Is the Anabolic Window a Myth?

Bodybuilder with Supplement

Perhaps you’ve heard of the anabolic window and how it holds the key to epic muscle growth. But is it the end-all-be-all for hypertrophy? If you miss the window, are you doomed to wither away like a dry blade of grass? Or is the window a full-blown myth, and getting strong is more widely available than previously thought?

MUTANT is here to set the record straight. We’ll give you the answer behind whether the anabolic window is real, and if it is, what is the anabolic window exactly, and how long it lasts so you can optimize your muscle-building plan of attack.

What Is an Anabolic Window?

The anabolic window is the time after a workout when muscles are recovering and repairing (allegedly). This is most applicable after strength training, where the muscles get tiny tears from the sets and reps. Also known as the protein window or the metabolic window, it’s the period once the workout is finished, and you can build the muscle back stronger than before training.

How Long Is the Anabolic Window? 

According to the claim, the anabolic window lasts 30 minutes. If you consume protein and carbs during this half-hour phase, you’re much better off in hypertrophy, so say the anabolic window truthers. Past these 30 minutes, the protein and carbs you eat provide less benefits overall. 

This is based on your body’s anabolic response, where smaller molecules convert into more complex molecules, such as muscle fibers. Catabolism is the opposite, where molecular structure breaks down into smaller components. Your body gets into an anabolic state after a workout, spearheading cellular processes for muscle growth and repair. 

By this anabolic window theory, eating within 30 minutes of training should lead to better protein synthesis, less muscle protein breakdown, and optimized muscle glycogen replenishment.

However, we know the truth about the metabolic window…

Filling up with Supplement

Is the Anabolic Window Real? 

There’s very little scientific evidence to suggest the anabolic window is an actual thing. While post-workout nutrition is vital for balancing muscle protein synthesis and breakdown towards muscle growth, there isn’t some magical natural timer built to go off at half an hour. 

The funny thing is, nobody knows where this 30-minute number came from. It’s an arbitrary number that gets debunked over and over. Pre-workout nutrition can affect body composition, similar to post-workout food. This suggests that the “window” is quite large and shouldn’t be boiled down to a shortened timeframe.

Anabolic Window Caveats

While the anabolic window is a myth, there are some instances where eating right after a workout is beneficial. If, say, you work out while fasting, it’s essential to get proper protein and carbs into your system right after to help start the muscle repair process. 

Also, other factors go into muscle growth, such as recovery. So, do other things to help with recovery, such as getting adequate sleep and taking days off from the gym. 

The anabolic window is a cult fad that you need not ascribe to. You can build muscle without ever eating right after your training. What’s most important is choosing the diet and training structure that matches your goals. Equipped with a formidable meal plan and an invigorating gym routine, you'll quickly become an unstoppable force. 

Article by Terry Ramos