Grow While You Sleep
Grow while you sleep
We all know the importance of including high quality protein supplements in your fitness nutrition regimen. For decades, supplement scientists have emphasized remarkable increases in anabolism and protein synthesis when protein powders are strategically combined with resistance training. Although this science provides molecular level evidence for the benefits of protein supplementation, there are few studies that illustrate protein’s impact on tangible fitness indicators like muscle growth and/or increased strength performance.
In a recent registered clinical trial, scientists from the Netherlands provide compelling evidence that weight training combined with pre-bedtime casein protein supplementation significantly boosts muscularity and strength (more than training with a placebo). Published in The Journal of Nutrition, subjects were randomly assigned to a pre-bedtime protein supplement (27.5g casein protein, 15g carbohydrates, 0.1g fat) or placebo group and enrolled in a supervised resistance-training program—3x per week for 12 weeks. Prior to and after the training program, changes in muscularity were evaluated using whole body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, limb computed tomography (CT) scans, and muscle biopsies. Changes in strength were assessed regularly by 1-repetition maximum (1RM) strength testing.
Remarkably, the researchers reported that those in the pre-bedtime casein protein supplement group had a 26% greater increase in overall strength and 75% increase in quadriceps muscularity (indicated by a measure of cross-sectional area) versus those in the placebo group!
ACTION POINT: If you train regularly and want to maximize increases in strength and muscularity, we recommend taking in 25-50g of a high quality protein blend or whey protein isolate 30 to 60 minutes pre- and immediately postworkout. For an extra kick don’t forget to take 25-50g of micellar casein or a casein blend immediately prior to hitting the sack.
Snijders T, Res PT, Smeets JS, van Vliet S, van Kranenburg J, Maase K, Kies AK, Verdijk LB, van Loon LJ. Protein Ingestion before Sleep Increases Muscle Mass and Strength Gains during Prolonged Resistance-Type Exercise Training in Healthy Young Men. J Nutr. 2015 Jun;145(6):1178-84.
Preworkout supplements represent some of the hottest selling products in the industry. This stands to reason, since they are a convenient, affordable, and simple way to prime the body with science backed energizing and strength-/growth-promoting supplements. Although many of the ingredients in preworkout formulas have been studied independently, less is known of the safety and efficacy of these multi-ingredient products when taken over longer periods of time.
A study published in Nutrition Research provides the latest data supporting the safety and efficacy of a preworkout blend containing caffeine (300 mg/serving), creatine (5 g/serving), beta-alanine (4 g/serving), branched chain amino acids (6 g/serving), and citrulline malate (1.5 g/serving). The researchers reported that consuming this preworkout cocktail for 28 days straight (on training and non-training days) did not negatively impact liver, kidney, and cardiovascular health. In fact, those who took the preworkout had far greater gains in fat free mass and strength (leg press 1RM) versus those who took a placebo.
ACTION POINT: Choose a preworkout product that lists its individual ingredients and doses. Remember, you get what you pay for—high quality products tend to cost a little more, but you will benefit in the long run. Since formulations vary from product to product, always take as directed on the label.
Kendall KL, Moon JR, Fairman CM, Spradley BD, Tai CY, Falcone PH, Carson LR, Mosman MM, Joy JM, Kim MP, Serrano ER, Esposito EN. Ingesting a preworkout supplement containing caffeine, creatine, β-alanine, amino acids, and B vitamins for 28 days is both safe and efficacious in recreationally active men. Nutr Res. 2014 May;34(5):442-9.
There has been recent debate in the scientific literature regarding the impact of antioxidant vitamins (like vitamin E) on muscular performance and growth. However, one thing is for certain, deficiencies in vitamin E lead to significant health and performance consequences.
A most recent article published in Free Radical Biology & Medicine provides convincing evidence that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin E in skeletal muscle is absolutely necessary for muscle repair and recovery. Vitamin E is fat-soluble, and since the membranes of muscle cells are primarily comprised of fats, then vitamin E is readily taken up by muscle cell membranes and protects them from free-radicals—this protective environment enables enhanced muscle repair and recovery. The researchers point out that low vitamin E levels, as observed in the elderly, lead to “frailty syndrome” which is characterized by loss of muscle strength.
ACTION POINT: During episodes of heavy training, your vitamin E needs may increase. As a general rule, in an effort to keep your skeletal muscle vitamin E topped up, we recommend taking a single 400iu dose of natural vitamin E (in the form of d-alpha-tocopheryl) with your breakfast every morning.
Labazi M, McNeil AK, Kurtz T, Lee TC, Pegg RB, Angeli JP, Conrad M, McNeil PL. The antioxidant requirement for plasma membrane repair in skeletal muscle. Free Radic Biol Med. 2015 Apr 3;84:246-253.