If you fall into the habit of eating dinner, hitting the gym, and then going straight to bed, you may be starving your body of needed protein to build muscles, according to new research from the Netherlands.
“We previously established that muscle protein synthesis rates [i.e. building muscles] are quite low during overnight recovery,” says study author Luc J.C. van Loon, Ph.D., professor of physiology of exercise at Maastricht University Medical Center. “As this might be attributed to the fact that there are not as many amino acids available during the night.”
So researchers questioned whether protein eaten before bed could be effectively digested and provide enough amino acids to stimulate muscle growth while sleeping.
They asked two groups of 8 men to perform leg extensions and presses for 45 minutes starting at 8 p.m. Afterward, one group received an additional protein shake prior to sleep, while the other group received water with some flavoring.
The study found that those who took the protein shake right before sleep increased overnight muscle protein synthesis by more than 22 percent compared to those who drank the flavored water.