In a study done for the BBC last year, 30 men and women were placed into 2 different groups. One group had a carbohydrate drink BEFORE their 3x per week controlled workout sessions, and the other group ate a carbohydrate drink AFTER their 3x per week controlled workout session.
The study found that women burned more fat when they drank the carb drink BEFORE their workouts, while men burned more fat when they drank the carb drink AFTER their workouts.
The study authors put this down to men and women metabolizing fats and carbs differently.
So as a man, if fat loss is your goal, you are better off training first thing in the morning on an empty stomach (or just before you break an intermittent fast).
But there's more to it than what's covered by this study.
What you should eat after a workout depends on what TYPE of exercise you do.
The participants of the above study did moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise. With cardio, you don't get much of a growth hormone boost after exercise, so eating your carbs immediately after your workout may be a good way to go.
Growth hormone is an anabolic hormone which helps you grow muscle, AND it's one of the body's most powerful fat burning hormones.
Testosterone is also an anabolic and fat burning hormone, and more importantly for us, it plays an important role in helping you to lose man boobs.
Eating carbs results in an insulin spike, and studies show that insulin blunts the post-exercise growth hormone response.
Studies also show that taking a carbohydrate drink after resistance exercise reduces post exercise testosterone concentrations.
This means it could be a BAD idea to have a carbohydrate drink or meal immediately after a resistance training or HIIT workout.
The post-exercise growth hormone and testosterone peaks last for about 30 to 60 minutes, and you're OK to eat/drink your carbs after that 60-minute mark.
Here's What You Should Consume Immediately After A Workout
Studies show that taking protein immediately after a workout helps inhibit the release of the catabolic stress hormone cortisol after a workout, further boosts testosterone, and boosts muscle growth.
So here's the take-home message from today's article:
Train on an empty stomach. Drink a high quality whey protein immediately after your workout. Don't consume any carbs until at least one hour after you have finished your workout.
Change It Up According To Your Goals
Pre and post workout nutrition is a VERY complicated topic, with LOTS of different conflicting advice on it online. In my experience, the above advice is sound if your main goal is to reduce body fat and lose man boobs.
Where you may consider changing things up is once you have LOST your man boobs and your focus is either on pure muscle growth or pure performance gains.
In this case, you may be better off consuming both a protein AND carb drink immediately after a workout, because studies show carbs help better blunt the cortisol response after exercise, and are better for the testosterone to cortisol RATIO, which is more important for muscle growth and performance than just testosterone levels alone.
The other scenario where you might consider consuming carbs immediately after a workout, is after a particularly intense and prolonged workout where you feel you may have overreached. In this case, the cortisol-blunting effect of consuming carbs will help minimize the damage.
For example, some months ago I cycled around a huge lake with a friend. I expected it would be a quick 50-minute ride or something, but it ended up taking almost 4 hours! That was unexpected overkill and my body was taken into a totally catabolic state. At the end of something like this, I definitely would have benefited from carbs not only immediately after the workout, but before and multiple times DURING the workout.
But that was just for fun, I don't recommend you do 4-hour long marathons to try and lose your man boobs.
For detailed guidance on how to exercise to lose man boobs, you can check out one of my three main high intensity training programs:
The Chest Sculpting Blueprint (for weight training).
All three forms of training will help you lose your man boobs. Which you choose to do depends on your personal circumstances. If you're having a hard time deciding, shoot me an email over at firstname.lastname@example.org, telling me a little about yourself and what you want to achieve, and I'll help guide you in the right direction.