Imagine that you can build muscle while you are sleeping. That would be awesome, right ? Researchers from the Netherlands claim that a protein shake before bed will speed up the process of skeletal muscle building and regeneration.
During a 3 month study, scientists from Maastricht University, Netherlands studied 44 fit men. Half of the subjects were given casein protein right before they went to bed (30g of casein and 15 of carbohydrates). The other half of the subjects were given a non-alcoholic placebo drink. All of the subjects followed an intense weightlifting routine as a part of a wider training program.
“In recent years, food ingestion prior to sleep has received considerable media attention. It has previously been assumed that food intake should be limited or avoided in the hours close to night-time sleep as it would have a negative impact on body composition and overall health, increasing the risk for cardiovascular diseases, such as obesity and diabetes [see also (9) for an extensive review]. Although this may be true when food is ingested in large quantities at night, more recent studies investigating the impact of smaller and single macronutrient (i.e., protein) foods have demonstrated positive physiological outcomes in humans. In addition, the benefits of night-time supply of nutrients for overnight recovery have been suggested to support muscle reconditioning and improve physical performance in athletes. “
“Several one-night studies have shown pre-sleep protein intake increases muscle protein synthesis during overnight sleep in young adults,” said Dr Tim Snijders, from Maastricht University.
“These have fuelled the idea that over a longer period, a pre-sleep protein supplement can maximise the strength and muscle mass gains during regular resistance exercise training.”
At the end of the study, both groups were able to lift (squat) heavier weights, but in the group that consumed casein, the increase in strength and especially size was way more significant. At the same time the subjects didn’t gain a significant amount of body fat, even though they were consuming additional calories.
In fact it appears that the casein stimulates the body to burn fat more effectively.
According to Dr Snijders this might be happening because “casein ingestion reduces the insulin response to subsequent meals, which pushes your body to use more fat.”
Additionally Dr Snijders says that : “It has been consistently shown that pre-sleep protein ingestion has no effect on sleep onset latency or sleep quality”.