Is the Anabolic Window a Myth?
The Anabolic Window is a myth. There are no scientific studies that prove it exists or not. There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding this topic, but none of them have any basis in fact. This page will focus on debunking some common myths about the anabolic window:
Myth #1 – “I’m training hard right now so I don’t need to fast.”
There’s nothing wrong with training hard, but if you’re trying to build muscle and strength, then you’ll want to use the anabolic window. If your goal is fat loss, then skipping meals isn’t going to do anything for you because your body doesn’t respond well to fasting. You’ll just end up gaining weight instead of losing it!
Myth #2 – “My muscles feel great when I train hard!”
If you’re doing cardio every other day, you probably aren’t getting enough protein. That’s why you might see some benefits from a fasted state like increased recovery time or better hormonal response. However, if your goal is to gain muscle mass and strength, then there’s no point in fasting because your body won’t benefit from it. Your muscles will still get bigger even without any additional nutrients coming into them since they’re fueled by glycogen stored in the liver and muscles themselves.
Myth #3 – “I don’t need to eat any food until after my workout.”
This is probably the biggest and most common myth out there. If you’re doing something like crossfit, then it’s probably true that your fasted state helps you burn more fat due to the increased intensity of exercise. However, if you’re focusing on getting stronger and building mass, then you need to eat. You’re not going to be able to get the nutrients you need from a small meal and only having one or two per day is not going to give you the energy or drive to get through a grueling weight-training session.
The anabolic window is a popular topic of debate right now and there are “science-y” people on both sides of the fence. Some people say it’s real and others say it isn’t. Some say it exists, but the amount of nutrients you need immediately after training are minimal. Other believe that it isn’t necessary to eat immediately after your workout because your muscles will take in the nutrients when they recover with a full stomach.
For the average gym-goer though, it probably doesn’t matter. If you already have a good diet plan and making strength and size gains, then it’s not going to make much of a difference whether you eat immediately after your workout or not. If you’re struggling to gain mass though, then it probably wouldn’t hurt to eat a meal immediately after training. Just don’t overdue it because there’s no point in eating so much that your stomach becomes distended.
It would actually be more hindrance than benefit in that case.
How to Take Advantage of the Anabolic Window
So if the anabolic window is real and provides some benefit, does that mean you should eat immediately after your workouts?
Well, it really just depends on your goals. If you’re looking to gain size and strength as quickly as possible, then by all means chow down immediately after training. However, if you’re just a casual gym-goer or you’re more concerned about fat loss than gaining muscle, then it probably isn’t necessary.
Now don’t get me wrong, training in a fasted state will still provide some benefit. It just won’t be enough to make a huge difference compared to someone eating the right foods after their workouts.
Stay away from simple carbs
The worst thing you can do immediately after a workout is chugging down simple sugars or carbohydrates. Your body doesn’t need them and it’s much easier to get fat by drinking down a load of sugar rather than eating some protein and veggies. Even a regular carb-heavy meal can be problematic if you aren’t used to it or end up overeating.
So what should you eat?
Protein and complex carbohydrates.
Not only will this immediately start the recovery and building process of your muscles, but it will also keep you feeling full and energized for a good portion of the day.
Fat isn’t as important because fat takes longer to digest and if you’ve trained hard, then your body is going to be busy repairing itself and won’t be able to effectively break down the fat right away.
So what are some good foods to eat?
Glad you asked. Here are some of the best choices.
1. Whey Protein
One of the best ways to ensure that you’re getting enough protein after a workout is to drink a shake. Not only does this bypass the whole process of eating heavy food, but whey protein is also quickly absorbed and ideal for putting on muscle or at least maintaining your current muscle mass when calorie intake might not be high enough. (Every little bit helps)
However, whey protein can get expensive, especially if you’re buying a high quality brand. Pea protein is a cheaper alternative that’s still relatively fast in terms of absorption. The taste isn’t quite as good though and it’s still got that “protein shake” taste that puts some people off.
If you want some food instead of a drink, then eggs are a great choice. They’re packed full of protein and easy to prepare. Scrambled, sunny side up, boiled, whatever you want. Eggs are very easy to cook and very convenient.
As for the other benefits, they won’t take too long to show up either. Your recovery time will decrease and your muscle building efforts will go further if you start eating more eggs.
If you want a heavier meal that’ll keep you full for a while and provides plenty of carbs and protein, then oats are your best bet. Not only are they cheap and easy to make, but there are also tons of variations of ways to prepare them. You could even buy the instant packets if you’re in a hurry.
They’re very versatile so you won’t get bored of eating them everyday like you might with eggs or chicken every day.
4. Whole Wheat Pasta
Whole wheat pasta is similar to the oats in that it’s very versatile, cheap, and provides a good source of carbs and protein. The only downfall is that they aren’t quite as effective at replenishing your glycogen stores because they’re not pure carbs. Still, if you’re looking for some carbs to eat after a workout, whole wheat pasta is a great choice.
5. Lean Beef
If you want a high protein, relatively cheap meal that’ll keep you full for awhile, then you can’t go wrong with some beef. Burgers, steaks, roast, whatever you like. It’s slightly more expensive than the aforementioned foods but still affordable and more importantly, very tasty. (Personally, I love a big steak after a workout)
The only thing to be aware of with the beef is the fat content. You want to get the leanest cuts you can. This is more important if you’re on a keto diet because carbs already tend to make up a large portion of your diet and you don’t want to overload yourself with fatty acids.
There are also other benefits to exercising in general aside from just building muscle and they can help out specifically with the problems that come with being on a keto diet.
For one, it increases your energy levels and decreases how tired you are. This is very important because it’s often very easy to get tired and sleepy when you start your diet. This can make it harder to stick with it since you have less energy. On the flip-side, increased energy makes it easier to stick with it since you’re not dragging yourself.
Exercise also increases your metabolism which helps you burn calories more efficiently even at rest. This means you’ll be burning more calories even while you’re just sitting around which helps with losing weight.
It also increases your insulin sensitivity, which is very helpful since you don’t want your blood sugar to spike if you’re eating lots of carbs.
Now, let’s move on to the exercises you should be doing.
Before You Start
Before you start any physical activity, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor first and foremost. This is especially true if you’ve had any pre-existing conditions or if you take medication.
You may not be allowed to do some of the things you’re about to try.
For instance, if you’re on blood pressure medication, you probably shouldn’t do anything that’s going to make your blood pressure go up for a risk of a stroke or heart attack.
If you have diabetes or any other kind of metabolic disorder, you’ll probably need to monitor your blood sugar more because the exercises are likely to affect it one way or another.
Now, with that out of the way let’s start talking about the different types of exercises that you can do.
This is kind of a broad term that encompasses several different types of weight lifting. This is exactly what you’d think it is.
Or if you have a pre-existing heart condition, you may find that the activity you’re about to do isn’t in the best interest of your health and it’s recommended that you don’t do it.
So always consult a medical professional first, it can save you a lot of trouble down the road.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get into the exercises you can start doing.
1. You lift heavy things and put them back down.
This can range from dumbbells, to barbells, to your own body weight (though that’s a little more difficult). Regardless of what you’re lifting, the purpose of this is to build muscle. You aren’t going to put on a lot of weight since remember, you’re trying to eat as little as possible, but you will gain some size. Deadlifts
This is one of the best full body exercises you can do and it’s very effective at building strength as well as size.
However, this is one of those exercises that requires you to go at your own pace. You can’t rush this or push yourself too hard because you want to make sure you’re doing it right.
Many people have gotten hurt by doing too much too soon with deadlifts. Don’t be one of them.
And as I mentioned, this will help out a lot if you’re on a keto diet since it can curb your hunger a bit.
This will also help out in other ways since building muscle increases your metabolism and exercises like this can also give you more energy. Of course, you have to be careful about overdoing it.
If you don’t know how to do this properly, ask someone at the gym or look it up online.
It’s also pretty taxing on your body so only do it 1-2 times per week. You don’t want to overdo it. Push-Ups
If you’re new to exercise, this might be a little difficult for you at first, but it’s important that you give it a chance and don’t quit because it gets hard.
If you’re just starting out, try doing deadlifts once a week. You don’t want to overdue it.
However, most people will be able to work their way up to three to four times a week without any issues. It’s really all about your own conditioning and how your body responds.
2. You do reps with your own body weight.
If you’re in decent shape, go ahead and do the normal push-ups. If you’ve never worked out before, just do the knees version and work your way up.
Doing these on a regular basis can help to build up your arms and chest muscles which can help you burn more calories throughout the day even when you’re not working out. Crunches
These are exactly what they sound like.
These are exercises like pull-ups, dips, and sit-ups where you’re the resistance.
This is good if you’re just starting out since you can go at your own pace. This is more about building muscle memory and getting into shape as opposed to bulking up.
But if you want to build muscle, these exercises will help with that as well. Again, it’s really all about your own goals and what you want to accomplish with these exercises.
3. You go for a run.
Just a simple jog.
Going for a jog is great. It gets your heart pumping, clears your mind, and can even help you sleep better that night.
However, if you try to go too far or too fast then it’s not going to help you out at all. You’re just going to end up hurting yourself and potentially stopping your exercise routine all together.
Start small and work your way up. If you’re new to exercise, then don’t run more than 2 or 3 miles in the beginning. Once that gets easier, increase your distance.
You want to try to at least go as far as you can. The more you go, the more benefit you’re going to get out of it.
If you run on a treadmill, try increasing the incline. This can help as well to give you more of a challenge.
4. You do a mixture of push-ups and crunches in sets.
This is probably the best way to work your upper body and core since these two are closely related to one another.
Plus, it’ll allow you to go at your own pace which will also increase your endurance over time.
If you’re looking to build muscle, then this is a good way to do it since it’s not just focusing on one muscle group.
You’re using your whole upper body and since your abdominal muscles help support your body when you’re doing push-ups, they’ll also get a bit of a workout as well.
5. You do a mixture of running and push-ups in sets.
This is the same concept as number 4, but you’re adding a bit of variety by working your legs as well.
The more muscles you use, the more calories you’ll burn and the more tired you’ll get. This will cause your body to start craving rest which can help you to sleep better at night.
Plus, it’s a great way to relieve stress and tension.
These are just a few workouts that you can do to start burning fat.
As you start to get into better shape, you’ll probably want to increase the intensity anyway.
Again, each of these can provide benefits with the main one being weight loss. Just do what works for you and maximize each routine to get the most benefit out of it.
If you stick with it, then you’ll start to see changes in your body within a month.
Your weight loss goals might take a little longer, but as long as you keep pushing forward then you’ll get there too.
If you want to go a bit more in-depth with fat loss, then check out this guide here.
I’ve put together a short guide that will help you get started on the right path towards losing fat.
Again, this will provide a good foundation to work from since there’s so much information out there it can be a bit overwhelming.
Hope this helps!
Let me know how these workouts work out for you. Also, let me know if there are any other topics you’d like me to cover.
Talk to you soon!
Brocategorized in: Blog Archive , Muscle Building Nutrition
Sources & references used in this article:
The Post Workout Anabolic Window: Bro-Science Myth Busting by HG Design – homegymlife.com
5 Common Myths About Protein by L Jacobsen
5 COMMON MYTHS ABOUT PROTEIN by T Cole
8 Stupid Nutrition Myths–Do You Still Fall For One? by RS Bowles – genrefood.com
Why Post-Workout Protein is Unnecessary by A Flanagan – clifehealth.com.au
Physique Sports Athlete Macronutrient Recommendations–Part 2–Macronutrient Timing by BT Basics, YGTAS Back – rudymawer.com