The Post-Workout Window?
I was joking with an athlete and her father earlier this week about the importance of workout nutrition. I blasted her with some Bro-science and the post-workout or "anabolic window" spiel.
The anabolic window is that proposed 30-minute time period where all the gains supposedly happen. This, of course, only happens if you chug down 30g of protein and some carbs in that crack of time, right? Not necessarily.
My goal with this post is to help you understand that post workout nutrition is important, but you don't have to immediately get in your car and drive to Smoothie King or go home and eat a steak before that 30-minute window to Planet Gain's closes.
Yes, it is important to eat properly after a high intensity workout. Your main goals are replacing glycogen, decreasing protein breakdown and increasing protein synthesis. Research suggests that there is an anabolic window, but it spans more like two hours, rather than 30 minutes.
I've found post-workout nutrition to be one of the easiest things to get people to buy into. Most people can wrap their heads around taking in high quality protein and carbs after a workout. It makes sense to them. They just got their butt kicked in a workout, they're muscles are fatigued and drinking this shake will help them recover and build all the muscles they just worked on. Seems legit, right?
But, what is more important is eating balanced meals throughout the day. The protein shake is great, but it's not a miracle worker. If you eat crap all day and slap down a protein shake after your workout, your muscles aren't going to recover and grow the way you think they're supposed to.
To gain the full benefits of workout nutrition you need to eat a meal containing both carbohydrates and protein 2-3 hours before your workout and the same 30 minutes to 2 hours after your workout. You don't have to ditch the shake. Shakes are good for many of us who can't get enough protein through our normal diet.
By eating this way you can guarantee your body will have the proper nutrients to recover, repair and rebuild muscle tissue, as well as replace glycogen stores. Continue to respect the anabolic window , but remember, that window counts on what you eat the rest of the day as well.