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Do You Need A Night Time Protein?

Posted on October 1, 2020

Do You Need A Night Time Protein?Dividerimage


Whether you're a bodybuilder, athlete, sportsman or sportswoman, powerlifter, or just someone looking to build muscle, you want to make sure that you're doing your nutritional best to get the maximum results from your training.


Because those dumbbells are heavy. And it's hard work pounding the pavement or treadmill in the early hours of the morning. No matter what activity you engage in, let's face it; it's easier sinking into a comfy sofa with a bag if crisps.


So you're putting in the effort. But are you reaping the maximum rewards for this hard work? If you're not quite getting the results you want, you may benefit from a night time protein.


And here's why. 


The human body is primed for growth and repair while sleeping. During deep sleep growth hormone is released to support muscle and connective tissue healing.


However, at the same time it needs energy and nutrients to do this. Essential amino acids are of prime importance for supporting an effective protein synthetic response as a result of this hGH surge.


And if you're sleeping, you're not eating.




This means the body gets what it needs by sacrificing muscle tissue in order to function. This is especially true if you have not consumed enough protein to meet your needs throughout the day.


But hang on, does the human body really tear down muscle in order to build and repair new muscle?


Isn't that a bit far fetched?


You have to remember, the catabolic and anabolic pathways are always active to varying degrees. In fact, it is the catabolic effect of skeletal muscle tissue breakdown that provides a lot of the non-essential amino acids for building new muscle.


But if essential amino acids are in short supply, then these can certainly be obtained from skeletal muscle breakdown as well in order to repair muscle damage or build new tissue.


Try to think of muscle as a car that is in constant need for up-keep. New motor parts and bits of chassis are welded on, while old parts are torn down and replaced.


And if we've got a muscle-car, then we're going to need a lot of spare parts to meet the cars needs! I.e., essential amino acids in the form of high-quality bioavailable protein.


Night-time protein powders simply provide the spare parts at a time when the mechanics have their sleeves rolled up and are ready for action.


A meta-analysis published by the Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry in June 2020 offered some insight into casein protein supplementation.


The author, Kim Jooyoung, reviewed existing research and clinical trials into the use of this dairy protein, concluding that 40-48 grams of casein protein taken 30 minutes before bed is ideal. Of course, this all depends on how tall you are and how much muscle your carry.


The researcher indicated that there are a range of benefits associated with casein supplementation before sleep, such as enhanced post-exercise recovery, improved protein metabolism (to be expected), and improved exercise performance.


The below diagram is an excerpt from the article, offering further details into the benefits of casein. Click on the image if you want to check out the original article.


Casein-Protein-Sleep-Diagram.pngJooyoung, Kim. Pre-sleep casein protein ingestion: a new paradigm in post-exercise recovery nutrition.

Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry, 2020 Vol 24;2 p.6-10


We know that muscles aren't actually built while you are doing the exercise – you gain strength and muscle mass when your body is resting. In fact, studies show that muscle protein synthesis, where your body builds muscle, continues to be elevated up to 72 hours after exercise.


Given building muscle and adapting to exercise is reliant upon sleep, ensuring you have enough in terms of quality and quantity of sleep is also an essential tool in your muscle-building armory.


maxs-anabolic-night.jpgThis means a minimum of 7 hours per night, though more will likely be necessary if you are engaged in rigorous training. Establishing a bed-time lights-out time each nigh is ideal if you want to maximise melatonin synthesis and support deep restorative slumber.


Booting that mobile phone out of the bedroom is also a must, as wireless electrical devices do in fact influence our brain waves! This is not pseuodscience, but a well-established fact demonstrated in scientific studies.


So switch off the wireless modem, and turn up your cell phone volume and place it somewhere outside of the bedroom. Ideally, switch it off.


Another review article published in Frontiers in Nutrition in 2019 states: "When applied over a prolonged period of resistance-type exercise training, pre-sleep protein supplementation has a beneficial effect on the increase in muscle mass and strength."


The authors also concluded that protein ingestion before sleep does not affect morning appetite, increased protein synthesis rates overnight during sleep and preserves muscle mass in the elderly.


Essentially, if you want to increase muscle mass, you need to get the right balance between protein synthesis and protein catabolism, which is the breaking down of muscle. These happen simultaneously, and it makes equal sense to try and reduce protein degradation as it does to encourage protein synthesis, ideally at the same time.


It's all about balance. 


Casein makes a great night time protein, as is a slow-burning protein that provides a gradual release of amino acids, meaning it is long-lasting and continues to work over the hours that you are asleep. The high essential amino acid content is a definite benefit, as is the high leucine level important to trigger mTOR.




Having a high-protein meal before bed may provide a similar effect, though research is yet to elucidate this. Technically, if you could consume a whole-foods protein source before bed this may provide ample blood amino acid support for night time.


However, most find it a great deal easier to drink a shake thirty minutes before bed than down a container of cottage cheese (food sourced casein) or gnaw their way through a hefty steak.


After all, this needs to be a long-term habit if you are to reap the maximum benefit. Convenience and long-term compliance are some of the benefits of protein shakes, especially before bed.


Ultimately, if you're looking to achieve maximum muscle and strength building effects from your diet and workouts, to support improved exercise performance, a quality night-time casein protein is certainly worth your consideration.


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