Workout Protein Shake

What Should I Eat Before & After My Workout?

by JJ Virgin on April 22, 2016

“What should I eat before and after my workout?” readers frequently ask.

It’s a great question. Before we talk fuel, let’s discuss what kind of exercise you’re doing.

The Right Exercise

My philosophy is that working out should be intense. You should get hot, sweaty, and it might hurt a little.

While I love it when clients tell me they park their cars further from the mall doors or take the stairs (movement counts, period), I don’t consider walking serious exercise. To me, walking is mandatory.

Intense workouts stimulate growth hormone, build muscle, help you better handle sugar and stress, burn fat, and boost your metabolism.

Time is a major obstacle with exercise. With life’s ever-growing demands, who has time to ride the elliptical machines, ogle the well-gluted spin instructor, or take hours-long yoga classes?

Others complain they hate the gym environment, feel intimidated around free weight stations, or can’t leave their homes for hours at a time because they have kids.

I’ve blown those and other excuses out of the water with my Fast Blasts, which combine weight resistance and burst training (the 2 most effective exercises on the planet) in 8 – yep, 8 – minutes a day.


So we’ve agreed you need vigorous exercise, which demands energy. You probably think of energy as food, but you also have some energy stored in your muscles as glycogen. That’s one reason you may or may not require pre-workout food. Please listen to your body here.

Some people can work out well in the morning on an empty stomach. They go into the gym and maintain steady energy throughout their grueling workout.

Others, like myself, do better with a protein/carb mini-meal rather than trying to go full-throttle after 12 hours of fasting.

If working out on an empty stomach in the morning leaves you lagging, have half or a whole All-in-One Shake or Virgin Diet Bar.

A few folks say they work out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach with just a cup of black coffee. On my plans, I want you to have a protein-rich breakfast within an hour of waking, and that includes workout days.

That said, a cup of Bulletproof Upgraded (available here in Whole Bean or ground) makes great morning pre-workout fuel. Just don’t use caffeine as a crutch for poor sleep or underlying issues like adrenal fatigue.

You can also do a smaller portion of my plate pre-workout, but many people feel better with a protein shake, which absorbs more quickly.

If you work out later in the day (remember exercise too close to bed can make it hard to fall asleep), ideally do it 2-3 hours after a meal.

What you don’t want to do is eat a big meal immediately before you work out. Give your body adequate time to digest food so it can fuel your muscles well while you exercise.


After your workout, your body looks to refuel those muscle stores, preferably as soon as possible. Muscle repair demands carbohydrates and protein to help your muscles rebuild and recover.

Bodybuilders speak of a “magic window,” or that first hour post-workout where your body is most efficient at refueling your muscle stores.

That hour window is up for debate, but I think it’s a great idea to have a protein shake or a mini-meal rich in protein and healthy carbs after your workout. Besides recovery, repair, and just plain feeling better, how you refuel after exercise will determine what energy is available for your next workout.

Protein powders simplify post-workout fuel, but most commercial varieties come loaded with fructose, dairy, soy, whey, and other junk.

That’s why my favorite post-workout meal is a shake made with my All-in-One Powder. Blend it with berries (unless you’re doing cycle 2 of my Sugar Impact Diet), kale, Extra Fiber, and unsweetened coconut or almond milk.

If you have a post-workout meal, focus on a smaller portion of my plate rules.

Again, everyone is unique. There are no hard and fast rules here, though I want you to follow the Virgin Diet or Sugar Impact Diet guidelines while also paying attention to your body and how you feel before and after your workout.

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