I already debunked the myth that you shouldn’t eat right before going to bed in a different post. It’s one of those myths you hear all the time and one that doesn’t seem to die down.
But if you are hitting the gym and want to build muscle you might be on the other end of the spectrum. You want to eat at night to make sure you give your body enough nutrients for muscle growth. The problem is you might not know what to eat to achieve this.
Here is my advice to you:
Building muscle comes down to a few things, mostly creating the right stimulus through your workout and giving your body the necessary building blocks to repair and grow muscle tissue. The most important nutritional building blocks are of course a few extra calories and enough protein.
These two aspects, a small calorie surplus and your macronutrients, are by far the most important factors to successful muscle growth.
That said, the right muscle building diet should make room for correct meal timing. And this is where healthy muscle building snacks right before bedtime come into play.
What should you eat before bed to ensure muscle growth during your sleep?
Your best bet for a nighttime snack is protein.
Because unlike for fat and carbs, our body does not have a dedicated storage system for protein. So it does make sense to regularly consume some protein throughout the day.
That doesn’t mean of course that you will lose muscle unless you drink a protein shake every 3 hours as it was believed for so long. In fact, you won’t actually lose muscle until your glycogen stores are depleted which takes a lot longer than 3 hours.
But it still makes sense to get a good amount of protein before a longer fast so your body can continue to build more muscle. Sleeping classifies as a longer fast, so getting some protein before you sleep is a good idea.
How much protein and what kind is best before bed?
As you probably know whey protein is usually considered the most complete protein source in regards to muscle growth. That’ because of its good amino acid profile and how fast its digested.
But this fast rate of digestion can be a problem before you go to bed. Your body will process around 10 grams of whey protein per hour, which means that a normal shake of 30 grams will last you 3 hours, which is less than your normal night of sleep.
So to prolong the effect of protein digestion you can do two things. You can change the protein source to a slower digesting one like egg protein or casein protein, which are absorbed a lot slower.
Or you can add some healthy fat to your bedtime snack, which also slows down digestion. That’s also why many fitness coaches recommend a protein avocado mix before you sleep.
If you don’t like protein powder and only want to go with whole foods you can also try some cottage cheese or Greek yogurt maybe with a bit of olive oil. Just make sure this extra meal fits into your total calories and macros and to eat everything within 30 minutes of going to bed.
As you can see the right late-night muscle building snack doesn’t have to be very fancy or complicated.