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The Metabolic Window

On Blast:  CHO or Protein for post-workout recovery?

A metabolic window refers to a time period of approximately 30-60 minutes post-exercise, then again 2 hours later.  During this time, a balance between the right proportion of CHO and protein can help the body in recovery following a strenuous workout.   Consuming the balanced snack/meal after the window has closed can result in as much as 85% less protein synthesis necessary for muscle recovery.  High glycemic index CHO results in higher muscle glycogen 24 hours after vigorous exercise (think PBJ sandwich, greek yogurt & granola, or fruit & cheese).

Recovery nutrition can:

  • Reduce an athlete’s susceptibility of becoming sick
  • Avoid a negative protein balance
  • Avoid muscle hypertrophy
  • Improve body responsiveness to recover after a strenuous workout
  • Minimize muscle catabolism


  • CHO intake post-exercise increases insulin levels = promotes uptake of glucose into the muscles (restores muscle glycogen)
  • Combination of CHO and protein intake has proven to be more effective in recovery than focusing solely on either alone.
  • 2:1 CHO to protein intake for resistance exercise
  • 4:1 CHO to protein intake for glycogen-depleting exercises (distance running)

Verdict:  A combination is best!  Don’t miss your “window” of opportunity for recovery…har har har