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If putting on muscle mass is your primary goal – and, really, what other goal is there? – then you probably already know that frequently eating ample amounts of protein is critical. You likely also know that getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night is a must for gaining muscle because that’s when your growth hormone (GH) levels peak. Yet that represents a long stretch when you neglect to give your body protein. Would you go 7-9 hours without eating during the day? Not unless you want to look more like a marathon runner than a bodybuilder.
Going that long without consuming any food puts your body in starvation mode, prompting it to steel amino acids from your muscle protein to convert to glucose to fuel your brain and literally break down your muscle fibres. Although some obsessive-compulsive bodybuilders wake up in the middle of the night to eat and prevent this from occurring, a less extreme method is knowing what to take right before going to bed. Sleep on these five supplements – they will not only prevent muscle breakdown but also boost muscle growth while you slumber.
BUILD MUSCLE WHILE YOU SLEEP
Here are five supplements that will inhibit muscle breakdown and enhance muscle growth while you get your Zs.
Casein protein is the major protein found in milk. It makes up 80% of the beverage, with the rest being whey protein. Casein protein is a better choice than whey at bedtime due to its slow digestion and absorption rate. Your best bet is to use a protein powder that contains some micellar casein, an undenatured (unaltered) form of casein that will clump together in the stomach and form a gel, significantly slowing its digestion. This allows the protein to provide a slow and steady supply of amino acids to the body for up to seven hours, so it doesn’t have to take them from your muscles. And if you take enough casein before bed, the extra will go to your muscles for growth.
Dose: Mix 40 grams of casein protein in skimmed milk or water, and drink it immediately before going to bed.
Flaxseed provides essential fats that offer numerous health and performance benefits, such as enhanced joint recovery and fat loss. It also makes a great addition to your casein protein shake before bedtime. The healthy fats slow digestion, further saving your muscle-fibre protein during the night.
Dose: Take 2-3 tablespoons of flaxseed oil with your casein protein.
You probably know arginine as the amino acid to take before workouts to boost nitric oxide levels and get an incredible pump, but did you know it also boosts GH levels? It does so by inhibiting a hormone that normally inhibits GH release. If you take enough arginine, about 5 grams, the result is a greater GH release during the night.
Dose: Take 5 grams of arginine in the form of L-arginine, arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, arginine ketoisocaproate, and arginine malate or arginine ethyl about 30 minutes before going to bed.
The amino acid glutamine has a multitude of functions, such as preventing muscle breakdown, boosting immune function, enhancing muscle recovery and even increasing fat-burning. In addition, glutamine effectively boosts GH release. One study found that it increased GH levels just 90 minutes after ingestion. A study conducted by researchers from Louisiana State University suggested that glutamine’s ability to indirectly stimulate arginine production in the kidneys may be the potential mechanism to increase GH levels.
Dose: Take 5-10 grams of glutamine 30 minutes before going to bed.
If you train hard, then you’re likely to be deficient in zinc and magnesium, important minerals that are most often depleted in athletes. Replacing those lost minerals with ZMA – a combination of zinc and magnesium aspartate plus vitamin B6 – can increase testosteronelike growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels, two critical components of muscle growth. ZMA also enhances the quality of sleep, which can lead to more optimal GH release at night. Most ZMA products on the market today provide about 30 mg zinc, 450 mg magnesium and 11 mg vitamin B6.
Dose: Follow the label instructions, and take ZMA on an empty stomach about an hour before going to bed.
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