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The truth about the anabolic window

You might have heard of the 'anabolic window'. You know, that magical 30 minute window after your training session where your body is most receptive to protein (or so the gym-bros would have you believe). For a while, it was believed that if you didn't down that post-workout protein shake straight away, you'd miss out on all your gains and the workout would be for nothing.

Well, it’s time to bust that myth gf.The anabolic window theory comes from the idea that immediately eating protein and carbs post workout will increase muscle protein synthesis (MPS). This is a naturally occurring process in which protein is produced to repair muscle damage caused by training, and it also counteracts the breakdown of muscle protein. 

However, several studies have shown that the window for muscle protein synthesis is quite wide. In fact, muscle protein synthesis can be boosted for up to 24 hours post training, so there really is no rush to gulp down that protein shake gf. What most studies show is that pre and post-workout protein intake both produce similar muscle adaptations, with similar MPS in those who ate before training, and those who ate within 1-3 hours post training. This means that if you are eating before your session, then there's no need to rush to get your protein hit post-session. 

Okay, enough science. What does this actually mean for you and your training?

  • If you train fasted, then it's a good idea to get some form of protein and carbohydrates in within 1 hour post training, or consider eating before your session
  • Eating before your session will also give you more energy and increase muscle glycogen storage, which will improve your training performance
  • If you already eat before your session, then there is no need to eat straight after your workout (unless you want to)
  • There is no actual harm in eating protein straight after your training, so if you prefer to get your protein hit straight after the gym, you still can! 
  • The most important thing is your overall intake across the course of the day, and that you are eating within a few hours pre and post training 

Soph xx