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Protein immediately after training? There's a better time than that

Protein immediately after training? There's a better time than that

It has long been known that of all the various factors such as training intensity or rest, the most significant for muscle growth - is nutrition.  A well-adjusted diet combined with exercise can significantly increase the results of exercise, and some studies suggest that it has a 70% effect on the chances of success. 
One of the most popular combinations among strength trainers is a protein-rich diet combined with resistance training. High-intensity strength training results in the physiological destruction of muscle proteins, which in the next 48 hours are rebuilt by the body for the purpose of increasing their strength and volume. 
During this process, protein intake is critical to stop the muscle breakdown processes and to provide the body with available protein molecules that will maximize the cell rebuilding processes. For this reason, a large proportion of trainees, especially young people, consume protein near the end of the workout - whether through a protein-rich meal, drinking protein powders or eating protein-rich snacks. 

Scientifically, however, there is conflicting evidence regarding the effectiveness of protein supplementation within a period of about 4 hours after training. This is due to a number of variables such as the degree of difficulty of the workout or the amount of protein consumed. It turned out that protein supplementation is effective only when strength training is prolonged and performed at high intensity. In addition, studies show that consumption after training of an amount of protein lower than 30 grams is ineffective. 

It's all a matter of timing 

In recent years, studies have been published showing that the timing of protein intake should not be underestimated. If today the prevailing view is that the intake of proteins should be scheduled according to the time of training and thus consumed up to about 4 hours after the end of training, then new studies show higher efficiency of protein intake - not according to training times, but according to biological clock activity. 

The circadian clock is a system belonging to the biological clock which, in accordance with the stimuli of light and darkness, secretes hormones and regulates the activity of the nervous system and the intensity of metabolic processes in the body. 

During our active day the circadian clock secretes hormones that increase the breakdown of glycogen stores in the liver and the metabolic activity of the muscles. All this in order to streamline the energy production processes and thereby provide the muscles with available energy that will facilitate the performance of activities during the day. 

At night, however, the circadian clock secretes substances that perform the opposite processes: building up energy stores in the liver and muscles and absorbing calories. This is one of the reasons why sleep is so important for body recovery after exertion, but also the main reason why it is not recommended to eat in the late evening. 

A high-calorie meal can lead to an increase in body fat mass. Studies show that eating after 8 pm increases the risk of obesity and morbidity in various metabolic diseases due to the lack of synchronization with the biological clock 

Science has rallied to help 

Although eating before bed is considered unhealthy, it turns out that the activity of the biological clock at night can be utilized to improve the results of strength training by consuming proteins before bed. 

A first study published on the subject in 2012 in the Journal of Sports and Exercise Medicine found that among athletes who consumed protein before bed, there was a 20% increase in the process of building muscle after training. In addition, it was found that 50% of the amount of protein consumed was used in the muscles for the purpose of building muscle proteins, which means that these processes led to a better recovery of the athletes. 

Additional studies examining the long-term effect of 12 weeks of eating protein before bedtime combined with tree training compared to taking protein immediately after training also tended to favor the first group. 

Protein intake was found to lead to a significant increase in muscle mass of approximately 10%, compared with a 6% increase in the control group. In addition, the timing of protein intake before bedtime contributed to a significant increase in muscle strength compared to the second group 

To emphasize the importance of scheduling protein intake before bedtime, another study was published last year in the Journal of Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging. The study compared the effect of taking protein in the evening versus consuming it just minutes before bedtime and also included muscle imaging tests. 

The results of the study showed that taking protein before bed caused not only an increase in muscle mass, but also an increase in lean body weight (body weight without adipose tissue) and an improvement in strength. Further evidence that taking protein before bed leads to better utilization of protein molecules, muscle building and does not necessarily cause obesity / 

Finding the best timing for protein intake according to the biological clock makes it possible to improve training results even in special populations that need medical needs, especially seniors who suffer from a natural decrease in muscle mass and so far, protein intake has not been effective for them. In these cases, consuming protein before bed can significantly improve training results. 

However, it is important to remember: the effectiveness of taking the protein also depends on the type of protein and the composition of carbohydrates added to it. It is therefore advisable to consult a qualified nutritionist before starting the diet and training menu. 

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