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Best Time To Eat Around A Workout | Is The Anabolic Window True? [Study-Backed]

Updated: Dec 4, 2019

So you must've heard that if you don't eat protein straight after your workout then your losing out on gains.. right?

Maybe you've even experienced post-workout anxiety when you’re unable to do so.

Don't worry.

While the whole concept of post-workout protein and the so called anabolic window was well popularised, more research has been moving focus toward overall levels of protein in 24 Hours.


anabolic window infographic


A Study By Brad Schoenfeld:

A great study published by Brad Schoenfeld and his team looked at this concept of the anabolic window and whether it exists.

The study took two groups of trained men, put them all on a 10 Week training program and gave one group 25 Grams of protein immediately before the workout, the other group 25 grams of protein immediately after the workout.

Group One: 25 Grams of protein immediately before the workout.

Group Two: 25 grams of protein immediately after the workout.

Both groups were to maintain a caloric surplus of about 500 calories with total protein at 1.8 Grams per kg of bodyweight.

Basically, you have two groups, both doing the same workout and eating the same diet for 10 Weeks, only one group is having a protein shake before workouts, the other after the workouts.


The Results:

To measure results participants used a DEXA scan, max strength tests and muscle thickness was measured at the beginning, middle and end of the 10 Week program.

Both groups lost fat mass but there was no significant difference in the relative amount lost between the pre or post workout protein groups.

Both groups gained no significant differences in muscle mass.

Also, no significant differences in strength gains were seen.


What It Means:

Well clearly in this study the concept of an anabolic window was not there,  there was no difference in body composition between the two groups.

In a practical takeaway, this means you don't always have to be so habitual about drinking a protein shake straight after a workout.

However, it is an undisputed fact that protein does in fact increase protein synthesis in muscle tissue.

Our recommendation is that 1.6 Grams of protein per kg bodyweight is optimal for stimulating muscle growth.



When To Eat Before A Workout?

If you eat 45–60 minutes before your workout, choose foods that are simple to digest and contain mainly carbs and some protein.

This will help prevent any stomach discomfort during exercise, not only this, but due to the blood rushing to the stomach after a meal, this will help you have more energy and reduce that sluggish feeling after your meal.

It's recommended to consume a full meal 2–3, preferably closer to 3 Hours before your workout.

If you would like some good healthy foods to include in your meals, click here.

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