Knowing what to eat before you go to bed can be an important part of your diet especially when looking to build muscle.
Eating before you go to bed can help keep the body in an anabolic state and prevent your body from eating up muscle tissue. One thing you should know about eating before you go to bed is that you will not gain weight if your diet is in check and you are not consuming more calories than your body burns. As myths have it, the most popular myth out there regarding eating before you go to bed is that it will cause you to get fat. Eating before bed will make you put on weight, eating before bed will make you fat, eating before bed will make you blah blah blah. Its complete rubbish and is only a myth so there’s no need for you to worry.
When athletes are working out and focusing on building muscle it’s actually quite important that you don’t go to bed on an empty stomach. When we go to bed our bodies go a long time without food, usually around 7 to 10 hours. As an athlete or bodybuilder, you will know that going without food for 7-10 hours is a big no-no and you should, therefore, eat before you go to bed to provide your body and muscles with some sort of nutrients throughout the night.
Having a lack of nutrients in your body can result in a risk of losing muscle as it may be used and burned off by your body for energy. Eating before bed is not only good for preserving muscle but can also keep you filled up and satisfied throughout the night. Another benefit of having a quick snack before bed is that it can help you sleep better. Others will disagree with this last statement but there are also plenty of others who will agree that eating a small meal before they go to bed does actually help them sleep better.
Ok, now that we have established that eating before bed is beneficial and does not make us fat let’s take a look at the type of foods we should be eating before bed. So, what types of foods should I be eating before I go to bed I hear you ask? Good question.
The types of food we should be eating before going to bed are slow digesting foods such as a slow digesting protein source, fibrous carbs or healthy fats. Maybe even a combination of the three, the choice is yours. A complex carb may also be consumed although this is not entirely necessary. If you do decide upon a complex carb just make sure you don’t eat too much of them. A slow digesting protein source should be the main focal point of your last meal before bed as this will help supply your muscles with a slow but constant supply of protein throughout the night helping your muscles to recover and grow stronger whilst keeping your body in an anabolic state. Keeping your body in an anabolic state is extremely important. What this basically means is that your body is in the perfect state through hard training and good nutrition to repair and build new muscle tissue.
Supplying your body with the correct nutrition is therefore vital if you wish to give your body the best possible chance of building muscle. Remember that the longer you can keep your body in an anabolic state the longer it can spend rebuilding muscle tissue which as an athlete/bodybuilder, is exactly what we want.
Let’s now get back to looking at the importance of using a slow digesting protein source before bed. The best type of slow digesting protein source to eat before bed is casein protein. Casein protein is the protein found in milk and makes up around 80% of the protein in milk with the remaining 20% being whey protein. Casein protein is known as an extremely slow digesting protein as when it enters the body it forms a kind of gel like substance in the stomach resulting in a slow but steady release of amino acids (amino acids are what make up proteins). Casein protein can remain in the bloodstream for as long as 7 hours which is why it’s perfect to consume casein protein before bed. Your best bet is to purchase a casein protein shake and consume 1-2 scoops each night before you go to bed.
A lot of people however like to take a protein shake before bed consisting of whey protein. Now, this isn’t a bad thing but it is not ideal. Whey protein is known for its quick absorption rates which is why it’s not the best choice just before bed. Whey protein may last around 60-90 minutes in the bloodstream before it is properly absorbed by your body.
Now we’ve gone over the types of foods you should be consuming and eating before you go to bed, let’s take a look at a few examples of what sort of meals/snacks you can have before bed:
- 1-2 scoops of casein mixed with 150 ml of milk
- A cup or two of low-fat cottage cheese
- 1-2 large glass of milk and a handful of almonds
- Low fat cottage cheese and 1-2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter
- Low fat cottage cheese and a handful of almonds
Each of the foods in the above examples contains sufficient amounts of casein protein and will help supply your muscles with a slow steady release of protein throughout the night. You will probably also notice that I have included some healthy fats in there as well. Healthy fats taken with a protein source is another great way to slow down absorption rates of certain foods as fats take a long time for your body to break down meaning they are digested quite slowly, similar to casein. The above examples are some of the best quickly prepared snacks you can eat before going to bed but this doesn’t mean you have to eat one of these meals. I know that for some people fitting in meals and working out around a busy work schedule can be extremely hard so their last meal of the day could be a full blown meal. Don’t worry too much if this is the case. Stick to eating a mixture of fibrous carbs, protein and maybe some healthy fats before you go to bed and you will still reap some of the benefits that eating before bed can give you.
I know I haven’t gone into too much detail about fibrous carbohydrates during this article so before we go let me just give you a quick list of some fibrous carbs that you may wish to use in your meal/snack before bed. Fibrous carbs usually consist of any dark green leafy vegetables such as asparagus, peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, garlic, lettuce and spinach. Tomatoes are also considered a fibrous carb. So there you have it, you should now have a reasonably good understanding of the kinds of foods you should be eating before bed in order to preserve as much muscle mass as possible throughout the night. Search for more great content below!