Building muscle is not only about what you do in the gym, but also what you do outside of it. One of the most important factors that affects your muscle growth is your sleep quality. Getting enough sleep is essential for your body to recover, repair, and grow after a hard workout. But did you know that there is a simple habit you can do before bed that might boost your muscle gains even more?
According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition1, drinking a protein shake before bed can increase your muscle mass and strength. The researchers found that people who drank a casein shake with about 30 grams of protein right before bed on days they lifted and on days they rested for 12 weeks gained more muscle mass —about four pounds—and strength than those who drank a non-protein placebo.
Casein is a type of protein that is slowly digested and absorbed by your body, which means it can provide a steady supply of amino acids to your muscles throughout the night. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are essential for muscle synthesis and repair. By drinking a casein shake before bed, you can prevent your muscles from breaking down during the fasting period of sleep and stimulate more muscle growth.
However, not all protein shakes are created equal. The study also found that whey protein, which is a fast-digesting protein, did not have the same effect as casein when consumed before bed. Whey protein is better suited for post-workout recovery, as it can quickly deliver amino acids to your muscles and spike your insulin levels, which can enhance nutrient uptake and glycogen replenishment.
So, if you want to maximize your muscle gains, you should consider adding a casein shake to your pre-sleep routine. You can also combine it with some healthy fats, such as nuts or peanut butter, to slow down the digestion even more and provide some extra calories. However, be careful not to overdo it, as consuming too many calories before bed can lead to weight gain and disrupt your sleep quality.
Another thing you can do to improve your sleep quality and muscle growth is to practice some relaxation techniques before bed, such as meditation, breathing exercises, or progressive muscle relaxation2. These methods can help you reduce stress and anxiety, which can interfere with your sleep and hormone levels. Stress can increase the production of cortisol, a hormone that can break down muscle tissue and inhibit growth hormone secretion. By relaxing your mind and body before bed, you can lower your cortisol levels and increase your growth hormone levels, which can enhance your muscle recovery and growth.
To sum up, if you want to build more muscle, you should not neglect the importance of sleep and what you do before it. Drinking a casein shake before bed can provide your muscles with a sustained source of amino acids and prevent catabolism during the night. Practicing some relaxation techniques before bed can also help you fall asleep faster and improve your hormonal balance. By following these simple pre-sleep habits, you might see some impressive results in your muscle mass and strength over time.