If you’ve been in the workout world for a while, you know the benefits of having protein after a workout for muscle recovery and repair. It is recommended that athletes consume foods containing approximately 2.3 grams per serving of leucine, an amino acid that signals the muscles to recover and repair after a workout to help repair and maintain muscle.
But did you know that protein synthesis happens while we sleep? While asleep, the rate at which the body creates new protein – an essential part of recovery from training and competition – is normally quite low. In general, protein consumed during the post-workout period is no longer available by the time an athlete is settling in for a night of sleep. So researchers are now considering if there are ways to support recovery during this “window.”
Given that the recommendation is for athletes to get 8-10 hours of sleep a night, this means one-third of the day is spent in a state of low protein synthesis. The standard assumption has been that low availability of amino acids – the building blocks of protein – at night is a rate-limiting factor in protein synthesis.
Therefore, studies have shown positive results for protein before sleep. Research showed that 40 grams of protein consumed by resistance-trained subjects 30 minutes before sleep could, in fact, be digested and absorbed, which increased the availability of amino acids throughout the sleep period. This increase in available amino acids supported the body’s ability to create new protein.
Based on this information, researchers set out to determine whether an increase in available amino acids during sleep would have an impact on performance and training. Subjects were strength-trained in the evening and given a recovery drink containing 28 grams of protein before sleep or a placebo that contained no protein. The protein group exhibited a greater increase in strength output, as well as an increase in muscle size.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND SLEEP AND MUSCLE RECOVERY
Sleep has a significant impact on muscle recovery. Without enough of it, you’re not going to feel rested in the morning, and your muscles will not recover properly.
Understanding the two main stages of sleep illustrates sleep’s impact on muscle recovery.
REM (rapid eye movement) Sleep occurs in cycles of about 90-120 minutes throughout the night, and it accounts for up to 20-25% of total sleep time in adult humans. REM sleep dominates the latter half of the sleep period, especially the hours before waking. REM sleep provides the energy to the brain that supports it during waking hours and is necessary for restoring the mind.
Non-REM Sleep, known as slow-wave or deep sleep, is essential for muscle recovery and restoring the body. Non-REM sleep accounts for 40% of total sleep time; during this phase your blood pressure drops and your breathing becomes deeper and slower. Your brain is resting with very little activity, so the blood supply available to your muscles increases, delivering extra amounts of oxygen and nutrients which facilitate their healing and growth. Muscles and tissues are rejuvenated during this phase of sleep.
Another key cycle that occurs during the non-REM period is the secretion of Growth Hormone. As your body enters into the deep sleep stage, your pituitary gland releases a shot of growth hormone that stimulates tissue growth and muscle repair. Not enough sleep causes a sharp decline in growth hormone secretion. Growth hormone deficiency is associated with loss of muscle mass and reduced exercise capacity.
Thus, sleeping for 7-9 hours per night is crucial, especially if you are looking to change body composition, increase muscle mass and/or if you want to be ready for your personal training session the next day.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE POST-WORKOUT RECOVERY PERIOD
After a tough workout—whether you’re at the gym or at home crushing reps of burpees, squats, planks and pushups—drinking a protein shake allows your muscles to soak up the nutrients for muscle recovery and growth. During tough workouts, your body uses carbohydrates for energy, and as a result, your glycogen stores get depleted.
That means your body starts tapping into protein for energy -- something you want to avoid when building muscle. Post-workout protein shakes help fill the gap to ensure you continue to gain lean muscle mass.
For weight loss, muscle mass is critical. Muscle increases your caloric burn at rest. The more muscle in your body, the more likely you are to hit your weight loss goals (because your muscles help you along the way). What’s more? It’s really hard for the body to turn protein into fat. That’s why protein is so popular in weight loss diets.
When you train, your body breaks down protein and your muscles get depleted. Ingesting protein after your workout helps ensure that your protein levels stay balanced, which decreases muscle fatigue. Decreased muscle fatigue means more effective recovery -- helping you get back to your next session feeling strong. A post-workout dose of protein helps ensure a positive protein balance, which is vital for muscle growth and effective training.
AMINO ACIDS + PROTEIN HAVE ULTIMATE EFFECT ON MUSCLE RECOVERY
Taking a protein supplement within 30 min after working during the “anabolic window” along with a balanced diet will help maximize workout recovery. It is important not to skimp on caloric intake. Extreme calorie deficits will hinder your body’s ability to build lean muscle we lose when we lose weight.
A diet with quality protein and complex carbohydrates along with super greens will provide antioxidants and other important micronutrients that help your body recover.
Consuming a post-workout shake or recovery supplement tells your muscles it's time to rebuild and repair. When using supplements, do your research to ensure you use a supplement with the best, most premium ingredients.
Just like you wouldn’t want to waste a tough workout by scarfing down cheeseburgers afterward, the same applies to the ingredients that are in your protein.
The best protein shakes start with quality, and Transformation Protein rises well above the other options on the market. With no artificial sweeteners, flavors or additives, you can feel confident that what you’re putting in your body will only help you achieve your fitness goals.
Plus, ingredients such as egg-white protein can support lean muscle growth, ease muscle recovery and promote fat metabolism. Want to double down on immunity? Add Super Greens. This blend of nature’s best greens contains high levels of Vitamin C which can greatly impact your total body transformation.
Remember, staying active is only part of your fitness journey. No matter your goals, Transformation Protein contains all the essential ingredients you need for post-workout recovery.