We often hear the term “nutrient timing” or “anabolic window” which describes a time period following intense training where the consumption of certain nutrients will enhance the muscle recovery and regeneration process.

Let’s take a look at this window and the importance of getting crucial nutrients into your body during this period.

Why You Should Consume Protein and Carbs After Intense Exercise

We know from research that both protein synthesis and protein degradation are elevated after exercise which results in a net negative protein balance. This catabolic state will prevail for many hours unless actions are taken to shift the body into a predominantly anabolic state (1).

Nutrient intervention is required to make this metabolic shift with the ingestion of carbohydrate and protein soon after exercise. Glucose and amino acids derived from these macronutrients initiate a shift from catabolism to anabolism by raising blood insulin levels, lowering cortisol and other catabolic hormones, and increasing substrate availability (2).

The reason behind this is that muscle is highly insulin sensitive after exercise, and there are increased concentrations of glucose and amino acid transporters on the sarcolemma surrounding the muscle. This metabolic significance ensures rapid uptake of blood glucose and amino acids, increasing muscle glycogen storage and protein synthesis. Also, increasing insulin is crucial for limiting protein breakdown – catabolism.

Because insulin sensitivity declines with time after exercise as well as the number of glucose and amino acid transporters associated with the sarcolemma, the effectiveness of the nutrient intervention will also decrease (3). This is why it’s a priority to make the appropriate nutrients available around the exercise period which can increase the rate of protein synthesis and reduce protein degradation, thereby increasing protein accretion. (4).

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Research is clear that the magnitude of these responses will be significantly reduced if supplementation is delayed for several hours.

Practical Application

VP2 Whey Isolate and DGCAST Sports Science offers some very unique supplements that have been proven to work in controlled research studies. Studies that have been published in peer-reviewed journals. VP2 Whey Isolate) is ideal for feeding your hungry muscles after a Max-OT session. VP2 is research-proven to get into your muscle cells quickly and start the repair and regeneration process.

DGC is a great choice for getting glucose into your muscles quickly and starting the recovery process. This is ideal to get glucose and restore your glycogen levels in your muscles!

Take advantage of this window of opportunity following an intense exercise session and take advantage of the science behind AST’s supplements. They are engineered to provide these key benefits for dramatic results.


1. Bird SP, Tarpenning KM, and Marino FE. Effects of liquid carbohydrate/essential amino acid ingestion on acute hormonal response during a single bout of resistance exercise in untrained men. Nutrition 22:367–375
2. Chandler RM, Byrne HK, Patterson JG, and Ivy JL. Dietary supplements affect the anabolic hormones after high resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol (1985) 76: 839–845
3. Ivy JL, Katz AL, Sherman WM, Cutler CL, and Coyle EF. Time of carbohydrate ingestion: Effect on rate of glycogen synthesis after exercise. J Appl Physiol (1985) 64: 1480–1485
4. Levenhagen DK, Gresham JD, Carlson MG, Maron DJ, Borel MJ, and Flakoll PJ. Postexercise nutrient intake timing in humans is critical to recovery of leg glucose and protein homeostasis. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 280:E982–E993

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The Importance of Protein and Carbohydrate Timing After Intense Exercise

by Paul C. Henning, Ph.D. CSCS time to read: 3 min
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