If you enjoy a post-workout protein shake, you’re not alone—it’s one of the most common ways people refuel after exercising. But is that the best time to refuel? A new study looked at the most optimal time for dowining the post-workout protein shakes.
According to the study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Nutrition, researchers looked at subjects who performed resistance-training exercises three nights per week for 12 weeks. They consumed a post-workout snack (cheese and apple). Broken into two groups, the study participants also either drank a protein shake just before bed, or a placebo beverage.
"The participants were instructed to sit in bed, drink their test beverages, lay down, and go to sleep,” Tim Snijders, PhD, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow in the department of kinesiology at McMaster University in Canada, told Yahoo Health.
The group that consumed the protein shake just before bed showed notable gains over the placebo group: nearly doubling their muscle-building benefits.
“The ingestion of a sufficient amount of protein throughout the day is probably the most important factor to maximize the skeletal muscle adaptive response to exercise training [such as making muscles stronger],” says Snijders.
The researchers don’t know exactly why the added protein just before sleep increased muscle mass and strength, but they suspect the protein helped the body to repair and build more muscle during the rest period.
Of course, eating just before bed can cause problems, particularly if you’re consuming high levels of sugar. It’s best to skip the pre-made store-bought protein shakes and make your own with ingredients like The Organic Whey’s mustHave protein and mustHave greens. Use unsweetened yogurts or milk as a base and go light on fruits (if any) to also keep the sugar content down. You don’t want the sugars to negate the protein-building effect of the shake!
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