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Research bite: Protein ingestion before bed to improve recovery

Most endurance athletes are aware that protein is an important component of their diet as it provides the building blocks to construct the new cell structures required for adaptation and performance improvement. Alongside this, most are also aware that sleep is also an important component of the recovery process. So what happens if we combine these two important aspects of recovery?

Are we able to recovery above and beyond that of a mere mortal?

In a study from the Netherlands, it was found that ingesting 20 g of protein immediately before sleep is effectively digested and absorbed. Thereby stimulating muscle protein synthesis (production of new proteins in the body) during overnight recovery compared to when a placebo was consumed.

So what does this mean for you?

Because this is the first study of its kind in this area, the exact ramifications are not are not completely known. However, if there is a greater amount of protein synthesis occurring at a time where the body is in ‘recovery mode’ it is logical that this may result in faster more complete recovery overnight following evening training sessions.

So consuming a protein containing drink before you turn in for the night, might just be an easy way to get you bouncing back from your training sessions faster.

Res, et al, Protein Ingestion Before Sleep Improves Postexercise Overnight Recovery. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 44, No. 8, pp. 1560–1569, 2012.

First published in the NZ Triathlon and Multisport magazine in November 2012

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