We might be less physically active while we sleep, but our bodies still quietly process what they need to stay healthy and strong. Our muscles require specific building blocks if we want them to grow, but we have to take the right approach in fueling them if we want maximum results. With the right timing, we can even do some of the work in our sleep. See how…
Our bodies need exercise and protein to build muscle, and we’re wasting our efforts if we can’t give it both. Our bodies synthesize new muscle tissue at their fastest up to 4 hours after an intense workout, but continue building new muscle for up to 24 hours. Adding a high-protein snack before bed will give your body the added building blocks it needs to continue making new muscle as you sleep.
How Your Muscles Grow
Your muscles use much of the protein from your diet just to maintain their size. They need intense exercise like weight training, along with added protein, if you want them to grow. Not all the protein in the world will help you build muscle without exercise, and you’re wasting your time lifting weights if you’re not getting enough protein. This is because of the way muscle tissue forms.
Intense exercise creates tiny tears throughout the muscle fibers, essentially injuring them. These microscopic injuries prompt the body to send in repair crews composed of satellite cells, which bind to the damaged areas and synthesize protein to fortify the muscle fibers. This results in new layers of muscle that can build upon one another over time and create more muscle growth.
Timing It All
In one study, 44 young, healthy men were divided into 2 groups. One group consumed supplement shakes before bed, taking in 27.5 grams of protein, 15 grams of carbohydrates and 0.1 grams of fat each night. The other consumed a placebo that had zero caloric content. Both adhered to the same 12-week exercise regimen. At the end of the study, the group that consumed the nightly protein shakes had significantly more muscle growth than the placebo group.
This is because how you time your protein consumption can determine how effectively your body is able to use it. You build the most muscle within 4 hours of working out, so some added protein during this time is also important — but protein synthesis can continue for up to 24 hours. Your muscles will continue building as long as they have a continued supply of building blocks, but you’re likely to have depleted much of your supply by bedtime. With that added boost of protein, you’re adding to potential muscle your body could be growing while you sleep.
You can maximize your muscle growth by strength training regularly and giving your body the fuel it needs to synthesize protein day and night. Add a high-protein snack to your nightly ritual and see the results for yourself. What could be easier than building extra muscle while you sleep?
Many thanks to our friends at Wellness.com for contributing this piece!
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