'Night time' nutrition
This post is mainly aimed at muscle building, but it could still be applied to others. You know about protein, you know about carbs, you know about eating enough food, you know about pre workout supplements/food, you know about post workout supplements/food, but what do you do before you go to bed?
The average amount of sleep people get is about 6-8 hours, so when you're asleep, for those 6-8 hours, you're sleeping, your body is still working, still repairing itself, still performing functions - it's like a Formula 1 pit crew that never sleeps. If you have dinner at, lets say, 7pm, and you go to bed at 11pm, that's a 4 hour gap where (if you have had a good, healthy dinner) your body will be utilising that food and repairing your muscles from the workout you have had that day. But when you lay your head down and nod off, your body will be 'running on empty' (probably not 100% accurate, but we will go with it for the conversation sake). During those hours of sleep, if you don't have the correct nutrition in you, your body can actually break down muscle tissue instead of rebuilding it, and this is not what we want. So, what should you have before you go to bed?
The number one thing that you want is a slow digesting protein. Many meat sources take an average time of 2 hours, some being 1, some being 3-4 (pork). Fish is a little quicker, anywhere from 30 minutes to about 1.5 hours to digest. I'm sure someone may tell me I'm wrong with those figures, but those are the ones I remember (If I'm wrong, please let me know) Even if you took the slowest digesting food, topping out at about 4 hours, still not quite as long as your sleeping time, and not everyone wants to eat a lump of meat at half 10-11 o'clock at night. If you don't want to go down the food route, then you can use a shake, a very popular one at that - Casein protein.
Casein protein is known in the fitness world as the 'night time protein', because it is a slow releasing protein. Brands do vary, I have seen some that take about 5 hours to digest, and some that are 7 hours, I have seen only one brand that says 8 hours. These are a lot better than the food digesting times. The benefit? A lower risk of muscular tissue breakdown. When you sleep, it is the perfect time for your body to heal itself (whether that's healing muscle tissue, or a cold - hence why you tend to sleep a lot when you're ill), so by having a protein that digests slowly throughout the night, your muscles are 'drip fed' protein all night long (providing you don't sleep for a long time!)
I know some guys that like to have a few carbs before they go to sleep as well, I have tried this method, haven't noticed any real benefit, but haven't noticed any drawbacks either, so you could also try that (makes sense in a way - have some carbs (energy) so your body will use that instead of protein).
Some brands have different forms of casein protein, for instance, Hench Nutrition have 'mega milk' that is a slow digesting protein. You just want to look out for either casein or similar products that are slow digesting. I really do think its a worthwhile purchase. If you want to go down the food route, by all means, go for it, but as mentioned - not everyone likes eating that late at night, and the digesting rates are quicker than the shake. I do recommend you give it a go though, I really do think it will benefit you and help you with your progress.
I'm not endorsing the product shown above, it's simply there for effect.