Is the anabolic window legit?
Over the past few years, there has been much debate on the topic of the anabolic window. Some of
you might think the anabolic window is a joke, or something mythical. Some people who mention the
word anabolic window online get to endure a massive amount of hate because of it. The funny thing
is, it is real. It is just a bit different than what you may think.
What is it?
The literature on resistance training (commonly known as weight training) refers to the anabolic
window as Muscle Protein Synthesis. MPS is a state of enhanced muscle building due to a physical
stimulus. This means the body is more susceptible to amino acids (these are explained in:
https://www.student-aesthetics.com/articles/protein-in-every-meal-how-and-why/ ). During this
phase, the muscle wants to repair itself due to the physical stimulus. This muscle damage takes
somewhere between 12-72h to repair, depending on how advanced of a lifter you are. This means
the body has a higher demand for nutrients in the MPS phase. That is why it is referred to as the
anabolic window; the window in time where gains are made.
Research has shown an elevated MPS in advanced trainees, and these elevated values lasted up to
48h in untrained individuals. (A, MacDougall, Tarnopolsky, Atkinson, & Smith, 1992) . Exercise always
resulted in significant increases above rest in muscle MPS: after 3 h = 112%, 24 h = 65%, 48 h = 34%
(Phillips, Tipton, Aarsland, Wolf, & Wolfe, 1997) . In 2011, researchers from the Swedish School of
Sport and Health Sciences in Stockholm concluded that the substance mTOR, which regulates cellular
metabolism and growth, could be mainly responsible for the period of muscle enhancement
(Mascher, Ekblom, Rooyackers, & Blomstrand, 2011) .
Put this research to use
We now know that there is a period in which the muscle has a higher need for nutrients. This means
that optimally, the bulk of your caloric intake should be during this anabolic window. Nutrients, and
especially protein that is consumed outside this window are not used for muscle growth but only
prevent catabolism (a state of muscle breakdown). This means that if you train after work or college,
it is optimal to have a hefty post-workout and pre-bed meal. After all, in that case, most of your
anabolic window will take place at night!
So it will depend on the time that you train. It also does not mean you need to drink a shake within 15 minutes after your workout because otherwise you will “miss the anabolic window”. You can simply go home and eat a big meal! And remember, this is all to “optimize” your results. It doesn’t mean you will get no results if you eat most of your food at a different time. It will simply not be “optimal”.
Before you worry about doing everything in the most optimal way, make sure your training and diet is on point! It took me 2 years to find out that what I was doing in the gym was wrong and didn’t give me the results I was after. I don’t want that to happen to you. It’s a waste of time and energy. If you start off with a perfect plan for your body and goals, it will be so much more motivating and you will see results very fast.
If you need any help with this, I got you. My Ultimate Physique Transformation is a full blueprint that will be customized towards you and your goals.
Learn more: www.student-aesthetics.com
A, C., MacDougall, J., Tarnopolsky, M., Atkinson, S., & Smith, K. (1992). Changes in human muscle
protein synthesis after resistance exercise. American Journal of Physiology, 1383-1388.
Mascher, H., Ekblom, B., Rooyackers, O., & Blomstrand, E. (2011). Enhanced rates of muscle protein
synthesis and elevated mTOR signalling following endurance exercise in human subjects.
Acta Physiologica, 1748-1708.
Phillips, S., Tipton, K., Aarsland, A., Wolf, S., & Wolfe, R. (1997). Mixed muscle protein synthesis and
breakdown after resistance exercise in humans. American Journal of Physiology-
Endocrinology and Metabolism, 99-107.