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Pre- / Post-Workout Drink Emails

Part One

By Gary F. Zeolla

I have received more emails about my article on post-workout drinks posted on the Web site than any other. That article was revised for a section my God-given Foods Eating Plan book (pp. 231-232). It was further revised and expanded into a full chapter for my Starting and Progressing in Powerlifting book (Chapter 20 – "Pre- and Post-workout Nutrition"). That chapter represents my most complete thoughts in this regard.

But in this and the next issue of FitTips for One and All I am presenting some of the many emails I have received and my answers to them. This information will to elaborate on the information in the above sources. But see those sources, especially my powerlifting book for the most organized and complete discussion of this subject.

The emailers' comments are in black and enclosed in greater than less than signs. My comments are in red. Note that my powerlifting book was published in May 2009, while most of these emails are before that time, hence why I refer to "my forthcoming book" in some places. Also, updates are included in purple in brackets. The product links are direct links to where they can be purchased from Amazon.

-----Original Message-----

>Subject: Articles

I just wanted to take a minute and thank you for posting the following articles: Post-Workout Drink and Carbs and Glycogen.

Absolutely 100% informative and easy to read. Why is this not taught in schools in the US at an early age? Surely it would make a difference in young obesity in this country. Your writing style is clear, concise and easy to understand. Very nice work. And thanks for experimenting on yourself to arrive at the conclusions you have. I realize everyone is different, but your results still present an adequate guide and reasons for possible effects. … Excellent work.

Thank you,


Thank you for the kind comments. The information from the second article is expanded upon in my Eating Plan book (pp.20-21, 231-232). The first article will be expanded upon in my forthcoming book on powerlifting.

-----Original Message-----

>Subject: RE: Articles


Thanks for the reply. Keep up the good work and I'll look forward to reading more.

If you don't mind, I have 1 outstanding question. How can I purchase maltodextrin? Is it in the form of a pill? A drink? Or just a byproduct of protein shakes etc.? I regularly visit GNC and was curious on what would get me the most maltodextrin bang for the buck.

Thank you,


A pure maltodextrin product is NOW's Carbo Gain. But I think an even better product is Ultimate Nutrition's Pure Muscle Carbs.

-----Original Message-----

>Subject: questions about post workout nutrition

Hello! I read with interest your Web site "Fitness for One and All." I have a question I wonder if you can answer for me. I'm a 42 year old female who lifts just enough weights to keep my metabolism up and stay in decent shape. I like having some muscle development and strength, but I'm not looking to bulk up. My resistance workouts generally last from about one to one-and-a-quarter hours. Immediately after my resistance workout I drink a shake of whey protein powder (20 gms) and brown rice syrup (40 gms) in 4 ounces of water. Immediately after my shake, I do 30 minutes of cardio, consisting of a warm-up, high intensity, and high intensity interval training.

My question is, based on the timing of the drink and the cardio, Am I using the protein and carbs I just downed to fuel my cardio or am I finishing my cardio before my body has a chance to utilize the shake ingredients for my muscles? I figure it takes a few minutes for the shake to even leave my stomach and be processed by my body, so hopefully by the time I finish my cardio, the protein and carbs in the shake go to my muscles.

Also, do you feel that I'm better off with brown rice syrup, or would maltodextrin be more appropriate for me?

Thanks for any information you can provide!!


I'm not sure on this one. My first impression is that consuming nutrients in the middle of a workout (which is essentially what you are doing) will not be digested as the body will be focusing its energy on the working muscles, not on digestion, so the food will just sit in your stomach until you're done working out. OTOH, foods like brown rice syrup, maltodextrin, and whey protein are very easily digested and absorbed, so it is possible that some nutrients are being utilized before your workout is over. But the real question is why you would want your body to be absorbing and utilizing ingested carbs at that point in your workout.

You want to be as "energized" as possible for the lifting portion of your workout, as that is where you are building muscle. That is why you are correct in lifting first. But cardio has two main purposes, to build the cardio-vascular system and to aid in weight loss (assuming of course, you are not training for something like a marathon).

For the former purpose, it is "good" to be already tired when you do cardio by lifting first. That way, your get more C-V effect out of less time. And by doing cardio after your lifting, your body has already used up much of its glycogen, and thus it will utilized fat stores for the energy for the cardio, and thus aid weight loss or weight control.

However, by ingesting carbs right before, you are giving your body an alternative energy source to your fat stores, and thus cutting off fat burning. But after a workout, consuming carbs will replenish the glycogen for your next workout. I would suggest trying to consume the drink immediately post-workout (after the cardio). See if that kicks up your metabolism without a significant loss of energy for the cardio portion of your workout.

As for brown rice syrup versus maltodextrin, the BRS is lower glycemic and thus less likely to kick you out fat burning mode your workout will put you in, and thus not lower your metabolism. But maltodextrin is higher glycemic and thus might do so. But what you could try is Ultimate Nutrition's Pure Muscle Carbs. It is a form of maltodextrin, but is lower glycemic than regular maltodextrin.

[During the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the commentators for the cross country skiing made some interesting comments that are relevant here. During the 30k race, the skiers were picking up drinks from helpers along the way. But I found it interesting that the commentators said it was just water as carbs would not have sufficient time to digest before the end of the race to be of any use. Times in the final ranged from 1:15 – 1:25.

But during the 50k race, they said that the drinks contained a carbs solution, though they didn't specify as to what kind of carbs. But the important point is they said the skiers only drank the carb solution about 30 minutes or so into the race. That way, the carbs would be available for energy for the last 30 minutes of the race. Times for the 50k ranged 2:05 - 2:25, so it would seem the skiers believe it takes about an hour for the carbs to be providing energy.

That is why I drink my pre-workout drink about 45 minutes before my workout. With setup and warm-ups taking about 15 minutes, that way the carbs are providing energy about the time I start my first work sets. But the most important point as regards Gina's question is that there is no way ingesting carbs with just half an hour left in a workout will do any good. Much better to wait until you're finished when your body can more efficiently ingest the nutrients.

However, if you are engaging in a long distance event, like 50k cross country skiing or a marathon where you'll be competing for longer than two hours, then ingesting nutrients during the first half of the race would be beneficial.]

-----Original Message-----

>Subject: RE: questions about post workout nutrition

Thank you so much for the info!! I've used up the last of my brown rice syrup and have switched to Pure Muscle Carbs. I've also switched to ingesting my carbs post-cardio rather than between weights and cardio. Again, thanks for the info...I really do appreciate it!


-----Original Message-----

>Subject: Carb

Good afternoon Gary, I would like to thank you for such an informative article you wrote: Post Workout Drink: Part One, Carbs, Protein and Fat.

I have started doing weight training and wanted to ask you if by taking brown rice syrup would be sufficient for my post-workout exercise drink, of course I will be also adding water, protein, and creatine. I am just confused as to what type of carbs to take, or more precisely what products are out there that I can use. Will the two table spoons of brown rice syrup be enough?

Thank you and have a good day,


Brown rice syrup by itself will suffice. Two tablespoons is what I use. But I only weight about 120 pounds, so you might need to increase it proportionally for your bodyweight.

-----Original Message-----

Subject: Question about honey post workout

Hello Gary,

Thanks for all the information about postworkout meals; it was very very helpful. I was wondering what you think about raw honey as a post workout supplement. I have read studies online that say honey is more effective than maltodextrin at replenishing muscle glycogen stores and keeping blood sugar levels elevated for 2 hours after intense weightlifting exercise especially when mixed with protein. I know from experience that raw honey boosts the metabolism and burns fat like nothing else, I was just wondering what you think about it. Maybe you could look at this site and tell me what you think.

One thing that I have to say about raw unprocessed honey is that taking it 1-3 tbs. per day really gives me immense energy and burns fat like nothing I have ever experienced. It is an old ayurvedic therapy to obesity. I just want to see if you think it would compare to brown rice syrup as a post-workout carb like the studies said it does.

Anyway thanks for all the information.


In my Eating Plan book, I discuss some of the health benefits of honey. And it probably would be good pre-workout. However, it does not make sense that it would be a good carb source post-workout. Quoting from my book:

So there are various possible benefits to using honey. But a possible problem with honey is the very thing that makes it so prized, its sugar content. The following is the composition of honey:

38.5% – Fructose
31.0% – Glucose
7.2% – Maltose
4.2% – Trisaccharides and other carbs
1.5% – Sucrose
0.5% – Minerals, vitamins, enzymes
17.1% – Water (National Honey Board).

So the most abundant carb in honey is fructose. However, maltose is a disaccharide composed of two glucose molecules, and the trisaccharides would most likely be composed of three glucose molecules. And half of the sucrose is glucose. So adding these to the glucose means honey contains over 43% glucose or slightly more glucose than fructose. But the fructose content is still significant.

The problem with fructose not being effective at restoring muscle-glycogen has been discussed previously. This means honey would not be effective to use in a post-workout drink.

-----Original Message-----

Subject: Question about post-workout sugars

Gary, your article at this address Post-workout Drink is one of the very few post-workout nutrition articles out there that is actually USEFUL. I was considering simply buying a big bag of dextrose, and mixing it in with my post-workout whey shake (2 parts carbs, 1 part protein) But stumbled upon a "recovery" drink from Optimum. It says its carb profile contains 2 parts "glucose polymers / waxy maize starch", along with 1 part fructose and 1 part sucrose.

According to your article, the fructose and sucrose components of the carb profile in this mix are worthless for post-workout, and perhaps even bad to take after a workout. However, I am wondering, are "glucose polymers" and "waxy maize starch" some sort of equivalent of "dextrose?" Both seem to be related to the "corn sugar" family, but are they adequate to serve as my post-workout carb source?

Thanks again for your article .. very informative !!


I'm not exactly sure what "glucose polymers" are. But my guess is they polysaccharides, which is to say, something akin to maltodextrin. That would be better than dextrose.

Waxy maize starch is a new carb that is getting a lot of promotion. It is a very high glycemic carb, so I would not touch it. It would probably cause as much of a blood glucose pike then crash as dextrose. I now prefer Ultimate Nutrition's Pure Muscle Carbs or brown rice syrup.

-----Original Message-----

Subject: RE: Question about post-workout sugars

Gary, thanks for your reply !

As for the "waxy maize starch" .. as it is a high glycemic carb, is it OK for a post-workout carb? I assume this would be a very bad carb to be consuming en masse during the rest of the day and at night. Is this correct?

Also, the Ultimate Nutrition's Pure Muscle Carbs product seems to contain mostly complex carbs - - is this correct? It also says it contains "a combination of different chain length sugars", so maybe that is the optimal mix between simple and complex?

Thanks again for your reply .. I'm still trying to get my daily diet all calculated out, and it gets more confusing by the day as I learn more !


Many recommend a high glycemic carb post-workout. But personally, I think the drawbacks outweigh the benefits. I definitely would not use it other times.

The label on the Pure Muscle Carbs says a serving has 52 grams of carbs, with only 11 of those being sugar. It further says that 66% are pentasaccharides or above. Monos are only 17% and di-s 5%, those would be the only sugars. So it is mostly complex carbs. But the important point (for me anyway) is the low to moderate glycemic response.

Yes, this is confusing. That is why I am including a detailed chapter in my forthcoming powerlifting book on this whole subject.

-----Original Message-----

Subject: Re: Question about post-workout sugars

It certainly is confusing ! Thank you for your time and your excellent explanations ..


-----Original Message-----

Subject: Excellent web site & a question

Hi Gary,

First let me say that you have a truly outstanding website. The quality of your articles (with complete bibliographies) along with your own personal experiences make your site a truly unique resource. It really is outstanding work.

I had question for you if you have the time and I apologize for being too forward if you don't answer questions on your site:

I had a similar experience to what your described in your Post Workout Drink article with regard to weight gain from a dextrose/maltodextrin combo in my whey protein PWO shake. I was planning on taking your advice and doing just the maltodextrin when I came across your brown rice syrup recommendation. I was wondering what the "serving size" or dosage that you recommend is? I was doing 25 mg dex + 25 mg malto + 1 scoop (24 mg protein) of ON's 100% Whey.

Thank you for your time and thanks again for providing one of the best resources on the net,


Thanks for he compliments on my site and for relating your experience with dextrose in your PWD. I've now had several people relate the same experience. But it amazes me that dextrose continues to be pushed for PWDs.

As for the brown rice syrup, each tablespoon provides about 18 grams of carbs. So 2-3 tablespoons would be good for most people.

-----Original Message-----

Subject: fan


i found your fitness website on Google by accident, was Googling about "carbs and proteins during workout." I'm very lucky I found your site, at last somebody opened my eyes about post workout dextrose, I had the same problem with gaining fat you had. Read your book God-given Foods Eating Plan. It's great. The part about hormone response to food

Have a question about your pre-workout shake (figured on www it's almost the same post workout shake from the book). What protein blend do you use? The one from your ebook?

(Membrane Micellar Casein – 35%
Egg White Protein – 15%
Whey Protein Concentrate – 15%
Iso-Chill Whey Isolate – 15%
Hydrolyzed Whey 1400 – 20%
Stevia for the sweetener/ no flavoring) ?

Don't understand why it is better the blend then whey (like Optimum 100% Whey). It's hard for me to follow something I don't believe and don't understand. Would appreciate if you explained it.

Thanks, for great book (man it's cheap, you should ask like 100$ for it:)


I'm glad my site and book have been of help to you. And interesting to hear yet another person who had problems with dextrose.

The reason a blended protein is better than just whey is whey is absorbed very quickly, while casein and egg white are absorbed more slowly. The whey protein is often absorbed too quickly to be fully utilized, and it leaves the body without incoming amino acids for too long of a period of time. With a blended protein, the amino acids are absorbed over a period of time, so they are more fully utilized and last until the next meal.

Yes, I use the same blend for my pre-workout drink as the blend indicated in my book.

[This question marks one change from my books. I now use Optimum's Whey in my pre-workout drink rather than a blended protein. It seems to digest a little easier making for better workouts. However, I only use Optimum's NATURAL 100% Whey as the regular product contains artificial colorings and flavorings that I prefer to avoid, as discussed in both of my books. But the blended protein is still better for uses other than pre- or post-workout.]

Additional emails on this subject are found at: Pre- / Post-Workout Drink Emails: Part Two.

The product links in this article are direct links to where they can be purchased from Amazon.

The above email first appeared in the free FitTips for One and All newsletter.
It was posted on this site April 3, 2010.

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