This is a true story, I actually read a facebook status the other day of someone crying because they going to miss their "45 minute post workout window" because they left their freaking protein shake and shaker at home! I mean, what the actual hell right?
And this got me thinking about the whole post workout window idea. Well it's an idea that has been floating around the fitness scene for quite some time and the theory goes like this. After an intense workout, your muscles are depleted of glycogen (our muscle's main energy source) and your body is screaming for nutrients. The theory also states that this is the perfect time to shove a protein shake down the hatch along side fast absorbing carbohydrates like glucose or waxy maize starch in order to spike the insulin so that the protein gets absorbed into the muscle for cell repair and the carbs can replenish glycogen stores rather than the body break down the protein into glucose and use them for glycogen instead.
A sound theory however, I did wonder whether, in this time of so much "Bro science" and scientific enlightenment whether or not, the proverbial wool was being pulled over our eyes once again by the big supplement companies who clearly gain financially from such evidence.
So, I turned to the number one source of sports nutrition in my opinion, Dr John Berardi and see what he had to say. In fact, his team recently wrote an article on this topic so, I printed it out and took it home to give the once over and then continue researching until I could come up with a decent enough conclusion to share with you, my loving public.
So, where did the initial research come from about the 45-60 minute window?
Well, It seems to have stemmed from a 2006 study by Cribb and Heyes in which they were able to deduce that protein and fast acting carbohydrates and creatine taken around as close to a workout as possible resulted in more lean muscle gain and strength gains. Another piece of research also showed that waiting more than 45 minutes after exercise to consume a meal – So the research stacks up right? Not so fast, the trouble with this, and pretty much all research out there is that it's either not carried out for long enough time or there is counter research out there that exists.
What I have managed to gather is that there is no window that "shuts" on you once you hit the 45 minute or 60 minute mark and that your body will continue to use carbohydrates and generate glycogen and use protein for protein synthesis long after the 45 minutes after you finish your workout (and I mean, who really measures the time anyway?).
More research seems to show that people who do long endurance events or are athletes who train hard with little rest between workouts are probably the people who will benefit the most from fast post workout nutrition but for the average person lookin go maximise lean muscle, health and wellness and lose fat, it wouldn't harm you to to take your time and eat when you're ready and eat a propper meal rather than resorting to supplements either.
Another interesting thing I stumbled upon is that it's not just the one meal that makes the difference but the overall nutrition strategy of the individual and I know people out there that get so caught up on things like protein shakes and windows of opportunity yet don't focus on making sure they're getting a good amount of vegetables and fruit in their diet.
So, the conclusion I can safely share is that if you're having a post workout suppement now and it's working out for you then great but don't get too caught up on the minute details of timing. If it's inconvenient for you to go home and eat a propper meal, again, have the shake, the idea of your workout being pointless because you've not managed to have a post workout shake compising of Whey Hydrolysate and the latest ground breaking Carbohydrate seconds after you drop your dumb bell is pretty much a myth – the window is longer than you think and it is probably advisable to eat a protein and carbhodyrate meal within 2 hours of your workout, not jus 45 minutes