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Response to Dr Berg’s “The Pre and Post Workout Meal Myth” video

(click image to watch video on Youtube instead of read)


Dr. Eric Berg claims that pre and post workout nutrition is a myth. According to him you shouldn’t eat anything before during or after working out in order to build muscle and lose fat. Is he right and every other fitness professional wrong? Let’s find out…

I stumbled on THIS VIDEO by Dr. Eric Berg while researching for my videos on pre and post workout nutrition. The title of his video is “The pre and post workout meal myth” and when I saw that immediately I knew I had to make a response video. Any video that calls pre and post workout nutrition a MYTH right in the title is obviously looking for critique, so let’s see if I agree or disagree.

I wanted to know a little more about this guy, his channel is called “Dr. Eric Berg DC” so I know he is not a medical doctor, nor is he claiming to be one. DC stands for doctor of chiropractic. He has 5 and a half million subscribers so he’s obviously doing something right. It says in his bio: “Dr. Berg, age 56, is a chiropractor who specializes in Healthy Ketosis & Intermittent Fasting. He is the author of the best-selling book The Healthy Keto Plan, and is the Director of Dr. Berg’s Nutritionals. He no longer practices, but focuses on health education through social media.” In other words he was trained as a chiropractor and now teaches nutrition. That’s like a certified personal trainer using his credentials to teach knitting. 

Anyway.. honestly I really don’t care about his credentials or how popular a youtuber he is, I just want to know if he is giving quality advice in this video. Let's see if I agree or disagree…

(23) In the video he lumps pre and post workout nutrition in the same category, but they are 2 different things: proper pre-workout nutrition uses carbs to fuel your workout and protein so amino acids are available right away to start the repair process. And proper post workout nutrition supplies the right nutrients to increase muscle protein synthesis and decrease muscle protein breakdown. It has little to do with replenishing glycogen reserves; that idea comes from the anabolic window hypothesis that has been debunked.

Dr Berg says after a half hour of working out your muscle and liver glycogen will be all used up, and then after that you’ll be burning fat. Not according to the research: According to research published in 2015 by Knuiman, Hopman and Mensink, “a typical resistance exercise session has been shown to reduce glycogen levels by approximately 24-40%.” He then goes on to ask “why the heck would you want to eat anything sweet before during and after your workout? If the goal is to burn fat then that doesn’t make any sense.” With all due respect Dr. Berg, YOU are not making sense, a second ago you were talking about replenishing glycogen stores and building muscle. Now you’re saying the whole purpose of working out is to burn fat. No. The purpose of working out, meaning resistance training, is to build strength and/or muscle. The calories you burn are incidental. It is true that building lean body mass will burn more calories in the long run because it is metabolically active tissue. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. Let’s go on…

A few minutes later he actually says he doesn’t recommend eating anything before during and after a meal? Okay he probably meant he doesn’t recommend eating anything before during and after a workout. He says eating protein triggers insulin, and insulin stops fat burning. And to him the whole goal of exercise is to stimulate your metabolism and tap into your fat reserves. The only way I know to do that is by building muscle. He said he would talk about muscle building in depth, so let’s continue…

According to Dr. Berg it takes 24 hours or MORE for protein to be digested and used by your muscles. I have no idea where he came up with that idea. In a study published by Brad Schoenfeld and Alan Aragon in 2018 they noted that whey protein’s absorption rate has been estimated at 10 grams per hour, meaning it would take just 2 hours to fully absorb a 20 gram dose, spiking muscle protein synthesis. And cooked egg protein has an absorption rate of  approximately 3 grams per hour, meaning complete absorption of an omelet containing the same 20 g of protein would take approximately 7 hours. Most solid food protein sources fall somewhere between those 2 extremes. In any case it absolutely does NOT take 24 hours.

Later he says “If your liver is overloaded with too much protein it won’t end up in your muscles.” I think he means that protein that is not used for tissue repair and building is used as energy by the body. Which is true. But it has nothing to do with overloading the liver, that’s a strange way to put it. Then he says we want to avoid insulin because it nullifies growth hormone. You know what else it nullifies? Cortisol. Having a little insulin present while you train will keep cortisol levels in check and inhibit muscle breakdown. Then he says “if you eat during this exercise-and-recovery process you’re going to slow down your benefits of fat loss and muscle building.” He says there are exceptions, so I don’t want to jump to conclusions. But he says the benefits of exercise occur 24 hours after exercise to 48 hours after exercise. As far as muscly building goes, we know that muscle protein synthesis is elevated by 50% 4 hours after resistance training, and continues to rise to 109%, or over double baseline, at 24 hours following training. Then it declines rapidly after that and returns to near baseline at 36 hours. So no Dr Berg, the benefits do not occur 24 hours to 48 hours after exercise.

Thank God that video is over, there’s so much misinformation. Okay he stated the exceptions to his rule of not eating pre and post workout are: athletes, if you work out twice a day and if you’re a huge bodybuilder, if you’re an endurance athlete, and if you’re a diabetic. He doesn’t go into why these people are exceptions to his rule, but I would say that for the same reasons that they are exceptions, we would ALL be exceptions. An athlete needs pre and post workout nutrition to maximize his performance. Do you want to maximize your performance? A bodybuilder wants to maximize muscle growth. Do you want to maximize muscle growth. A diabetic needs to control his blood sugar. Do you want to control your blood sugar? If so then proper pre and post workout nutrition should not be neglected. Then he says this advice is for the average person who is trying to lose weight. I think skipping out on pre and post workout nutrition is bad advice for anyone. In fact I believe pre and post workout is the most important window of time that you NEED to be eating correctly. He summarizes by saying it’s all about stimulating growth hormone and keeping insulin low. If you follow his advice in this video you may burn fat but you certainly won’t maximize muscle growth. In fact being in a catabolic state before during and after training, you’re sure to lose muscle.

What does the Bible say about it? First Thessalonians 5:21 says “But test all things carefully; Hold firmly to that which is good.” I don’t think Dr Berg is purposely trying to deceive anyone. I think he is fixated on keto and intermittent fasting, and to him carbs are the enemy. I believe he is honestly trying to help people, but the bottom line is we are all responsible for what we put in our bodies. So test all things carefully; and hold firmly to that which is good.

Okay that’s it for this week’s article. Thanks for joining me. Don’t forget to pick up my calorie calculator combo, the ultimate free tools to help you succeed on your fitness journey, just visit the link below. That’s all for now, God bless you, and I’ll see you next time.

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