Sports Nutrition Experts since 1993

Optimize your nighttime anabolism

  • amino acids
  • casein
  • protein
  • Sports nutrition

Do you want to optimize your muscle anabolism and in particular your nighttime anabolism? Nutrimuscle supports you with a lot of relevant information on the subject.

Optimize your muscle anabolism

At night, our muscles and nervous system are supposed to recover from the efforts of the day, provided in the weight room or in training.

While relaxation allows the nervous system to regenerate, the quality of muscle recovery depends in large part on nutritional intake.

Rate of nocturnal anabolism

By going without eating for a long time, the level of amino acids in the blood will gradually collapse during the night. As the rate of muscle protein synthesis (anabolism) as well as their rate of degradation (catabolism) are directly related to the level of amino acids in the blood, the night is often not as restorative as one might think. .

As the night progresses, the more the level of amino acids in the blood decreases, the more the power of anabolism will collapse. On the contrary, faced with the lack of amino acids in the blood, the body begins to draw from the muscles, thus accelerating catabolism.

So there is no miracle: no amino acids in the blood = no anabolism and a lot of catabolism. This all medical studies show.

The effects of lack of amino acids in the blood

For example, in men and women aged 20 to 41, a 12-hour night fast results in net muscle catabolism (1).

At the end of the night, the speed of muscle catabolism is twice as fast as that of anabolism: that's not how you gain muscle.

This anabolically catastrophic situation explains why just eating protein in the morning almost triples the extent of anabolism (1).

A mega dose of protein in the morning

Be careful, however, we recommend a mega dose of protein in the morning after the young at night, because the intestine will also consume a part of it which will therefore not go directly to our muscles.

In doing so, the net nitrogen balance of the muscles becomes positive again since anabolism then surpasses catabolism.

Converting catabolism into anabolism

There's a simple way to replace that nocturnal catabolism with strong anabolism: eat slow-acting protein before bed. It is this reversal that is perfectly illustrated by a scientific study from 2012.

Young men who did a 60-minute weight training session around 8 p.m. all received 20 g of protein + 60 g of carbohydrate immediately afterwards (2).

Then two groups were formed. Around 11 p.m., just before going to sleep, a first group received a drink containing 40 g of casein (a slowly digested and therefore long-acting protein). Another group received the same drink, but without the casein.

Without protein, the level of amino acids in the blood dropped overnight. With casein, instead of decreasing, the level of amino acids gradually increased. He stayed high all night long.

Action of casein during the night

Thanks to casein, the rate of protein synthesis remained 26% higher than with placebo. With casein, the catabolism was stemmed while it accelerated with the placebo. The balance between anabolism and catabolism therefore remains positive with casein while it is very negative with placebo.

The net lean mass gain reached 61 mol per pound during the period with casein compared to a loss of 11 mol per pound with the placebo. We therefore find the catabolic phenomena of which we spoke previously when we do not eat protein before going to sleep.

If we look at what is happening more specifically in the muscles, the difference in anabolism is 22% greater with casein than without it.

Muscle anabolism: conclusion

It seems obvious that if we want to achieve muscle growth, we must take protein especially before going to bed, because it is not by eating nothing that we will be able to develop. If it goes without saying, it gets even better by saying it!

Scientific references

(1) Levenhagen DK. Postexercise nutrient intake timing in humans is critical to recovery of leg glucose and protein homeostasis. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Jun;280(6):E982-93.

(2) Peter T. Protein Ingestion Prior To Sleep Improves Post-Exercise Overnight Recovery. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: POST ACCEPTANCE, 9 February 2012 Res.

Written on 12/28/2021 by Nutrimuscle Conseil
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