Top Tips on Night-Time Nutrition

25 Jun 2013

The time we spend sleeping is so important to our training since it's during this time that our muscles recover, our body's produce the most growth hormone, we replenish critical neurotransmitters that are needed for motivation and focus and our immune systems are rejuvenated. Here we take a look at the supplements that you could take to further enhance the benefits you get from sleep and explain how it then benefits your training as a result.

Slow Releasing Protein for Night-Time Nutrition

Perhaps the best way to increase the benefits you get from sleep is to take 30g of a slow releasing protein like casein before bed. This is because experts have shown this is the best way to slowly drip feed amino acids to your muscles throughout the night and therefore ensure your muscles are still receiving the nutrients they need to repair and regrow, even during the 7-10 hours you are sleeping and not eating. Some bodybuilders will also wake up in the middle of the night to have a protein shake (known as 'nocturnal feeding') however it's argued by some experts that if you're asleep, you should stay asleep and not interfere with the release of growth hormone that is currently happening. Otherwise however feel they get the best gains from this, therefore it is down to personal preference.

L-Lysine and l-Arginine for Night-Time Nutrition

Experts believe that your body produces up to 70% of its total human growth hormone secretion whilst you sleep (growth hormone is obviously a very powerful anabolic, muscle building and rejuvenating hormone). The good news is that research conducted at the University of Rome found that athletes who used a L-Arginine and L-Lysine supplement before bed actually increased their growth hormone levels far more than those who didn't, meaning if you wanted to further get the benefits of sleep and increased growth hormone, these 2 amino acids could be a great way to do it.

Glutamine for Night-Time Nutrition

Getting enough sleep is also essential to strengthening the immune system, which is so important for athletes since their immune systems may become badly affected from training too hard. But scientists from the University College of Dublin also found that the amino acid glutamine could actually enhance the immune boosting properties of sleep and adding 5g to your pre-bedtime shake could enhance it further.

HMB for Night-Time Nutrition

One concern during sleep is that your obviously not eating, therefore you do run the risk of starving your muscles and possibly risk them breaking down. But supplementing with the amino acid HMB (beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate) has been shown to delay the breakdown of muscle protein, promote tissue growth and strengthen the immune system. So again adding a few grams of this to your bedtime shake could help to make your sleep more anabolic and less catabolic.

ZMA for Night-Time Nutrition

One of the most commonly used supplements before bed is ZMA, which is a combination of zinc and magnesium both of which are essential dietary minerals. In a study presented at the 46th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Seattle it was reported that ZMA supplementation given to competitive NCAA football players for 8 weeks (nightly) resulted in 2.5 times greater muscle strength gains compared to the placebo group. Experts said this increase in muscle strength could be attributed to the anabolic hormone increases in the ZMA group, more specifically the ZMA group showed a 30% increase in free and total testosterone levels compared to 10% decreases in the placebo group. The ZMA group also had a slight increase in insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels compared to a 20% decrease in the placebo group.