Are Bodybuilders Who Do Not Consume Food Before Bed Harming Muscle Growth?

By: Francesco A. Castano

Numerous bodybuilding opinions exist in regards to achieving maximum muscle gains with the smallest possible body fat percentage, with bodybuilders attempting to manipulate diet variables, including whether food is consumed prior to sleep, in order to enhance results. Some bodybuilders understand the value of a bedtime meal, but others fear food prior to sleep, especially weight lifters who either gain fat quickly when aiming for muscle growth, or who are focusing specifically on fat loss, and wish to amplify the rate of progress.

The theory is that food prior to sleep encourages fat gain, and although there is no inherent harm to body fat levels when consuming a late meal, because many diet plans are designed with poorly chosen calories and carbohydrates, not to mention improper meal division, which can detract from building a more efficient metabolism, eating before sleep encourages fat storage for many, and some in the bodybuilding world classify later eating as harmful towards body fat percentage.

The common mistake made is to either use greater than necessary carbohydrates for a bedtime meal, or consume a food intake that is beyond the body's core requirements for muscle gain or maintenance, which then quickly will result in fat gain, as energy expenditure during evening fast is less than at any other time. Yet, unlike certain flawed theories may suggest, a weight lifter is in great need of calories during sleep, as this is when muscle gains occur at their greatest proportion. In fact, since the body has a lengthy uninterrupted rest to grow and repair lean muscle mass, enough protein and calories must be present in order to fuel such results, which is why a bedtime meal becomes crucial. When nutrients are withheld prior to a lengthy rest period, although muscles seek to grow during such hours, they are unable to do so, and if an individual is using a lower calorie diet for fat loss, many times muscle mass will even drop dramatically.

During fat loss periods, one of the most frustrating obstacles for many weight lifters is muscle maintenance, and making dramatic modifications to a diet, whether it be reducing food intake below what is necessary for fat loss due to impatience, or dramatically restricting food later in the evening, will greatly increase the chance for muscle loss, which further harms metabolism, making future fat loss difficult. Many do not realize that a properly structured bedtime meal can actually assist in the fat reduction process, as metabolism is stimulated due to a frequent meal structure, and withholding food for extended periods can cause the body to limit calorie burn. This can occur not only when decreasing frequency of meals during early hours, but also by skipping a moderately sized feeding prior to sleep. This is contradictory to the notion that food before rest increases the risk of fat gain or slows fat loss, but far too many who integrate bedtime meals are using a larger intake than is necessary to properly stimulate metabolism and sustain muscle mass, or are using excessive carbohydrates, as if the meal were preceding a weight lifting workout as opposed to a lengthy sleep session. A meal before sleep should be composed of mostly protein, as the body during rest craves primarily recovery and growth (by way of protein synthesis), but eliminating carbohydrates completely will cause the body to use protein for energy, which reduces available nutrients for muscle recuperation, and places metabolism at risk.

Certain weight lifters understand the importance of bedtime meals, and try to consume several during the evening, waking up once or twice for extra food, believing this will increase muscle gain, but such a technique is detrimental to overall progress, as consuming one properly designed bedtime meal is sufficient to allow for muscle growth and proper metabolic function, while waking up for another one or two meals will disrupt proper sleep patterns, which are just as critical for muscle growth and proper metabolism as the meal itself. Waking up for extra food during time which should be devoted to rest prevents the body from utilizing calories properly, so for maximum muscle building and fat loss, aiming for a bedtime meal with limited carb levels and sufficient protein once before a lengthy sleep is the most productive technique to aim for.

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Francesco Castano authors, a diet and weight training program teaching the exact techniques for muscle gain without supplements or drugs.

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