No, I am not talking about the armor windows on the Telsa Cybertruck.
Anabolic windows refer to the time period post-training where the bro-logic sayZ you need to consume protein or carbs during.
Let’s tackle each one separately.
In general, sooner is better and has been shown to induce a better response. This is due to changes in local enzymes and translocation of the GLTU-4 receptors, among other nerdy things.
Does it matter?
If you have a hard training session within a few hours—yes, get in some rapidly-absorbing carbs as soon as you can post-training. I use this technique with the athletes I work with who have closely spaced, two-a-day training sessions.
If you are a standard doooode-bro and not training dem pecz until the next day, you will be fine. Get in some calories and your carbs when you can.
Super nerd alert-your body can even recycle lactate to produce glucose via the Cori Cycle.
The debate over protein is a bit more complex.
An early study done by Crib and Hayes (1) showed that timing alone (pro, carbZ,and creatine) did matter.
Other studies did not show the same effect. A meta-analysis (2) showed that timing did not matter as much.
Other studies have shown that muscle will stay “sensitive” to protein for 24-48 hours (3).
Does it matter?
Timing probably does not matter a ton if timing is the only thing you change.
You will notice in the Flex Diet Cert intervention on Carbz, I recommend you get in some protein and carbs pre- and post-weight training sessions.
Anecdotally, I have noticed that most perform and feel better when they do. Keep in mind that in the research, having pro/ carbs pre or post did not make anyone worse, so hedging your bets there is best.
You do not need to blast cortisol and worry that your anabolic window slamming shut at 2 hours 37 minutes and 17 seconds.
Get in some protein and carbs pre and post.
This is not a written-in-stone thing that if you miss your anabolic windows, all your gainz will grind to a halt. It is convenient and in my experience helps.
Keep in mind that when most people do it, they also increase their protein and carbs in addition to the potential timing effect. They are changing the amount and timing.
Go forth towards gainZ,
1) Cribb PJ, Williams AD, Hayes A. A creatine-protein-carbohydrate supplement enhances responses to resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;39(11):1960‐1968. doi:10.1249/mss.0b013e31814fb52a
2) Aragon, A. A., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2013). Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window?. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10(1), 5. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-10-5
3) Phillips SM, Tipton KD, Aarsland A, Wolf SE, Wolfe RR. Mixed muscle protein synthesis and breakdown after resistance exercise in humans. Am J Physiol. 1997;273(1 Pt 1):E99‐E107. doi:10.1152/ajpendo.1997.273.1.E99Dr Mike
Mike T Nelson CISSN, CSCS, MSME, PhD
Associate Professor, Carrick Institute
Owner, Extreme Human Performance, LLC
Editorial Board Member, STRONG Fitness Mag