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For more muscle, do this 30 minutes before bed



What We Know About Protein Intake

The following are the three key variables that control muscle protein net balance and synthesis:

Protein concentration
Protein of high quality
Protein synthesis time

Factors one and two have been very well nailed down by science.

In terms of quantity, the most recent research reveals that the ideal amount of protein for strength athletes is 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.

In terms of protein quality, the most recent research indicates that milk protein concentrate (casein) is the highest-quality protein, followed by whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate, which have DIASS scores of 141, 133, and 125, respectively. (For example, pea protein has a score of 73, which is considered anemic.)

When it comes to the third aspect, protein timing, scientists are still attempting to synchronize their watches in this crucial area. We've always assumed that a pretty consistent protein consumption throughout the day is ideal for muscle growth, but a recent Japanese study proved this to be accurate.

Regardless of total daily protein intake, the researchers discovered that ingesting excessive amounts of protein during breakfast and lunch, particularly breakfast, had a negative impact on muscle protein synthesis.

Even though both groups consumed the same amount of total daily protein, a group of individuals given a high-protein breakfast gained nearly 40% more muscle than a group given a low-protein meal.

Even among those who do a good job of maintaining their protein intake appropriate and consistent throughout the day, the majority of people go through a protein "fast" before going to bed. If they have their last meal at 8 p.m., for example, they are likely to go for 8 to 10 or even 12 hours without any dietary protein.

Ingesting protein right before bedtime is a typical advise, but how crucial is this practice for muscle protein synthesis? A recent meta-study looked into this matter and discovered that it's a bedtime habit that any strength athlete should develop, much like brushing their teeth or putting on their pajamas.

30 Minutes Before Bedtime: Casein

If you're unfamiliar with the term "meta" research, they're statistical assessments of several studies on the same subject. As a result, they frequently point to truths or fallacies with far greater vehemence than a single study might.

This meta-study looked at nine studies about the impact of nighttime protein ingestion on muscle protein synthesis. Here's what they came up with, in their own words:

“In young and older men, consuming 20-40 grams of casein 30 minutes before bedtime enhances whole-body protein synthesis rates over the following overnight period” (preceded or not by resistance exercise, respectively).

Furthermore, pre-sleep protein consumption can boost the muscle adaptation response (muscle fiber cross-sectional area, strength, and mass) following 10-12 weeks of resistance training in young men, but not in old men.”

Even a large survey of athletes done between 1999 and 2002 was highlighted by the researchers. “Those who ingested larger amounts of protein (20-30g) in the evening had larger leg lean mass and knee extensor strength than those who consumed protein in the afternoon,” they discovered.

Also of note, but perhaps not surprising, was the fact that pre-sleep protein had little effect on endurance athletes.

What Should I Do With This Information?

We've all certainly heard and practiced consuming protein before bedtime at some point in our lifting careers, but most of us simply stopped doing it. We either underestimate its significance or fear that consuming a protein drink may force us to wake up in the middle of the night to relieve ourselves.

If the former is your excuse, this essay should persuade you otherwise — it's crucial. If the latter is your justification, that's OK, but you don't need to mix your protein in Big-Gulp volumes of liquid. A scoop or two of high-quality protein powder without thickeners, such as Metabolic Drive®, will easily dissolve in three or four ounces of liquid, barely enough to fill your sleepy-time bladder.

You could also consume a protein-rich whole-food source. It may not be as effective as a protein drink because it takes longer to digest, but it's better than nothing.