158-c : PROTEIN INTAKE BEFORE SLEEPING PROMOTES RECOVERY

Taking 40 grams of protein half an hour before bedtime can promote recovery from training. This emerges from a study conducted by the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands.

Strength training is required to get an increase in muscle strength and muscle mass. After strength training it appears that if there are not enough proteins available in the body a negative muscle protein synthesis may occur. That means more degradation than build-up of muscle protein. Hence, many athletes eat protein products after strength training. Protein is an essential nutrient for muscle production. Eating protein can therefore help to ensure that there is a positive balance in the muscle protein synthesis. Now it appears that there may arise a negative balance of protein synthesis at night after strength training, despite eating protein immediately after training. The researchers examined if with the intake of protein before bedtime, the negative balance may be converted into a positive balance for muscle protein synthesis.

In the study participated fifteen recreationally active men, averaging 23 years. Before the power training the food composition was similar for all participants. At 20:00 in the evening the participants started heavy strength training for the legs (leg press and leg extension). Immediately after the exertion all participants have drunk a drink containing 60 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of whey protein. At 23:30, half an hour before bedtime, 8 participants ingested 450 ml of water containing 40 grams of casein. Casein is a protein that is degraded less rapidly than, for example, whey protein.  The other seven participants drank only 450 ml of water. All drinks were flavored with artificial sweetener. During the night, blood was taken every half an hour. Before the beverage intake and 7.5 hours thereafter (after sleeping for 7 hours) a muscle biopsy was taken for measuring the protein metabolism in the muscle.

The survey shows that 50% of the ingested proteins actually became available to serve as muscle building blocks. This was reflected in the balance of muscle protein synthesis. This balance was positive in the group that had taken casein and negative in the group who drank only water (respectively 61 and -11 µmol / kg per 7.5 hours).

The researchers show that taking 40 grams of casein before bedtime on the day after a heavy weight training has a positive effect on the balance of muscle protein synthesis: muscle growth rather than muscle breakdown  Practically 40 grams of casein take just before bedtime is not easy and tasty. Possibly, this can be solved in the future by manipulating the flavor. The examiner admits that taking a little less might also enough, but however this is not yet proven.

All in all, it seems very worthwhile considering taking in 40 grams of casein before going to bed after a heavy weight training earlier that day in order to promote recovery.