| Bulking Protocol – Part 3

Author / John

For the third installment of the Bulking Protocol, I am going to outline the “when to eat?” portion of the method.


There are many theories and myths surrounding nutrient timing over the course of the day.  Lets take two extremes and see how different prescriptions can be.

Lets examine Intermittent Fasting (IF) made popular by Martin Berkhan of Lean Gains.  This nutritional approach promotes a daily 16-18 hour fast followed by a 6-8 hour feeding window.  The macronutrient breakdown is not as massively important when compared to the practice of fasting.  Having tinkered with fasting a few years back, I can tell much of the positive benefits I experienced came from training in a fasted state and by the very nature, the diet is one of caloric restriction.   While many people on an IF protocol claim to consume large volumes of food, I was never able to consume nearly the calories I was when I was eating over the course of the day, starting at 6 AM and finishing at 10 PM.

On the other side of this discussion, lets examine a traditional bodybuilding diet.  This diet is centered on the consumption of large volumes of food with regular frequency.  The desired state is one of constant growth by feeding and thus by constantly eating bodybuilders believe they can avoid a catabolic state and fuel muscle growth.  This diet usually requires 6-8 meals a day.  From personal experience, I was never able to eat 8 meals a day.  For many years, I consumed 7 meals but that elusive 8th meal always escaped me.

Which one is right?
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That really depends on what you are training for and your goals.  But since this series is called The Bulking Protocol it is safe to assume you are reading with the goal of putting on muscle and size.  I favor the more frequent meal model, as it is the only real way for me to consume enough calories over the course of the day using high quality food sources.

Sure it is easy to devour 7000-8000 calories at a single sitting if that meal includes a massive burrito with meat, beans and guacamole, an entire cheesecake, and a ½ gallon of whole milk just to wash it down.  But try to consume that same 7000-8000 calories eating the foods outlined in the first segment of the Bulking Protocol, and you will need all 7 meals and maybe a 2 AM meal to get in that elusive 8th meal.

The first installment of the Bulking Protocol went into great depth with the foods I recommend my athletes consume and the foods most beneficial for athletes training to put on muscle and fuel performance.  In the second installment of the Bulking Protocol, I took it a step further and provided macronutrient breakdowns and how I cycle the diet from training days to non-training days.

The third installment of the Bulking Protocol revolves around when to consume your calories over the course of the day.  Nutrient timing for my athletes is centered on their training times, as it is vital for my athletes to be well fueled to meet their performance needs.  The training is not easy and athletes need every advantage to be successful when it comes to training and being competitive on the field.

Pre Workout:

1. Consume this meal at minimum 30 minutes before beginning your training.

2. This meal should contain a small to moderate amount of easily digestible carbs, some protein and fat.  The carbs provide useable energy and the fat slows absorption out of the stomach, which keeps us satiated longer.  I found when I did not add fat in the pre workout meal, I would got hungry quicker and this would impact my training.

During Workout:

1. This might be a new idea for many of you, as most people rarely think about consuming calories during training.

2. I found by including some easily digestible proteins in the form of a drink, I could train longer and at a high level.

3. My drink consists of 2 scoops of Genr8 Vitargo (70 grams of carbs) and 20 grams of Essential Amino Acids.  I mix it up with water and drink it over the course of my training session.  While people have used simple sugars like dextrose, I find this leaves me with a ton of stomach bloat.  Through much trial and error, I have found Vitargo meets my demands better than just anything else out there.

Post Workout:

1. I have never been overly concerned with the all too important “anabolic window” (15 minutes).  The theory goes, that you must eat within 15 minutes of ending your workout to maximize strength and muscles gains.  I never paid it a ton of attention because I was taking in good calories during my workout.

2. Eat the post workout meal 45-60 minutes after training.

3. This meal consists of easily digestible/high glycemic load carbs and some form of animal based protein.

4. Avoid excessive fat in this meal, as I do not want to slow absorption out of the gut.  I want the food to pass through the gut as quickly as possible to maximize recovery.

The practice of timing your meal schedule around training times allows the rest of the meals fall into place.  I just place these three meals to coincide with my training and balance the rest.

For example, if my training time is at 6 AM.  I wake up and eat my first meal by 5:30 AM and hit the gym.  During my training session I consume my shake from 6-7:45 AM and then eat my post workout meal around 8:30-8:45 AM.  From this point, I schedule my meals around the rest of my day.  Here is the trick, make sure you calculate the carbs, proteins and fats in these three meals as they contribute to your total calories consumed over the day.  Your caloric needs were outlined in the 2nd part of the Bulking Protocol.

The protocols calls for 7 meals a day, spread out on regular intervals with a last meal 30-45 minutes before bedtime.  Here is an example of what a training day might look like at 6 AM.

Meal 1 – 5:30 AM (pre workout)
Meal 2 – 6:00 AM – 7:45 AM (during)
Meal 3 – 8:45 AM (post workout)
Meal 4 – 11:30 AM (lunch)
Meal 5 – 2:00 PM (snack)
Meal 6 – 5:00 PM (dinner)
Meal 7 – 8-45-9:00 PM (before bed)

Here is what a training day might look like with a noon training time.

Meal 1 – 6:30 AM (breakfast)
Meal 2 – 9:30 AM (snack)
Meal 3 – 11:30 AM (pre-workout)
Meal 4 – 12:00-1:45 PM (during)
Meal 5 – 2:45 PM (post workout)
Meal 6 – 5:00 PM (dinner)
Meal 7 – 8:45-9:00 PM (before bed)

The non-training days are more simple; consume the calories that meet the requirements outlined in the Bulking Protocol.

I am sure there will be more questions on the Bulking Protocol so lets move the discussion to the PAHQ Forums and see if we can create a resource for everyone to benefit from.


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John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.


  1. Chretien Teitelbaum on March 18, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Great write up, have a few questions, which forum would this discussion be under?

  2. chris baillie on March 18, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    This may be a dumb question but are your easy digestible proteins in your intra workout drink the essential amino acids? or are you adding scoops of whey to it?

  3. Nathan Austin on March 18, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Hi Chris,

    This is being discussed in the FS forum but I can answer your question really quickly: EEAs are in the intra workout drink, no whey. If you’d like to discuss more, please join us in the forum.


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