What Is The Anabolic Window? - AnabolicMinds.com
    • What Is The Anabolic Window?


      By Brandon Hahn Athletic Xtreme

      Like a mythological creature, every person that exercises is aware of the coveted ďanabolic windowĒ. A window of time where the body morphs into a nutrient sucking beast that devours all in itsí path. It must be fed or your body will be consumed alive. Ok, a bit dramatic, no? The anabolic window concept has been around for awhile. People keep tabs on it like clockwork. You see guys at the gym ready to down their post-workout shake once the weights hit the floor. Is this really necessary? Itís time to dive deeper into this concept and learn the proper ways to reap the anabolic benefits.

      Anabolic Window Defined

      There should be no delay in noting that the anabolic window is a concept that is fact based. Unfortunately, it has been misrepresented to the fullest and people do not understand how to use it properly. They also clearly misunderstand when NOT to utilize the window. Yes, there is such a time.

      The concept is defined that you must consume a certain amount of carbs (based on bodyweight) immediately post-workout. This massive dose of carbs is intended to rapidly replenish glycogen within the body. It is also supposed to be coupled with a moderate amount of protein to facilitate the shuttling of amino acids to muscles for repair and recovery. The athlete is ideally wiped clean of carbs due to the grueling workout, and timing between pre- and post- workout meals. There have been many studies completed on this concept and the proper amount of carbs during this post-workout window.

      The optimal amount is 1.2-1.5g of carbs per kilogram of bodyweight within 30 minutes post-workout. A delay of two hours can drastically reduce the re-synthesis rate, but as long as carbs are steadily ingested, glycogen stores are refilled within 24 hours. Studies support the use of around 8-10 grams of carbs per kilogram (based on intensity and frequency) are necessary within that 24 hour timeframe. It is also an important note that of the various types of carbs used, fructose replenished glycogen the slowest. Fructose would be an ideal choice in the pre-workout timeframe as it tends to be stored in the liver for fresh glycogen stores.

      This window needs to be utilized properly. Consuming too many calories from carbs and protein at one time can cause a massive insulin spike and calorie overflow. This is where fat gain becomes a problem. People are not using it properly to fit their diet. Below we will dive into some of the more basic diets to see which diet(s) would benefit the most from the anabolic window.

      Body Type and Goal Specifics

      This was going to be multiple sections, however there is some crossover with these two aspects. As body types and goals often closely relate. Generally, people that possess more bodyfat are looking to lose bodyfat. Those with lower bodyfat levels are mainly looking to maintain that level, possibly reduce it, or simply gain muscle with a combination of the previous two. Why does this matter? Iím glad you asked.

      Those with higher levels of bodyfat (15% or more) tend to have a higher level of insulin resistance. This is normally not a problem, as exercise can help increase insulin sensitivity (i.e. reduce insulin resistance). This is an issue with the anabolic window, as the post-workout shake is going to cause a massive surge of insulin. Since those with higher bodyfat levels have a certain level of insulin resistance, this becomes a problem. The body cannot handle this surge and the nutrients donít get absorbed into the muscle and liver, but will mainly be deposited as fat.

      People with lower bodyfat levels (15% or less) will have less insulin resistance. Thus, they would ideally respond better to a surge of insulin post-workout produced by the shake. One factor to consider is based on the goals of each individual. Itís a calculated decision that must be decided and few people tend to remember their list of goals in situations like these.

      Your goals are whatever you choose. The key to remember is keep blood glucose stable. You will want to ingest something within a reasonable time post workout. This is due to various factors coming into play. One of these factors is cortisol, which can wreak havoc if not dealt with properly. Another factor is pre-workout nutrition. The other factor to consider is the overall focus of your diet. Cortisol can be kept at bay by consuming some type of food source after your workout. Be sure that it is within 30 to 45 minutes after your workout.

      Dieting & The Anabolic Window

      There are various types of diets out there. Each has itsí own specifics on what you can and cannot eat. Some are high carb, others low carbs, and some no carb (to name a few). The type of diet is very important in determining if utilizing the anabolic window is best. In each diet, it is the carb portion that is pretty much the make or break in utilizing the window (i.e. without carbs, youíd have a hard time benefiting from the anabolic window based on current research).

      Higher Carb Intake

      This type of diet will allow you to easily utilize the anabolic window to full effect. Simply follow the protocol listed above for optimizing the anabolic window. The amount of carbs post-workout should not be drastically higher than your usual carb intake for meals. A higher carb diet would utilize 55-60% or more calories from carbohydrates.

      Moderate to Low Carb Intake

      These diets tend to very, especially since low carb means different things to different people. The anabolic window would be beneficial here, but it is important to remember that glycogen can be replenished within a 24 hour timeframe. Diets like these should utilize carbs at breakfast due to the overnight fast. They also should use a decent amount pre- and post- workout with the remainder spread throughout the day. While you may not be able to reach the protocol listed earlier, you will still benefit from faster glycogen replenishment (than had you not utilized the anabolic window).

      Extremely Low to Zero Carb Intake

      The concept of extremely low carbs and zero carbs are principles that have been around for quite awhile. The extremely low carb diet is often looked at through principles of the Atkins diet (which was not the best case for this type of diet). The body can survive and thrive on a diet that seems to promote butter, bacon, and fatty beef. However, other aspects need to be addressed to truly make that work.

      Extremely low and a zero carb intake are obvious candidates to NOT utilize the anabolic window. Your carb intake is going to be sparse. Most of your carbs will come at a cost of negligible carbs from various sources. There are also a few food items that have a few naturally occurring carbs, like milk (and milk based products). The times you may be allowed carbs in these types of diets are most likely during your off days to allow the body to fully replenish glycogen. This article is not about diving deep into each type of diet, so as always do your research beforehand.
      What did we learn?

      Itís obvious that when carbs are restricted that the anabolic window becomes somewhat void. In low to no carb diets, the focus is usually on fat loss first. You should not be concerned with glycogen replenishment, as itís nearly impossible with so few carbs. As for the remaining diets, utilize it as described, but be sure to follow your goals. Do not get too caught up in the window, but know that it is available. I am not trying to downplay the concept in any fashion, it just needs to be understood that their are other methods to restoring glycogen. The method works, but make sure it works within your diet and adjust as needed.

      Source: http://www.athleticx.net/articles/ge...abolic-window/
      Comments 11 Comments
      1. Araceli1985's Avatar
        Araceli1985 -
        I've always been aware of this anabolic window, but I didn't know the importance behind it. I think this is a great article to read. Great information.
      1. mountainman33's Avatar
        mountainman33 -
        I don't necessarily agree with the statement that "massive dose of carbs is intended to rapidly replenish glycogen within the body. It is also supposed to be coupled with a moderate amount of protein". In my experience the macronutrient ration should generally be 50/40/10 protein/carbs/fat, not more carbs than protein.
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        From various studies that I have come across, almost all of them recommend a 1:1 or a 1.5:1 ratio of carbs to protein for post workout meals.

        BTW, we should be friends Moutainman33 just because we are a rare commodity when it comes to our macro's. Most guys on this board are high fat, low carb dieters which kinda defeats the purpose of packing on muscular mass according to this article. Of course, there will be others on this board that disagree with the article because it isn't what they want to do or hear.

        I think the ultimate point of the article is that low/no carb diets leave alot on the table in terms of gaining muscular mass, which I couldn't agree with more. Those diets may do well at keeping you lean but they will never replace high carb diets for those looking to be as big and full as their bodies will allow. This rings especially true for bodybuilders (those who compete).
      1. Legacyfighter's Avatar
        Legacyfighter -
        Originally Posted by mountainman33 View Post
        I don't necessarily agree with the statement that "massive dose of carbs is intended to rapidly replenish glycogen within the body. It is also supposed to be coupled with a moderate amount of protein". In my experience the macronutrient ration should generally be 50/40/10 protein/carbs/fat, not more carbs than protein.
        There are VERY few cases when an athlete should ever be taking in more protein than carbohydrates. The only example would be off days, or meals that are very far away from the workout window. Ideally, carb to protein ratio should be 2:1 to 4:1 depending on the volume of training. On a gram per gram basis, carbohydrates are more anabolic than protein once protein requirements have been met. Don't underestimate the anabolic effect of insulin. Protein has no effect on insulin, while carbohydrates do. If you want to put on the most muscle mass possible, carbs should be consumed in pretty large amounts.
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        Originally Posted by Legacyfighter View Post
        There are VERY few cases when an athlete should ever be taking in more protein than carbohydrates. The only example would be off days, or meals that are very far away from the workout window. Ideally, carb to protein ratio should be 2:1 to 4:1 depending on the volume of training. On a gram per gram basis, carbohydrates are more anabolic than protein once protein requirements have been met. Don't underestimate the anabolic effect of insulin. Protein has no effect on insulin, while carbohydrates do. If you want to put on the most muscle mass possible, carbs should be consumed in pretty large amounts.

        You are 100% correct. Too many guys think that just because whey protein causes a modest insulin release that all of the sudden it means that protein alone can suffice. I try to inform these guys that are "mass building" with keto diets, lol. It's comical to be honest with you.

        At the end of the day, I usually hit a 1.5:1 ratio since I want to pack on exlcusively lean tissue. This has worked decently for me but I do plan to up my carb intake a bit and see what happens. I am not opposed to super high carb diets while bulking.
      1. mpucciitm's Avatar
        mpucciitm -
        Straight bro science in this article. There is no 'anabolic window'
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        Originally Posted by mpucciitm View Post
        Straight bro science in this article. There is no 'anabolic window'
        And u r certain of this? No such need as a post-workout meal?
      1. mpucciitm's Avatar
        mpucciitm -
        Originally Posted by fueledpassion View Post

        And u r certain of this? No such need as a post-workout meal?
        Yes I am sure. Hit your required macros for the day and you will hit your goals. There are several studies that have already proved the 'anabolic theory' to be null and void
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        Originally Posted by mpucciitm View Post
        Yes I am sure. Hit your required macros for the day and you will hit your goals. There are several studies that have already proved the 'anabolic theory' to be null and void
        Really...

        So your body doesn't release GH during/after a training session, huh? Your body doesn't have GH release when you sleep? Wouldn't that equal to an anabolic window? I can at least say, regardless of muscle growth activity, that eating the right foods before a workout has a distinct metabolic advantage over fasted-training in high-intensity training as well as eating plenty of food after a hard training session tends to speed up my recovery. If you say there isn't an anabolic window, you might as well also say there isn't a catabolic window either. Would you go that far?

        There is value in meal timing.

        The thing that upsets me the most is that you can get away with saying things like this without anyone calling you out for some evidence. If I said something half as radical as this, I'd be chastised left and right on this board and the crappy thing is I actually have some anecdotal experience that validates my findings. I usually find some research, try it, and call BS or not on the studies after I've carefully assessed the results from my point of view. Can you honestly say the same about your statement? Have you tried eating all of your calories in the AM and training in the evening, with no food before or after training? Did it work? Or did you magically find yourself in a "maintenance mode" ?

        At least give the college, doctor, etc or institution that created the study. Besides that, most studies are articulated terribly anyways and are not repeatable nor are they simple enough to make simple, evident conclusions. This could be the common case with the studies you have read. I'd say more importantly, if you want to know what is true and what isn't..go to the professional bodybuilders. Not all of them are juiced and not all of them are genetic freaks. Most of them just know how to sift through BS and find valuable information to use, try it and learn from it.
      1. mountainman33's Avatar
        mountainman33 -
        I'd be willing to bet mpucciitm is an emaciated marathon runner who wouldn't know the first thing about weight lifting and anabolic nutrition. He probably carries Powerbar Energy Gel Packs around with him where ever he goes.
      1. Legacyfighter's Avatar
        Legacyfighter -
        Originally Posted by mpucciitm View Post
        Yes I am sure. Hit your required macros for the day and you will hit your goals. There are several studies that have already proved the 'anabolic theory' to be null and void
        You know, you can also find studies that say protein is bad for you, that squats are bad for you, that fat makes you fat... There are literally thousands of other studies that say these three statements are complete BS. You can't just pick and chose which studies you want to look at. Try looking at lit reviews. The truth is that when you lift you trigger MTOR to release. This is the primary hypertrophic response. There is insulin dependent and insulin independent MTOR. Insulin independent MTOR is active as long as there is an FSR curve and carbohydrates AND protein are being ingested. Insulin independent MTOR is only active for a few hours post training. During this time you can shuttle more glucose and protein into your cells than you can outside the training window because the insulin independent MTOR is being released. This window closes roughly around the time DOMS begins to set in. This is generally around 6 hours. This is due to certain inflammatory factors.

        If you think this is merely bro science, you should probably do a little more research.. bro.

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