Post-Workout Anabolic Window: Fact Or Fiction?

anabolic window

A highly debated topic, the anabolic window is something to really consider.

We all know that consuming some sort of protein after our workout is valuable in seeing those gains we seek most and the anabolic window may be the key to unlocking said gains. Protein, protein, protein. That seems to be all we hear about, but the truth is, it is so important. Protein is the building block for all muscle and for those of us bodybuilders and strength athletes that seek to put on as much muscle as possible, it would be a huge disservice to neglect the importance of protein. Whether that be a high protein meal, or a seriously effective protein powder, the gains we seek most lie with the common denominator of the more protein, the better.

The anabolic window is a highly debated topic, and some may say controversial. With so many voices giving their opinions on said topic, it can hard to decipher who is telling facts and who is simply spewing fiction. The facts tell us that muscle growth goes beyond the actual workout and that post-workout nutrition and a recovery routine are beyond vital for seeing the gains we want most. But knowing when to consume protein before our “window” for gains closes is very important to understand.

Let’s take a look at the anabolic window. We’ll talk about what it is and if the idea around this controversial topic is fact or fiction. You deserve to know how best to maximize your gains and we seek to give you the best answer.

anabolic window

What Is The Anabolic Window?

The anabolic window is essentially the amount of time you have post-workout to maximize anabolic activity through protein supplementation. It is commonly said that this window lies somewhere in the ballpark of 30-60 minutes after your workout. Anything after and you start to see a decline to your muscle building and strength training goals. But some research has now come out saying this time frame may be extended past this traditionally accepted window. While that may be the case, there still may be downsides to consuming that valuable protein intake well past the one-hour mark (1).

 

The anabolic window is based off of anabolism, which is when smaller molecules grow in size, hence muscle growth. This is the opposite of catabolism which is when those larger molecules break down, thus leading to muscle breakdown. Essentially, we are talking about the window of time in between when muscles grow and when muscle breaks down and as bodybuilders and athletes, this is obviously quite important for us to know (2).

anabolic window

Is This Fact Or Fiction?

What makes this difficult is that studies are conducted with varying athletes. Important factors to consider are diet, training routines, the level of exertion, and how the athlete processes protein and other nutrients compared to others. For example, if one athlete already has a high protein diet, the time in which they consume a post-workout protein supplement may be different than someone who may be on a plant-based diet. What matters here are the amino acids, which make up protein. Studies have shown that those who consume an amino acid mix beyond the hour window have actually seen growth in hours two and three (3). This means that the window was extended beyond the one day mark despite what is commonly thought (4).

However, consuming protein within the anabolic window of 30-60 minutes has benefits that shouldn’t be ignored. If you take a protein supplement immediately after your workout, or at least relatively soon after, you give yourself the best chance at seeing the growth you want most for you are giving your body the nutrients it needs right off the bat. This will also increase your chances of feeling full and working to pump you with protein, thus enhancing overall growth and recovery.

 

So, to say the anabolic window is either fact or fiction would be a disservice because too many studies lean one way or the other. When it comes down to it, knowing your body and knowing what it needs to thrive is the priority. Taking a protein supplement as soon after will give you the best chance at seeing the growth you want most and will ensure you get those nutrients into your body as fast as possible for optimal gains.

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How To Avoid Losing Gains

This topic surrounding the anabolic window is clearly a hot topic for debate. While the conversation may never truly find a resolution, there are ways to prevent losing gains so you don’t suffer. Making sure to include whole foods into your diet will ensure you get those valuable nutrients into your body to aid in your overall health and wellness, as well as training and performance. Supplements will be great aids here as well and it would be unwise to neglect a solid protein powder.

Enhanced Labs Whey Protein Isolate is a high-quality whey protein powder designed to maximize growth and recovery (5). With a digestive enzyme blend, it allows for better protein utilization so all those nutrients hit you harder for better results.

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Enhanced Whey Protein Isolate is a high quality whey protein with just 110 calories and 25g protein. Fortified with DigeSEB digestive enzyme blend, this allows for better protein utilization in your body.


Check out our list of the Best Protein Powders for more great protein supplements!


Wrap Up

The anabolic window is a highly debated and controversial topic among those in the sports nutrition community. Consuming protein is important for growth and recovery and the time in which you do it is important for you want to maximize your gains. A protein supplement can ensure this and much more and is exactly what you need to thrive. While the answer to the anabolic window still remains a bit unclear, be sure to take a protein supplement as soon as you can to see growth and not limit any of your gains.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of Envato

References

  1. Aragon, Alan A.; Schoenfeld, Brad J. (2013). “Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window?”. (source)
  2. Helms, Eric R.; Aragon, Alan A.; Fitschen, Peter J. (2014). “Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation”. (source)
  3. Rasmussen, Blake B.; Tipton, Kevin D.; Miller, Sharon L.; Wolfe, Steven E.; et al. (2000). “An oral essential amino acid-carbohydrate supplement enhances muscle protein anabolism after resistance exercise”. (source)
  4. Burd, Nicholas A.; West, Daniel W. D.; Moore, Daniel R.; Atherton, Philip J.; et al. (2011). “Enhanced amino acid sensitivity of myofibrillar protein synthesis persists for up to 24h after resistance exercise in young men”. (source)
  5. Pasiakos, Stefan M.; Lieberman, Harris R.; McLellan, Tom M. (2014). “Effects of protein supplements on muscle damage, soreness and recovery of muscle function and physical performance: a systematic review”. (source)
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Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.