According to recent studies in sports nutrition, having protein in the meal before going to sleep is an effective strategy to ease the adaptive answer from the muscle to training, therefore, making an advantage for the sports performance and recovery.
Timing of protein intake
We already know about the importance of the protein in the post-training recovery phase, the more immediate we take it after finishing the workout, the best results. This, apart from recovery, also stimulates the protein synthesis post training.
But, according to scientific evidence, the synthesis from what you provided after training or during your meals, drops dramatically during nighttime sleep.
What does this mean? Having only your recovery shake or eating protein fuelled meals during the day is not enough to maximize the nighttime muscular synthesis.
Synthesis during sleep:
Studies had shown that if you ingest protein before going to sleep, the body has a quick absorption of it and it has also been proven an increase in the synthesis of protein in the muscular cells. This gives an advantage for the optimization of the muscular recovery, increasing this way the window of opportunity.
Intake before sleep:
It has been proven that if you have a post workout snack (with 20g of protein and at least 15 g of carbs) and then you have an intake of 25-30 g of protein before sleep, it favors the balance of protein available during nighttime, increasing the availability of amino acids and there for the synthesis is stimulated.
But you should make sure that the protein that you intake doesn’t absorb fast, because if not there will be no effect of this nighttime muscle building. So make sure to choose a slow absorbing protein, so it gets to your bloodstream and muscles slowly but steady.
How should we make this intake?
In food: Eat one source of slow absorption protein, which can be a combination of lean protein with a healthy fat (that can slow the protein absorption). For example, have a chicken breast with avocado. Also protein in dairy (like in cottage or ricotta cheese) is of slow absorption, so that could be an option for a before bedtime snack.
In a drink: Have a protein shake made with casein protein powder. Casein is the best option since it has been proven that it increases this synthesis process for almost seven hours (which is the time that normally people sleep at night).
Plus: general recommendations of protein intake:
Here are some general recommendations on the amount of protein you could eat before bed to help your muscles recover quicker and optimize your athletic performance.
- Eat 20-25g with each main meal time
- Have 20-25 g of protein right after training (with at least 15 g of carbs)
- Have 20-30 g of slow release or slow absorption protein before going to sleep