Pillow time is when your body is installing the gains you’ve made during training. Here’s the dietary ammunition to safeguard your sleep quality for maximum rewards
Dr Gabriel Wilson your expert is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with a passion for helping athletes achieve the maximum results from their nutrition, supplement and training plans.
Here is the food to eat before bed for maximum muscle and recovery:
Sleep to recover muscle growth and performance
Every night something almost magical happens in your body. Sleep is when you’re primed to recover and release the anabolic hormones that enhance your muscles’ ability to grow. Unfortunately, in today’s society, sleep plays second fiddle to late nights.
The typical recommendation is eight hours of respite per night. However, groundbreaking research by Dr James Maas, as detailed in Sleep To Win, showed athletes need even more sleep than sedentary people, and that about 9.25 hours of shuteye may be necessary to optimise muscle growth, recovery and performance. The research showed that athletes who get more than nine hours of sleep daily improved their performance by up to 40%, reduced signs and symptoms of overtraining, and also improved their focus, concentration and motivation to exercise.
Regardless of how much you get, if you’re a lifter or fitness fan and don’t supply your body with the right nutrients, a critical opportunity for muscle growth and performance adaptations is wasted.
We’re not here to tell you to switch off your phone so you’re not disturbed. However, we will explain how to get more out of your snooze to create a unique state called anabolic sleep, that’ll ensure you always wake up better than you were yesterday.
Now, don’t get us wrong, there isn’t a single best food to eat before bed – it’s more like ‘foods’, so without further a do, let’s get you recovered and growing in your sleep.
Sleep your hormones stronger
The most powerful muscle-building hormones are growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and testosterone. During sleep, your body can generate very high levels of these hormones – but it needs help from you by using the following ingredients.
Go green for GH and IGF-1
A new type of green tea extract can support up to a 321% increase in GH and a 24% increase in IGF-1; it’s called Green Select Phytosome and has been shown to be up to five times more bioavailable than normal green tea. Be aware, this is not a sipping tea – you can only get it in adequate amounts to score these benefi ts if you supplement using the above product.
Zinc for more testosterone
Testosterone is touted by many as the king of muscle-building hormones. One of the best testosterone boosters is ZMA, a synergistic blend of minerals shown to support testosterone and muscle building when taken prior to sleep. Foods rich in zinc include oysters and red meat, but these aren’t always something you can eat easily before bed, so an easy snack like pumpkin seeds, cashews or a cocoa powder drink will do the job.
Keep your protein high
Have a protein blend with fast, medium and slow-digesting proteins. Research in the Journal of Applied Physiology shows that having a protein blend of whey, soy and casein is seven times more anabolic than having whey protein alone. You can get whey and casein from natural sources like yogurt, cottage cheese and milk, which can make good night-time snacks.
Leucine for optimal protein synthesis
This amino acid is a key controller of building brawn. Exciting new research shows that a substance left over after the leucine is digested, called KIC, has a synergistic role with leucine in promoting greater muscle anabolism (growth). KIC has the added benefit of helping reduce muscle protein breakdown, also known as catabolism. Like zinc, you can get leucine in high amounts from animal meats, but a better bedtime snack is pumpkin seeds or peanuts.
Supplement your sleep
Regardless of how much shuteye you clock, you want to optimise your sleep quality. By stimulating four key signals in your brain during sleep – GABA, melatonin, serotonin and dopamine – you can help promote a calm and restful slumber and will wake up feeling more refreshed. Ingredients that can help support these sleep pathways include 5-HTP (a precursor to serotonin), L-dopa, valerian root extract and direct intake of GABA and melatonin.
To get melatonin naturally you can tuck into a few walnuts, found research in the journal Nutrition. To get the full effect of these compounds and create anabolic sleep, try a supplement like MHP’s 5D-Tropin which has Green Select Phytosome shown to optimise GH, IGF-1 and ZMA for testosterone, as well as a tri-plex protein synthesis-accelerating blend featuring leucine and KIC. This will help you get to sleep easier, as well as recover and build muscle faster while you slumber.
If you’re bulking up and want some carbs, choose rice pudding over the late night toast. Research in the journal PLOS One found that people who ate rice had better sleep quality than those who filled up on breads and noodles.
Crunch down on insomnia
Getting to the land of nod quickly is best done with a combination of sleep ingredients. Research in Current Signal Transduction Therapy found that elderly people who took magnesium had improved sleep quality. Fortunately, you’ll also find this handy mineral in yogurt, nuts, cocoa powder and seeds.
Your ultimate pre-sleep snacks
1-2 cups rice pudding topped with:
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp cashew nuts, crushed
1 tbsp walnuts, crushed ½ tsp cocoa powder
This meal will help give you all the protein you need to finance nocturnal muscle growth and optimise your health so you’re ready to hit new personal bests in tomorrow’s workout.
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