Timing. Most things in life come down to doing the right things at the right time, right? If you are a regular gym goer or exerciser then no doubt you’ve either taken a protein supplement, or know somebody that has. Protein supplements, particularly protein shakes, have become a staple in the fitness and health industry as a means of delivering high levels of readily absorbed amino acids (the building blocks of muscle) straight to your muscle. The amino acids present in the protein can then support muscle fibre regeneration, recovery and growth.
Now when I speak of the ‘protein myth’ in the title, I don’t mention this in a negative way, because the myth I’m referring to is actually quite a useful little prompt and rule of thumb to abide by. However, this myth has got to such a point that people become obsessive with it, and there really is no need to be! The myth that I speak of is taking your protein within 30mins of exercise, more commonly referred to as the anabolic window!
Yes I am calling the so called ‘anabolic window’ a myth, which may seem a little sweeping at first because in fairness to the term, there is some truth in getting protein into the body as soon after exercise as possible, but… there is a but.
The theory is as follows. The prompt consumption of liquid form protein immediately after exercise is what’s needed in order to stop muscle catabolism (breakdown) and invoke muscle anabolism (growth). Getting protein in after exercise is key to performance, recovery and development, that’s true, but the time frame that many stick to is frankly no longer true. The 30min window of opportunity is overly restrictive, in fact the most recent research from the likes of Professor Luc van Loon, (2013) suggests the muscles will still repair and recover so long as adequate protein is consumed within 24hours!
Granted, the 30min window is a good time frame to aim for, it certainly will do no harm, but DO NOT become obsessed with it, and do not let people make you feel as though you’re not committed or getting the best out of your training because you don’t consume it right away. Get a good solid liquid source of protein in you within 1-2 hours exercise, followed by a protein dense meal in the evening and your muscle repair will be just fine.
Don’t always believe the hype.