if you feel like it helps you to perform and feel better. Also, don’t worry at all about being exact, just make your best guess. That’s enough. As we often say on the show, supplements are always supplemental. But that said, tossing some creatine and beta-alanine into the shake as well is a very good idea.  

So, what exactly does the protein do? We want to increase our uptake and utilization of carbohydrates during this post-workout window. Likewise, we also want to make sure that we’re doing whatever we can do to limit muscle tissue breakdown and soreness while supporting protein synthesis. That’s exactly why mixing and consuming carbohydrates and protein in these ratios after training is such a great idea. Essentially, you’re cutting your recovery time drastically by limiting the size of the hole you dig yourself during each punishing workout. It’s hard to overstate the cumulative power of this basic re-feeding strategy. Over the course of a year, you’ll be able to accumulate more high-quality work, which is exactly the difference between finishing at the bottom or top of the whiteboard.

How do I know if I’m doing it right?

Well, of course, there’s the dancing. But a great sign that you’re eating enough food, post-workout or otherwise, is that you’re uncomfortable.

If you’ve always struggled to gain size and strength, then it’s incredible likely (almost certain) that you’re underrating. That uncomfortable feeling of being stuffed, or having to fight down a shake, that’s temporary. With time, it gets easier as the habits set in. But that said, the discomfort alone isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s a great sign!

You have struggled to get results in the past precisely because you didn’t go far enough with your training, diet, and recovery. However, by setting clear calorie targets, eating great foods, timing carb intake, etc., you should feel reassured.

The discomfort you might feel early on during post-workout re-feeds and carb-rich meals should really be considered a sign that you’re actually getting enough fuel for once.

Again, it’s hard to explain just how important this is. Food is gas in your tank. You won’t set speed records without it.

Get your timing down!

Go to the gym prepared. Have a shake on hand and your next meal fully planned. With that single habit you’re sure to set some new records, but you’ll also feel much stronger pretty much right from the start.

Don’t let that window close on you, baby. It makes all the difference.

Cheers,

Chris

Additional Resources

72 Responses to “Post Workout Nutrition: The Window of Gainz – Episode 178”

  1. Nick

    Any advice for people like me who can’t stomach protein shakes right after working out? I can generally knock down around 10g of BCAAs immediately after, but can’t choke down any protein or carbs. It’s usually 60-90 minutes post-workout when I can handle food or a whey protein.

    Reply
    • Chris

      Can you sip the shake throughout the entire workout? …Small bits at a time? If you simply can’t get anything down, eat when you can.

      Reply
  2. William Pavlakos

    What about us late night lifters? My gym time is 10 pm, not sure if I could put down a full meal afterwords before going to bed. I typically have a big protein shake with carbs. Any suggestions? Thanks guys.

    Reply
    • eduardo

      What about having your workout session early in the morning? Late night workouts are not good for anabolism.

      Reply
    • Chris

      Put down the meal afterwards. It will make you stronger. Go with something appetizing.

      Reply
  3. Brett

    Hey guys, really helpful post on post-workout nutrition and hopefully now ill be shoving way more food down during the window of gains. BUT I need help on NON-training days. Im 130lbs looking to gain muscle mass, what should my carb-load/meals look like on those non-training days even if I want to gain? Thanks guys!

    -Brett

    #windowofgainz

    Reply
    • Chris

      I would still eat some carbs on those days, for sure. Go for “paleo-plus” meals. Eat meat, veggies, nuts, seeds, some fruit, all that. But add in extra calories. No need to skip potatoes, dairy, cheat meals, etc. Just skip that big dextrose shake if you’re not training. Straight food on off days is plenty, I think.

      Reply
  4. emily

    I want to get big and strong but I need to lose weight. Any suggestions for my post – workout meal? Same ratios of macro nutrients just smaller portions?
    Thanks,
    Em

    Reply
    • Chris

      Maybe just stick with 1:1 ratio. You still need some carbs to perform well, if loss is the goal. Just error on the lower side at first and see how you feel/respond. Other meals, keep it pretty paleo.

      Reply
  5. Adam

    Mike mentioned he is into gymnastics now. So am I. Wonder if/how he adjusted nutrition, having what target?

    Reply
    • Chris

      I don’t think Mike has any specific targets for macros. He just eats more carbs to fuel big workouts and to recover better afterwards. I think he shares some of his approach on nuggets and pearls this week. That posts soon.

      Reply
  6. Tom

    Mike mentioned 3Fuel as a protein source post workout but looking at how they recommend taking it, they state prior to your workout. What are your thoughts on pre or post workout?

    Reply
  7. Ryan

    I went into a local supplement store who is connected to a beer/wine brewing place. Anyway I find out the supplement place is going out of business but I still asked if he had or ever had dextrose and he said no. But he says we have dextrose from our beer brewing kits. Is this the same and fine to take with my protein during my workout? Lol

    Reply
    • Chris

      It’s probably exactly the same, yes. Just measure carefully.

      Reply
      • Ryan

        Ok thanks Chris. I’m 230 lbs and still trying to lean a bit, however on the fine line of trying to gain strength on the outlaw way program. What would be an adequate dose of that dextrose with my standard why protein shake. I’m using 1 scoop in my post workout shake followed by 80g/40g carb/protein ratio 30-60 mins after.

        Thanks in advance, much appreciated

        Reply
        • Chris

          Just try a 1:1 ratio to start, pro/carb. If on tough training days, dial it up a little, closer to 2:1, and see how you feel and perform. I could quote guidelines and stuff, but how you feel matters about all else. Start low and work up. Adjust as needed.

          Reply
  8. Nick

    How about for a person currently in ketosis-what should a your ideal window of gainz meal consist of? Avocados and rainbows?

    Reply
  9. Dominick Daidonr

    Hey guys just want to ask a couple questions here.. Everything I’ve read ,which is quite a bit , on post workout nutrition has always said that you should basically eat about .4 g of fast digesting carbs per lb. of body weight in addition to ingesting protein post workout and not infra workout. The only thing I’m struggling with is the advice to actually ingest protein during your workout. Everything I’ve ever read has said not to do this because it pulls blood into your stomach which can lead to performance degradation and induce a hormonal response attached to food digestion which can take away from your work out. Can you dispute this for me, because I’d really like to get a definitive answer. I’ve heard bcaas intros but never protein.

    Reply
    • Dominick Daidonr

      Oh and about .2 to .25 protein not .4 just read that and it sounds strange.

      Reply
  10. graham

    Mike had mentioned that he cut carbs for a month and thought he was feeling fine. Afterwards, he reintroduced carbs and felt considerable better. Did he mean eliminating carbs on the whole and then reintroducing everywhere? or just post-wod?
    I’ve been feeling sluggish lately (getting ~8hrs of sleep) and wondering if this could be part of it?

    Reply
  11. Pat

    If i already add carbs (Karbolyn) to my PWO shake should I avoid carbs at my first meal after working out? I always get tripped up here.

    Reply
    • Chris

      If you’re looking to add muscle, I’d have a proper meal with some sweet potatoes or something as well, yes. Wanting to lose fat and only preserve strength maybe? …You can stick with just the shake.

      Reply
  12. Stefan

    Hey guys, it’s really a helpful post on workout nutrition since there are some people like me aren’t hungry immediately after exercise and even thinking that it is one great idea for my workout. Great one!

    Reply
  13. Kris

    Yo again,

    To clarify, whatever grams of protein in the during workout shake gets subtracted from the 40g? Let’s say 1 scoop of whey is 17g. Do you suggest: A. 1 scoop and a meal (40g:40g) B. 2-3 scoops and a meal (40g:40g) C. 2-3 scoops and a meal (just carbs?) or D. 2-3 scoops to replace the meal? Sorry, dude. I just want to get better and I don’t know anything.

    Reply
  14. Will

    Why are you pushing “post workout window” nutrition so hard when its been known since at least 2007 that the 2 hour window theory is false? Your claim that you need to know what to eat (unlimited amounts of carbs for instance) and when to eat it (immediately after your workout)is total broscience. Before you claim to be a teacher maybe you should get up to date on the materials you teach. Only those that sell supplements still spew this crap.

    Reply
  15. Will

    And your comment on ketosis: “there will be no gains for you my friend” c l early shows that you are totally ignorant on the subject.
    I eat no carbs on a daily basis.
    I am over 60yrs old and have been lifting since I was 13yrs old.
    I workout 7 days a week.
    I bench 350.
    I deadlift 465 for reps.
    I military press 280.
    Preacher curls 80lb dumbbells.
    Cable row 300.
    You really need to have experience in this game if you are going to set yourself up as an expert. Clearly you know nothing about no carb/low carb/ketosis.

    Reply
    • Chris

      Will, it would be helpful if you would discuss more points, and attack less. We don’t view the topic as broscience. Is it 100% true across the board? …No. However, our audience is relatively new to training. Most aren’t eating a lot of food, period. In their case, protein and carbs are a proven thing to do after training. Sorry if you disagree, but there’s plenty of evidence in training and untrained populations that this is a great idea. Athletes in an endless list of sports abide by this, because competing without refeeding is tough. You are strong, great. But maybe you would need more fuel if you took on, say, high volume Crossfit stuff…Or endurance training, whatever. Keep that in mind as you comment. Thanks.

      Reply
  16. Joe

    Great show!

    I’m wanting to try Dougs protein shake durn the work out, but had a question on the carbs. If I stick to a 1:1 ratio and take in 1/2 the needed amounts, would I still benefit from a gainz window meal after, maybe not as high on the carbs?

    And when you guys mention having Paleo like meals throughout the day with veggies, is it safe to assume you mean lower carb veggies?

    And how high does the carbs of a veggie have to be to advisor it for a normal meal?

    Reply
    • Chris

      Yes, yes, and no, you don’t need to worry about carbs from veggies, as long as they are mostly green and non-starchy.

      Reply
  17. Sal

    This was a great episode – There was some contrast in the timings of supplements that were discussed in the show. I am a 170 lb male that is trying to gain strength and burn some fat, I think I have my eating game okay but definitely not my supplements – only doing whey right after training.

    Should I take a 1:1 or 2:1 dextrose: protein during or after my work out?
    I currently take a preworkout that is basically some lactate, bcaas, and is for hydration/mobility (hydrox) and protein after (syntha6).

    Basically I would really appreciate a before/during/after schedule to try for training days. Also any breakfast ideas would be great! I find rice/meat easy after pm workouts but am workouts end up only with a shake and some eggs!

    Reply
  18. db

    Hey Chris,

    Great info as always…my question is, if I do an a.m. and a p.m. work out, do I have two windows of Gainz? For example, a hill run or intervals in the morning and then lifting in the evening.

    Also, adding ‘sugar’ to my shake seems crazy to me, but I trust you guys and just got the big tub of dextrose. We’ll see how it helps with recovery, etc…

    Thanks!

    Reply
  19. Elena

    I really enjoyed this show. I even had to watch again to make sure I didn’t miss too much.

    One of the questions I have deals with two-a-day workouts.
    I do a WOD Mon-Wed at 5AM and then follow that up with a lifting session. The lifting starts around 4 and can last about an hour to an hour and a half.

    I wanted to know what would be best to consume before both workouts and if I should be drinking a post workout shake and trying to eat a post workout meal in the morning.
    Also, would a post workout shake be beneficial after lifting or should I stick to just eating a 1:1 ratio?

    My goal is to get stronger and leaner.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  20. Sheldon Dunlap

    With the points on milk… What about when you’re lactose intolerant?

    Reply
    • Chris

      They have new variations of milk that have reduced sugar and increase protein. Try that.

      Reply
  21. Jorge

    Doug mentioned adding dextrose to his shake that he drinks at the beginning of his workout. How much should be added to the shake. I’m considering trying this. Thanks for any advice.

    Reply
    • Chris

      You can start with a one to one ratio. So, one scoop of sugar and one scoop of protein, maybe 30 grams of each. Adjust from there depending on how you feel.

      Reply
  22. David

    How strict are you with the no fat during your window of Gainz? You mentioned improving taste with butter, cheese. Raw milk would only be whole milk. Coconut milk is a lot of fat.

    I presume you are worried about slowing absorption of the protein? Carbs too?

    Is there a limit to the amount of fat? Just for flavor or is a glass of milk or can of coconut okay?

    Thanks.

    David

    Reply
    • Chris

      Best would be a shake during or right after training, but a bit of fat in your post-wod meal is fine. Glass of milk is a killer growth stimulus.

      Reply
  23. Chris

    any advice for someone who has no access to a kitchen or microwave after the workout. i usually go to the gym before school or work. i feel like i dont eat enough so im trying to add meals. im usually on the go for about 12 hours plus a day. any advice would be appreciated.

    LOVE THE SHOW

    Reply
  24. Alex

    I know I’m reviving an old thread here, but I’m considering adding dextrose to my post/during-workout whey shake for the carbs. I’m not REALLY overweight, but I have some body fat to lose, and I’d like to lose it. Would the calories/sugar from the dextrose just make me fatter? Should I still eat a lot for a post-workout meal after the shake it I add the dextrose? Basically trying to slim down more, so is the dextrose a good idea or not?

    Reply
    • Chris

      If the real goal is slimming, then you have to manage calories and carbs.

      Train hard, have your shake, but then I would perhaps eat a regular, non-gains meal for dinner or whatever after training. If you sip the shake DURING the WOD, then you can probably add a serving of quality carbs to that post-workout meal.

      The dextrose itself is great. If you’re measuring it out with a target count in mind for each shake, combining with protein, and of course, not sipping on casually between meals 😉 then you won’t get fatter, no. It’s fuel, and you need that to train. So just keep it around training.

      C

      Reply
      • Alex

        Thanks so much for the reply (and I love the show, bummed that it’s over, but there are plenty of backlogs to listen to!). For my goals, what amount of dextrose should I put in this during-workout shake, do you think? I usually put 50g of whey. I’m having a hard time believing that putting 50g of sugar (dextrose) into there is a good idea. What do you think? I’ve listened to this episode a couple of times, I’m just looking for an idea for my goals. Thanks a TON, I think you’re the shit.

        Reply
        • Chris

          If you trained hard, 50g carbs isn’t much. 1:1 ratio in that shake would be pretty standard. To gain more, 2:1 carb to protein.

          Reply
  25. Kyle

    I train first thing in AM around 5 and usually drink bulletproof coffee afterwards while on my way/at work. I don’t really eat anything else until lunch time and just fuel my morning with the MCT oil/butter.

    I don’t feel like I am taking advantage of the window of gainz so my question is should I cut the coffee and just have a post workout shake/meal or can I still enjoy my coffee and a PWO shake/meal without having too much first thing in the morning.

    Thanks Chris for everything you and the Barbell Shrugged team does.

    Reply
    • Chris

      If you have the coffee AND the meal you’d be getting way too many calories. The bulletproof thing is for those looking to lose weight…restrict overall calories. To gain muscle and strength, you need a gains strategy. So, drop the coffee and get in a big serving of protein and carb.

      Reply
  26. Chance Brewster

    Question for Doug, say you are just doing an hour and a half of bjj, I’m guessing not worthy enough for a true post workout meal?

    Reply
    • Chris

      I would say it warrants the meal, yes. If gaining muscle is the goal, especially. I know I’m not Doug, but having rolled a bit (with Doug) I can attest to the workload.

      Reply
  27. Ellen

    I had some questions about nutrition so I registered to this podcasts. I heard a few ideas from y’all, ans I am wondering what the most adventageous route is for pre/post workout nutrition. I do Crossfit metcons and skill or strength work after. I was thinking maybe a Creatine/beta alanine/bcaa mix before working out, and a whey protein/dextrose after to replinish. Any advice on changing this idea?

    I go eat a meal about an hour after I finish up at the gym. And I’ve liked the cocoon powder progenex makes for before bed. I don’t just have a ton of money to keep spending on sups, so I was also wondering what y’all think is more valuable than others when it comes to this stuff. Maybe I could just eat a banana after instead of the dextrose, even though it’d be fructose?

    Y’all are awesome! I freakin love yalls podcast. Thanks so much for your help!

    Reply
  28. Ali

    Is it both the shake during training and meal straight after or just one of those ?

    Reply
  29. Post Workout Eating Window

    […] Post Workout Nutrition: The Window of Gainz – Episode 178 – This week on Barbell Shrugged we talk … have the appetite and eating habits of a fussy toddler. That’s just not good enough when high performance is the expectation. Listen, you have full permission in the post-training “Window of Gainz” … […]

    Reply

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