What is protein timing? There is a lot of information going on about protein. How much of it do you need, what are the best sources of protein and do you need protein shakes? In this post, we are going to see if the timing is something you should consider.
If you are running, lifting, training or simply trying to live a healthy life, there is not ever going to be a time where having a healthy diet is not going to be important. Unfortunately, calories are not all the same and depending on your gender, weight and activity levels, you will need to provide for your body’s needs accordingly.
Why do I need protein?
Let’s keep it simple. When we are educating ourselves about dieting we find out that there are two major categories that determine dieting. Considering that you are a regular healthy individual, these are going to be your Macro-nutrients and your Calories.
Protein is one of the three macro-nutrients that your body needs every day to sustain itself.
Protein, is the macro-nutrient that our body needs to build. Whether that is to build and repair muscle or new cells.
Protein is necessary for our body to stay healthy and work optimally. Despite its importance, the largest amount of people that do not pay attention to their diets, tend to overeat on anything else other than protein.
A diet rich in protein will allow you to build muscle while helping you maintain your fat gain at a minimum. Protein is also what will allow your muscles to recover and grow faster and stronger after working out.
Quite frankly, if this is the first time you hear about macro-nutrients and counting calories, you are most likely not getting enough protein.
What is protein timing or the “anabolic window”?
Now if you are actually familiar with macro-nutrients and you have at least looked into what constitutes a healthy diet, you will have probably heard about protein timing.
You hear this most often from people who work out. The common belief about protein timing, or the Anabolic window, is that you have to consume protein immediately after working out. According to the belief, the Anabolic window lasts for around 30 minutes, eating past that window is not as effective.
The theory behind this is based on the anabolic state. After we are done working out, our body goes into an anabolic state, a process that is fuelled by basic macronutrients of carbohydrates and protein. That process is responsible for the repair and growth of muscles. At this time, it is true that your body has a lot more use for that extra protein in order to assist recovery.
The recovery and growth process, has a key component, MPS (muscle protein synthesis). MPS is a process that is fuelled by protein and most certainly does not stop after 30 minutes. It has been proven that there is virtually no difference between consuming carbs and protein immediately and within 24 hours. The conclusion to that is that what matters is how much protein have you consumed by the end of the day.
On the other hand, if you are worried about MPB or muscle protein breakdown, MPB occurs after any form of exercise regardless. You would only need to worry about MPB if you are doing high volumes of fasted cardio.
Another very important substance that is also important to the anabolic window, is carbohydrates. Carbs are an energy source that is used by our body in the form of glycogen. When you workout, the stored glycogen is utilized. The part that is true about the anabolic window, is that your glycogen does indeed replenish faster within an hour of working out. Research has not found any specific benefits to replenishing your glycogen levels immediately.
What you should know
As with any balanced diet, the important bit, is well…. balance!
What you should be focusing on, is your overall protein intake. Rather than obsessing over protein timing, I would advise looking into how much protein you need, in order to build muscle and stay lean and healthy.
Even if you have protein immediately after your workout, that is not going to help as much as you think. Your goal is to have reached your protein intake by the end of the day. That goal is going to be unique for each person.
Keeping track of your diet and your meals, is going to be important if you want to guarantee your progress.
If you need any guidance on tracking your calories and macros, we got you covered.
What is another myth regarding protein? (But you don’t hear about it as often)
How much protein can your body absorb with every meal? 20 grams? 25? Oh god, is it more? It is not as simple as that. If you really want to know about it, Kamal Patel at Examine does an excellent job at answering all of your questions!
Protein has more than one goal in your body. It sure does help with muscle growth and staying lean, but you can put your mind at ease knowing that, consuming more than 25 grams of protein in a single meal will not lead to wasting it.
Forget protein timing, just eat more of it
As mentioned above, the importance of protein timing and eating immediately after training is exaggerated. Your overall protein consumption, as well as calorie intake, is what is going to make the difference in building muscle and burning fat.
It is safe to say that you can prioritize protein and build your diet around it. Protein, relatively to carbs and fats, is a bit trickier to get enough of. The way to do that is to pick your meals ahead of time, if you wait until you are hungry and have to eat, chances are that your options will be limited.
Most people only plan for the meal ahead if that is breakfast or lunch. These two alone will not be enough for you to hit your goals on protein, dietary fats and important source of energy, the carbs.
Plan out your meals and especially snacks ahead of time. The point of snacks is not just to help with hunger. Everything you consume in a day should be there to assist you towards reaching your goal
Planning out your diet might sound like a lot of work. I am here to tell you that spending an hour every week, might mean that you will not have to think about what is your next meal for any other day.
It is simply a matter of preparing ahead of time. By doing it, you can guarantee the progress that you are after as well as help you save time on thinking and wondering what to have next.
If you want to get the tools to be able to do just that, have a look at:
Other than that, focus on your diet as a whole instead of bits and bobs of information such as when is protein most important. Protein is important just as much as anything else, you need you crabs, fats and veggies.
Plan your diet ahead of time, prepare your meals and you will see progress you will not believe.
References and Useful Links:
- Healthline, “What Is an Anabolic Window?”, Medically reviewed by Daniel Bubnis, M.S., NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSS — Written by Kirsten Nunez
- PubMed, “Determinants of post-exercise glycogen synthesis during short-term recovery”, By Roy Jentjens, Asker Jeukendrup
- PubMed, “The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy: a meta-analysis”, By Brad Jon Schoenfeld, Alan Albert Aragon, James W Krieger
- PMC, “Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window?”, By Alan Albert Aragon and Brad Jon Schoenfeld