If you’ve hit a muscle growth plateau, changing your workout routine might not be the answer – instead, the way you eat should be inspected first.
Proteins are the building blocks for your muscles – are you getting enough of them? Or maybe the more important question is this: are you providing your muscles with enough protein to last all through the night?
Eating big and heavy before bed will result in body fat gains, but snacking on the right type of food about an hour before you go to sleep brings good news for your muscles. We’re not talking about cookies and ice cream here. Optimally, your snack should count from 250 to 300 calories, consisting of plenty of quality protein and an adequate amount of healthy fats, and the one-hour window gives your organism enough time for proper digestion.
Picking the right foods is essential for keeping your body in an anabolic state and enabling optimal muscle growth and recovery. Need some ideas?
Check out these healthy late night snacks that will help your body prevent entering a catabolic state of muscle degeneration and keep on building and rebuilding muscles while you sleep instead.
1. Deviled Avocado Eggs
One eggs provides more than six grams of high quality protein, which makes it a staple food in the bodybuilding diet. But stop demonizing the yolk – it’s rich in vitamins and minerals and actually contains all the healthy fatty acids that eggs have to offer, so eating whole eggs is important for getting all their essential nutrients. Besides all that, we love eggs because they can be prepared in so many ways and they play well with lots of other foods too.
Have you ever had them with avocado?
Deviled eggs with avocado is what we’d call a perfect healthy protein-boosted snack before bed. It’s a clean and nutritious mini-meal that will effectively soothe your cravings. That being said, 2 whole eggs and 2 ounces of avocado provide a total count of 244 calories, including 14 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbs and 18 grams of fat. And it’s super delicious!
2. Cottage Cheese and Almonds
You should always have some cottage cheese in hand for the sake of satisfying late-night munchies.
This delicious product packs an excellent blend of much needed proteins. To further slow down their digestion, you can combine cottage cheese with natural peanut butter or even better – nuts. Almonds have proven to be superior to other nuts when it comes to bringing cost-effective healthy fats to your dinner table. Besides preventing your body from starving, this tasty snack will give it a slow and steady release of nutrients to occupy its attention and focus it on muscle building during sleep.
By the way, 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese and 1 ounce of almonds will provide you with a total of 327 calories, including 11 grams of carbs, 34 grams of protein and 16 grams of fat.
3. Casein and Flax
Casein protein, an absolute favorite among bodybuilders and powerlifters, is a particularly good source of slow-digested protein that will boost your metabolism during sleep and prevent muscle breakdown.
A recent study has shown that consuming 40 grams of casein within 30 minutes of going to bed leads to greater muscle protein synthesis. Mix some flaxseed oil in your shake to further slow the protein digestion. Flax is especially rich in plant omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber and consuming flasxeed oil can improve feelings of satiety, help lower the blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of liver disease and even relieve symptoms of depression. In addition, 28 grams of casein proten powder and one tablespoon of flaxseed oil together contain 221 calories, including 20 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fat.
4. Whey Protein and Peanut Butter
Supplementing with whey protein provides your body with an incredible range of essential amino acids, while enhancing the release of anabolic hormones that stimulate muscle growth.
Many studies have shown that consuming whey protein leads to bigger strength and mass gains and one of the main reasons for these benefits is the high amount of leucine found in whey protein. In case you didn’t know, leucine is the most anabolic amino acid known to mankind, which makes it exactly the nutrient your body needs to ingest before you hit the sack in order to get optimal gains.
Since whey protein powder tastes a bit off on its own, it typically comes in a variety of satisfying flavors like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, all of which are perfect for a late night smoothie. Add in some natural peanut or almond butter (but don’t overdo it!) and you’re good to go. A mixture of 28 grams of whey protein and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter count 288 calories, including 28 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbs and 16 grams of fat.
5. Greek Yogurt and Chia
The plain Greek yogurt is widely celebrated in the fitness community as a super food for providing plenty of essential nutrients, including a higher amount of protein and lower amounts of sodium and carbs compared to regular yogurt.
A single 6-ounce serving contains between 15 and 20 grams of protein, while a single serving of the regular variety offers only 9, while packing at least a double amount of carbs. Boost your bowl of plain greek yogurt with some berries and chia seeds, the latter being pretty famous as high in fiber, anti-oxidants, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
The combination of one cup of yogurt and one tablespoon of chia seeds counts 180 calories, including 23 grams of protein, 14 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fat.