What is the anabolic window?
You’ve probably heard the term “anabolic window” before. The lore of essential, post-workout nutrition supports an entire industry of post-workout supplementation.
The concept of the anabolic window (AKA the window of gains) suggests that there is a short, critical period for post-workout nutrition consumption that radically augments muscle protein synthesis and recovery. If this window is missed, you can pretty much wave your gains goodbye.
This hypothesis was formulated by studying dogs after periods of extended running. Infusion of protein and carbs immediately post-exercise seems to cause muscle protein synthesis. Unfortunately, when tested on humans, it doesn’t hold up to the test of scrutiny.
When total daily protein is controlled, differences in nutrient timing don’t show significant differences in short or long-term exercise effects.
Instead of obsessing over what happens over the 30 minutes after your workout, focus on your eating habits the other 99% of the time through achieving a total daily protein of 1.6-2.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight spread over the entire course of the day.
Don’t get too caught up trying to fit food into the window of gains when the door to swole is always unlocked.