In this article we will discuss how to take advantage of the anabolic window.
Is it really a thing?
If it really works, how can you make the most of it?
Have we closed the Anabolic Window?
Undoubtedly at one time or another you have all heard about the Anabolic Window.
This “window” refers to a specific time post-workout when the possibility of triggering hypertrophy or creating an anabolic environment for growth was maximized via consuming certain foods.
Those who chose to take advantage of this opportunity for growth considered their muscles to be similar to sponges just waiting to soak up everything that was fed to them.
Most times the meal of choice was simple carbs and quick digesting protein which would be quickly absorbed and utilized for immediate recovery and subsequent growth.
Many used this protocol with considerable success.
Fast forward to today and what you have is a legion of hard training athletes and gym rats all putting much of their attention into their peri-workout nutrition and the question arises; does the anabolic window still exist?
Let’s look at what peri-workout nutrition is and then you can decide for yourself.
How to take advantage of the anabolic window
Stage 1: Pre-workout
Pre-workout nutrition is nothing new under the sun and is something we have all been doing for quite some time.
What has changed however is the recommendations for what types of foods we should be eating at this time and when we should be consuming them.
The whole idea is rather than waiting to create an anabolic environment through our training sessions, we create one going into the workout so that we can be fully charged and prepared to exceed previously thought limits in the gym.
Most times these meals consist of a slower type digesting carbohydrate like oatmeal, a quick digesting protein such as regular whey protein powder or an isolate along with a fat source such as natural peanut butter.
This meal would be consumed roughly forty five minutes to an hour prior to training which would give the body time to digest and process for energy.
Stage 2: Intra-workout
Probably the star of the three stages and the “meal” many consider as the game changer in the industry, intra-workout nutrition is highly regarded as the key to muscular success.
Ensuring that you are providing your muscles with instant energy that will not only invigorate your efforts and significantly improve intensity levels throughout the duration of your workout, but also initiate the recovery process after each set continuously fuelling the anabolic environment to which you can thrive in is the main reason for this “meal”.
Many companies out there are offering their own concoctions as to what this meal should be but the main ingredient in whatever you decide to consume or drink during your workout should be amino acids.
The amount of amino acids you consume during the workout and the delivery medium used will differ from product to product so buyer beware.
Most people look for that medium to be either a highly branched cyclic dextrin, glucose based sugar and even simple dextrose along with a healthy dose of aminos (you should play around with that dose and pay attention to how your body responds with the goal being a very limited amount of time being significantly sore).
Stage 3: Post-workout
As mentioned in the intro, the post-workout meal was considered to be the most important meal of the day.
The anabolic window was wide open for you to jump through and create gains for yourself at lightening speeds.
Although still very important as a part of the peri-workout trio, considering that we’ve already created an anabolic environment by way of the first two stages, should we still be looking upon this meal as the most important or most “anabolic” meal of the day?
Perhaps not. There are also people out there that suggest this meal does not have to come immediately after the workout due to the intra-workout shake you consumed which covered all your immediate needs.
You may want to consider the fact that even though you did consume a so called “meal” during the workout, many believe that the intra-workout shake is simply fuel for the workout and is burned up by the time the workout is finished making for the immediate need of a post-workout meal of either a shake or whole food meal.
Chances are if your pre-workout meal was in the form of a shake then you’re going to be half starved by the time you’re done training so opting for a whole food meal consisting of a fast digesting carbohydrate source, a readily absorbed form of protein and a green vegetable (which is considered to be a key source in the meal by way of its ability to help the body metabolize the protein at a much greater rate) this may just be the way to go here.
The simple fact of the matter is that you have to experiment with peri-workout nutrition to see how it works for you so you can either decide to keep it old school and continue opening up the proverbial anabolic window for continued gains or play around with the pre, intra and post workout meals and then gauge the difference between the two approaches.
However you go about things, you have to pay strict attention to how your body is responding.
Perhaps a large post workout meal consisting of whole foods is what you need for growth and the only way to get the energy you need to slam a hardcore workout is by also having a large whole food meal prior to heading off to the gym.
Or maybe you’re a light eater and shakes make it happen for you. As long as whatever you choose do to elicits results, turns you into a beast in the gym who crushes records and shatters other’s dreams, allows for you to pile on endless amounts of lean muscle tissue and keeps you lean enough to look like a bodybuilder year around, what does it matter what current science says.
You do you and get the gains train rolling; whatever that happens to end up looking like for you.
This was REALLY how to take advantage of the anabolic window to build muscle faster!