Step 3: Muscle Gain?
As you can see, intense workouts create a temporary increase in sensitivity to anabolic hormones like insulin. And consuming a mixture of carbs and protein after your workout spikes insulin while increasing protein synthesis.
However, increased insulin response and protein synthesis are only stepping stones to the ultimate goal of building more muscle. And it’s the final step where studies are more open to interpretation.
Does The Anabolic Window Matter For Muscle Gain?
Over the years there have been dozens of studies aimed at quantifying the muscle-building effect of post-workout nutrition, with varying results.
To make sense of all that data, it helps to group similar studies together and analyze their results. This is called a meta-analysis and it’s basically a study of the studies.
A Review Of Relevant Studies
In 2013, a meta-analysis compared 23 studies to figure out the effect of protein timing on muscle growth.
After their review, the researchers concluded that protein timing did not appear to significantly enhance muscle gains6. And they found that what actually accounted for any increases in muscle gain was a higher total daily protein intake.
Many in the fitness industry reference this meta-analysis when they claim that the anabolic window is a myth. And, at first glance, it seems like the case is closed.
However, I reviewed all 23 studies in the meta-analysis and I don’t think it’s logical to write off the anabolic window that quickly. The reason is that there are several problems and inconsistencies in the various studies involved.