The term anabolic (or metabolic) window often appears in the literature on fitness and bodybuilding. The relevant forums advise you to close the anabolic window after workouts. In this brief post, I will explain what is the post workout anabolic window and why you need to close it. Let’s start with a definition.
What Does It Mean?
The anabolic window is the time frame about the first 30-40 minutes after physical activity (workout, intense work, active sports game, jogging, etc.). And at the same time, that window is the state of the body during these minutes.
How does this state differ from your normal state?
During intense physical activity, your body secretes hormones that restructure the metabolism so that the physical activity does not cause damage to the energy and structure of the body. These hormones help economically rearrange the body’s biochemistry. Thanks to these substances, you feel less fatigue and more energetic.
The best-known stress hormones are adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline is often given too many epithets and is considered the principal stress hormone. However, adrenaline is responsible for a limited range of metabolic shifts in the body. These include: increased tissue oxygen consumption, increased blood glucose levels due to mobilization of glycogen reserves in the liver, and increased blood flow in the liver. The biochemical precursor of adrenaline, noradrenaline, which regulates blood flow throughout the body, has a more global effect.
The main functions of cortisol are: to stimulate glucose synthesis in the liver from glycogen and to release it into the bloodstream, to slow glucose consumption in muscle tissue, and to stimulate protein synthesis in various tissues, including muscle tissue.
How Long Is The Anabolic Window After Workout?
After exercise, your body can quickly absorb nutrients such as proteins and carbohydrates – 3-4 times faster than usual. That is due to hormonal shifts and trivial energy consumption. This ability persists for about 30-40 minutes after the end of a workout.
It would be too careless not to use this anabolic window to replenish your strength and energy spent during an intense workout. Naturally, complete replenishment of the energy is impossible in such a short time. It lasts at least several days. Nevertheless, taking fast-digesting carbohydrates (fruits, juices, honey) and proteins (dairy, sports nutrition, etc.) can significantly reduce the time of complete body recovery.
If you do nothing after a workout (and, as many trainers advise, do not eat anything), then the effect of stress hormones persists for quite a long time after exercises. That is good for reducing excess fat, as fatty acids quickly and in large quantities come out of fat places on your sides and hips. But that is extremely bad for your muscle mass. And one of the significant weight loss tasks is to maintain and increase muscle mass in the body.
The Anabolic Window For Muscle Growth Or For Weight Loss
I often see surprised faces when I advise eating after exercises to those who have come to lose weight. What happens in the body when you eat carbohydrate foods immediately after stress (workout)?
You probably heard about insulin. This hormone acts as an antagonist (it works in reverse) of adrenaline and cortisol. It is especially true in its effect on carbohydrate metabolism. Insulin regulates blood glucose amount, converting its excessive portion into glycogen in the liver and muscles. By compensating for the effects of adrenaline and cortisol, insulin takes the body out of post-exercise stress. Stress is good but in moderation.
But what is the relationship between insulin and the anabolic window, you may ask? It’s simple. To stimulate the release of insulin in the blood, you need to increase the glucose in it. And this is easy to do. You have to take a carbohydrate-rich food with a high glycemic index.
That’s why I strongly recommend those who want to lose weight to eat a fruit (banana, orange, etc.) or something sweet (chocolate, sweets, honey) immediately after a workout. But in small amounts! And it’s much healthier for the final result to take whey protein rather than fast carbs! Why? That’s a topic of another post.
And those wishing to gain muscle mass take a protein-carbohydrate drink (gainer) containing amino acids, BCAA, and fast-carbs such as fructose, glucose, lactose, maltodextrin.
What To Eat During Anabolic Window?
Here are some simple recipes for weight gain:
? Milk and honey + you can add a small piece of butter.
? Cocoa with milk + any protein.
? Cocktail from milk, juice, powdered milk, or a gainer (according to your taste) + you can add a banana or any other fruit.
? You can eat some dried fruit and nuts.
You can safely consider the anabolic window as a sweet treat opportunity. It will pass without a trace if in moderation.
The phenomena of the post workout anabolic window, of course, is much more complicated. However, the information in this post will be quite enough to understand the essence of the anabolic window in your body recovery after a workout.