Anabolic Window: Myth or Fact? What you need to know
Is the anabolic window, a myth or a fact? Most nutrition blogs and nutrition books would advise any training athlete to drink a protein shake or take a protein meal immediately after exercising. This advice comes with loads of promises that include an increase in the muscle mass. This is a very promising deduction that has seen very many people take protein meals after workouts. Is there any science based on this notion? Is this a myth or a fact? This article will discuss the scientific basis of this myth in an effort to debunk it. This singularity is referred to as the anabolic window. It is a myth that has permeated for decades. It is defined as the period after an intense workout where the body is primed to convert food eaten to lean muscle mass.
This myth is based on the logic that after participating in a physical activity, the glycogen stored in the muscles that is used for energy is depleted. If you eat a protein meal, or drink a protein shake, within 30 minutes after the end of your workout, the protein muscle breakdown will be stopped and the extra protein will be used to increase the process of muscle synthesis that relies on this nutrient. From a theoretical point of view, this reasoning is perfectly valid. However, this is not practical in any real world situation because of the following reasons.
Logic based on Insulin spiking.
The logic behind the anabolic window relies on the proteins ingested to increase the insulin levels. Theoretically, an increase in the insulin levels in the body reduces the rate of muscle breakdown. However, the rate at which the body re-synthesizes muscle proteins is fast compared to the protein muscle breakdown during a workout and after the workout. The breakdown of the proteins stored in the muscles only happens if you are training while fasting. When you train while fasting, the muscle protein breakdown is faster because the body relies on its protein and carbohydrates reserved stores to provide energy that will support your physical activity.
In this instance, increasing the insulin level by eating a protein meal is advisable so that your body may be able to find another reserve for energy. Additionally, the protein meal will enable your body to repair the damaged muscle and build up a new reserve for your next physical activity.
Need to replenish glycogen levels immediately after a workout session.
Another logic that the anabolic window relies on is the importance of replenishing the glycogen stores in the body. When exercising, the body uses energy that has been generated from the synthesis of carbs, proteins and fats. In most instances, the most available supply for energy is glycogen. When we eat any type of carbohydrates, the body breaks it down to glucose and further to glycogen, which is in a form that can be stored by the body. During work out, the glycogen is broken down to generate energy that sustains the body through this workout cycles.
The main misconception with the logic used by the anabolic window is that glycogen is used for muscle synthesis. This logic is misguided, as the only importance of glycogen reserves in the body is to produce energy. As such, if you do not plan on working out immediately after you complete another session, then there is no immediate need to replenish your glycogen reserves. However, if you are a competitive athlete, then, you need to have a meal to replenish these reserves if your workout schedule involves consecutive sessions throughout the day.
Use of protein and carbohydrates in muscle synthesis
The last rationale that supports the anabolic window is that the protein or carbohydrates meals eaten during this period is needed for the synthesis of protein muscle mass. There is no scientific backing to support this rationale. Numerous studies have been conducted worldwide in an effort to justify the rationale. However, most of these studies have come up with inconclusive results, which suggest that this logic is not true. Muscles are built through muscle protein synthesis. After participating in an intense workout activity or any physical activity, the body repairs and replaces the damaged muscle fibers. This results in the building up of these muscles.
Every sportsman and woman desires to have a bigger lean muscle mass that will support them through the competitions. As such, they are motivated to participate in any dieting and exercise regime that promises them an increase in their lean muscle mass. However, without proper information, they may just be wasting their time. One important factor that all athletes should know is that whether you eat a meal containing proteins and carbohydrates during your workout, after your workout or the next day the synthesis of these muscles will still occur.
The anabolic window is just a myth and should not forma basis for any athlete is dieting measures. Proteins and carbohydrates are important nutrients for any athlete because they need to have sufficient food reserves that will be consumed during physical activities. However, everyone should understand that the timing between eating your meals and working out should not be based on the outcome desired but the need by your body. Everyone has different energy levels, as such; we consume food in different quantities. This should form the basis of your eating patterns and not the need to increase your muscle mass immediately after a workout. If you desire to increase your muscle mass, you should get advice from a nutritionist. H/she will plan and schedule your diet according to your body needs and your muscle build.