The optimal time of protein intake , known as “protein timing” , is a popular dietary strategy designed to improve post-strength training adaptations and those related to hypertrophy , facilitating muscle repair and remodeling.
The period after strength training is often considered the most critical part of “protein timing”, since for many there is an anabolic window that must be taken advantage of.
This is because intense strength training results in the depletion (decrease) of a significant proportion of glycogen and amino acids , as well as in the damage of trained muscle fibers .
Theoretically, the consumption of the adequate proportion of proteins during this post-training period not only initiates the reconstruction of damaged tissue and the restoration of energy reserves , but it does so in a “supercompensated” way that improves body composition and performance .
The famous post-workout anabolic window
The supposed beneficial effects of “protein timing” are based on the hypothesis that there is a limited “anabolic sale of opportunity” for anabolism after training.
To take advantage of this window of opportunity, the common thought is that the protein should be consumed within approximately 30 minutes to one hour after the end of exercise to maximize muscle protein synthesis post-training, postulating that the anabolic response to strength training It is lower if the protein is ingested after this narrow window, which impairs muscle gains .
The authentic reality about the anabolic window
A recent review of the literature found that, although there is convincing evidence that the muscle is sensitized to protein intake after strength training, the anabolic window does not appear to be as narrow as previously thought.
On the contrary, the authors proposed that the interval of consumption can be as wide as five or six hours after exercise , depending on the time of the meal before training . The closer a meal is consumed before exercise, the greater the window of anabolic post-workout opportunity.
More recently still, in an article published in January of this year 2017 , we wanted to test the theory of the anabolic window by investigating changes in muscle strength, hypertrophy and body composition in response to an equal dose of protein ( 25 grams of whey protein) consumed immediately before or immediately after a typical strength training of hypertrophy in trained subjects.
The choice 25g of whey protein ( whey protein ) investigations show that consumption of 20-25 grams of whey protein maximize response of muscle protein synthesis in young men trained force is chosen based.
What happened? Some will be surprised.
The consumption of proteins before and after training had similar effects in all measures studied, so that this narrow post-exercise anabolic window was contradictory to maximize muscle response.
That is, the interval of protein intake can be as broad as several hours or perhaps more after a workout depending on when we consume the pre-workout meal .
The anabolic window is larger than we think
We should not be obsessed with the immediate intake of post-strength training protein, as it is increasingly scientifically proving that this so-called “anabolic window” post-workout is greater than we think.
In turn, this will depend on the time of the meal prior to our training , which means that if before training we have eaten protein in sufficient quantity, it will not be necessary that just after our strength training of one hour or an hour and a half We have to take that famous whey protein shake.
The synthesis of proteins will be increased with that previous meal and last longer than we thought, so do not despair, since we can even use this famous whey protein before training , having seen similar results in muscle hypertrophy taking it before taking it just after training.
In addition, we must consider that there are other important factors related to the improvement of strength and muscle hypertrophy, such as the performance of appropriate training for this purpose (load), volume, intensity, breaks, etc.), the total daily amount of protein , the intake of other macronutrients and micronutrients , adequate rest , motivation and control of stress and anxiety , among others.