A recent study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise  set out to determine whether solid or liquid protein in the pre-workout period was better for OPTIMAL muscle protein synthesis rates.
The feedings were done 45 minutes before the groups trained (solid food intake was simulated by that group taking small “pulse” doses of whey every 15 minutes to mimic the slow digestion of real food).
In the liquid group the blood amino acid concentrations returned to resting levels before the workout ended.
However, the solid food group increased and maintained elevated protein synthesis levels throughout training and were still higher 2 hours after the workout had ended.
For those of us eating to help fuel muscle growth this would be the preferable scenario as it will result in better muscle gains and speedier recovery.
Now, as I’ve stated numerous times before, fast-digesting liquid protein AFTER a workout is much more effective than solid food protein.
Tip: the quickest way to get the protein digested is to take whey in water. Add no fats as it will slow down gastric emptying.
How to “Bracket” your workouts for Maximal Muscle Protein Synthesis
So in order to apply these findings, you should do the following:
45 minutes to an hour before your workout eat a high protein solid food meal to include chicken, beef, tuna, eggs etc. (aim for at least 30g protein in this meal)
Immediately after your workout take a large whey protein shake – 40g protein or more.
That’s all you have to do in order to OPTIMIZE muscle protein synthesis rates both DURING and AFTER your training.
You do of course need to tear up those muscles with an intense training program like THT for any of this to actually make a difference.
My recommended protein sources? For UK/Europe go for MyProtein’s Impact Whey Isolate. For the rest of the world, try Optimum Nutrition Whey or Isopure Whey Isolate.
Train With Intensity!
 Preexercise Aminoacidemia and Muscle Protein Synthesis after Resistance Exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 May 22.
Burke LM, Hawley JA, Ross ML, Moore DR, Phillips SM, Slater GR, Stellingwerff T, Tipton KD, Garnham AP, Coffey VG.
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Thanks mark, I do exactly this, I get about 40g of protein with my breakfast mostly from eggs and then have 45g of whey protein isolate with water straight after a workout. Thanks to you I’m
In the best shape I my life!
Great advice. Many thanks Mark! New to Muscle hack – what a fantastic resource!
Excellent, but finding the time to cook and eat at 5am and waiting 45minutes before workout is very difficult! So a pre and post whey is the only way! Was this tested?
Chris – Try microwavable bacon (if you live in the US, Costco sells a good one). 40 seconds in the microwave and you have a quick, high protein (and fat) meal!
Apologies, should really have said Im an awkward veggie, but cool trick though 🙂
Great advice, noted! But I train early in the mornings… 5am. I get up roughly 4:45am, chug a protein shake (water, protein mix, that’s it), and hit the gym. It gives me roughly the energy I need for a solid work-out… so I’m trying to figure out the best whey (hah, get it) to maximize a pre-workout “meal” so early in the morning. Suggestions?
I can’t scarf down a chicken breast at 4am in the morning. I just can’t. 😉
Thanks for the info Mark. I’m a big fan of the whey protein directly after an intense workout. Although I normally follow up my whey protein post workout with another high protein meal, about 30 minutes after my workout, but this is just me
Anything is better than nothing.
I don’t agree with your interpretation of that study.
What I read was that muscle protein synthesis for 5 hours post workout was higher with both PULSE and BOLUS protein ingestion compared with the PLACEBO. It did show a two-fold greater leucine concentrations in PULSE compared to BOLUS ingestion, BUT it also showed that there was NO DIFFERENCE in the inhancement of muscle protein synthesis between either BOLUS or PULSE protein ingestion. Concluding that a sufficient amount food proteins is just as effective as rapidly digested proteins in promoting muscle protein synthesis post-workout.
So my interpretaiton is that it doesn’t matter if you eat whole food with adequate protein content or drink whey protein shake. For those that don’t have time to cook because you have an early morning workout or your are just lazy to prepare some whole food, don’t feel bad because it’s not that critical — muscle protein synthesis will be the same.
Thanks for the informative website!!!!
If you wanna do this advices.. im sure you really overcome your dreams!1!!
I workout first thing in the morning as well. I typically have a 40g servicing of Whey Protein mixed with 450ml of milk. Does that milk count as a solid? I’m not sure if I can do chicken of fish right away in the AM.
ps: I love the THT workouts, they are killer! The french curls destroyed me…in a good way!
Thanks for the information,i would like to know if i consume 5 eggs one hour before workout that contain almost 30 gram protein will it digest quickly or it will effect the workout because digestion has not taken place fully.
I read some where on the internet where experts recommend to consume not more than 20 gram whey protein every 3-4 hours.
First of all I would like to thank you for all your efforts on providing significantly valuable information on PRACTICAL approach to body building. I religiously follow your THT workout plan. Recently I am done with THT Vol1 (8-12) rep cycle and now I am on first week of THT HIT cycle after a break of 1 week. I got very impressive result after first THT cycle. I am 185 Cm and I used to weigh 78 Kg with body fat % of 15% before starting first THT cycle and now I weigh 82 Kg with 17%. I realized this is the best/practical approach to gain weight by pure muscles. Million thanks again. !!
Well, I tried this theory today, so what I did is, I took 4 egg white (to start with) 45 mints before my HIT (mass) workout and had a banana 10 mints before workout. Unfortunately, I felt slight acidity during and post workout (it got settled in few hours by itself) but left me uncomfortable for time being. What do you think, does banana caused acidity ? Appreciate your response.
Im from South Africa,best workout and meal plans ever! Thax alot Mark
@Chris. Yes it was tested. The solid protein produced a sustained increase in protein synthesis throughout and after the workout as compared to liquid protein
@Blake. If you haven’t time to eat, try adding some peanut butter to that morning shake to mimic solid food.
@Ryan. See my above suggestion to Blake.
@Sunil. The eggs would be a good choice for a slower release during and after the workout. 20g every 3 hrs is a myth. See this post…
@Imran. 4 egg whites is only 12g of protein. You should get around 30g or so. The acidity wouldn’t be linked to this, though.
@Maximus. Yes that was the conclusion – that there was no difference overall. However as I stated in the article, “However, the solid food group increased and maintained elevated protein synthesis levels throughout training and were still higher 2 hours after the workout had ended. For those of us eating to help fuel muscle growth this would be the preferable scenario as it will result in better muscle gains and speedier recovery.” So the actual timing of precisely WHEN this occurred was better with the solid food, at least from a bodybuilding perspective.