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Protein shake before or after cardio when cardio follows weightlifting?

11th April 2010

So we’ve all heard to do cardio after weightlifting to burn fat. We’ve all heard to drink a protein shake after lifting to build muscle. But what if we want to drink the protein shake to build muscle and do the cardio to lose fat?

Two ways of looking at the problem: drink the shake after lifting weights and you burn the protein during cardio (wasting protein and preserving your fat). Drink the shake after cardio and you risk breaking down muscle while you’re on the bike or treadmill or whatever.

Interesting post here from a guy who seems to know what he’s talking about.

60-90 minutes preworkout, have a solid, balanced meal:

Protein = 0.25g/lb TBW (target bodyweight)
Carbs = 0.25g/lb TBW
Adding fat at this point is fine, use your discretion as long as it fits into your macro goals. Note that this meal is skipped if you train 1st thing in the morning.


30-0 minutes preworkout – (and/or sipped throughout the workout), have a liquid or easily digested meal:

Protein = 0.25g/lb TBW
Carbs = 0.25g/lb TBW
If you were going to train for close to or more than 2 hours continuously, it would definitely benefit you to have this extra preworkout meal either immediately prior to, or sipped during training. Keep the fats here incidental & not added if you’re prone to gastric distress during training.

Within 30 minutes postworkout, have either a liquid or solid meal:

Protein = 0.25g/lb TBW
Carbs = 0.25-0.5g/lb TBW, depending on how carb-restricted your diet is.
Amount of fat here doesn’t matter as long as your daily target is hit.

Post-postworkout is simply your next sheduled meal, whether it’s 1, 2, or 3 hrs later simply doesn’t matter – especially if your immediate postworkout meal was designed as above.

So assuming weights plus cardio is gonna put you at the 2 hour mark, it seems you want to eat protein and carbs 90 minutes before weight training. During weight training you want more protein and carbs (though if you really want to lose fat I would experiment with aminos instead). This guy says to do the meal 90 minutes before OR the protein/carbs during the workout. But he also says 2 hours means the intra workout protein and carbs becomes extra so that would be in addition the meal 90 minutes prior. I feel confident that going either way will be fine depending on goals / workout intensity.

I think I might personally try some Gaspari Size On for creatine / carbs (never tried it and am curious) plus some aminos for my intra workout shake. Twin labs Amino Fuel has aminos and carbs seems good so I think I’ll try mixing that with my Sizeon. If that seems like too many carbs and I can’t lose fat this way it’s easy to switch to Purple Wraath, Intrabolic, Xtend, or another Intra workout drink that has aminos without the carbs / calories. With any luck I can stretch that drink for the weight lifting and cardio session.

So meal 90 minutes before weights. Aminos (or protein) and carbs during weights / cardio. Then after cardio it’s time for a protein shake. Then a shower. Then a meal.

Before cutting the suggested carbs before, during, and post workout – try trimming your other meals as much as possible. The nutrition around workout time is the most important for building muscle. For losing fat it doesn’t matter as much where you cut the calories so cut them from the meals further away from your workouts. But if you’ve already done that, then like I said you might try aminos during the workout instead of protein / carbs. Good luck!

3 Responses to “Protein shake before or after cardio when cardio follows weightlifting?”

  1. Harriett Canney Says:

    Nice site. I at all times work out hard at least 3 times a week and following a grueling session your body needs the best quality protein to mend you for your subsequently workout. I always go for lean protein as the most effective muscle building food, basically poultry, turkey and fish. I in addition have scrambled egg whites for breakfast.I normally combine these meals with a complex carbohydrate along with vegetables as well. I stay away from protein shakes since I perceive them as a waste of money, the body is intended to digest foods and drinks lack the thermic affect of food.

  2. Dr Al Sears Says:

    A lot of people are coming around to the idea that not only does long-duration cardio training not work, it’s dangerous. But while I give them credit for catching on, they’re not getting it quite right.

    In fact, one of the most popular doctors on the Internet is also not recommending long-duration cardio any more like he used to. He’s come up with his own exercise regimen. I admire him for trying, but there are serious problems with his new program, and there are a few things I do differently.- Dr Al Sears MD

  3. Daniel Lee Says:

    Thank you very much for this post. I have always wondered when it is best to take protein when I’m doing cardio after a workout. I don’t often do cardio after weights now so it isn’t much of an issue. However, before I used to go for a long run after resistance work and I never knew I should be having protein before I went for the run. I think people will always have their own opinions and disagree over such issues as this.