Should you eat something right after your workout if you want to build muscle? Is there any anabolic window of opportunity right after your training session?
Most studies (1,2,3) that looked at the effects of eating pre or post workout focused on short term effects on muscle protein synthesis rather than how these meals would affect your body composition.
But there’s a study that compared the effects of a a pre versus post workout meal to see if there’s a so called “anabolic window”. The so called need to eat something as fast as possible after your workout to maximize the gainz.
Researchers took 21 people and split them into 2 groups. One group consumed 25 grams of protein and 1 gram of carbs before exercise, and the other one the same meal after exercise.
They found out that both of these groups had similar results in strength, muscle mass gains, and fat loss with both preserving lean mass.
Another study that looked at eating protein right after your workout or with a delay of at least 2 hours found no difference between them as long as you eat enough protein through the day.
This study also busted one of the most long lasting myths called the “anabolic window of opportunity”.
The myth that sais you have to consume something as fast as possible after your workout or your muscles will go into a catabolic state and you’ll lose muscle mass.
This is completely wrong as also shown in the studies I reviewed.
Most if not all meals take at least 60 minutes to see nutrient levels peaking when digested as shown by research. (4)
Even if you eat something as fast as you finish the workout, it will still take around one hour for the circulating nutrients in your blood to reach a peak level.
As long as you consume your pre-workout meal, you’ll fine. Your blood nutrient levels will probably peak close to the end of your workout.
Rushing a meal after finishing your exercise session is not that mandatory as most people say.
It all has to do with the absorption and utilization of what you eat pre or post workout.
It doesn’t work as fast as some of the so called “gurus” are saying…
So what now? I hope I answered your question if you should you eat right after a workout.
Don’t rush your pwo shake. There’s no “anabolic window”. There’s no “window of opportunity”. There are no benefits in doing so. Do your workout. Take your time and eat whenever you seem fit.
Even if it takes 1-3 hours to eat something, there are no negative
effects of doing so.
So before I sign off, here’s what you have to do:
1. Make sure you consume sufficient protein through the day (starting at around 2 grams per kg should be fine)
2. Have a pre-workout meal a few hours before your workout
3. Have a post workout meal whenever you feel the need or your lifestyle permits
Should you stretch before your workout?
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1. Fujita S1, Dreyer HC, Drummond MJ, Glynn EL, Volpi E, Rasmussen BB. Essential amino acid and carbohydrate ingestion before resistance exercise does not enhance postexercise muscle protein synthesis. J Appl Physiol (1985)
2. Tipton KD Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Aug;281(2):E197-206.
3. Kevin D. Tipton, Tabatha A. Elliott, Melanie G. Cree, Asle A. Aarsland, Arthur P. Sanford, Robert R. Wolfe Stimulation of net muscle protein synthesis by whey protein ingestion before and after exercise American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism Published 3 January 2007 Vol. 292 no. 1, E71-E76 DOI: 10.1152/ajpendo.00166.2006
4. Staples AW1, Burd NA, West DW, Currie KD, Atherton PJ, Moore DR, Rennie MJ, Macdonald MJ, Baker SK, Phillips SM. Carbohydrate does not augment exercise-induced protein accretion versus protein alone. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Jul;43(7):1154-61. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31820751cb.