Nutrient timing is something I’ve given a lot of thought to across my training years, and I believe there’s some merit in tinkering with your schedule to find the right setup.
I’m not solely focusing on the fabled anabolic window, the boost effect that briefly appears after you place the barbell back in the curl rack for the final time.
There are still plenty of believers who scramble down the stairs to chuck their premixed shake down the hatchet. This is an excessive way of interpreting the anabolic window. There’s not much to be lost in keeping a hand on the rail and waiting a little longer to top up on calories.
Don’t get me wrong. The window of opportunity exists, it’s just a lot wider than people envision. Calories taken in before and after training will prevent the muscles from lingering too long in a catabolic state.
Training is about breaking things down so the body can build them back up to be stronger, so the sooner you can shift into the second phase, the better. Remaining catabolic is potentially harming not just protein synthesis, but also energy levels. You shouldn’t be crashing and burning after a session, because that tends to linger and leave you a little non-functional for the rest of the day.
Improving post-workout recovery can go a long way towards allowing you to wind down your evening without feeling like a useless tangle of limbs.
Both angles of attack will add to the same effect. Food taken before training will still be digesting in the aftermath, releasing fresh energy into the bloodstream. It will also ensure you can go past the first two stacks on the warm-up machine.
Eating after training will take advantage of the body’s craving for glucose, funneling a large chunk of calories towards replenishing muscle’s glycogen stores. In studies, people have ingested 500 grams of carbs post-training with no changes in fat stores.
I’m not saying you can eat anything after exercise and get away without looking like a potato, but there is much more free scope for taking in extra calories.
The Daily Takeaway – This extended anabolic window spans 2 hours pre and 2 hours of post training time. Meaning if you’re practicing intermittent fasting, taking your usual quota of food and placing the majority of them in that 5-6 period, will produce changes for the better in both body-fat and muscle stores.
Researchers have practiced on subjects over a 6 week period with similar protocols and had positive results in body re-composition.
Logically, it makes sense. More calories in the tank before and during training will enable you to lift heavier weights and go further before reaching the brink, thanks to larger stores of muscle glycogen that then continue to replenish.
Throwing more on top in the aftermath then allows you to pull out of the training induced catabolic (breaking down blocks) state and concentrate on rebuilding glycogen and muscle protein lost during the workout. Holding onto muscle is pivotal in preventing too much kickback from the body such as lowered metabolic rate, during a diet.
Fat loss is mechanically magnified through training for this reason. A high metabolism combined with no muscle loss forces the body to consistently cut through fat stores to keep systems running.
And that’s primarily why nutrient timing accentuates fat loss. Eating by the clock is a worthwhile practice to try out.
It’s simple in theory to incorporate this information in your diet, the issue is whether your schedule supports these changes. If you have to train at the break of dawn before you get into your workday, then it’s a tricky proposition.
In such a scenario, I would recommend throwing 10g of Essential Amino Acids and 30g Dextrose for an intra-workout cocktail. That will provide more than enough to fuel your training needs.
If you’re on a ketogenic diet, exogenous ketones might be a great idea before a workout, such as ketone salts. But an easier option would be to have MCT oil or powder in a pre-workout shake. Either will provide fast-acting energy without disturbing insulin levels.