Sports Science Logo Research Supported Sports Performance

The Protein Synthesis Window of Opportunity

Daniel Brady | December 3, 2012 in Nutrition

Protein Synthesis is increased after exercise, but only for a limited time, so you have to make the most of it. Studies show that the increase lasts for 24-48 hours, as long as your body is provided with enough amino acids. Read on for more.

Take a look at the following chart to see protein synthesis as it is affected by exercise.[1]

Protein Synthesis After Exercise

Note that protein synthesis rises after exercise then starts to fall after peaking. After 24-48 hours it has fallen to where it started. This shows that to maximize protein synthesis, your gaps between training should not exceed 48 hours. If you train every day, the gap is 24 hours. If you have 1 day between training, the gap is 48 hours. So you should try to keep gaps over 1 day to a minimum, this could be the weekend, just 1 overly long break per week. If you don’t train on weekends, you will have about 6 days of elevated protein synthesis and 1 day (Sunday) with baseline protein synthesis.

Training every day may be optimal for maximizing protein synthesis, but your strength will likely be constantly impaired from having insufficient recovery time. Reduced strength will definitely not help your progress so some more suitable programs may include the following for Monday to Sunday:

  • On Off On Off On (Off Off) (3 trainings per week, 6 days of elevated protein synthesis)
  • On On Off On On (Off Off) (4 trainings per week, 6 days of elevated protein synthesis)
  • On On Off On Off (On Off) (4 trainings per week, 7 days of elevated protein synthesis)

Amino Acid Requirement

Protein Synthesis elevates most successfully when provided with sufficient amino acids.[1] That means consuming lots of protein and optionally BCAAs, which also boost your amino acid levels. This means that after a good training session, your session may be wasted if you don’t eat properly for the next 24-48 hours. Not only will the session be wasted, but it can be detrimental; exercise without then eating food is catabolic (muscles break down, but are unable to regrow bigger).[2]


Don’t have long breaks between training (2 days of greater) and don’t skip eating, particularly for 24-48 hours after exercising.

Daniel has a strong interest in evidence supported fitness training, preparation and supplementation. His goal is to provide clear information that simply works. He's currently 16 kg of muscle above his starting weight (7kg in the past 12 months), and targeting a continued growth rate of 5kg+ per year.
No Responses to "The Protein Synthesis Window of Opportunity"
Leave a Reply
Recommended Supplements
Micronized Creatine
Good for: Strength & Muscle Gains
Best taken: Daily
Cost per week: ~$0.70
Karbolyn High-Performance Carbs
Good for: Energy / Endurance
Best taken: Pre-Workout
Cost per week: ~$4.00
HMB Capsules
Good for: Strength & Muscle Gains
Best taken: Daily
Cost per week: ~$7.00
Protein, Creatine, Betaine Blend
Good for: Strength, Growth & Power
Best taken: Post-Workout / Daily
Cost per week: ~$10.00
Green Tea Extract
Good for: Fat Loss
Best taken: Daily
Cost per week: ~$0.70