I heard at my gym of some guys having a small snack consisting of carbs (a fruit or cereal bar) before the protein shake and their reasoning is that the carbs will be "burned" by the system first letting the protein to recover the muscles later.

There is even some sort of timing for this: 1 cereal bar right after work out and protein shake 30-60 minutes after workout.

Does any study/article backs this kind of rationale?

4 Answers 4


Here's an article from the National Strength and Conditioning Association that addresses a similar question: Recovery Nutrition for Athletes.

It doesn't discuss a carb-first, protein-later strategy, but does talk about a carb+protein post-workout drink. (Studies have shown protein is absorbed more readily in liquid form.)

There seems to be a definite benefit to having a carb+protein supplement immediately after a workout as compared to taking the supplement 1 hour after workout.

Their recommendation is this:

Athletes who are serious about their performance should consume a high carbohydrate-moderate protein meal (with fluid) or recovery drink after every workout, practice, and competition. It is also best advised to consume carbohydrate and protein with fluid during exercise and/or immediately post exercise.

The article also says that both the carbs and proteins are useful to your body immediately after (even during) workout, so I see no reason to delay protein consumption.


My answer is no. Take a protein shake first and wait until it leaves stomach (at least 1 hour). This way your protein will be absorbed within the "window of opportunity", which means it will be absorbed quicker and less % will go to waste/fat. If you eat snack before that, it will be in your stomach for at least 2 hours and it will reduce the absorption rate of your protein shake.

Hope that helps.

PS: if you are in the fat loss category, running in the morning on the empty stomach, wait for an hour and then have light breakfast - is the best way to lose weight. I lost 25kg last year that way (plus weight lifting during the day and heavy diet moderation).

This link might interest you: http://www.thesportjournal.org/article/glycogen-replenishment-after-exhaustive-exercise


Qualified personal trainer here. Post-training, your body has depleted its glycogen stores. In order to replenish them, it must utilise a macronutrient; carbohydrates, proteins, and fats (absorbed in that order). Your body's metabolism receives a serious boost after intense weight-training, so macronutrients are absorbed as an accelerated level. Since the first macro to be absorbed is carbohydrates, consuming them in conjunction with protein will feed your muscles extremely quickly and effectively, helping them to repair and build. It is advisable to consume a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein (e.g. 40g of carbohydrates to 20g of protein). Don't be concerned about packing on extra weight - your body will burn this fuel at an astonishing rate. Hope this helped clarify any issues. I wish you all the very best for your fitness goals.


John Berardi of Scrawny to Brawny fame recommends drinking a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein during exercise:

one question I’m often asked is this:

“Can’t we just have a big post-exercise recovery drink?

having high blood concentrations of glucose (from the carbohydrate) and amino acids (from protein) during exercise is advantageous as the blood flow to working muscles is highest at this time. So, with a lot of nutrient-rich blood flowing to your working muscles, those nutrients will be best used for performance enhancement and recovery. Simply put, carbohydrate protein drinks are more effective when ingested during exercise vs after exercise.

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