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Do I Need A Night Time Protein Powder?

Posted on April 16, 2014

Do I Need A Night Time Protein Powder?Dividerimage

If you're a bodybuilder, a powerlifter, or even just someone who is looking to build muscle and lose weight, you want to make sure that you're doing the best to get the maximum results from your training. So you workout, you eat right, and you take the best supplements. But is there anything more you could be doing? If you find you're not quite getting the results you want, you could benefit from taking night time protein, and here's why. 

The reasons why night time protein is so useful are two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, your body is optimally primed for growth and repair while sleeping. However, at the same time it needs energy and nutrients to do this, and if you're sleeping, you're not eating. That means the body gets what it needs by sacrificing muscle tissue in order to function. 

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 24 hours after exercise. At the same time, many of the body's cells show increased production and reduced breakdown of proteins during sleep, and it is during deep sleep that the body goes into repair and rebuild mode. That means not only do you need to ensure you get a good nights sleep, you should be giving your body the right materials to fully take advantage of this period. 

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. 

What you should be doing before bed is loading up on both protein and amino acids, providing the body with both slow and fast proteins. This spares muscle from being broken down and also increase the loss of body fat. 

Casein in particular 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 amino acid content is great, as it is this high quantity of BCAA that is essential for the recovery of muscle tissues. It also provides an anti-catabolic effect. 

Such night time protein is a great idea for anyone wanting to gain muscle mass and strength, as without it you are not reaching the full potential of your training. The body needs a constant supply of energy and nutrients, and if this is not available from dietary intake (which it won't be, as you are sleeping), then it takes what it needs from body stores, which usually equates to the breakdown of tissue – especially muscle. 

You might feel you can get around this need for night time protein by having a meal before bed, but this can actually have an adverse effect, especially if your meal is largely carbohydrates. Firstly, this can stop you getting the good night's sleep that you need, and can also decrease the hormone spike that you need for an anti-catabolic effect. Waking up to eat in the middle of the night is also a bad idea, as again it would disturb your sleep, leaving you with reduced and fat burning capabilities, but raised amounts of cortisol. 

Ultimately, if you're looking to achieve maximum muscle and strength building effects from your diet and workouts, you need night time protein.