Should You Worry about the Anabolic Window?

So, you’ve just finished your workout, feeling great. Potentially one of the best pumps of your life, but you realize you forgot your protein shake at home. That anabolic window will close if you don’t get protein within 30 minutes. Stressed out of your mind you rush home to get your protein before your workout is wasted by you not getting protein fast enough. But is all this based on science, or is this just some bro science that needs to be forgotten?


Before we can begin debunking any myths, we first must realize that gaining muscle is a 24/7lifestyle, and 1 workout will neither make nor break your progress. Muscle is built as we recover, not in the gym when we tear it down. Working out in the gym merely serves as a stimulus to grow. We put the body under load, break down a few fibers, and the response is a gradual building of muscle to be more resilient to the same breakdown again.


The second big key in understanding our anabolic window is that we need protein synthesis to be operating at 100% capacity all day if we want to take full advantage of our workouts. Protein synthesis is simply the act of building proteins and muscles. Research says eating around 25 grams of protein, containing at least 3 grams of the amino acid leucine, is enough of a stimulus to fully maximize protein synthesis for between 3 and 5 hours. This would mean that our “Anabolic Window” lasts 3-5 hours between high protein meals, regardless of our workout.


So, what does this mean for our post workout Anabolic Window? It just depends on our eating habits around our workout. If you workout fasted, first thing in the morning (like a psycho), you need protein immediately after your workout because your protein synthesis hasn’t been 100% for a while. If you workout 2 hours after a meal with a good amount of protein, and your workout lasts an hour, you could have up to 2 hours left before you need to slam down some protein.


What does this mean for you? You no longer need to stress about getting that protein as soon as you finish workout out if you eat adequate protein before your lift. The more import part of the equation is feeding your body protein every 3-5 hours every day, forever.


Chris Still

BS Exercise Science

CSCS, USAW-L1SP


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