It’s tough to narrow things down to a single most commonly asked question – but this one is certainly in the TOP 3.

“What should I eat or drink before a workout”

Side rant – I HATE the word workout. 2 reasons:

  • “Workout” implies simply something that provides an immediate stimulus but is subject one’s instantaneous whims. I prefer the word TRAIN. It implies a bigger picture. It implies a long term goal, with individual sessions designed to take the lifter from Point A to Point Z, hitting scheduled and planned checkpoints along the way.
  • When you and I say “workout” we may not be speaking of the same thing. For example, I might be thinking strength training and you might be thinking running routes and catching passes to prep for football season. Both are indeed workouts – but pre-“workout” nutrition is VERY different for each.

Here are some “workout” types:

  • Strength Training
  • Cardio
  • Conditioning
  • Sport Specific Skill Work

Each of these can have different goals within the same “workout type”.

  • Muscle Gain
  • Fat Loss
  • Performance Improvement

Hopefully now you can see why “workout” is such a trigger for someone like me. How am I supposed to tell you what to eat if I don’t know what you’re doing or what your goals are with that activity?

[heading style=”1″]OK, deep breath. Rant OVER![/heading]

Wait, wait – I almost forgot. WORKOUT NUTRITION 101 covers each and every one of those types of workout. How to fuel your body and what to use for each situation and goal. Check it out HERE.

Now, back to my new PRE-LIFT “Shake”.

For the longest time, I’ve been convinced that a lifter needs carbs in his/her pre-lift shake. It makes sense, in theory, the carbs provide the lifter with gasoline for the activity to come.

But lately, I’ve been experimenting with NO carbs before lifting. The catch is this – I’ve had my carbs the day/night before, so my glycogen stores are not empty. But no carbs immediately before training keeps my insulin low which enables more body fat to used for fuel. Personally I notice that my mind is sharper and my ability to hit full speed is enhanced – probably due to lower insulin levels. Plus you never “bonk” when you run out of carbs and have to wait for your body to switch to fat as a fuel source (a process that takes longer than finishing your workout.)

Anyway, science aside – here’s my magic potion.

My previous pre-workout shake included whey, BCAA’s, carb powder (Waxy Maize, Vitargo, or Surge Workout Fuel), and 5-10g fat from olive oil.

To make it simple, I dropped the carb powder.

To make it delicoius, I added chocolate whey, unflavored BCAA powder, stevia, and 5-10g fat from grass-fed butter to a cup of coffee. Hit pulse on the blender for a few seconds and sip on the way to the gym.


And it does the trick! As I said above, my mind and body just feel sharper – it’s hard to explain, but no doubt comes from the fact that insulin is not elevated during training anymore.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 large cup of coffee (12-16oz)
  • 25 chocolate whey protein (vanilla can work also)
  • 5g BCAA (unflavored)
  • Stevia (or splenda to taste)
  • 8g grass-fed butter or coconut oil
In a pinch, you could also use instant coffee and water and you could even add ice for a cold version. I like the hot, fresh variety as it forces me to sip the “shake” as I make my way to the gym.
The coffee provides the obvious caffeine kick, but most people don’t know it contains TONS of antioxidants and actually very good for you. The whey and BCAAs are amino acids to increase blood levels (hyperaminoacidemia) which helps prevent muscle breakdown and aid in recovery. The fats in the butter OR coconut oil are mostly MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) which are oxidized for fuel very efficiently. Butter also contains butyric acid which has awesome immune system and anti-viral properties. The same can be said for the lauric acid in coconut oil. I get mine HERE. Coffee, whey, and grass-fed butter all made Dr. Johnny Bowden’s list of 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth – making this shake a nutritional powerhouse!

**Technically, this does not have to be limited to pre-training. Since there are no carbs, you can actually have this as anytime snack or meal when you need a boost. You can even use decaf coffee to further increase the number of situations in which you drink this.

Give it a shot and let me know your feedback!


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