I used to be a strong advocate of consuming carbs and protein within an hour post-workout to take advantage of the supposed “Anabolic Window”, when insulin sensitivity is greatest, damaged muscles are starving for protein, and muscle glycogen stores are depleted and ready to suck all that nutrition in to support faster gains. However, I recently attended a lecture by Brad Schoenfeld in which he discussed nutrient timing, and questioned whether it was as important as many thought. Because of this lecture and the reading I did following it, I have changed my opinion… I no longer believe the post-workout “anabolic window” is as narrow nor as important as I once thought. Let’s look at why.
First of all, one argument in favor of consuming carbohydrates within 30 minutes post workout is that this would cause a spike in insulin which has an anti-catabolic effect and would increase nutrient uptake as well as replenish glycogen stores. However, consuming just whey protein also raises insulin levels significantly, so carbs really become a secondary concern. In fact, eating a regular meal with about 75g of carbohydrate, 37g protein, and 17g of fat will elevate your insulin for up to 3 hours. This means that you will benefit from the anti-catabolic effects of insulin for about 3 hours after each meal.