Do You Need Carbs Pre & Post Workout?

Posted by Nate Miyaki

Guest Post by Nate Miyaki, Author of Feast Your Fat Away

Here’s the thing about gaining muscle in general.

Anabolic activity takes time.  Protein synthesis is elevated for 48 hours post-workout.  So building up a gun show worthy of selling tickets to is not just about a 3-hour eating window or whatever, its about what you do with your overall diet.

If you are training 3 or more days a week, every meal matters for muscle growth, not some magical shake at a magical time.

If you strength train Renegade-style, and eat enough protein and calories, you will grow. It will take some time.  But it will happen.

Here’s what some smart dudes have to say, ones that don’t work for magic pill companies:

In the 24 to 48 hours after resistance exercise, the muscle protein metabolism response occurs.  Thus, any meals consumed during this time will affect muscle hypertrophy (ie, increase muscle size)” – NSCA

But I do believe peri-workout nutrition is absolutely important.  Why?  It’s all about being anti-catabolic, or preventing muscle from being burned as a fuel source.

Post Workout

Muscle/protein/amino acid use for fuel is highest in a glycogen depleted state, particularly a liver glycogen depleted state.  Why?  Because the number one goal for your body is to fuel your brain, not look good at the beach.

Now, if you are training like a Renegade chances are your liver glycogen stores are depleted post workout.

So you want to take in some carbs at this time to provide your body and brain with an immediate fuel source.  That way, it won’t have to use the muscles expanding your shoulder width for fuel.


The need for pre-workout carbs is a little trickier because it depends on the time of day you train.  Again it’s related to liver glycogen stores.

Sufficient liver glycogen not only prevents muscle from being burned as a fuel, it is also what ultimately fuels the brain and central nervous system.

Depleted liver glycogen is what normally leads to whole-body fatigue during a workout = crappy workouts = poor stimulus for muscle growth = failed muscle growth phase.

So you want the right fuel at the right time, but you don’t have to make it as complicated as some of the coaches out there proclaim.

1. If you are eating feasting style, there is no need for carbs pre-workout if you are training in the morning.  You will have plenty of both muscle and liver glycogen stores from the previous night’s meal to fuel your workout.

2. If you are training late morning/lunch/early afternoon at the end of a fasting period and before eating, liver glycogen stores are low. You may want a small amount of carbs to just get you through your workout.  I use 1-2 pieces of fruit in this situation – quick carbs without digestive stress or rebound hypoglycemia.

3. If you are training in the afternoon or evening, your lunch is your pre-workout meal.  Have some carbs with it.

For more, highly targeted pre and post-workout protocols, check out Feast Your Fat Away.

NOTE: Jay is no longer accepting guest post. Please do not submit a request for one.