How can exercising before meals help me gain muscle?

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If you exercise before you eat your body becomes increasingly sensitive to insulin and the muscles of the body are in a state in which they are ready to absorb nutrients for repair instead of the calories being stored in the fat cells. If you eat immediately after a workout, the calories you eat will be used mostly to repair and build muscle mass instead of being stored in your fat cells.
Tim Ferriss
Fitness
Do 60-90 seconds of exercises a few minutes before you eat and, ideally, again about 90 minutes afterward. It brings glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT-4) to the surface of muscle cells, opening more gates for the calories to flow into. The more muscular gates we have open before insulin triggers the same GLUT-4 on the surface of fat cells, the more we can put in muscle instead of fat.

GLUT-4 has been studied most intensely for the last 15 years or so, as it became clear around 1995 that exercise and insulin appear to activate (translocate) GLUT-4 through different but overlapping signaling pathways. This was exciting to me, as it meant it might be possible to use exercise to beat meal-induced insulin release to the punch -- to preemptively flip the switch on the biological train tracks so that food (glucose) is preferentially siphoned to muscle tissue.
The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.