The anabolic window is a concept that’s been talked about for decades. It is that time immediately after training when your muscles are highly receptive to any and all nutrients thrown its way. The belief, for a long time, was that if you weren’t slamming a whey protein shake the instant you put the weights down, your workout would be “wasted” and you can kiss those sweet bicep gains good-bye.
But, is that really true?
Or is the anabolic window just another entry in the annals of bro science meant to sell more protein shakes?
The truth is that the anabolic window is more like a “barn door.”
Post workout nutrition is important, but the proximity to which it needs to be consumed following your workout depends on a few factors, namely when was the last time you ate.
For instance, if you had a complete meal rich in carbohydrates, protein and fat an hour or two before your workout, your body is still absorbing and utilizing the nutrients from that meal when you finish your workout (assuming it’s between 60-75 minutes).
You’ll still want to get a meal in after training, but it doesn’t need to happen the instant you finish your last set. You can take some time to shower, change, and cook your food, without worrying about “losing your gains” or “wasting your workout.”
Now, if you train fasted first thing in the morning, the importance of the post-workout meal increases considerably. Training in and of itself both increases protein synthesis as well as protein breakdown.
However, it ultimately has a net catabolic effect on the body if you don’t eat some protein soon after training. In this instance, having something immediately after training (like a scoop of Predator Pro) would be the smart thing to do if you’re looking to optimize muscle growth and recovery.
At the end of the day, the anabolic window is real, but the length of it’s duration has largely been misrepresented. Your muscles are more receptive to nutrients post workout, and you will need to consume food, especially protein, after training to maximize the benefits of heavy lifting.
However, the main thing to consider is how long has it been since your last meal prior to training. If it was immediately before training, the need to slam a protein shake immediately after training isn’t as great. But, if it’s been several hours (>3 hours) since you’ve eaten, the importance of getting in some fast-digesting nutrition post-workout increases considerably.