Protein Before Bedtime Boosts Muscle Mass and Strength Gains
Title: Protein Ingestion before Sleep Increases Muscle Mass and Strength Gains during Prolonged Resistance-Type Exercise Training in Healthy Young Men
Author: Snidjers et al
Journal: Journal of Nutrition
Objective: To assess the impact of dietary protein supplementation before sleep on muscle mass and strength gains during resistance-type exercise training
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Resistance training is the primary mechanism through which the body builds skeletal muscle mass. This occurs naturally during our youth as we grow, and then becomes a more deliberate process as we train in the gym or for sports. Resistance exercise stimulates skeletal muscle metabolism, both anabolic and catabolic, with a net growth provided the availability of the necessary protein.
Timing of protein intake is an area of interest to medical professionals, athletic trainers, professional athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Protein intake has been shown to stimulate muscle growth, especially after exercise.This includes muscle mass, muscle fiber size and strength. However when to consume the protein remains somewhat controversial.
The authors of this study demonstrated previously that protein intake prior to sleep is digested properly and and absorbed, resulting in net dietary intake overnight. This resulted in a net skeletal muscle synthesis increase of 22%. They then hypothesized that this would improve muscle mass and strength gains.
44 men (avg age 22) were randomly assigned to a progressive, 12-wk resistance exercise training program.
One intervention group consumed a protein supplement containing 27.5 g of protein, 15 g of carbohydrate, and 0.1 g of fat every night before sleep.
The control group received a noncaloric placebo.
Muscle hypertrophy was assessed on a wholebody DEXA scan ( aka dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), limb CT scan (aka computed tomography scan), and muscle fiber (muscle biopsy specimen) level before and after exercise training.
Strength was assessed regularly by 1-repetition maximum strength testing.
Compared to placebo group, net muscle strength over all exercises increased to a significantly greater extent in the protein supplemented group (+164 +/- 11 kg and +130 +/- 9 kg, respectively; P < 0.001).
Quadriceps muscle cross-sectional area increased in both groups over time (P < 0.001), with a greater increase in the protein supplement group than in the placebo group (+8.4 +/- 1.1 cm2 vs. +4.8 +/- 0.8 cm2, respectively; P < 0.05).
Both type I and type II muscle fiber size increased after exercise training (P < 0.001), with a greater increase in type II muscle fiber size in the PRO group (+2319 +/- 368 mm2) than in the PLA group (+1017 +/- 353 mm2; P < 0.05).
Protein ingestion before sleep represents an effective dietary strategy to increases skeletal muscle mass, strength, and muscle fiber size in young men participating in resistance exercise training.
This study confirms the author's “observations that provision of dietary protein before sleep is well received and well tolerated by athletes”.
Snijders, T., Res, P. T., & Smeets, J. S. (2015). Protein Ingestion before Sleep Increases Muscle Mass and Strength Gains during Prolonged Resistance-Type Exercise Training in Healthy Young Men. Journal of Nutrition, 145(6), 1178-1184. doi:10.3945/jn.114.208371