Cheat Mode In-depth: Peri-Workout Nutrition

Cheat Mode Workout Nutrition

The final segment of the In-depth series focuses on workout nutrition.

Workout nutrition, as it pertains to Cheat Mode, is not a shake taken after your workout. It is anything consumed 0-30 minutes prior to exercise or during exercise.

Workout nutrition is sometimes supplement heavy yet optional; there are also multiple choices one can make for workout nutrition as it pertains to their goals. This article will be divided into segments based on goals.

The Minimalistic Approach

(‘I don’t want to or can’t buy anything’)

This protocol is for the cheap or otherwise disenfranchised. It requires no supplements.

You drink some water.

The Fat loss Approach

(‘I want to lose fat really fast, but I chose Cheat Mode so I can binge’)

This protocol is geared towards people who want fat loss as their primary goal. The goals here are to:

  • Build muscle, but not at the rate of other protocols
  • Create a lot of buffer room for the binge, and increase the rate of nutrient oxidation during the feast so less is stored.

The protocol as it applies here is minimal:

  • Some manner of stimulant such as caffeine, ephedrine, or yohimbine HCl.
  • Branched Chain Amino acids (BCAAs) or Leucine.

With the optional additions of

  • Beta-alanine
  • Creatine
  • Cholinergic

This protocol is non-caloric in nature, increases insulin levels highly which can help with the amount of glucose you burn through during the workout. The leucine (which is also contained in BCAAs) also exerts some cellular muscle building signals which can be taken advantage of during the feast.

The stimulants help with acute energy expenditure and help increase the amount of volume done during the workout.

No fat loss will occur acutely with this protocol (during the workout), but it is rather geared towards aiding fat loss during the fast.

This workout is best paired with high volume resistance training to attempt to deplete glycogen.

The doses are around 10-20g of BCAAs or up to 10g leucine. Stimulants should be dosed on an individual basis in accordance with individual tolerance and other stimulants consumed throughout the day. The dose here is not going to be too excessive since you will be taking the stimulants in the late afternoon. If sleep is impaired, this will most likely be the cause, which can be remedied by cutting back on the stimulant load.

The Standard Approach

(‘I want to recomp, I don’t favor fat loss or muscle building’)

This protocol is geared towards people who chose Cheat Mode to simultaneously build muscle and lose fat, but couldn’t care less about which goal is more important.

Nutrients are consumed akin to simple workout nutrition, providing substrate for muscles and some other nutrients. The goals here are to:

  • Provide some form of caloric nutrition to muscle
  • Otherwise increase workout performance

The protocol as it applies here requires:

  • Some form of easily digested protein (such as Whey protein)
  • Some form of carbohydrate (such as glucose)

Other additions that would be beneficial to add are:

  • Creatine
  • Beta-alanine
  • Cholinergic

This moderate approach is geared towards using the most cost-effective means of getting benefits from workout nutrition. Doses are a single standard scoop (25g, or 125kcal) of protein and a similar dose of carbohydrate.

The Muscle Building approach

(‘I want muscle more than fat loss, but chose Cheat Mode since I don’t want to be a fat-ass’)

This protocol is geared towards people who favor muscle building over fat loss, but still want some degree of fat loss or maintenance. It is geared around excess. The goals here are to:

  • Spike insulin and other nutrient-sensitive signals such as mTOR through the god-damn roof
  • Provide an absolute surplus of nutrients, possibly more than needed
  • Ease digestion so that this excess does not make you vomit

The protocol as it applies here requires:

  • Some form of whey protein or otherwise easily digestible protein (such as Casein Hydroslate)
  • Some form of non-fructose carbohydrates, such as glucose/dextrose, maltodextrin, or waxy maize starch.
  • A manner of protein digestive enzyme, such as Bromelain, Papain, or other Proteases (If whey is used over a standard hydroslate)

Other additions that would be beneficial to add are:

  • Beta-alanine
  • Creatine
  • Cholinergic
  • Superloading Leucine (>20g)
  • Glucose disposal agents such as Chromium or Na-R-ALA

The main goal here is to acutely shove as much stuff as we can into cells; the science behind this was taken from Biotest’s ‘Anaconda Protocol’ which remains in my opinion the best workout nutrition you can buy for muscle building, but probably won’t because of the exorbitant cost thereof. (Although if you have spare money just laying around, go for it)

Nutrients are consumed as substrate (whey and glucose) or as means to help put substrate into cells or direct the metabolic fate of substrate inside of cells (leucine, glucose disposal agent), or possible to help increase workload one is capable of doing during the workout (cholinergic, beta-alanine).

This protocol is highly dependent on digestion (as evidenced by the requirement for enzymes), and is drastically potentiated by the workout. Volume work is recommended to be undertaken when using this protocol of excess to enhance intrinsic signaling, and could easily be done after a more strength focused primer (Similar to the Boring but Big variation of 5/3/1 programming).

Doses are highly variable. It should be ‘as much as you can without adversely affecting your workout’. If you can stomach it, try more; if you cannot stomach it, scale back. Protein and carbohydrate should be added in a 1:1 ratio, approximately, although it is not highly important with such excess. Enzymes should be dosed in accordance to how your stomach feels from the protein.

Enzymes are not needed for the carbohydrate typically as the recommended carbohydrate sources are either quickly digested through the stomach (Waxy Maize) and thus do not cause stomach upset, or they have minimal digestive needs (glucose). If maltodextrin is used and causes stomach upset, then one can consider using supplemental amylase or simply swishing the shake around in your mouth a lot to use salivary amylase.

If one decides upon this protocol, ease into it; use enough liquid to make to easy for you although minimum of 1 liter is recommended.

Clarifications and Warnings on Consumption

For the fat loss and moderate approaches to workout nutrition, the timing of nutrient ingestion can be as simple as putting everything into a shake and sipping it during the workout.

For the protocol of excess, it is recommended you consume a quarter to half of it in the 30 minutes or so leading up to your workout, and then sip on the rest during the workout. This is to ensure that some of it passes your stomach before exercise starts to slow down digestion.

Always trust your stomach when supplementing with nutrition and liquids before and during a workout. No amount of nutrition will benefit you if it comes back up during a workout.

Also do not let this nutrition hinder your performance in the gym. If your performance is reduced markedly from this nutrition, your stomach is not awesome enough to digest the amount consumed. (Blood flow will be redirected towards the stomach for digestion, the parasympathetic (relaxation) nervous system will start to override the sympathetic (stimulatory) and induce grogginess, etc.)

Reduced performance should mean scaling back of the amount of nutrition consumed, either calorically or volume.

Those prone to exercise-induced nausea and vomiting should start slow with nutrition and slowly work up; everybody should start slow and work up with the last protocol of excess (Those who are drawn to Cheat Mode for it’s ‘lifestyle program based on excess’ idea know intimately what excess could mean).

Additional Supplement Clarifications

Throughout this article I will be referring to ‘Cholinergics’, which can be read up on here. Doses of cholinergic (if decided to use) should be in the range of 1-2g. This is dependent on what form you have (DMAE or choline bitartate, a lower dose is required for Alpha-GPC, with possible a 1g only requirement), and should be worked up to to avoid headaches. Start with a low dose (250mg or so) and increase until you hit the required range.

Creatine and Beta-alanine should be doses in the 5-10g range. Creatine may exacerbate stomach distress during workouts, so should be dosed with precaution if your stomach is not made of Iron.

Leucine tastes like shit, so be forewarned for those doing the muscle building protocol. 20g of leucine with 1 scoop of whey is gag-worthy, but this can be overridden with more whey or using powdered cinnamon as a glucose disposal agent.

Leucine is not needed on the moderate protocol as the whey itself has enough leucine in it to stimulate protein synthesis minimally.

Glucose disposal agents should also follow the general rule of ‘work up to an active dose’, as overdosing on these may cause episodes of hypoglycemia (low-blood sugar). This is mostly alleviated when you are ingesting a metric fuck-tonne of simple sugars, but it is possible. If anything, this is the area where most precaution should be taken. Follow label instructions or stick to a single tablespoon of cinnamon, to avoid hypoglycemia and coumarin overload.

Glucose disposal agents may also screw up with optimal strength performance (due to such variable levels of blood sugar). You really need to learn how the muscle building protocol works with your body, and use how you feel as a main indicator of effectiveness. It will most likely help with strength levels in the long run, but it was formulated with hypertrophy in mind.


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  1. William says:

    Wondering if combining calorie restriction and cheat mode is crazy? Very light restriction, perhaps 5%, with the understanding that my size will always be low, but so will bodyfat.

    Some things seem to be in direct contradiction. CR generally avoids Leucine for example – they want to promote protein recycling for the longevity benefits.

    On the other hand, Beta-alanine and Creatine in moderate doses have no conflicts in goals that I have seen so seem like good bets. Interesting.

    • William says:
    • Silverhydra says:

      Given how calorie restriction is, calorie restriction. I would not put much faith in restricting calories and building a lot of muscle from it.

      However, the timing of cheat mode and focus on some nutrients post-workout may help one bridge a caloric restriction approach to life with some degree of muscular definition, and not look like a diseased twig from the age of 30 to 130.

      I would guess that some things would have to be compromised. Binging in and of itself after a workout increases tons of markers which are not conducive to enhancing longevity. Leucine itself is a great way to counter muscle loss without calories, but it’s signalling properties are against typical CR as well.

      It may be worth looking into as a balanced approach (CM + CR), but you would not be getting full benefit from either approach IMO.

      • William says:


        >the timing of cheat mode and focus on some nutrients post-workout may help one bridge a caloric restriction approach to life with some degree of muscular definition, and not look like a diseased twig from the age of 30 to 130.

        It’s definitely a compromise. There’s a stigma to being too skinny no matter how healthy and active you are. I’m just a bit too superficial at this point in my life. But if CM can preserve some extra muscle at the same calorie intake though it could be a decent combo.

  2. akharon says:

    Ok, so I have a question regarding this, not sure if you’d prefer a new topic on fittit, let me know if you do. I’ve tried this two times, and haven’t had the best results. I’m using a scoop (~24g protein) of ON whey, 5g leucine, 5g BCAA, 3g beta-alanine, and 5g creatine. The first time I got a bit queezy, this morning I tossed my cookies after the workout. Should this be taken with a meal, or what is best? I don’t typically have a wimpy stomach, this is the first time in literally years I’ve thrown up from something that wasn’t overconsumption of alcohol. Any ideas?


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