As I've noted in previous articles in Applied Metabolics the topic of post-training nutrition, or what's the best food or supplements to consume after a weight workout, remains a contentious topic among both athletes and researchers. Several years ago,a few studies were published suggesting that consuming a combination of protein and carbohydrates as soon as possible after a workout would provide a significant anabolic effect and give you a head start towards making progress in the acquisition of added muscular size and strength. As such, when this technical nutrition information was eventually translated into layman's terms and published in magazines and other media, athletes and bodybuilders soon adopted the habit of downing a protein and carb drink the minute their workout ended. It wasn't uncommon to see bodybuilders at Gold's Gym and other gyms reaching into their lockers following a workout and drinking a pre-made protein/carb drink that they had brought to the gym for that express purpose. Some even worried that if they missed what was termed the Anabolic Window, which was set for two hours after the workout, they would not make as many muscular gains. The research articles about Nutrient timing, as this process of post-workout nutrition was called, stated that muscles were primed by upgraded enzymatic and hormonal activity to accept a greater delivery of nutrients in the two hours following a workout session. After that, said the nutrient timing advocates, nutrient entry into muscle slowed significantly. The unsaid principle was that unless you managed to get that protein and carbs into your body as rapidly as possible after a workout, you were working against your own potential gains.
But subsequent research published after the initial nutrient timing studies cast doubt about the necessity to consume protein and carbs immediately after a workout. The so-called "Anabolic Window" of two hours was bogus according to the newer studies that examined exactly how muscles use protein and carbs following training. What these new studies showed was that the process of muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which is the biochemical cornerstone of muscular hypertrophy or growth, actually lasts for 24 to 48 hours after a training session. What's really important was getting sufficient dietary protein within that recovery time frame of one to two days. Instead of worrying about ingesting a protein and carb combo drink immediately after a workout, the more prudent practice would be to ingest small protein meals that contain a protein content of 0.4 grams per kilogram of bodyweight about every five hours or so. You had to space the meals because of another effect known as the Muscle Full effect. The Muscle Full effect pertained to the fact that the MPS process peaked about 2 1/2 hours after the ingestion of a protein source. The amino acids continued to circulate in the blood for up to five . . .