In terms of timing, you’ll often hear individuals reference the “anabolic window”—a period of time after your workout that leads to the best recovery. Usually this time frame ranges between 45 minutes to an hour post-workout. According to Miyaki, what you eat post-workout is important, but not for the reasons most people think. “The primary goal post-workout should be to provide your body with an immediate fuel source to prevent it from breaking down muscle tissue for energy.” As a result, Miyaki advises lifters to include some fast-digesting carbs along with protein after a lift. The carbs will help spare your body’s own energy source, and the protein will help repair muscle and encourage muscle growth. Don’t be extremely worried if you can’t get food in immediately after exercise. Although the anabolic window is important, “building muscle is not just about what you do immediately post-workout, it is about what you do with your overall diet,” Miyaki cautions.
Although consuming protein after a hard lifting session may amplify your results and increase recovery, it certainly doesn’t make or break your success. Focus on your entire nutrition and training approach, including consuming enough calories and protein during the entire day. To make the most of your training, consume a meal, either whole food or liquid form, within an hour after your workout containing both fast-digesting carbs and protein. This will prevent your body from using its own muscle tissue for energy and help encourage muscle synthesis. Translation: better results and faster recovery for your next lifting session.