"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." -Aristotle

Everyone wants to look and feel their best before swimsuit season; therefore, it has become many individuals goal to gain muscle mass and lose fat to have a toned body and look terrific when walking down the beach during summer months.

When a person first goes to the gym, they are often confused as to what exercises to do or what machines to use; the intention is there, but the knowledge is not.

To fitness train effectively and attain the desired results, a lot of previous research is required.

After thorough research and continued learning about fitness, a single trip to the gym to work out becomes so much more. Fitness amateurs realise that there are many aspects of fitness training such as bodybuilding programmes, dietary plans, the anabolic window, protein shakes, and food supplements.

On the other hand, fitness enthusiasts know that there are a great many topics which are essential to learning more about fitness; especially when you want to achieve the goal of becoming a professional athlete or a person who regularly trains and has a fantastic body.

In today's article, Superprof will discuss the recent health & fitness craze that has resulted in the development of fitness training techniques to promote muscle growth such as the anabolic window.

What is the anabolic window? 

That's an excellent question, we will analyse the anabolic window, the beliefs behind it, and the foods recommended to consume during this period. Are you all ready to start talking fitness?

Why the Recent Health & Fitness Craze?

finding the best place to workout
For many fitness amateurs, it is an entire process learning about new regimes and methods common in the health & fitness industry. (Source: pixabay)

In the past decade, the health and fitness industry has grown to become one of the most profitable and fastest growing businesses in the world.

We all want to look good naked, and there is nothing wrong with that; therefore, to meet the needs of individuals wishing to look their best and achieve a healthy bodyweight, the fitness industry has made tremendous advances to make gym training accessible to all. Practically everyone buys gym memberships at fully equipped fitness centres since they are ridiculously affordable.

The PureGym in London offers monthly membership plans starting at only £14.99; this makes completing fitness goals or new year resolutions possible without breaking the bank! 

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Many of these affordable and highly recommended gymnasiums are open 24 hours a day offering clients the opportunity to work at a time that best suits them. 

Nevertheless, why has the health and fitness industry significantly grown in recent years? The following are the best reasons and contributing factors that explain why people from all walks of life are hitting the gyms to look like Greek gods and goddesses:

  • Social Media's Influence: common hashtags such as #biceps, #muscle, #fitspiration, and #thinspiration have been filling the pages of social networks and online fitness communities in recent years. It's almost impossible to scroll through the news feed of Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter without seeing some tanned guys doing benchpresses or some dolled-up girls doing squats. For example, to explain the point even further, the hashtag #fitness has over 300 million posts! Social media has been influencing the over 2.5 billion users to live a healthy lifestyle and desire a toned, lean, and athletic physique that is accomplished by resistance training at the gym.
  • An Attitude Change Towards Healthcare: medical practitioners have been promoting preventative health care more than ever; they have concluded that it is arguably cheaper for all individuals and its proactive boasting fantastic results. Current stats have shown that from 2000 to 2010, the number of healthcare professionals recommending a healthy diet and exercise rose by 10%, and gym memberships have doubled from the year 2000 to the present day. People are heeding the advice of their doctors because they want to live longer with a better quality of life.
  • The Increased Risk of Lifestyle-related ailments: every since technology has entered the workplace, professionals are more sedentary than ever before; therefore, the risk of contracting severe lifestyle-related illnesses became terrifying, and individuals decided to take matters in their own hands and find healthier alternatives such as eating right and doing exercise. For example, attaching an LCD screen on a treadmill makes millennials enjoy exercising while catching up on their favourite series.

With the health craze still underway, it is best to embrace this movement and adopt a healthy lifestyle today by eating well and exercising regularly; the benefits outweigh any of the sacrifices made! 

It is also vital to mention that when exercising to attain effective results, most individuals are generally conscientious about WHAT to eat when on the path to reaching their fitness goals. Nevertheless, it is essential to state, that fitness newbies do not always think about WHEN to eat that will best affect the body effect and muscle mass.

Eating at the right time is of the utmost importance, especially for bodybuilders, as it is the key to achieving faster muscle recovery and muscle gain; are you listening, Arnold Schwarnessagers wannabes? 

Healthy amounts of post workout protein and other nutritious elements are essential for building muscle and burning fat.

To take advantage of nutrient timing, the best moment to ingest a bodybuilding supplement such as casein or a sports drink is after a high intensity workout during a period called the anabolic window.

What is the anabolic window?

Let's learn more about the anabolic window in more detail in the following subheadings.

What is the Anabolic Window Opportunity?

The anabolic window has been praised or panned by many fitness gurus; some view it as a godsend to develop healthy muscles while others see it as nonsense that should not be seriously considered.

For argument's sake, Superprof is taking the side of those who strongly believe in the anabolic window opportunity. 

Nevertheless, how can a person with no previous knowledge in health and fitness understand the anabolic window? 

Well, the anabolic window is a critical moment in your sports training to describe a 30-minute give or take period, that depends significantly on the individual, after exercising during which the nutrition process can shift from a catabolic to an anabolic state. It is the period after a work-out session that takes maximum effect and boasts the most beautiful results. The anabolic window can be likened as a window of opportunity that helps your body attain many things such as the following:

  • Build bigger and better muscles that will be the envy of the entire gym!
  • Absorb high levels of protein and nutrients at the moment they are most active.
  • Great for post workout recovery since it repairs your body and muscles to prevent soreness at a much faster rate than if you ingest essential foods at a later time.

Therefore, to take thorough advantage of the anabolic window, bring your whey protein shakes and meals filled with high levels of carbs and muscle protein to the fitness centre to ingest after working out. 

To better understand the anabolic window, it is essential to state that our metabolism is made up of 2 functions which are catabolism, and anabolism; anabolism means the building up of something and is the opposite of catabolism which is the breaking down of foods.

In the following subheadings, we will better understand the functions of anabolism and catabolism to provide fitness amateurs with the essential information needed to comprehend their bodies better.

What is Anabolism?

I am confident that many of our readers have never even heard about anabolism before this article; it is not something commonly spoken of in everyday conversations.

Every heard of muscle protein synthesis in daily conversation? I highly doubt it!

Nevertheless, at Superprof, we aim to equip all our readers with the vital science they need to know more about their bodies.

For example, anabolism stems from New Latin which got its roots from Greek and means "upward" or "to throw"; it is the process that constructs molecules from smaller units in the body. The molecular reactions require energy, and this is also known as an endergonic process. As we previously stated, anabolism is the building-up aspect of metabolism is usually synonymous with biosynthesis or another form of synthesis known as protein synthesis.

However, for the interests of today's article, it is a critical process that builds muscle in the human body. Anabolism utilises proteins and amino acids to build and strengthen the muscles and bones; this is why you always hear people talking about metabolism and the anabolic window because they want better results to look good when swimsuit season starts.

The basis of anabolism must be correctly understood to apply the anabolic window and have it be maximised post-workout if you hope to build muscles that are healthy and well-toned.

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What Is Catabolism?

Catabolism is best known as the opposite of anabolism; it is the process that breaks down the muscles and tissues in the body.

They are scientifically defined as a set of metabolic pathways that breaks down molecules into smaller units. For example, larger molecules such as lipids, nucleic acids, and proteins are broken down into smaller molecules such as fatty acids, nucleotides, and essential amino acids.

The term catabolism stems from New Latin which got its roots from Greek and means "downward" or "to throw."

While this may sound awful and utterly contradictory, especially if you are working hard to build big muscles, it is an essential process that the body must undergo to release energy and remain healthy. It is a necessary process of human metabolism, and it is required when working out slowly at the gym, especially if you didn’t eat anything before working out.

Therefore, to take advantage of the anabolic window, nutrition plays a crucial part in supporting the anabolic process but also in limiting the catabolic process from starting too quickly. Just put if you have eaten an excellent pre-workout meal your body won't trigger catabolism for the energy needed for your workout but use the food from the pre-workout meal.

Why Is Knowing More About Anabolism and Catabolism Important?

After you have worked out, especially if you have had an intense workout to gain more muscle, your body will likely switch to catabolism, and the muscles will begin to break down; at this crucial post-workout stage, you need to focus on replenishing your body with a good source of protein.

Substantial portions of protein will shift your metabolism back into the anabolic process so that your body begins effectively gaining muscle again and during this time it is critical to rehydrate and refuel your body with the necessary nutrients. 

With the help of amino acids, a healthy diet consisting of lots of grams of a healthful carbohydrate, and, protein, protein, protein, you will be able to give your muscles all they need to grow and rebuild. 

Ingesting the right nutritious foods such as protein shakes are hugely suggested by sports nutritionists since they are easily digested by the body and the faster that you can replenish your body the quicker that you will be able to switch to muscle building mode.

Knowing more about the metabolism of the human body and its two parts, anabolism and catabolism, is necessary to adopt a sports diet that helps with gaining muscle and losing unnecessary fats. Therefore, taking advantage of the anabolic window is key to building a toned body with healthy tissues.

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The following subheading teaches fitness amateurs how to take advantage of the anabolic window.

How To Take Advantage Of The Anabolic Window

the best drinks
Knowing that there is a specific time to eat after a workout makes all the difference. (Source: Unsplash)

When adopting a sports diet, the anabolic window becomes important when gaining muscle is the real goal. The anabolic window lets fitness enthusiasts get a hands-on approach to their muscle development.

Consistency and diet adaptation is critical to take advantage of the anabolic window successfully. 

Although after an intense workout you are completely exhausted, the first 30 - 60 minutes after the workout, depending on the metabolism of the person, are the most important and your motivation must not falter.

However, it is important to state that we must come to realise that the bodybuilding session is not entirely finished until the muscles have had the opportunity to replenish.

The anabolic window, 30 minute period after exercise, is an integral part of bodybuilding training that has the primary goal of gaining muscle. Therefore, if you have other fitness goals than muscle gain, the anabolic window should not be taken so seriously.

Although most athletes swear by the anabolic window, Superprof claims that it is not the only miracle solution and should be used with other regimes to maximise the benefits of fitness training.

What Delicious Foods Should One Consume During The Anabolic Window to Best Shape Their Body?

eating the right food
Eggs are viewed by many as some of the best food to consume after a major workout. (Source: Unsplash)

Many individuals even health & fitness newbies are familiar with the fact that the body needs nutrients and protein after an intensive sports training session and more specifically after an intense bodybuilding session.

It goes without saying that if you want to gain healthy muscles conclusively you must say goodbye to all sweets, pastries, sugary drinks, alcohol or foods with refined sugars that are poison to the body and instead focus on introducing proteins, vitamins, amino acids, fibre, and essential nutrients that are part of a bodybuilders diet.

Many fitness gurus and bodybuilders suggest that if your last meal or protein shake was two or three hours before your workout, restocking your glycogen and protein levels during the anabolic window becomes more critical than ever and the suggestion is to consume a snack or meal that has a two-to-one ratio of carbs-to-protein.

While the most popular food suggestions from health & fitness enthusiasts include protein shakes and smoothies, there are many more food items that effectively shape the body. 

The following are the best foods and meals to consume during the anabolic window that will best shape your body:

  • Chicken and Turkey: both are lean white meats that are low in fat; they should be at the foundation of your diet if you are a bodybuilder wanting to gain healthy muscle. Chicken and turkey give weightlifters a very high level of protein that is essential to consume during the anabolic window. While chicken or turkey breasts have zero carbs, they can easily be combined with healthy carbs such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, or quinoa. These are both a favourite food of high-level athletes because chicken is made up of about 48% protein and Turkey is made up of about 73% protein; they aid in developing enviable muscles!
  • Egg or Egg Whites: guilt-free foods that have zero fat and are almost all protein, eggs and specifically egg whites should take up a considerable part of your diet as they are one of the best forms of protein. Ever wonder why bodybuilders ingest raw eggs in a smoothie after a workout? Well, they have got the memo and realise that they are pure protein and fantastic muscle building food. On top of that, they also have vitamins and minerals that are easily absorbed by your body. Eggs are about 84% protein and are great for vegetarian bodybuilders who want to gain muscle fast.
  • Legumes: lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, and peas simply cannot be ignored, they are all an authoritative low-calorie source of protein, and they are also reasonably low in fat. They are not the most obvious source of protein such as beef, chicken, fish, or pork but they are delicious, satisfying and full of protein and fibre. Bodybuilders or fitness enthusiasts do well to eat healthy bean salad during the anabolic window.
  • Greek Yoghurt: one of the best things that are packed with protein and flavour, Greek yoghurt is a perfect and healthy snack that can be eaten at any time of the day. Recently discovered by researchers as a fantastic food to jumpstart muscle recovery and a great help to build, strengthen, and tone muscle tissue that is lean. Also, it is essential to state that Greek yoghurt has twice as much protein as natural yoghurt. Try adding some of your favourite fruits or nuts to the yoghurt to make it more favourable.
  • Fruits: the best fruits to ingest after a workout include bananas, apples, pineapples, and berries. Bananas are a great source of potassium and are great for muscle training since it helps prevent muscle cramps. Apples, on the other hand, have a substance called quercetin that improves energy metabolism and increases endurance which is great for preparing for the next workout.
  • Nuts or Nut Butter: nuts or seeds are a great source of energy and good fats that help the body after an intense workout. Recommended nuts include almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts. It is a great idea to make a trail mix to enjoy directly after a workout is a brilliant idea to take advantage of the anabolic window and shape your body in the best way. It is also essential to state that nut butter such as peanut or almond butter are a great source of protein, unsaturated fats, and vitamin E. A wholewheat toast slathered in almond butter is delicious as it is useful.

The previously mentioned food items are all vital to consume after fitness training to shape your body and to take advantage of the anabolic window; nevertheless, it is essential to state that there are other high foods such as avocadoes, oatmeal, salmon, tuna, and chocolate milk.

Remembering that to successfully tone and gain muscle, a lot of previous research is necessary to effectively attain the pinnacle of fitness; having a perfect body does not happen overnight!

Also, developing the habit to create meal plans with the necessary food items for before and after workouts is essential to see the best results of a shaped body.

To effectively take advantage of any workout, it is essential to remember that we must take care of our body and protect it as best we can so that it can function optimally at all times.

It is essential to reiterate the fact that the anabolic window is a period after a workout that lasts 30-60 minutes and must be taken full advantage of to build muscle from a post workout meal; eating food items that are full of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates will help accomplish goals.

In conclusion, fitness training must be enjoyable to stay motivated to keep moving forward; therefore, learn more about distinct after workout regimes and methods such as the anabolic window!

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Ava is a dedicated world traveller, motivated to see, explore and experience the world and culture first hand. She has followed her dream of travel to over 80 countries worldwide and also excitedly pursues her other hobbies of yoga, painting, and photography.