By Nathan Smart


The much-deliberated anabolic window remains for many gym-goers, a strictly adhered- to protocol executed to maximise muscle growth. Recent research, however, indicates that the meticulously packed shaker in our gym bags may have all been in vain. World- renowned body coach Nathan Smart explores.


For years bodybuilders preached about the golden 20-minute anabolic window. It was believed that after a training session, uptake of protein would be much higher if consumed within 20 minutes.

I hold my hand up and admit that when I first started lifting weights, I used to rush to the changing room after training and slam back a protein shake, in case I missed that magical building muscle time window. If the big guy in the magazine says it, it must be true, right?

But over the years, with lots more funding and education being invested into researching the subject; it has now been scientifically proven that there is in fact, no such thing.

A study by the Shriners Burns Institute showed that after resistance training, we have a long-lasting elevation in muscle protein synthesis for at least 24 to 48 hours and the major spike can last for around four to five hours post-training. Thus, eliminating the mythical 20-minute window.

A key point to make here, is that these findings are very dependant of when you consume your pre-workout meal. If amino acids from this food are still present in your system, then the urgency for your post-workout meal becomes less critical. But, if you have trained fasted or have not consumed protein within two to three hours before your session, there is a slightly higher necessity to consume it a little sooner.

In a 2013 study by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, research revealed that total daily protein intake is the biggest factor in building muscle. Dividing your protein into four to five servings throughout the day is proven to be the most efficient and optimal way to stimulate hypertrophy. So, make this your priority if gaining muscle is your number one goal.

Whilst you may sound cool nonchalantly explaining the bro-science behind your swift exit from the gym. And even if you can see the logic there… it has been evidenced time and time again that it is nothing but a bodybuilding myth that needs leaving at home, like your protein shake.

Nathan Smart is an eminent body transformation specialist, certified nutritionist and personal trainer and global fitness model. @nathan_smart1
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