One area that many individuals fail to optimize is their pre bed nutritional strategy. While histroically we’ve been falsely told that we shouldn’t eat after 6 or 7:00, there are a few reasons why you should consider having BCAAS before bed.
Branched chain amino acids are critically involved in activating muscle protein synthesis, new muscle growth. In addition the three BCAAS, leucine, isoleucine and valine, provide the needed building blocks for new muscle growth. BCAAs are extremely popular pre workout and intra workout supplements and are frequently used in between meals and post workout for muscle recovery and growth.
So why would you look to take your bcaas before bed and what are the potential nighttime advantages?
BCAAS have been shown to lower cortisol levels and elevate growth hormone levels. While both were shown to taken place during exercise, the studies hint at the fact that BCAAS act on critical pathways involved in muscle recovery. Cortisol and growth hormone both play important roles during sleep, cortisol is typically lower and growth hormone elevates.
Additional studies show that BCAAS enhance immune function and increase midtochodrnial function which are both needed for recovery.
Shouldn’t I just eat a meal or have a whey protein shake before bed?
There’s a few reasons why I would recommend BCAAS before bed over a whey shake or full meal
1) Calorie balance. Weight loss and muscle gain without fat loss is about total caloric balance. If you find the need to eat a full meal before bed then you must make sure it fits within your daily totals or else you’re just overeating, no matter how clean the meal is.
2) Digestive health. Some people just don’t want a full meal late at night. The idea of consuming another balanced meal with a lean protein source and fat or carbohydrates with some vegetables just doesn’t sound appealing when you had similar a few hours before.
3) Weight loss. As I mentioned in the first point, body composition is about caloric balance. BCAAS don’t raise insulin levels to the point that fat loss is inhibited yet it has a positive impact on muscle growth so BCAAS before bed can positively impact body composition.
4) Food allergies. While I am a fan of whey protein post workout and in a pinch,I don’t want you drinking whey shakes all day since dairy is a immunogenic food that potentially negatively impacts gut health. BCAAS won’t cause any inflammatory response or digestive discomfort before bed.
The case is clear, if muscle growth and body composition is your goal then consider using 1 scoop of Physique Formula BCAAS before bed.
Anthony, J. C., Yoshizawa, F., Anthony, T. G., Vary, T. C., Jefferson, L. S., Kimball, S. R. (2000) Leucine stimulates translation inititation in skeletal muscle of postabsorptive rats via a rapamycin-sensitive pathway. J. Nutr. 130: 2413-2419.
Crozier, S. J., Kimball, S.R., Emmert, S. W., Anthony, J. C., Jefferson, L.S. (2005) Oral leucine administration stimulates protein synthesis in rat skeletal muscle. J. Nutr. 135: 376-382.
Crowe, M. J., et al. Effects of dietary leucine supplementation on exercise performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 Aug;97(6):664-72.
Bolster, D. R., Crozier, S. J., Kimball, S. R., Jefferson, L. S. (2002) AMP-activated protein kinase suppresses protein synthesis in rat skeletal muscle through down-regulated mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling. J. Biol. Chem. 277: 23977-23980.
Koopman R, Wagenmakers AJ, Manders RJ, Zorenc AH, Senden JM, Gorselink M, Keizer HA, van Loon LJ. (2005) Combined ingestion of protein and free leucine with carbohydrate increases postexercise muscle protein synthesis in vivo in male subjects. Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab. 288(4): E645-653