Amino acids, along with exercise and weight training, help in muscle building. Eating protein-rich foods at bedtime lets your body produce amino acids to repair muscles while you sleep, and induce muscle growth.
Since you spend about one-third of your life sleeping, eating protein every night before bed will allow you to maintain healthy muscles.
We get it, you want to eat something that will relax you, but also want a snack that will help your overnight muscle growth.
Caffeine, sugar and excess salt are not a great option.
You need food that’s proven to make you calm and produce amino acids. Remember to eat the right amount of protein-rich foods during the day for your age, sex and activity level. Finding an optimum amount will increase muscle maintenance dramatically.
Drink a whey or casein protein shake within an hour after an intense workout to repair overworked muscles.
Check out three great things to eat before bed to build muscle and keep amino acids in your bloodstream while you sleep.
1. Greek Yogurt and Other Dairy Products
From classic recommendations to new age products, there is certainly no reason to count out dairy as a great source of healthy fats. When sourced correctly, many dairy products can provide essential vitamins and minerals that help the body to maintain and build muscle.
From the age-old “glass of milk” to the new Casein protein products that are becoming more and more popular, there is plenty of reasons for late-night snackers to look at dairy.
Glass of Milk
You’ve probably heard that drinking a glass of milk at bedtime can make you sleepy, but eating dairy products before you doze off can also help with muscle growth and muscle building.
Drink a tall glass of low-fat milk before bed (eight grams protein) with avocado toast – or avocado spread on a bagel. A cup of sliced avocado has 2.9 grams of protein, 4.6 grams of dietary fiber, plus magnesium, Vitamin K, folate, potassium and Vitamin B6. On top of an efficient muscle loving concoction, it’s also a great source of Vitamin E and heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids.
Greek yogurt is a lot creamier than regular yogurt because it lacks the liquid whey, sugar, and lactose of thinner, plain yogurt. Both types of yogurt are full of calcium and protein, but six ounces of Greek yogurt has 15 to 20 grams of protein, compared to 9 grams in the same amount of regular yogurt.
The Greek yogurt alternative is a great way to build muscle and supply your body with healthy fats.
Eat low-fat cottage cheese with a handful (one ounce) of almonds. Almonds contain healthy monounsaturated fats, six grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fiber and 20% of the daily recommended value of magnesium. The fiber fills you up, and the protein slows digestion to provide you with amino acids bit by bit.
Add a cup of nonfat cottage cheese, which has 15 grams of protein to your bedtime snack for a total of 21 grams of protein. Add a few more almonds or more cottage cheese if you like for more protein.
For another low to low-prep snack, eat a few slices of reduced fat cheese with chopped raw carrots, broccoli or celery. Choose low-fat mozzarella cheese (32 grams of protein per cup) or goat cheese (31 grams protein per cup) for the biggest muscle-building power.
Some Tasty Toppings
Sprinkle chia seeds or flax seeds in your Greek yogurt for even more protein and fiber-power. Chia seeds contain necessary fiber and plenty of antioxidants.
On top of supplying a healthy dose of Omega 3 fatty acids, two tablespoons of chia seeds also contain four grams of protein. A cup of Greek yogurt and two tablespoons of Chia seeds has 24 grams of protein and 14 grams of carbohydrates.
Flax seeds add plant-based Omega 3s and six grams of protein to your already-muscle building Greek yogurt. A three-tablespoon serving of flax seeds contains 30% of the RDA for magnesium, 31% of the RDA for Vitamin B1 and eight grams of fiber.
2. Canned Tuna or Fish
For a quick and easy snack, open a can of water-packed tuna and add a teaspoon or two of olive oil. A drained can of water-packed light tuna has 39.3 grams of protein (79% of the suggested daily value).
Eat half the can and save the other half for lunch the next day if that’s too heavy of a pre-bedtime protein hit for you. Tuna is also high in choline, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin B6. One can of tuna has 102% of the daily value of niacin.
Eat a piece of salmon left over from dinner, or cook a fresh piece with olive oil. Salmon is incredibly nutritious, with a four-ounce serving of wild-caught salmon containing 53.1% of the daily recommended value for protein and a whopping 55% of the DV for Omega 3 fatty acids. Salmon also has 127% of the daily value of mood-boosting Vitamin D.
Less popular types of fish also provide muscle-building protein. Halibut, snapper, and tilapia contain 26 to 29 grams of protein per 100-gram serving. Eat with a few raw veggies for a before-bed snack.
3. Peanut Butter
Everybody loves peanut butter – and as a bonus, it’s good for you.
Natural peanut butter or any nut butter (cashew, almond, hazelnut) has good fats that fight type 2 diabetes, prevent weight gain and even increase metabolism when eaten in moderation. Two tablespoons of protein have eight grams of protein.
Increase the protein content of a peanut butter snack before bedtime by making a smoothie using whey protein powder. Combine peanut butter (or any nut butter), ice, and whey protein powder in a blender for a nighttime drink with up to 35 grams of protein per shake. You can also add bananas or other ingredients for a different taste and other nutrients.
Eat peanut butter on whole wheat crackers with a soft or hard boiled egg. We usually think of eggs as a breakfast item, but they’re loaded with protein and easy to prepare any time of day. One large egg has 70 calories and contains six grams of protein, along with choline, selenium, biotin, Vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and iodine. Peanut butter on crackers and a large egg will give you 14 grams of protein or more, depending on how many crackers you eat.
Prepare a late-night omelet if you have the energy. An omelet made with two eggs, two egg whites and grass-fed butter has 24 grams of protein and 215 calories. Add a whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter instead of crackers for even more protein.
When you don’t have enough time to cook anything before bed, or if you’re on the road, carry a few protein bars with you to eat before you go to sleep. Choose a sugar-free bar that’s relatively low in calories, and stick to one bar per night.
extra grams of protein.
So when you’re craving a bedtime snack, try and stick with one of the leaner options above. High protein doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to taste good- we don’t recommend taking a spoon full of whey protein or protein powder before you go to bed. Instead, focus on a snack that combines high protein content with slow-digesting qualities.
A protein bar or ball could be a solution- though be on the look out for nasty additives. Here are a few suggestions:
Per 100 g:
- Energy: 1415 kJ/338 kcal
- Fat: 9.5 g
- of which saturated: 6.6 g
- Carbohydrate: 34
- of which sugars 3.8 g
- Fibre: 5.6 g
- Protein: 37 g
- Salt: 0.40 g
- Energy: 1895kJ / 451kcal
- Fat: 18g
- Carbohydrate: 29g
- Fibre: 2.9g
- Protein: 43g
- Salt: 0.86g
Slow Digestion and High Blood Sugar
Craving foods that are packed with carbohydrates can be an obstacle when trying to manage weight loss or keep your body appropriately fueled. More importantly, sticking up on carbs before you go to bed can lead to a groggy morning, as these fast digestive carbs are used up quickly during your sleep leaving nothing to kick start the morning.
In order to keep the blood sugar high, make sure to consume appropriate fats and proteins that will induce sleep, burn slowly, and leave you some energy left over for the morning. Sometimes something as simple as a tablespoon of peanut butter or Nutella can do just the trick.
Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. Many times the content is not written by a single author, instead it is usually a team effort.