I see many people convinced they need to eat more calories on their training days, and less on their rest days.

Well, a weight training session often (only) burns about 150-250 calories.

“Well, then I need those extra calories” I hear you say.

However, research shows when you eat more calories before a typical weightlifting session, your performance does not improve [Dalton 1999 and many more].

“Well, those calories are also needed for recovery” I hear you say.

When muscle recovers, the amino acid levels (protein building blocks) and calories (energy availability) in your body determine how much your muscle protein synthesis rises [Burd 1985].

Basically, more protein/calories in your system means more muscle growth.

This period of muscle recovery is also called the ‘anabolic window’.

No, I don’t mean a window taking steroids.

I mean a ‘window of time’ when muscle building potential is high: the body is primed to make full use of any building materials (like protein and calories).

Rather than eating more nutrients on your training day per se, I suggest to eat more calories (and protein) during this anabolic window.

But this window doesn’t close 1-4 hours after your workout, as most locker-room-protein-shake-slammers seem to think.

For beginners, who take 48-96 hours to recover, this window could last well into the next day(s).

For more advanced trainees who train at night, their anabolic windows span into the morning (and afternoon) of their subsequent ‘rest day’.

Therefore they could benefit from a bigger breakfast and perhaps lunch the day after, rest day or not.

In short:
When it comes to eating more calories and protein, think in anabolic windows. Not in rest days vs. training days.

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