Protein at Night: Eating & Sleeping for Recovery
We need protein for maintaining and building muscle.
Let’s talk specifically about the importance of protein intake for recovery while you sleep. Not all protein is created equal and there are optimal times to consume it. To maximize your protein intake and recovery, read on!
Eat Protein Before Bed
It’s ideal to include protein in every meal, but save a good portion of it for dinner. Ideally, 2-3 hours before bed. The reason being, sleep is regenerative.
A lot happens while you sleep, but for the sake of this article, let’s focus on the fact that muscle is both lost and built during the sleep cycle. How you balance your activity with your protein intake determines how effective your recovery will be.
The body rebuilds muscle through a process called protein synthesis. When you do physically demanding activities, you essentially damage muscle tissue and, depending on the resources your body has to work with, it will either repair it or let it waste away.
If you go to bed WITHOUT eating enough protein your body can’t produce enough protein synthesis to rebuild the muscle.
If you DO eat adequate protein your body will produce enough protein synthesis and rebuild the damaged protein. Yay!
When and How Much Protein?
- Spread your protein intake evenly throughout the day, including some in every meal.
- Save your largest serving of protein for the day for your last meal, 2-3 hours before bed, because it’s the last meal you will have for 6-8 hours.
- Protein intake is different for everyone, but the more active you are, the higher your protein requirements are.
“Casein” Point: Sleep is Fasted
While we sleep, we’re in a fasted state because we’re not eating for 6-8 hours. Different protein types release into the body at different rates.
Casein protein is a slow-digesting protein and is great before bedtime because it keeps you stocked up while you’re sleeping, releasing into your system slower than other proteins.
Why is a slow release of protein better, you ask? Imagine I forced you to drink a whole gallon of water at 6 am. Not only would it be difficult, but most of it would flush straight through you because your body cannot utilize that much water at once. Had you savored that gallon throughout the day, you’d actually be better hydrated than drinking it all at once.
The same goes for protein while you sleep, but rather than waking up 2-3 times a night to ingest protein, casein protein will slowly release the protein. How amazing is that?
Where can I get Casein?
We don’t recommend supplements over whole foods and we certainly don’t back supplement brands often, but we’ve tried, tested and absolutely love Ascent Protein. We recommend their casein protein to our clients if they need a protein powder. It tastes really good, dissolves well and has a great macronutrient profile.
What draws us to Ascent’s most is what isn’t in it. The ingredients are super simple: no artificial ingredients, no gluten and the BCAAs and essential amino acids are naturally occurring. That kind of thing is really important to WAG if we’re going to be recommending a supplement.
Keep an eye out for some of our casein protein powder recipes on the blog in a few days. They’re great additions to your dessert!
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