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Anabolic window - truth or myth?

You must have met that kind of people who despite great efforts in the gym don't obtain the results they long for. On the other hand, there exist people who progress very quickly and their gains are of a great quality. What is the difference between them? Anabolism and the sole process of muscle mass growth depend on multiple factors:

  • Training
  • Nutrition
  • Regeneration

Training isn't though the most important factor in this complex system. Its main role is to stimulate muscle cells to grow through the process of their "destruction". Yes, training does impact our muscles in a catabolic manner (catabolism or catabiosis is a metabolic phase when more complex bio molecules usually in a cascade of biochemical reactions brak down into smaller and simpler molecules), in the language of ordinary people, it is a process of muscle mass disintegration.

More important is the sphere of nutrition, which is directly connected to the regeneration. The main goal should be to recover the damaged tissue as fast as possible.  And here we come to the main point of this article - anab. window.

What is the anab. window?

Anab. window is the time after your training, when the body is able to use the nutrients much more effectively than at any other time of the day. It is therefore important to supply it with quality nutrients which maximize new muscle mass growth. The duration of this period is different in every individual. It's influenced by: training, food before training, supplementation during training and of course the structure of an individual organism.

Available literature most often mentions the period of time lasting 0 – 90 minutes after your training. It is claimed that the most important are those first 15 minutes. This time is closely linked to the internal organ pancreas which in this time after the training restarts its activity and produces ins (the strongest anab. hormone). Because the blood is still present in the muscles, consumption of solid food is not recommended. You should rather consume hydrolysed amino acids + small amount of simple sugar, such as dextrose (grape sugar). Other very important hours are still ahead.

Let's move to the next step. After approximately 30-40 minutes you can eat another portion of simple carbohydrates (30 g of dextrose) and a spoon of hydrolysed protein product.

Why is it important to consume simple carbohydrates?

The body needs to replenish its level of sugar. First the liver glycogen and then the muscle glycogen. This process might take even 2 days. That's why it is important to eat quality food not only on training days but also on free days.

Muscle glycogen – breaks down only for the needs of a specific muscle and the glucose which is created is further metabolised as a source of muscle energy. The glycogen synthesis rate and its degradation is controlled by 3 hormones:

  • Ins
  • Adrenalin
  • Glucanon

After 60-90 minutes it is the ideal time to eat your first solid food. Here you should also follow a few principles to benefit your body. Several studies have confirmed that it is not suitable to consume fat rich food at this time, because it negatively influences the regenerative processes. Easily digestible food is recommended. It should be combined with protein and complex carbohydrates such as chicken or beef meat with rice or potatoes.

New trends in after-training supplementation

  • If at least 20 g of proteins is part of your pre-training food, you don't need to hurry up with your after-training supplementation because your body would use the amino acids from this food the following 2-3 hours.
  • If you train more than 4 hours after your food, it is recommended to take 25-30 g of protein immediately after your training.
  • New, modern studies show that more important factor of muscle mass growth is a regular protein and carbohydrates intake throughout the whole day.

So how should I decide...

It might be difficult to get around within such a large number of different articles and studies. That's why it is the best to try various forms of after-training supplementation on your own and observe your body's signals. If you feel strong and well regenerated the next day, you have opted for the right path. If you feel pain, try to modify it. Remember that gaining muscle mass is not only about the training and the after-training supplements. It is a continuous 24-hour process which requires maximal focus on your goal.