How Soon After A Workout Should You Eat To Build Muscle? (IT MATTERS!)

One of the first tips you learn in the gym is the importance of post workout nutrition. However, we’re now armed with better information about the anabolic window and what to eat after a workout. The post workout anabolic window is thought to be so important because of protein synthesis (anabolic) and protein breakdown (catabolic), two processes that are constantly occurring within your muscles. The more protein synthesis and the less protein breakdown that occurs within your muscles, the more it will grow. And it’s what happens to these two processes after we workout where the anabolic window comes into the picture.

After a workout, the longer you go without eating an adequate post-workout after your workout, the more your protein breakdown rates will continue to increase, eventually reaching the point where they exceed your protein synthesis rates and hence create a catabolic state. To prevent this, you can simply ingest a protein-rich post-workout meal or shake, as this has been shown to not only prevent muscle breakdown from increasing, but it also increases your protein synthesis levels to a far greater degree.

And when carbs are consumed shortly post-workout, you experience a supercompensation of glycogen replenishment in your muscles. This would all lead to more growth and better recovery, and is why we’ve been led to believe in the importance of hitting that anabolic window after every workout. But there are a few flaws in the above argument. First, this theory was based on the findings of fasted training. Second, protein breakdown no longer becomes a concern when you ingest an adequate pre-workout meal. And lastly, as long as you eat enough carbs throughout the day, your body eventually fills its glycogen stores back up regardless of whether you had them within your post-workout meal.

That said, when diving deeper into the research, it’s clear that it focused mostly on untrained individuals. And post-workout nutrition timing and the anabolic window may become increasingly important as you gain more training experience.

Here’s a brief summary of how all of this research regarding the post workout anabolic window applies to you:

1. If you’re training fasted first thing in the morning, OR if you’re about to workout and haven’t eaten a protein-rich meal in the past 2-4 hours, you should aim to get at least 20g of ideally whey protein in within an hour after your workout to prevent any potential muscle breakdown. Additional carbs can be added to this but is mainly beneficial if you’re training again later that day.
2. If you’ve had a protein-rich meal shortly before your workout, as long as you ingest a protein-rich meal within a few hours post-workout, that will be sufficient to promote muscle recovery/protein synthesis and prevent any potential muscle breakdown.
3. If you’re seeking to maximize growth and are past the “newbie” stage, ingesting at least 20g of protein (e.g. Whey) shortly post-workout is recommended as it may provide a slight benefit for growth and strength.
4. Total daily protein intake is most important! Focus on nailing that down first before worrying about protein timing.

Even if at the end of the day it provides just a slight benefit, it’s the little details like your protein timing that can all add up and end up making a significant difference in the rate of gains that you’re making. And for a step-by-step program that optimizes all of these little variables for you, by showing you exactly how to work out and when and what to eat every week in order to build muscle as efficiently as possible with science, then simply take the analysis quiz below to discover which specific program is best for your body and where it’s currently at:

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46 thoughts on “How Soon After A Workout Should You Eat To Build Muscle? (IT MATTERS!)

    • Scarlet says:

      If it’s late & I’m gonna to bed not long after the workout (usually it’s weights or yoga at night), then I like the Quest Cinnamon Crunch protein powder in a shake, bc it tastes just like the milk from the sweet cereal I used to eat as a kid & it’s 60% whey, 40% casein. I feel like it helps me sleep well & not wake up ravenously hungry lol. If I go for a race or long run during the daytime & I don’t have a gel or mid-workout nutrition, then immediately afterwards I need a Coke or Sprite + salted almonds to quickly replenish sugars & electrolytes which prevents the woozy feeling. Then I’ll eat a meal after, like a quick stirfry of sirloin tips + green beans with mashed sweet potato on the side (I prep 5lbs of sweet potato on Sundays)

    • Alnder says:

      Thanks for making those home workouts. After winging it at home I just started to follow it from today. Awesome way of taking care of your customers! Thanks!

    • GreenEntertainment says:

      Bro great vids! Learn a lot,since we’re in this quarantine how about making a vid on ab workout at home. With resistance bands. Thanks and keep up the good work!

  1. county sheepdog says:

    With not even watching this video *there’s NO such thing as a WINDOW that’s a myth & it’s been proven*
    _(Now I’ll watch the video)_

    • Bud The Cyborg says:

      Just use your weak side leg and it would probably balance out over time.
      I have to do uneven amounts of work on my Legs, Glutes, and Back just to try and keep them working the same. My pecs would be uneven if I weren’t doing Flat Bench Dumbbell Press. At some point you practically always have to work each side independently to maintain balance.

    • John Shepard says:

      @Bud The Cyborg we’re in the same boat, lol. I also have an imbalance in every muscle group like biceps, triceps, chest, lats and even abs. But some people have more imbalances than other people, because my brother have got much less imbalances than me.

    • - TheFantasticZ - says:

      @John Shepard I’ve found calisthenics to be quite useful, but that also can pose a problem if you aren’t activating the weak side more than the dominant side.

    • John Shepard says:

      @- TheFantasticZ – exactly! I face this problem whenever I do pull ups and dips, but these two exercises are so beneficial that I can’t stop doing them. I just try to concentrate on my weaker side on both concentric and eccentric.

  2. Angry moon says:

    Let’s put those studies aside as studies are not proven and focus on what we do after workout, we usually eat due to body craving to food and doctors say listen to your body and answer the call, so I see eating or having a protein shake is beneficial to our bodies. Thx anyway for your video but try to stay logical and avoid introducing studies which are subject to failure to the public.

  3. D4md Cykey says:

    Easily the most precise, detailed, and well-researched video I’ve ever seen on this subject. Your dedication and efforts are top notch work, Jeremy.

  4. D Zombas says:

    I’ve just drank a protein shake after 4 hours of training. What a big mistake I made. I’m untrained. Thank you for sharing this information.

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