How long is “anabolic window” after a workout and what should you feed (and how much) yourself for maximum muscle gain and recovery? What should be eaten after that for increasing IGF-1 levels?
Ever heard your friends talking about how important it is to consume sufficient amounts of food right after a workout? Some of your friends might even say that it is the key for optimal muscle growth, and if you refuse to do so, you may have just wasted an intense workout along with kissing your gains goodbye. Well, what your friends are referring to is called the “anabolic window” or the “30-minute window”. The science behind this theory is because, after an intense workout in the gym, your glycogen levels are depleted after being used as energy and exercising naturally breaks down muscle protein; leaving your body exposed to absorb more nutrients than other periods of time throughout the day for the next 30 – 45 minutes. To support this argument, you should consume adequate amounts of carbohydrates and proteins to counter the threatening catabolic effect against your muscles. And in return, you’ll be able to maximize your supplement intake and take advantage of your workouts, resulting in compensating for better muscle growth and development. But, this exists only in a perfect world.
The legendary “anabolic window” is nothing more but a myth. Here’s why, this theory started without any professional study and has not been proven scientifically. This myth has been based solely on logic and has fooled most of us into believing that it is real. Don’t get me wrong, the part where your glycogen levels are depleted after a workout and exercising naturally breaks down muscle protein and tissue is indeed true. But what follows after is completely false. There has been no conclusive evidence that shows you need to have a protein shake immediately (within 30-45 minutes) after a workout. However, it is important to consume a post-workout meal because it aids in regulating blood sugar levels as well as refueling our muscles with proper nutrients to help in recovery. So what should you eat after a workout?
Exercising has been known to break down muscle protein and tissue. Studies show that it by consuming protein after a workout, it provides the body with amino acids to rebuild and repair these proteins. Other than that, it also provides the body with the required building blocks to build new muscle tissue. How much should you consume? It is recommended that by consuming at least 20 grams to 40 grams of protein after a workout, it will maximize our body’s ability to recover after working out.
As glycogen levels are being used up while working out, consuming carbohydrates after exercising can replenish glycogen levels. However, the amount of which your glycogen levels are used relies on what sort of activity you are carrying out. Endurance sports athletes are required to consume more carbohydrates than an athlete in the gym. This is because endurance sports like running and swimming uses more glycogen compared to weight training. By consuming 5 to 7 grams of carbohydrates per pound (1.1–1.5 grams/kg) of body weight can result in glycogen synthesis. It is recommended to consume both carbohydrates and protein at the same time following a 3:1 ratio. For example, if you were to have 40 grams of protein, you will need 120 grams of carbohydrates.