Carbohydrates after workout

What is a carbohydrate window?

A carbohydrate( or metabolic) window is a conditioned period after physical training, during which the body is most sensitive to the assimilation of proteins and carbohydrates. The energy obtained from the nutrients consumed at this time is spent primarily on the recovery and growth of muscles.

Full duration of the carbohydrate window - up to 2-3 hours after strength training. In the first phase( 20-30 minutes after exercise) sports supplements are recommended in the form of whey protein isolate, fast carbohydrates and creatine, in the second phase - a full meal.

Rating of the most effective sports nutrition for weight gain and rapid muscle mass gain.

Fast carbohydrates after training

The intake of fast carbohydrates immediately after strength training is necessary for the body for a number of reasons. First, it stops the catabolic processes of muscle decay and normalizes the level of cortisol( 1), and secondly, increases the level of insulin in the blood, opening the possibility of cells to store energy.

Note that in the first phase of the carbohydrate window the body needs precisely fast carbohydrates with a high glycemic index - otherwise the assimilation of nutrients will drag on for several hours, negating all the benefits. In addition, carbohydrates play a more important role than proteins.

How much protein do you need after your workout?

Although bodybuilders often believe that "the more protein, the better for muscle growth," this opinion is not supported by science. Studies show that excess protein reduces the percentage of its digestion by the tissues of the body and can even lead to a drop in testosterone levels.

Scientific evidence suggests that just 15-25 grams of protein is sufficient immediately after training, which completely covers the muscle needs( 2).A much more important role is played by the total protein intake during the day - but in this case only 1.5-2.5 g of protein per kg of dry body weight is sufficient.

How many carbohydrates do you need after training?

The minimum dose of carbohydrates to close the carbohydrate window is a figure of 0.15 g per kg of body weight( 3) - 10-12 g for an athlete weighing 75 kg. This amount is sufficient to stop catabolic processes and increase insulin levels. If your goal is weight gain, increase carbohydrates to 30-40 g.

The following food intake should include a lot of correct carbohydrates, vegetables and various cereals - about 100-150 grams. This will help to fill up the reserves of glycogen( spent) during trainingcarbohydrates stored in the muscles and are the main source of energy for their work).

Carbohydrate window: truth or myth

It should be noted separately that the theory of the carbohydrate window is increasingly being criticized - the reason is that the nutrients( proteins and carbohydrates) used before training are in most cases much more important than those used after it. Even in a 10-minute period.

If you come to the gym with a feeling of hunger, it significantly minimizes the effect of the power loads - regardless of whether you close the carbohydrate window or not. In addition, the total calorie content of nutrition always plays a decisive role in the processes of muscle growth.

A short guide to the basic strength training program for rapid muscle mass gain.

Is it necessary to take a geyner?

Gainer is a mixture of whey protein and fast carbohydrates. The use of such a cocktail to close the carbohydrate window causes an increase in body weight - both muscle and fat. That is why the reception of the geyner is recommended only for ectomorphs, experiencing problems with muscle growth.

When training for drying, a geyner is not needed - enough portions of the usual protein and a small amount of carbohydrates( about 10 g) in the form of isotonic, a small fruit or even 100 ml of juice. Recall that most types of juice contain quite a lot of fast carbohydrates.

Carbohydrate window after cardio

If the goal of your cardio workout is to increase stamina, then it is recommended to consume carbohydrates not before training, but before and during it. In this case, the body will receive an additional source of energy, which it can use for more active work.

If your goal is to lose weight, then to close the carbohydrate window, you will first of all use BCAA amino acids, which will stop catabolic processes without increasing the level of insulin in the blood. In other words, this will allow prolonging the fat burning processes without losing muscle mass.


To close the carbohydrate window immediately after training, you need 15-25 g of whey protein and 10-12 g of fast carbohydrates( the figure can be increased to 30-40 g).Carbohydrates are also needed for those who work to enhance the relief and are afraid of gaining fat - but at the minimum dosage( 10 g).

Scientific sources:

  1. Cortisol and physical exercise, source
  2. Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window? , source
  3. Co-excision of carbohydrate muscle protein synthesis, source