The Ultimate Guide To Muscle: Supplementation

If you are new to this series, be sure to check out Part 1 on Genetics and Training and Part 2 on Nutrition.

You should also note the order of these parts.

#1: Knowing your body (genetics) and how to maximize its potential (training).

#2: Solid, natural food first. A high quality and healthy nutrition plan.

Supplementation for building muscle only comes AFTER you have a solid training program and a high quality, protein rich diet of real food.

David Del Jefe wrote a great article on why most supplements are a waste of money. Note that the title declares most, not all, supplements are a waste of money. In my experience, you cannot continue to build muscle naturally, fast, without a few vital supplements.

Whey Protein

After you have a solid plan for five high quality protein meals a day, the first supplement you must add to your diet is a high quality protein powder.

There is simply no way to get enough protein from natural food unless you literally eat 7 times a day like The Rock did when filming Hercules.  And even The Rock supplemented with a protein drink around his workout.  He was also taking in over 400 grams of protein a day and can afford to eat that much high quality food.  You and I are not The Rock, so we need to supplement with protein powder.

The key with protein supplementation is, just like muscle fiber types, the type and the timing. Here are my three liquid whey protein guidelines.

1. A high calorie protein weight gainer BEFORE your workout (30 min to 1 hr).

I might change this in the future after watching Jeff Cavaliere’s video on how much weight gainers suck (always learning, never an expert), but for me, the extra calories that come from higher carbs in this protein drink give me extra energy in the gym that fuels my work out.

The high calorie/carb count of weight gainers only sucks if you are slinging back 500 to 1000 extra liquid calories on your non-training days.  That is when you “bulk” and get fat. Weight gainer indeed, but not the kind of weight you want!

I think the rant Jeff goes on against weight gainers is about the cheap, cheap COSTCO, WAL-MART tub style of protein weight gainer.  The stuff you find at a grocery store, not a specialty sports nutrition store.  If you are paying $30 to $40 for a 6 or 10 lb tub of “high quality protein” that will “pack on the mass”… it ain’t.  It’s horseshit.

What you want to look for is a weight gainer that combines everything you need in one protein mix – staged protein delivery, glutamine, creatine, BCAAs and a specifically formulated carb matrix that takes advantiage of your body’s natural responses to training.  And it won’t be cheap.  You are probably looking at $60 min to $80 to $100 plus for a 5 or 6 lb container.  Really look at the ingredients closely.  Choose one that clearly breaks down how they create their carb matrix, what they use for taste, how they approach the other supplements (BCAAs etc) in their product.

supplements-oldschool

2. A whey protein isolate immediately, within 30 minutes, after your workout.

I have been downing whey isolate right there in the gym immediately after my very last set for the first time and it is having an amazing effect on my recovery and gains.  Isolate protein is the fastest absorbing and highest bio-available protein you can have right after a workout.  It helps to halt the catabolic process of muscle tissue breakdown right then and there.  If you are still getting DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness – after your workouts despite adequate nutrition intake, downing an isolate protein drink immediately after your workout will probably eliminate this.

There is also something to be said for a little sugar water and isolate sipped during your workout.  It helps to stave off dehydration, but also the instant and immediate demands for energy.  With just a little added sugar for energy while pushing weight, your body is less likely to turn to protein breakdown that is the catabolic process to sustain your energy instead.

I had a chance run-in with a kung fu artist in life and we got to talking about hydration during hard training.  He avoids the corporate solution – Gatorade and Powerade.  He told me that a 50/50 mix of water and pure grape juice (not white) will deliver a far better balance of hydration with sugar and other nutrients the body needs sweating up a tsunami in the gym or on the field.  Add a little whey isolate to the mix and you have the perfect hydration solution for those “leave it all on the floor” days in the gym.

 

3. An optional sustained release, low calorie/carb protein mix on off days.

This has come with experience and intuition over 20 years.  I no longer take an off-day liquid protein supplement all by itself (i.e. to add an additional meal to my diet that should be real food, not a supplement). But, I don’t avoid them like the plague either.  If I take in any additional liquid protein on my off-days, they are primarily:

  • whey isolates first thing in the morning when my muscles are starved from fasting overnight
  • as an added supplement to a real food meal, with the meal, never as a meal replacement
  • never a full serving, only 1/2 or so.

This approach to powdered liquid protein supplementation has helped me get muscle gains faster while also saving money and staying lean.

You will also notice I focus my liquid protein supplementation around my workout – all within the first 8 to 12 hours.   After that, I scale back considerably, especially on rest days and breaks from training. (By break, I mean I am not serious about mass.  I still train, but not as hard and rely primarily on real food to get my protein.)  As you get used to this, your body will begin to tell you when you need some quick liquid protein because your muscles are demanding it, and the times when solid food will be enough until your next meal.

With this approach to protein, you now have a method and goal for having a liquid protein drink in your diet. 

It is not just to have one because you are supposed to or, worst mistake of all, as a complete replacement of what should be a real food meal. This intuitive approach to protein supplementation can only be gained with experience and by being very attuned to how your body is feeling during recovery days.  Trust me, once you get a feel for it, your gains will be massive, you will be leaner and you will save money.

supplements-kratom2

Branch Chain Amino Acids

A must for muscle protein synthesis post workout.  If you have them in your protein supplement, you probably don’t need to spend money on these.  If not, get some.

Glutamine

This is another supplement that you can skip if you can find it included in your protein drink.  This stuff is primarily for joint repair and immune system support.  It helps keep your body in good shape for the next workout.

Creatine

A lot of trainers and gym vets swear by this supplement. I have never used it except for when it was a part of my protein drink.

The advice given in Scrawny to Brawny is once again common sense and balanced.  There is no need for a creatine loading phase.  Just add a single scoop to your energy and recovery protein drinks and don’t think any more about it.

I would also only recommend investment in creatine after you have:

  • Dialed in your nutrition.
  • Maximized your training routine.

You are eating and growing well enough already.  You are pushing good to heavy weight every workout with great recovery and high intensity.  If this is you, then creatine may be worth investing in as I am now considering doing for the first time.

My reasoning for this is that if you are still figuring out your diet and training routine, you will simply not benefit from creatine.

Will it help?  Probably.  But with so much money to be spent on supplements, I would rather you invest in a high grade and more expensive protein supplement than add creatine to a cheap COSTCO no-name brand $20 weight gainer.

To sum up.  When it comes to supplementation:

  • natural food first
  • protein supplement second
  • everything else last.

And only if your own research into it proves to you that it is a quality supplement and worth the investment. Everything else is just smoke and mirrors to remove money from your wallet as fast as you can say 6-pack abs in an hour with this one pill!!!

Which brings us to the most important part of building muscle naturally—rest and recovery.  Stay tuned.

Read More: The #1 Reason You’re Struggling To Gain Muscle

103 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide To Muscle: Supplementation”

  1. Glutamine and creatine can be very helpful for muscle repair and muscle development. Whey protein, I’m allergic to anything related to dairy. So I suggest for high quality protein just sticking to eggs and animal protein.

    1. You can buy various plant protein powders. A friend of mine used to use pea protein.
      I can sometimes be prone to acid reflux. Glutamine helps greatly with that.

    2. If you have lactose intolerance then whey isolate should not be a problem, since it hardly conains any lactose.

  2. This list is clearly incomplete. I don’t see any mention of kratom on here.

  3. At some point I just said fuck it with the supplements.
    It’s expensive, and too many salesmen in this business trying to get my money. Fuck them, I’m keeping it simple, currently doing IF and having a high quality diet. Keep your expenses low, don’t be a bitch consumer, keep things simple: do you really need supplements?

    1. I’m playing with pre workouts right now just to get rid of the afternoon slump. My favorite supplements for ultimate manliness are liver and eggs; two of the most nutritious foods there are. Trying to incorporate oysters into my diet as well since they are so high in zinc but damn if they’re not the nastiest things…like a big ball of snot.

      1. How do you not like oysters? They’re delicious! But anyways, use pre workout with moderation. I’ve been taking pre workouts for as long as I can remember and I became dependent on them. No pre workouts = shitty workout session. I’m trying to change that right now.

        1. I have a recipe I might be trying tonight that incorporates oysters so wish me luck. Basically it’s a oyster and potato chowder. Sounds promising.
          As for pre-workouts, I only take them a couple times per week when I know I’m going to have an intense martial arts training session.

      2. I now workout completely fasted in the morning. Didn’t notice much difference, if anything I like it better as i feel completely clean. Might be psychological though.

        1. Yeah, fasted training rocks!
          While I agree generally with your ‘real food no supps’ I tend to follow Martin Berkhan’s ‘leangains’ protocol when IF and take some BCAA’s…

        2. I feel lethargic when I workout fasted in the morning. I still do some cardio (biking for weight loss) that way, but not weightlifting. Somehow, evenings work best for lifting, for me.

        1. Indeed!
          And yes, difficult not to respect him… Ripped to shreds back in the 50s and time has proven him pretty much spot on wrt many if not most of his theories (except the really out there stuff!).

    1. Yes… a good multi-vitamin is important as well… but again… you can get a lot of what you need from real solid food. I will hammer it home again and again because it is a mistake I made for years. You have to eat right first. When you get your diet and training dialed in, your body will tell you that a multi-vitamin is needed, which is where I am at right now.

      1. This is *such* an important piece of advice…
        It’s why they are called *supplements*…
        Don’t use unless analysis of *yourself* says you need any specific one, and make sure you get your info from *science*, not ‘bro-science’.

    2. I use animal pack as my multi. A lot to swallow in the morning (especially since I also take a fish oil pill and prescription advil, but I find it does 2 things. 1) it gives me the vitamins and replenishment I need considering a very stressful workout cycle and 2) help me guage my water…I know if I am pissing clear by 2 pm I am doing well.

  4. Congratulations on a decent article on supplements – was always going to be a challenge as it’s one of those subjects that brings out the bro-science and the opinionated arguments.
    Worth mentioning examine.com and suppversity for research-based sites that give the current state of the *facts* behind any given supplement.
    You basically said “whey protein and creatine”, and these work as the top two recommendations. There are others, for example fish oils, that genuinely have a lot going for them, but the real key to supplementation is getting the data on your own body – for example mineral analysis on your hair or blood work for your hormonal levels… but that’s a whole new level and I think your article keeps to the sound and research-backed top recommendations.
    Of course illustrating with Frank Zane and Chris Dickerson means you should probably have added Test Enanthate and Dianabol (at the least!) to the list 😉
    As another poster said… ‘Part 4 – drugs’ so we’ll look forward to the post on AAS’s perhaps?

    1. Thanks Marcus. Don’t know about Frank Zane and steroids but it would not surprise me. I have an article on steroids I was debating submitting, thinking it might not be needed or might stir up too much controversy and distract from my previous articles. But I think it is needed after reading some of the comments here. Part 4 drugs, I see you. LOL 🙂

      1. Can’t have RoK stirring up controversy now, can we? LOL…
        I think it would be worth an article as it is part of the real world, plenty of RoK readers appear to enjoy lifting, and even those who are against using I suspect would find a no-BS article interesting. John Doe Bodybuilding has some awesome articles on the subject, but clearly from a bodybuilder who does use AAS’s. You should definitely do it!

    2. “You basically said “whey protein and creatine”
      Yes… and I have not really tried creatine at all yet in my life. I have always trained by 1) real food and 2) whey protein. Everything else is a waste of money. Any other supplement is added AFTER you hit a wall and the science, from your own research and conclusions, tell you to give it a try.

      1. Couldn’t agree more.
        Best sites I’ve found for the science research are the mentioned examine.com and the suppversity blog (especially! the guy is a researcher and knows his stuff like nobody else I’ve seen)…

      2. I find creative incredibly helpful to my body. If you are looking for physique (and not just strong man levels of strength) however, stick with creatine HCL if you try it at all…you won’t retain the water.

    1. actually, an honest article about Dianabol and Test-E would be a very good article. I think every person who takes lifting seriously will, at some point, need to consider and decide on these things. I got to a point where I realized that the next level was only possible with these drugs. I did my research and decided against them. That doesn’t mean I won’t reconsider in a year or two it just means that in my mind the tradeoff was not worth it.
      Maybe for others it is. Too many people saying it is WRONG. But it’s not. It is wrong for me, but maybe not wrong for someone else and an honest article from someone with experience would go a long way to helping people make informed decisions….understanding the real risks (not the “oh your penis will explode” bs you get from the world) and the real rewards (not the “take these and you will instantly become Arnold with no work” you get from some others)

        1. I’ve read only B&D. I also got some very good first hand information from someone who does use gear and who I trust.
          I made my decision based on solid facts and first hand experience from someone I trusted. I am not sure everyone gets that chance.

        2. You are right, and also right to think carefully before taking that route.
          All three sites Unabashed mentioned are good, and I would rate John Doe the best of them. In fact one of the best and most brutally honest no-BS bodybuilding sites on the net, and discussion of AAS is only a small part of the solid gold info on JDB…

        3. I have come to the conclusion that I will never have a raw score over 1300 while maintaining a body fat % under 12. I just can’t do it. Not at my age.
          I am now happy with my 12-15% bf and the numbers I put up aren’t my best, but are, adjusted for age, top 5% of non juicer I would venture.
          If I went the route of the gear I would sacrifice a lot of my life and a lot of the things I enjoy just based on the time. I could have everything I want in one aspect of my life (lifting and physique) but would pay for it with a lot of other things I enjoy.
          For me, balance was more important even if I am a little more cushy than I was 20 years ago.
          Other people may chose differently and more power too them, I just hope they get good info.

  5. Go to this guy’s article and look at item 12. It explains how much protein you actually need, and lists studies to back it up.
    http://revolutionarylifestyledesign.com/20-diet-and-training-mistakes-you-need-to-stop-making/
    “With the exception of maybe elite level bodybuilders carrying 90 lbs. or more of lean muscle, you only need at most, 120 grams of protein per day.”
    This helped me because people kept telling me I needed a gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight. I’m 220 pounds, and so I was eating 220 grams of protein. Not only did I not need that much, but eating that much protein was needlessly hogging up a ton of calories in my diet.

    1. Tim… thank you for this. An excellent article that is confirming some of my experience as well. I agree with almost every point, but do have reservations about some of his advice. I am actually going to do up a response to this article point by point because my reply to your comment was getting way to long. 🙂

  6. Never seen so much bullshit togheter like in this article. Supplements are just another shit from the corporate matrix in order to monetize people dreams. Supplements doesn´t work in general, wishful thinking they can give you a 5% edge in case you nutrition and workouts are barely perfect and even thoug they are not money worth. Also please stop mixing protein powder with supplements, protein powders have calories and are a food replacemet not a supplement.

        1. NattyorNot is a pretty good site/blog that exposes the BS of supplement claims and also
          exposes the heavy steroid and PED use of famous bodybuilders and
          fitness models.
          The gist is that if you want to be truly natty, then your growth potential is limited by genetics and general human limitations.

        2. ooh yeah, thats a pretty good place to start researching, i also recommend the book “convict conditioning” all the serie, in his book C-mass the author explains how to build your hormones, and it has to do a lot with how much you sleep, not how much you eat as many people say, the author says that one of the reasons why our modern generation are testoterone starve is because of long work patterns, less quality of sleep, and of course, no workouts like the men of yore

        3. Quote:”in his book C-mass the author explains how to build your hormones, and
          it has to do a lot with how much you sleep, not how much you eat as many
          people say”
          Part 4 of my series. But even if you are sleeping, if you are not eating, you are wasting your time in the gym.

      1. Over 10 years lifting. Reached a while ago mi max muscle genetic development. Strict nutrion and consistent workout over years. Enough CV ?

        1. Yes… exactly. You can choose to supplement or not. If you are patient, you can build solid mass over time with consistent good diet and training. Supplementation is always for those who are pushing their genetic potential.

      2. muscles are not even made of protein, like many gurus say, they are made mostly of water. if you drank 5 liters of water your forearms are not gonna turn into popeyes forearms. That being said, what actually makes muscle is testosterone. The rock is not that big because of his workouts or because of his supplements, he’s that big because of steroids (aka, synthetic testosterone).

        1. I can’t believe how much false information is out there. Testosterone is a factor in facilitating muscle protein synthesis.
          Effect of testosterone on muscle mass and muscle protein synthesis.
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2917954
          “These studies suggest that testosterone increases muscle mass by increasing muscle protein synthesis.”
          Synthesis… of the building blocks of amino acids that create muscle tissue…
          That are delivered to the muscle via the blood stream…
          That comes from the intake and mixture of water with real food in digestion…
          That you can also get in concentrated form in whey protein for easier (thus faster) absorption…
          Of which BCAAs are the most complete broken down form of amino acids used in anabolic protein synthesis.
          Sounds to me like you see “testosterone” and think all guys who are huge are on roids because “that’s what makes muscles”.
          Maybe some are… but they did not get huge BECAUSE of steroids.
          They got big because they actually understand the science of building muscle and supplement to enhance their diet and training in the gym to maximize their genetic potential.
          Thank you for commenting and showing just how little you understand the process of building muscle and validating my entire article.

    1. Exactly. This is the same shit as “loose fat quick” or “Secrets to get rid of eye bags” that they pander to women.
      Snake oil, my friends. Natures cure for everything.
      Here is the only stuff you need to make gains:
      Eggs
      Lean Meat
      Veggies
      Fruits
      Whole grain bread
      It worked for Hercules, Alexander, Thor, William Wallace, etc…and it will work for you.
      So sick of these marketing people trying to sell this shit all the while showing people like Arnold or Sly who are known to use anabolic steroids.

        1. They had bread back then. But you shouldn’t get this quickly produced white bread. That shit is too pure. Whole grain is best or you can do old school wheat if you can stand eating something that tastes like cardboard. However, bread should not be consumed using the “FDA’s food pyramid guide”. What is it now…like 10-12 servings per day. Effin ridiculous. Now, if you eat a single slice to soak up that meat sauces during dinner….then you will be fine. Plus, carbs break down to complex sugars and that is fuel for your body. Problem that Americans have is that they eat way too much…cinnamon rolls, muffins, burgers, etc. Bread at every shit meal. I only eat bread at lunch and dinner but in small portions. When I cut heavily…I only eat one slice of bread at dinner. And I cut fast due to it.

        2. No worries. I guess my diet is like Paleo but I don’t go for all the fad shit like Paleo Pancakes. I just stick with “If they didn’t eat it at the times of Hercules; then I won’t either”. You’ll be surprised how better you feels after a couple weeks of eating clean and natural. And I always get the natural stuff. Free range chicken eggs. No hormone, free range chicken breast. ETC. The stuff is a little pricer right now but I have been seeing the cost come down here in So California. Hippie consumers are good for something. And, plus, wouldn’t you want to pay a couple bucks more to get premium food for your body instead of water down unleaded if you knew that it extended your gas mileage by 100 and made your engine last years longer?

  7. Can’t recommend BCAA and Creatine enough. Creatine really helps me kick into high gear and destroy my sets. Has been known to naturally increase testosterone. BCAA is the difference between 1 off day and two sometimes. Really helps recovery.

      1. BCAA = branch chain amino acids. They are the building blocks for protein in the body. Many brands of whey protein powder now include BCAA in the mix to increase potency if you read the fine print on the label.

        1. Bingo.
          Also why using while Intermittent Fasting (ala Leangains) works and isn’t counted as breaking the fast…

        2. Actually that has been proven to be false. You can have a good meal hours after a workout and get the same benefits.

        3. Wrong again. The window after your workout, if you intake highly bio available amino acids (whey and BCAAs), will flood your bloodstream with building material that the body won’t have to breakdown from your muscle tissue until you finally get around to eating a real meal 2 or 4 hours later… having now missed the opportunity to not only STOP catabolism after a hard workout, but turn your body anabolic and keep it anabolic for the next 24 hours.

        4. Precisely! You do get it. But… whey protein still has to be broken down by the body. It will still take TIME to get the BCAAs out of whey, into the blood, and into the muscle. A BCAA supplement is… complete… amino acid intake… no breakdown required (in theory). It is the absolute highest bio-availble form of BCAAs you can get.

        5. That is all great on paper. However, in practice it won’t make a difference if your diet is in order, meaning you are consuming enough protein to keep your nitrogen balance out of the red zone.
          Like I already mentioned in previous posts, BCAAs can be an asset if you are a natural bodybuilder or if you are on low doses of gear during the final stage of contest prep. During that period you are in extreme coloric deficit and BCAAs can help prevent catabolism somewhat. But for the majority of fitness enthousiasts it won’t make a difference.
          Time is also a non-issue if your protein consumption is above average. The amino acids of your previous meals will be in your bloodstream and readily available.

        6. There’s the old story again about amino acids flooding the bloodstream. Some myths just won’t die.
          Peope whose protein intakes are so high won’t get any benefits because their bloodstream is already flooded with amino acids. That’s when the rule of diminishin results kicks and you are just thowing your money away.
          Jason Blaha explains it here:

    1. This is incorrect. Creatine most definitely does not increase testosterone. It might change the active/inactive ratio and besides that, it will only have a noticable effect if you are a vegetarian or a vegen. Since meat contains creatine.
      Regarding that high gear you are talking about, are you sure you are talking about only creatine or a preworkout that contains protein?
      And if you actually notice that BCAA’s help your recovery, you really need to check your diet.

    2. I’m using BCAAs post, during, and pre-workout as Craig Capurso recommends. So far it seems to help, but it’s often hard to differentiate how much exactly.

  8. What’s the take on pre-workout supplements. I tried something from BME Labz called Focal Point. It got me buzzing like a humming bird for workouts. More and longer sets. But is it really any different from Red Bull ?

      1. I’m staying away from steroids, testosterone, HGH. Side effects can be irreversible. Natural fit is good for me.

  9. Does whey protein powder make anybody sleepy or groggy? It makes me feel lethargic, and that’s why I don’t do more.

  10. 1) Weightgainers are usually crap and many contain high amounts of simple sugars. Those high calorie weightgainers were the thing in the 90’s and one would think that people know better nowadays. However, drinking a protein shake can be very convenient. You can make your own weightgainer shake with whey protein powder, milk, oatmeal, and some fruit.
    Staged protein delivery is way overrated and does nothing in real life. It’s just people parroting each other which reinforces that fairy tale. If you consume enough protein rich meals throughout the day you are good to go.
    Supplement companies love to point out that glutamine has shown great results in certain studies, but conveniently overlook the fact that these studies were preformed on burn victims and vegans; people who have a severe deficiency. When tested on healthy athletes, the results were rather disappointing.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17111006
    Creatine actually works and has some benefits. If you happen to be a vegetarian or a vegan. People who regularly consume meat won’t notice much.
    BCAA’s are a waste of money, unless you are a natural bodybuilder in contest prep. In that case BCAA’s can help preserve muscle mass when you are in deep caloric deficit during those final days before going on stage. Needless to say, most recreational lifters do not fall into that category. Again, if you consume high protein meals throughout the day you will not have a BCAA deficiency and you’ll just be pissing your money away.
    2) That whey shake immediately after your workout is again just broscience. There is no 30 minute window of opportunity for protein synthesis following a workout.
    Tipton and colleagues (2003) examined responsiveness of protein synthesis for a day after a workout, and found it to reflect a 24 hour enhanced level. That’s right folks, a FULL DAY! This means that having a morning shake will have the same impact on muscle protein synthesis as one consumed following the workout!
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12388164
    These results shouldn’t be too surprising because we’ve known for over a decade that postworkout protein synthesis is jacked up for this long (MacDougall et al., 1995)
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8563679
    3) A liquid protein on your off day won’t affect you either. It’s all about making sure that your protien/carb/fat ratio and quantity remains optimal. Whether the protein is liquid or not is of no importance.
    ======================
    P.S. Interesting that there are pictures of Frank Zane, Chris Dickerson, and Bertil Fox in this article. Those guys are from an era when there were hardly any supplements available. Some basic protein powders that tasted like crap, but there were no creatine or glutamine supplements back then. So they relied on plain old food for their gains. And they took steroids, which works better than any legal supplement.

    1. Yeah, I would never take a weight gainer, especially after I hit 200 pounds (am 6 feet). I don’t need to gain any more weight. A simple whey isolate and occasional creatine cycling works fine when lifting. I usually do a day a week of liquid protein as well, so skipping full meals every now and then is not going to kill you.

      1. Weightgainers will make you gain weight, that much is true, but most of it won’t be the kind of weight you are looking for. That is my point.
        And why would you want to do a week of liquid protein, what is the idea behind that? I have to tell you that it does not make much sense to me. Unless you have broken jaw and therefore you have no choice.

        1. I concur on the weight gainers, but I said I do a day a week–one day per week–of liquid protein meals, and oftentimes, not even that. Though I do frequently have a whey isolate shake in place of a full meal. I could never do an entire week on said diet.

  11. What happened to natural protein foods and patience? You guys are killing yourselves with this crap, just read the labels on these products lol

    1. I agree… but don’t dismiss good high quality supplementation out of hand. Your body will only grow so far with natural food. Or… you will have to eat a lot more food than most are able to afford. It is also a time saver if you have a busy schedule to have a liquid protein shake ready to go wherever you are. Supplementation is for serious lifters who have, I would suggest, at least a solid year or two under their belts with a solid nutrition plan and consistent trips to the gym.

  12. you are all consuming too much protein.
    search for – the myth of 1glb optimal protein intake for bodybuilders
    it’s on a website which seems to be on somebody’s shit list as everytime i post a link it gets deleted.
    now say it with me – beefcake! beeeefcaaaake!

  13. Guys like Brad Schoenfeld and Aran Aragon are not exactly lightweights when it comes to sports nutrition, and they also disagree about the “anabolic window of opportunity”.
    They did a study about 3 years ago and found that when it comes to building muschle mass, protein timing is not a factor. People who gorged on protein after a workout fared little better than those who ate the same amount of protein throughout the day.
    The study also indicates that if the anabolic window does exist for protein intake, it may persist as long as four to six hours after training.
    So what actually matters is total protein intake. And not the reliance on some mythical
    Here is the link to the study:
    http://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-10-53

    1. Thank you for your links. I am reading everything, but I wish you would as well.
      This link in particular can be refuted as follows.
      No one is talking about “gorging” on protein. You sound like someone who would consider 50 g of whey isolate as “gorging” on protein.
      I can tell you that after a heavy day, 50 g of whey isolate goes STRAIGHT into my blood stream and I can FEEL the effect on my body. If I don’t take it… and especially if I don’t eat immediately in the next hour… my body is going to be SCREAMING in pain and hunger for food (i.e. amino acid repair material).
      That is what happens when you are actually lifting and pushing your body to the limit.
      If you can “hit the weights” and then go without eating for two, or even three or four hours without food with zero to no ill affect… you, I am sorry to say, are not lifting. You are just pushing weight around and looking in the mirror.
      From the opening abstract of your link.
      —–
      “A number of studies support the superiority of protein timing for stimulating increases in acute protein synthesis pursuant to resistance training when compared to placebo [6–9]. Protein is deemed to be the critical nutrient required for optimizing post-exercise protein synthesis.”
      —–
      So… there are a whole bunch of studies that SUPPORT exactly what I am saying… timing your protein intake… but you don’t want to believe it.
      Fair enough. What does your study then do?
      —–
      “Despite the apparent biological plausibility of the strategy, the effectiveness of protein timing in chronic training studies has been decidedly mixed.
      In a review of literature, Aragon and Schoenfeld [23] concluded that there is a lack of evidence to support a narrow “anabolic window of opportunity” whereby protein need to be consumed in immediate proximity to the exercise bout to maximize muscular adaptations. However, these conclusions were at least in part a reflection of methodological issues in the current research.
      —–
      Ok… mixed results are a clear indication of methodological issues in experiments. Which the quote above noted by the authors who then go on to try and “fix” this problem of methodology by doing what? A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE AVAILABLE… that they already admit is not sound… and not doing any actual science themselves.
      If there are methodological issues… i.e. problems in the experiments… then I ASSUME the study you linked to would correct this with a) figuring out a proper testing methodology and b) conducting those tests and producing the their findings.
      Nope.
      —–
      Thus, by increasing statistical power and controlling for confounding variables, a meta-analysis may help to provide clarity as to whether protein timing confers potential benefits in post-exercise skeletal muscle adaptations.
      —–
      More math stats “science”. No actual in the lab science, you know, like the “old day.” No… just conduct a mathematical table meta-analysis of already available “data” (said to be flawed by the authors), and “tweak” the numbers to “null” out bad data and confounding variables.
      From Google: Meta-analysis is a statistical technique for combining the findings from independent studies. ● Meta-analysis is most often used to assess the clinical effectiveness of healthcare interventions; it does this by combining data from two or more randomised control trials.
      Statistical analysis is NOT hard science. It’s just number juggling, you know, like the UN panel for climate change did to “hockey stick” the earth’s temperature rising due to human CO2 emissions and also hide the warming period PRIOR to the industrial revolution that would completely disprove the entire theory. But I digress.
      —–
      Only randomized controlled trials or randomized crossover trials involving protein timing were considered for inclusion.
      —–
      Ok… let’s look at them.
      19 untrained young women… given a mere 18 g of EAA 20 min pre and post exercise… resulted in… total weight lifted at the 12 RM intensity did not significantly change in either group… No significant body composition changes occurred in either group.
      GIRLS… who have NEVER LIFTED… not told about nutrition, and most likely given the most MODERATE weights to lift (because actual heavy training on an untrained body would INJURE these girls)… resulted in no strength gains and no increase in body composition (i.e. muscle growth, hypertrophy).
      What a surprise.
      That is ONE “statistical” study included in your studies data set on the effects of protein timing.
      What about this one.
      —–
      33 untrained young men… 20 g whey + 6.2 g leucine or 26.2 g maltodextrin 30 minutes prior to and immediately after exercise… Progressive resistance training consisting of knee extensions performed 3 days/wk for 8 wks… Significantly greater 1 RM strength increase in the trained limb in the protein group compared to placebo…. No significant body composition changes occurred in any of the groups, CSA increases did not differ between the protein and placebo groups
      —–
      Again… untrained men… with most likely ZERO diet change… given a “supplement”… and then told to train 3 days/wk on LEG EXTENSIONS… which STILL showed increase in 1 RPM (from the training alone in an untrained body, you don’t need science to tell me the supplement did nothing)… and no significant body composition changes… after THREE WEEKS OF LEG EXTENTSiONS?
      Gee… I guess no “changes” to their body occurred. They have NEVER trained… and they trained only 3 WEEKS… and only ONE body part/exercise.
      What about one more.
      —–
      23 young recreational male bodybuilders…. 1 g/kg of a supplement containing 40 g whey isolate, 43 g glucose, and 7 g creatine monohydrate consumed either immediately before and after exercise or in the early morning and late evening… Progressive resistance training consisting of exercises for all major muscle groups performed 3 days/wk for 10 wks… Immediate pre-post supplementation caused greater increases in 1-RM in 2 out of 3 exercises … Significant increases in lean body mass and muscle CSA of type II fibers in immediate vs. delayed supplementation
      —-
      Now… 23 actual gym REGULARS…
      given the EXACT kind of protein timing supplementation I recommend…
      who will also most likely be eating proper nutrition because they are EXPERIENCED LIFTERS…
      do progressive resistance training FOR THE WHOLE BODY 3 days/wk for TEN WEEKS…
      with immediate PRE AND POST SUPPLEMENTATION…
      resulted in INCREASED 1 RM in 2 out of 3 exercises and SIGNIFICANT increases in LEAN BODY MASS and muscle of TYPE II fibers in IMMEDIATE VS DELAYED supplementation.
      Dude… here is part one of my series.

      The Ultimate Guide To Building Muscle: Genetics And Training


      Your welcome.

      1. You sound like someone who would consider 50 g of whey isolate as “gorging” on protein.
        Why the ad hominem remark? Let’s stick to logical reasons instead of appealing to personal feelings.
        I can tell you that after a heavy day, 50 g of whey isolate goes STRAIGHT into my blood stream and I can FEEL the effect on my body.
        That sounds more like a placebo effect. “Feeling” nutrients going straight into your bloodstream is not factual. We are talking about food here, not drugs.
        What the study says is that there is no conclusive evidence that the timing has any significant benefits. The total amount of protein you consume during a day is much more important than that timing.
        This is what is stated in the article as well:
        =======================
        Despite the apparent biological plausibility of the strategy, the effectiveness of protein timing in chronic training studies has been decidedly mixed. While some studies have shown that consumption of protein in the peri-workout period promotes increases in muscle strength and/or hypertrophy [16–19], others have not [20–22].
        =======================
        If the timing did have a huge effect, the results would have been conclusive. That is how it works in science; an experiment should yield the same results when repeated in different labs. And such is not the case with protein timing.
        So again, let me repeat that:
        The total amount of protein you consume has much more impact and influence on you overall gains than the timing.
        There is one more thing. The studies only examined protein, not carb intake. We do not know whether the participants among the various studies were one a low carb diet while others were eating cake all day.
        So the conclusion that we can draw is that protein intake is crucial for strenght and/or endurance athletes and that you can’t rely on a post workout protein drink and some mythical “anabolic window” for strength and muscle gains.
        Now I can see that you are passionate about the whole timing thing and that is ok. We can agree to disagree, no harm done.
        Regarding your previous article, thanks for the reminder. I was meaning to comment on it after it was published but got sidetracked and forgot all about it. I will post my thoughts in that other article to avoid polluting this topic.

        1. Oh… did I trigger someone? LOL 🙂 Laugh with me. It is kinda triggery to pull out the ad hominem so quickly. Can we agree to relax and just have a good bit of testosterone head butting?
          Besides, a fancy word does not refute my argument nor your query.
          I have a million dollars that says you believe 50g of isolate post workout is “gorging” on protein. If not, please tell me so and why.
          Second… quoting only the part of the study that supports your argument does not prove it to be true. You have to look at the whole study, what they were trying to do, the actual scientific data they used, and what process of reasoning they used to arrive at their conclusion from that data.
          You have a data set that gives equal weight to untrained girls who have never lifted in their life (and had no response to supplementation which I would fully expect to find)… to that of regular gym going males who followed everything I suggest in this article and DID have amazing results with immediate supplementation within the anabolic window you don’t believe exists.
          So which is it? Which data set am I to believe?
          Am I to believe that the study on untrained girls negates the study on the experienced guys simply because BOTH groups supplemented pre and post workout?
          Quote from the study: “Only randomized controlled trials or randomized crossover trials involving protein timing were considered for inclusion.”
          Are you seeing what I am seeing?
          The results are conclusive… for me… from the actual hard data in the study that shows for a guy like me, in my situation, supplementation in the anabolic window after a workout has massive effect on my strength and size.
          As for my “feeling” it works, again, this is not an emotion.
          I want you to go 12 whole hours… no food or water… and then prove to me you are hungry and thirsty and not just “feeling” that way. I don’t trust your “feelings” that you are starving and parched for thirst… only scientific data.
          Do you see the error you are making?
          I really want to thank you. Without your comments, I would never have had my advice challenged, nor had the ability to prove to myself, to my own intellectual satisfaction a) I am correct and b) give an example of how faulty logic at work can draw the wrong conclusion when you are only seeing what you want to see.
          My entire refutation of that study is in my first reply above for others to judge which of us is correct.

        2. Ok, let’s go over those studies.
          Let’s take the one you used to prove your postion:
          =====================
          23 young recreational male bodybuilders
          1 g/kg of a supplement containing 40 g whey isolate, 43 g glucose, and 7 g creatine monohydrate consumed either immediately before and after exercise or in the early morning and late evening
          Immediate pre-post supplementation caused greater increases in 1-RM in 2 out of 3 exercises
          Significant increases in lean body mass and muscle CSA of type II fibers in immediate vs. delayed supplementation
          =====================
          It says immediate PRE-POST:
          So there is no distinction made between PRE and POST. Based on that, logically we cannot conclude that it is because of the post workout supplementation.
          Then there is also this group:
          =====================
          21 well-trained young men
          42 g protein within a multi-ingredient supplement or a CHO placebo taken once in the morning and again after training
          Progressive, periodized resistance training consisting of exercises for all major muscle groups performed 4 days/wk for 12 wks
          1 RM bench press strength (but not squat strength) significantly increased in the protein group, while no measures of strength increased in the placebo groups
          No significant between-group or absolute changes in body composition occurred
          =====================
          The supplement was taken both in the morning and after training. Also it does not mention how much protein per day was consumed by the placebo group.
          And this group:
          =====================
          33 well-trained young men
          Supplement containing 42 g protein (milk/collagen blend) and 2 g carbohydrate consumed either immediately before and after exercise or in the early morning and late evening
          Progressive resistance training consisting exercises for the major muscle groups peformed 4 days/wk for 10 wks.
          1 RM & 5 RM bench press & squat strength increased, with no significant difference between groups
          No significant differences in total body mass or lean body mass between groups.
          =====================
          There are no significant differences within this group.
          Again, there is no conclusive proof to show beyond doubt there is any merit to the window of opportunity.
          Maximus Decimus Meridius: I want you to go 12 whole hours… no food or water… and then prove to me you are hungry and thirsty and not just “feeling” that way.
          Of course you will feel hungry if you go 12 whole hours without food and water. But what does that have to do with anything? It still does not change the fact that you won’t feel the nutrients rushing into your bloodstream. Food needs to be digested first before it can be absorbed. That goes for whey isolate as well.
          Besides, there will be plenty of amino acids available for you body to use if your pre-workout meals contain significant amounts of protein.
          Which brings me to the topic of total protein consumption.
          I agree with Lyle McDonald (http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/) on this one. His recommendation for strength/power athletes is to aim for 1.5 g/lb protein per day. This is about 3.3 g/kg for the metrically inclined. So for a 200 lb strength/power athlete, that’s 300 grams of protein per day. For a 300 lber, that’s 450 grams per day.

        3. I think we can agree to disagree as you said.
          We are both looking at the same data… but reaching different conclusions.
          I see studies that do focus around the window to add repair material (amnio acids in the form of whey protein) in the am at breakfast, pm before bed, and pre/post training. And I see these men having results, just not the ones you want.
          I am not worried about the semantics of DIRECT evidence for a SPECIFIC type of window timing.
          I see evidence for OVERALL benefit no matter WHAT timing window you choose to supplement.
          Those studies you quote also don’t tell me:
          – did these guys sleep enough?
          – cut out alcohol?
          – actually have a good diet and not McDonalds?
          – train specifically for SIZE, and not just go through the motions of some statistical 1RM exercise that a scientist, who most likely has never seen the inside of a gym, came up with (not you, the people conducting the study)
          – etc etc
          The body is a COMPLETE organism. Too much science today focuses narrowly on only ONE specific outcome, and not the whole input of the test environment.
          If your bias to not supplement around the window is based on the science above… and not your own personal experience… I would suggest giving it a try. You have everything to gain if it works.
          I am pleased with the results I have gotten from my advice given here. I am not perfect never will be. But for my early 40s, to have this build at 6’1″… I think I am above average for my specific genetic type (tall skinny guy) in terms of physical conditioning and fitness.

  14. Why are you writing biased articles which might be useful for pro lifters, when readers here can achieve their goals with common sense nutrition and hard training?
    Nobody needs supplements to build muscle, except folks who aim at significant muscle mass and less then 10% of body fat.
    Male need maximum of 0,8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Of PROTEIN, which doesn’t have to mean protein powder.
    Creatin will help professional sprinters or powerlifters. Not average gym goer.That can be done without creatine. Plus, it makes you feel and look bloated and hair loss is possibility, and don’t say it’s bs because it happened to me. Three times.
    Rest of mentioned supps are not worth of even second glance for anyone who isn’t into IFBB.
    Lift fucking weights, and add weight overtime. Eventually take Whey powder to help yourself a bit, without that before and after training bs. Yes, there is a window after training, and difference in protein synthesis compared to taking it at any other time is about 0,00005%.

    1. If by biased you mean I am aiming my advice for those guys that are serious about actually building muscle and strength, not just hitting the gym and “going through the motions”.
      Then yes… it is biased advice.
      If you want to be average… you are free to ignore everything I have written.
      —–
      Quote: Lift fucking weights, and add weight overtime. Eventually take Whey powder to help yourself a bit, without that before and after training bs. Yes, there is a window after training, and difference in protein synthesis compared to taking it at any other time is about 0,00005%.
      —-
      If it works for you bro… keep it up!

      1. Average? With training hard enough and clean diet you can do amazing things in the gym, which are very far from being average.
        Not just with size, with strength as well. You can achieve 2.5 x bodyweight Deadlift without any supps and it’s considered VERY strong.

        1. I agree with you. But it will take longer than if you used supplements. Period.
          Once I started supplementing with protein around the anbolic window, both before and after my workouts, DOMS not only went completely away (aside from a feeling I worked out), but I always, always return to the gym stronger and can lift more, usually 5 to 10 lbs more, especially with adequate rest. I could never do that before.
          I must say… it has completely surprised me at just how controversial this topic is.
          I kept my supplement list exclusively too those products that are all derived from natural food (whey protein, BCAAs, creatine).
          All these supps are is simply chemically broken down real food to their base components, something your body would do ANYWAY eating real food.
          Second… while I can agree there is a lot of snake oil products in the supplement market, that does not make ALL supplements snake oil.
          There is decades long science and user experience to support, at the very min, use of a whey protein supplement to stop the catabolic process after a workout and first thing in the morning.
          Why are people so resistant to this?
          It seems to me like a few natural lifters want to come across as more pure than those who take supplements by sticking to real food.

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