Most avid gym goers know that you don’t build muscle while you are in the gym, muscle growth happens only when you are resting, and especially at night while you are sleeping. During that period your body enters recovery mode and your growth hormone (GH) levels peak, yet that represents a long stretch when your body goes without foods. So it would make sense that if you want to put on quality muscle mass, you will maximize this muscle building and recovery window by taking supplements that will help enhance protein synthesis and the release of growth hormones, and help you recover faster for another day at the gym. These five supplements below not only help you prevent muscle breakdown but they also help you boost muscle growth and recover fully.
1. Casein Protein
You essentially undergo a 7-8-hour fast when you sleep. And going that long without consuming any food puts your body in starvation mode causing it to break down your muscle protein for fuel. This is why casein is the perfect bedtime supplement. Casein is the slowest-digesting protein powder you can buy and is therefore available for longer periods of time to feed your muscles, as it congeals in your stomach and takes between five and seven hours before it’s fully digested. This helps supply your body with a slow drip of amino acids that can be used as fuel throughout the night, meaning your body won’t turn to muscle aminos for fuel. And any amino acids from the casein not needed for fuel can boost muscle growth. This will not only prevent muscle breakdown but also boost muscle growth.
- Go with 20-40 grams of casein protein containing micellar casein in skim milk or water, and drink it immediately before going to bed.
You’ve 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 that arginine is also effective when taken before bed when it can cause a profound boost in growth hormones (GH) levels, the hormones responsible for muscle growth. So if you take enough arginine, the result is greater GH release during the night which ensures that your body not only recovers stronger and builds muscles but also improves blood flow by converting to nitric oxide in the body so that you are ready for your next workout session.
- Take 5 grams of arginine about 30 minutes before going to bed.
Glutamine is the body’s most abundant amino acid and plays an important role in keeping the muscles functioning properly, enhancing muscle recovery, and preventing muscle breakdown. But more importantly, it effectively boosts growth hormone release at night and drives muscle-building nitrogen into the muscle cell where it is synthesized for growth. It is also converted into glucose when the body needs more energy to prevent muscle loss.
- Take 5-10 grams of glutamine 30 minutes before going to bed.
ZMA is a specifically formulated combination of zinc and magnesium aspartate plus vitamin B6 and is primarily known to many lifters for its ability to raise muscle strength and power. But its benefits are not just limited to those, ZMA also enhances recovery due to enhanced quality of sleep, which can lead to more optimal GH release increased anabolic hormone levels at night. ZMA can also increase testosterone and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels, two critical components of muscle growth.
- Take ZMA on an empty stomach 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Follow label recommendations for dosage
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid, but it’s also an inhibitory neurotransmitter which means it relaxes you into optimal sleep, and that’s one reason it’s good to take GABA at night. Another reason GABA is an ideal bedtime supplement is that it enhances growth hormone (GH) release. And getting a bigger boost of GH while you sleep not only aids muscle recovery and muscle growth but also frees up more fat from your fat cells so you can burn it away while you sleep.
- Take 3-5 grams of GABA without food about 45-60 minutes with your nighttime casein shake