How important is nutrient or meal timing?

Contrary to mythos, there is not an “anabolic window” in which you have to chug a protein shake immediately after a workout. In truth, it’s total protein consumption throughout the day and generally getting enough protein within the several hours around your workout that matters.

After that, consistency and commitment should be applied to an appropriate workout plan that suits your performance and/or body goals. If you tend to train in a fasted state, getting your post-workout nutrition in as soon as possible is a good idea (in keeping with getting something eaten in the general timeframe of your workout), but the first two points (daily diet goals, consistent training) still take precedence. The one exception to this is that for the best results and recovery from your training, you should always eat some protein and carbs within the window of a few hours before or after your workout – this can be before, after, or both.

For a good paper reviewing the literature examining the ideas and research behind nutrient timing and the “post-workout window”, check out this meta-review.

For a review specific to protein timing and it’s effect on strength and muscle building, check out this review.