Do you need protein immediately after training? (surprising answer…..)

Greetings!  Just wanted to drop you a great question today about protein and muscle growth!

Yeah, I know…. more yapping about protein but the constant swirling of confusion about it out there never seems to stop!

Here is today’s question

“Hi Mike.  I heard lots of talk that I need a protein shake immediately after I am done training.  People are debating about how long you can go after training without protein. They said that if you don’t have some protein immediately you will go catabolic and lose muscle.  This does not seem to make sense to me, what are your thoughts? Thanks!”

Great question!

Let me jump right to the point…

…I don’t think any type of 0-2 hour window exists where you HAVE to get in protein.

There I said it!

If it does (and there are some data to show it does exist), it won’t slam shut at 2 hours without protein.

Heck, FASTED training still shows an increase in markers of protein synthesis (FSR or fractional synthetic rate).

Although it is NOT as high as with consuming protein post training.

Completely confused now?

Here is the breakdown

Fasted training is not a catabolic, muscle wasting nightmare, bug-a-boo, that it is made out to be by the Broscience promoting
goof troops at Planet Fitness.

While you do breakdown muscle tissue when training, much of that broken down tissue (amino acids) are actually recycled back into the muscle.

Training in a fasted state is a “neutral” event for muscle growth.  You definitely don’t slid backwards into a catabolic muscle wasting comatose state.

Cool factoid interruption!

Fasted training also still shows glycogen (stored glucose) replacement post training too—holy cow batman?

How can that be done without incoming food?

Most likely it was from a conversion of fat (some) and primarily lactate back to glucose via the Cori Cycle in the liver.

But I digress…

Muscle synthesis (making muscles bigger) is a process that continues on for quite some time post training.

Metabolic rate can stay elevated for up to 48 hours with muscle protein turnover can account for about 25% of the increased metabolic rate.

What about timing?

If you ONLY look at timing, the results are NOT that impressive.  Again, this is with the SAME calories and SAME macros!

Dr Paul Cribb conducted one of the best studies done where they tested a drink in the AM/PM or pre/post training.  In that study, the ONLY thing they altered was the TIMING. Each group got the exact same beverage, just different times.

The Pre/Post group showed a huge change, but the study was NOT replicated when it was done again in a different lab.

I met Paul when I was presenting at the ISSN conference in Vegas this year.  Great guy as we snacked on some bug together and very knowledgeable, but studies can be different for a whole host of reasons.

What we want to look for is many studies, repeated over time, all pointing to the similar conclusions.  Right now, the data on timing only is pretty split, but there are only a handful of other studies ONLY looked at timing.

Tons of studies on protein/carbs pre and post, but they only look at pre or post with or without, not altering timing only.

Does this mean post training protein is bad or not needed?


It just means that having it then or waiting a bit is probably nothing to write home about.

What to do?

Get some in as soon as you can but don’t lose your mind if it takes 30-90 minutes.

Bonus Tip

When you take protein in, look to get about 20-40 grams of whey protein in all at once.


You want to get all the leucine at once (more than 2 grams) to turn on muscle protein synthesis aka MPS – the process of actually making bigger muscles.

When you spread it out, you only get a tiny bit of leucine at once, so probably not enough to initially turn on MPS.

Break out the protein bong!

A new study from Dr. Philips lab looked at this recently and taking all your protein at once is better than spreading it out over several hours.

Look for my newest invention, the protein bong, in stores very soon! haha

2 Effects

Protein has 2 effects 1) raw material and 2) kick start MPS (muscle protein synthesis).    People forget about #2.

A dose of about 2 grams of leucine solves #2.  I appears to be better given as a bolus though (all at once).

Leucine Madness

Going OVER about a 2 gram dose of leucine at once does not appear to FURTHER push up MPS.

Once my light is on, I can push on the light switch even harder (more leucine), but the light (MPS) does NOT get brighter!  Thanks to Anthony Roberts for pointing this out again recently too.

More data

Look for a whole chapter in the new book on “Protein and Resistance Training” through CRC press due out in Feb of 2012.

I co-wrote a chapter in the book and my good friends Dave Barr and Dr. Josh Cotter did an amazing chapter all about timing that is a must read for Warrior Nerds everywhere.  I was able to read an advance version since I worked on the book and their chapter was awesome and busts a ton of  Broscience.


Consume about 1-2 scoops of whey protein post training to speed along more muscle growth

This does NOT need to be done at minute 1 post training.  Within 1-2 hours is best.

Shifting more protein to this time post training does NOT appear to have massive benefit. The catch is that the TIMING only does not seem to matter a ton, but getting MORE protein post training should help

Consume the protein all at once and don’t spread it out over several hours.

Any questions, let me know!

One more thing!

If you are interested in my private 1:1 training, I have a couple spots open.   This kind of bleeding edge info is just the tip of the iceberg to get you massive results in record time.

Just shoot me an email with any questions!

Rock on,
Mike N
PS–I have something really cool coming for you tomorrow, so don’t miss it.

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