The Anabolic Window. What it is and how to take advantage.
So today, I wanted to chat about a big, BIG myth within the Fitness Industry.
THE ANABOLIC WINDOW!!
What is the Anabolic Window?
The anabolic window refers to a time period after a workout when it’s apparently a good idea to get in nutrients to assist you in building muscle.
Now to most people, that would make sense, right? You’ve just spent an hour + in the gym destroying each your muscles, and for optimal repair and recovery, they need nutrients. Now if you’re trying to gain weight/muscle and you’re in a caloric surplus, you’ll be looking to make the most of the ‘anabolic window’ to add to your ‘gains.’ Where as, if you’re cutting and you’re in a caloric deficit, the idea is to maintain that hard earned mass or prevent yourself from losing your gains, decreasing strength and demolishing your performance in the gym.
The idea of the anabolic window has always been to get two types of nutrients in your body as fast as you possibly can. These are
1. Fast Digesting Carbohydrates and
The protein part is fairly obvious. The Amino Acids that make up a protein are what you would call ‘building blocks.’ Protein is responsible for muscle building, so you want to be getting that in to your body to assist in making muscle gains and preserving muscle in a caloric deficit. Next one, is Fast Digesting Carbohydrates.
It is argued that these bad boys are responsible for spiking insulin levels. Insulin is often referred to as a storage hormone, which makes it sound bad, like it would store body fat, it will help deliver nutrients to muscle cells faster, aiding in faster repair and recovery.
So this is all sounds pretty real, yes?
Let’s just take a step back and slow down just a tad.
Most people think speed is of importance in getting these nutrients in, but digestion is a very long and complex process, and even fast digesting nutrient sources will take a good 45-60 minutes to get from your mouth to your muscle cells. So in saying that, if you’ve eaten pre workout, you can rest assured that there are still going to be nutrients circulating around in your system. Lifting weights alone will increase levels of muscle protein synthesis, which is the rate of protein turnover in a muscle cell, so, provided you had some sort of protein source before you started your session, your muscles are not at risk of shrinking or not growing for that matter.
The fast digesting carb myth is also another area which is easy to believe.
To help raise insulin levels and re-stock glycogen, the general consensus is that you need a fast digesting carbohydrate. This could be considered as white rice, bread, lollies etc. But as discussed above, digestion speed isn’t all that simple. It doesn’t just go straight to the muscles. And not just that, but after training, your body is hyper sensitive to food anyway, so any type of carbohydrate will create a rather large insulin spike, so they don’t need to be fast digesting.
In conclusion, you can harp and harp about the anabolic window and the importance of it as much as you want, but if get to the end of each day and you’ve nailed your protein, carb , fat and caloric intake goals for the day, you’re going to be fine.
What matters most here is consistency. Get your food in, hit your targets, do your training and watch the progress happen.
Here is a brief run down of what I recommend people should be doing pre and post workout.
Pre-Workout: Nutrient dense meal made up protein, carbs and fats that doesn’t sit too heavy in the stomach about 1-3 hours before you train.
Post-Workout: Basically the same, although depending on how hard you trained, you may require more food after training as opposed to before.
But at the end of the day, it is personal preference.
If you have any further questions about Training, Nutrition or Mindset, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great day all!