Woah! It has come to my attention recently that a lot of you guys and girls are making a major mistake!
So what happened? Last year I started my new personal coaching service. When devising shredding or gaining meal plans, I’d often ask how the trainee was currently eating…and I could see a pattern developing!
A lot of people just don’t eat much at night-time…not even protein! I think this is due to erroneous advice passed on by some “genius” personal trainers over the world i.e. “Hey, don’t eat much in the evening because it will just turn to fat while you sleep.”
Nonsense! And a massive mistake…for your gains!
BUILD UP TO TWICE THE MUSCLE WHILE YOU SLEEP
Ok, here’s proof of twice the gains! A study  entitled ‘Protein Ingestion before Sleep Increases Muscle Mass and Strength Gains‘ was carried out on 42 men, putting them on a 12-week resistance training program
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Now back to the study…
- One group was given 28g protein and 15g carbs before sleep.
- The other group was given zero calories before sleep.
Scans were taken for muscle fiber size (quadriceps) and strength was measured via a 1-rep max test.
Strength increases were greater in the protein group and…the protein group saw twice the growth (hypertrophy). Results from the study were as follows:
“Muscle strength increased after resistance exercise training to a significantly greater extent in the protein-supplemented (PRO) group than in the placebo-supplemented (PLA) group. In addition, quadriceps muscle cross-sectional area increased in both groups over time, with a greater increase in the PRO group than in the PLA group (+8.4 ± 1.1 cm2 vs. +4.8 ± 0.8 cm2, respectively; P < 0.05). Both type I and type II muscle fiber size increased after exercise training (P < 0.001), with a greater increase in type II muscle fiber size in the PRO group (+2319 ± 368 μm2) than in the PLA group (+1017 ± 353 μm2; P < 0.05).”
Remember, as I’ve said before, it’s those type 2 fibers that are predominantly responsible for size gains.
How does this work? While sleeping your body repairs muscle tissue and releases growth hormone. If you don’t supply the building materials, you simply can’t get the job done i.e. you can’t grow. For more on this, see my post ‘What Happens To Your Body During 8hrs Sleep‘.
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So…if you want to grow, you’re going to need some food at night-time. But, in my opinion, 28g is not optimal – you can do better!
40g minimum is a great target to shoot for nighttime protein. Why?
Because of protein absorption rates. While whey protein in water can absorb quickly at 10g protein per hour, real food is much slower. A real food meal of say chicken (protein source) with some carbs and fat, will absorb at 3-5g protein per hour.
Let’s take the higher figure of 5g per hour. If you sleep for 8hrs, you need protein supplied for 8 hours. 8 x 5 = 40g protein. So that’s where my recommendation of at least 40g protein comes from.
Now, regarding supplementation, many people recommend Casein (UK casein) because it’s a slow-release protein. True. And yes it’s good. But real food gets the job done, too. And I like eating! So I just prefer food at bedtime.
Here are some great nighttime sources of protein to choose from:
Any combination of the above for about 40g protein (more if you’re going to be without food for longer than 8hrs).
Oh, and nighttime eating will not make you fat. What matters is your caloric intake over 24hrs. It all balances out, so eating most of your calories in the afternoon will do nothing special to keep you lean if your overall caloric intake is the same.
If you have any questions or comments, get in touch with me in the comments section below…
P.S. I know that putting together a diet for mass gains or getting shredded abs can be a pain in the butt, especially if you are new to this – that’s why I offer a service where I will do all the tough ground work for you.
You probably don’t know how many calories you need, or how many grams of protein, carbs or fat you need (based on your personal stats)…BUT I DO. Then I can take these numbers and create an exact meal plan for you to hit those numbers spot on! You’ll know what foods to eat and even when to eat them. All you have to do…is do it. No thinking involved. If you’d like me to take care of this for you, see the Get Me Shredded option on my Coaching Page here.
Ref:  Protein Ingestion before Sleep Increases Muscle Mass and Strength Gains during Prolonged Resistance-Type Exercise Training in Healthy Young Men
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