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Protein or Carbs? Before or After workout?

Should I be consuming protein or carbs after a workout? Or both? Which macro is more important for muscle building or are they equally?

Protein is by far the most important macro for muscle building, which is why people can build muscle on a ketogenic (high fat, low carb) diet.

But while the hype is always around post-workout nutrition (recovery and protein shakes), in my opinion it is your pre-workout nutrition that’s more important. What you consume before your workout will be in your system and available when it’s needed.

There isn’t a requirement for food directly after training it should be said. When you train, you up-regulate protein synthesis (the building of new protein in the muscle) but this lasts for hours post-training so there is no urgent or frantic rush to down a protein shake as soon as you finish.

That said, to optimise results I would have the protein serving before training (30-40g between 60-90 mins pre training) and then have the same again within two hours of finishing training. It makes sense to add some carbohydrate to the post-workout feed to aid muscle repair and restore muscle glycogen but is not essential.

Remember that muscle-building is a slow and unpredictable process, so you should not expect to be gaining kilograms of lean tissue in a short space of time. At Bodyscan, DEXA scans record relatively small increases in lean mass over time, especially when individuals are trying to lose body fat at the same time. Body recomposition is attempted by many but achieved by few without expert help, because it happens in a tightly-defined sweet spot where calories are slightly below maintenance and the resistance programme combines intensity and volume to an optimum level.

Our DEXA information video on Fat Loss v Muscle Gain contrasts the two objectives. If you have any questions or are looking for advice, the very best thing to do is to book an appointment with us now. You may be surprised to discover you carry very low levels of muscle mass, which makes consumption of protein even more important.

Archie Williams
(former) Bodyscan Consultant

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