You probably already heard of the 'anabolic window' and how important it is for muscle building. Well, today, we're going to show you what it is and if it genuinely works.
The anabolic window has been a myth for a very long time. However, recent studies put it to the test to find out of it works as they claim it does.
Most old-school bodybuilders argue that the anabolic window is the time after your workout, where your body is in an anabolic state. Therefore it's crucial that you need to consume protein and carbs to fuel that anabolic state for optimal muscle gains.
At that time, it was just a myth, and everybody believed it because well, these bodybuilders were huge, so it should work, right?
Since then, researchers have looked at nutritional timing and the influence of body composition and performance, and they came to another conclusion.
Let's take a closer look at the studies.
What is the Anabolic Window?
The anabolic window is the time period after you your workout. This is the period after your done training and your body needs to be repaired with nutritions like protein and carbs.
Since this time frame is still a myth, there isn't really a correct time frame. However, it's believed to be between 30 and 60 minutes after your workout.
Your muscles need protein and amino acids to build new muscle cells. Fueling your body with nutrients straight after your workout should be beneficial for gaining lean muscle mass, right?
Some extreme bodybuilders even said that if you're not eating within 60 minutes after your workout, you basically wasted your workout.
While I certainly do not agree with this claim, the anabolic window myth has found it's place in some studies.
A study from 2002 showed that the timing of protein and amino acids could play a big role and even said that there is an anabolic window.
While another study claims that consuming proteins and amino acids within 45 minutes post-workout, could lead to your body going into an anabolic state.
We can conclude that the anabolic window is all about timing your nutrition for optimal muscle gains.
While nutrition is essential in the muscle-building process, does it really matter when you eat your protein?
The question we need to answer is: Does eating protein, carbs, and amino acids in a 30-60 minute time frame post-workout result in more muscle gains?
New Research On The Anabolic Window
While there are some theories that the anabolic window is a real thing, recent studies that tested these theories out concluded something else.
A study was done on 21 healthy men with resistance training experience. One group got 25 grams of protein pre-workout and the other group post-workout.
The results showed that there was NO difference in either strength, body composition, or muscle mass.
This study showed that as long as you get enough protein on the same day, you will have the same results as taking it immediately after your workout.
The international society of sports nutrition stated that to maximize protein synthesis, approximately 10 grams of EAA is necessary.
They also mention that eating enough protein within 2 hours of your workout stimulates robust increases in muscle protein synthesis.
Another study showed small to moderate effects on muscle hypertrophy when ingesting protein straight after your workout.
Most studies conclude that total protein intake and adequate training is the strongest indicator of muscle hypertrophy and recovery.
Resistance training will stimulate muscle protein synthesis for 48 hours. A study showed that ingesting protein in that timeframe will have an additive effect on anabolic potential.
A study done in 2018 on the effect of protein supplements on performance and recovery showed no difference between pre and post-workout ingestion.
However, one thing they concluded was that despite some studies noted that you do not need to consume protein directly after your workout, it should be indicated that consuming no nutrients offers no benefits and perhaps even a disadvantage.
So, does the anabolic window myth has been busted?
Well, partly, yes. There isn't enough evidence showing a significant change in protein synthesis when consuming nutrients directly after your workout.
And there is significantly less evidence that shows a big difference between the ingestion of pre-workout vs. post-workout proteins.
However, it's also safe to say that eating nothing after your workout will do zero and could even be more harmful in terms of hypertrophy.
We would recommend eating some protein, BCAA's and carbs around your workout for either performance, recovery, and muscle mass.
Please check our article on how much protein a day you need for muscle gains, to speed up your goals.
Using post-workout supplements like creatine, bcaa, glutamine, or protein can speed up recovery by a lot.
BCAA's can be beneficial for either performance, protein synthesis, or muscle recovery since they have been proven to stimulate the protein mTOR.