How to Promote 22% More Muscle Building While You Sleep
Dwayne N. Jackson, PhD
Resistance training builds muscularity and strength by promoting anabolism, especially in trained muscles. As such, for a few hours after heavy exercise, your body enters a window of heightened protein synthesis (muscle building) counterbalanced by slight increases in catabolism (muscle breakdown). Science tells us that boosting blood amino acids within this window blunts catabolism and drives protein synthesis up even further; leading to efficient recovery and greater gains. Thus it’s no surprise why most athletes slug back a protein shake on their way out of the gym.
Science also tells us that there is a tight relationship between elevated blood amino acid levels and elevated anabolic state, despite whether you have trained that day or not. That’s right, there are swings in protein synthesis throughout the day that coincide with protein feeding. With this, protein synthesis rates are highest upon the absorption of a high-protein meal and taper off throughout the post-absorptive phase, until another protein meal is ingested. This is why you must consume meals regularly throughout the day to maximize progress.
Recently, a research group from the Netherlands published an eloquent review in Nutrients highlighting the importance of daily protein supplementation, noting its ultimate importance prior to sleep. The scientists noted that muscle protein synthesis rates are particularly low during sleep, even when a protein shake is ingested immediately after training in the evening. However, when athletic subjects ingested 40 g of casein protein before bed, they were able to boost protein synthesis rates by about 22% throughout the entire night compared to a placebo! They concluded that greater amino acid availability during sleep stimulates muscle protein synthesis rates and improves whole-body protein net balance during overnight recovery.
ACTION POINT: To promote robust stimulation of muscle protein synthesis rates throughout the night, ingest at least 40g of high-quality micellar casein or sustained-release protein blend immediately before bedtime on training and rest days.
Trommelen J, van Loon LJ. Pre-Sleep Protein Ingestion to Improve the Skeletal Muscle Adaptive Response to Exercise Training. Nutrients. 2016 Nov 28;8(12).
Pomegranate extract contains high levels of nitrate and active polyphenols, which improve nitric oxide (NO) levels and bioavailability in the body. Nitric oxide is a vasoactive gas that promotes vasodilation and blood flow to our organs and tissues, including skeletal muscle. Improving NO levels and NO bioavailability optimizes skeletal muscle blood flow during exercise to deliver nutrients and take away waste products. At the end of the day these events promote greater exercise intensity, exercise tolerance, and recovery.
Recent work published in the European Journal of Sport Science provides the latest scientific support for pomegranate extract as a pre-workout blood flow enhancer. In this study, subjects received either pomegranate extract (1000 mg) or a placebo 30 minutes prior to completing a repeated all-out sprint test followed by bench press and leg press exercise (80% of 1 rep max) to fatigue. The researchers reported that a single dose of pomegranate extract prior to training improved blood flow during leg and bench press by 24% and 10% respectively.
ACTION POINT: If you want to add extra pump potential to your pre-workout, try taking 1000 mg of pomegranate extract with your pre-workout. Use caution when combining pomegranate extract with other vasodilators, if you feel light-headed try lowering your dose.
Roelofs EJ, Smith-Ryan AE, Trexler ET, Hirsch KR, Mock MG. Effects of pomegranate extract on blood flow and vessel diameter after high-intensity exercise in young, healthy adults. Eur J Sport Sci. 2016 Sep 20:1-9. [Epub ahead of print]