Grow While You Sleep: Bedtime Muscle Building Meal and Supplement Plan
A misconception some have is they believe they grow while they’re pounding away at those 45 pound plates in the gym. But the truth is your muscles don’t grow during your workout, though it may seem that way due to the pump you get while you’re training. Rather your muscles grow when you’re resting and replenishing them with nutrients. We’ve heard it like a broken record; your body must get proper rest and nutrition in order to grow. The timing on this is crucial as well. For starters, you should never allow yourself to feel hungry (this is why many bodybuilders and weight training guru’s tell you to eat several times a day). And we all know how important post workout nutrition. Also, if you’re missing sleep then you’re cheating yourself of some serious muscle gains.
Another critical time to get the proper nutrients in your body is before bed. You’re about to go on a seven to eight hour fast. If you’re not careful, you could not only prevent yourself from gaining muscle, you could be losing muscle. Granted, you need the undisturbed rest, and I’m not going to go as far as to say you need to wake up every two hours to eat although some professional bodybuilders have been known to do this. Instead, I’m going to give you some fundamentals in regards to nutrition and supplements to take before bedtime to ensure muscle repair and muscle growth.
Bedtime Bodybuilding Meal
Assuming you had a healthy protein-rich meal at dinner time, there’s at least one more meal (depending on how late you stay up) you need to fit in before you retire for the evening. This final meal should be high in protein and possibly some healthy fats, but low in carbohydrates. Naturally you would want to go with casein protein powder because its slow-digesting, meaning it will stay with you throughout most of the night constantly releasing amino acids. Milk is a decent substitute for this as it consists of casein protein. Personally, I make a whey protein shake with milk (usually a couple scoops of whey protein isolate with 10-12 ounces of milk) and I may take a couple of flaxseed capsules. The bottom line is you need to supply your body with muscle building nutrition before bed in order to grow. If you don’t want to go with a shake, then you could have some sort of meat such as a chicken breast or a steak, or even some eggs. Eat this about an hour before bedtime.
Bedtime Bodybuilding Supplements
The meal you eat before bedtime is more important than supplements (as nutrition in general outweighs the benefits any supplement could ever grant you). In the event you can fit supplements into your budget, I’ll give you a quick cocktail you can take right before you turn in for the night. The most beneficial supplement you can take for recovery is glutamine. Take anywhere from five to ten grams of glutamine with a little water right before bed and you’re set to induce your natural growth hormone levels while you sleep, not to mention some serious muscle growth. In the past, I’ve done 10 grams of glutamine before bedtime. If you feel you want to take more supplements, the next best thing is BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids) as they’re also good for recovery. Another great bedtime supplement you can take is ZMA. ZMA (a precise combination of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6) has been said to increase natural testosterone levels. One of the effects that’s noticed by many from ZMA is the deep sleep (and in some cases, weird dreams).
Food is the most anabolic substance you can take to get bigger, stronger, and leaner. So it makes sense to give your body an adequate serving of protein and nutrients. This is vital to build muscle. Supplements should be secondary. However, supplements can indeed be helpful for building muscle if they’re taken at the right times, and of course if your nutrition and training is on key.
Train with Passion,