What To Eat Before, During, and After Workout to Gain Muscle As a Bodybuilder?

Drink water … They said.

Consume enough protein … Old.

Eat only whole food … Wrong.

I am going to cut through the chase and won’t give you fluff.

Here is the deal …

What to eat before, during, and after a workout will dictate your muscle growth as a bodybuilder. 


But the devil is in the details. 

In this post, I’ll give you nutritional tips that will change your physique FOREVER! 

Ready? Cool.

What To Eat Before, During, and After Workout to Gain Muscle As a bodybuilder? - Five Nutrition Tips!

I am not going to give you exact foods. Instead, I’ll give you more of a macronutrient strategy to implement. 

1. Focus on Carbohydrates Before and After Workout.

This is a simple but massive tip.

Your workout should be sandwiched between two carbohydrate meals. Pre-workout and post-workout. 

The most important macronutrient pre-workout is NOT protein but rather carbohydrates. 

I’m not saying don’t consume protein. I’m just saying the ROLE of carbs is just more important before working out.

Let me explain. 

When you are training, your muscles are at the optimal state of nutrient absorption.

Mechanical tension generated by training your muscle improves insulin sensitivity in the muscle cells.

The available carbohydrates in your bloodstream (glucose), from the pre-workout meal, signals your Pancreas to provide Insulin.

Insulin now acts to command your muscle cells (as opposed to fat cells!) to open their gates and deposit more nutrients.

Now, here is an interesting scenario.

What happens if you train really hard, and the glucose from the carbohydrates in the pre-workout meal runs out? 

The answer is in the next tip.

insulin sensitivity - explained

2. Use Intra-workout Nutrition, If you Train hard.

Consuming supplements during workouts is a bit controversial. But intra-workout nutrition is among the most important factors for muscle growth for bodybuilders.

The caveat here is that you should be training really hard in order for them to work effectively. 

If you are training for the sake of training, intra-workout nutrition will not be of much help.

If you are short on time and want to get some workout done in 30 mins or so, forget it.

However, if you’re training your butt off, say, for hypertrophy and doing a lot of volume, or if you are training for strength and doing heavyweights, then intra-workout nutrition can take you to the next level.


When you train hard, muscle protein breakdown is at the highest levels, as we explained in this post.

The trick here is to minimize muscle breakdown as much as possible. 

This way when you consume protein after the workout, it goes not to rebuild the lost muscle fibers but to build new ones.

Remember: muscle fibers are made of amino acids.

This means more muscle growth!

Now, how to minimize muscle breakdown during the workout?

  1. Consume fast absorbed amino acids … Essential Amino Acids
  2. Consume fast absorbed carbohydrates to keep sustained elevated levels of insulin … like Cluster Dextrin. 

Fast-acting carbohydrates will provide the muscle with the necessary fuel in case the carbohydrates stored in the muscle (glycogen), from the pre-workout meal, runs out.

And because of the enhanced insulin sensitivity that opens up the muscle cell’s gates, the fast absorbed amino acids will now rush to the muscle and compensate for the lost/broken-down amino acids. 

Mix these two supplementary nutrients together in a bottle shaker and sip on the drink while resting between the sets.

You will recover … FAST!

You won’t feel as sore. You will train with more volume and more weights. 

And with that comes more mass!

Keep in mind, though, you still need to have a pre-workout meal. 

Such a meal, however, should be more protein-focused (not eliminating carbs entirely).

Just the opposite of the pre-workout meal. 

Protein powder shake

3. Incorporate Protein Shakes Between your Whol Food Meals.

You might have heard that eating whole food is the way to go!

And protein shakes are just … garbage.

Bull s***.

If you are, say, a 230-pound muscular person. How in the world can you consume 230 grams of protein a day … for months and years … only from whole food without eating junk all the time?!!

You can’t. Unless you are some cartoon character.

I get that some protein shakes are poorly made and amino spiked (using low-grade amino acids), and you should eliminate these anyway.

But there are plenty of powerful high-quality protein powders. We recommend some of them here.

If you are trying to gain muscle mass, protein shakes are essential to gaining enough calories, conveniently. They will provide you with a good amount of branched-chain amino acids (BCCA) and Leucine, and are very beneficial for your immune system.

They are also absorbed at a much faster rate than whole food. So, you can stick them between heavy meals. 

4. What to eat before sleep? - Nighttime Protein.

Imagine depriving your body of food for 6-8 hours a day. This happens every day when you go to bed.

The idea here is to get protein to stay in your body for a long period of time during sleep.

I know. Eating before going to bed may interrupt your sleeping pattern.

Or even worse … Causes you nightmares.

That could be the case if you eat sugary foods. They are notorious for disrupting your blood sugar levels. 

But, this won’t happen if you eat slow-digesting protein that provides sustained amino acids during your time in bed.

Think red meat or cottage cheese. Maybe a shake of casein protein if you don’t have an appetite for food. 

Remember this: You want your muscle protein synthesis to exceed protein breakdown on a daily basis. 

reverse dieting - featured image

5. Follow the Flexible Dieting Approach.

It is going to be really hard to get all your calories and remain on a caloric surplus eating foods like fish, rice, potatoes, etc. 

Not only those foods aren’t caloric dense. 


Flexible dieting comes in handy and makes life much more fun.

I’ll borrow John Meadows’ approach:

90% clean food.

10% “fun” food.

Let’s say you have 5 meals a day. That’s a total of 10 meals in two days.

Have 9 of them from clean sources such as fish, chicken, rice, potatoes, broccoli, etc. 

And the last one?

Go get some donuts, french toast, or even a slice or two of pizza. Once every two days. This is a good way to stay on the clean bulk.

You could also follow the calories partition- approach. 

Meaning 90% of your daily calories should come from clean good food, and 10% from fun foods.

If gaining muscle mass is challenging to you, or you suffer from slow metabolism (lucky you!), you could pump up the percentage to 80 – 85% clean and 20- 15% fun.

Give these tips a try for 4-8 months.

And show us your results.