I have just returned from the American College of Sports Medicine National conference in San Diego, California. While I loved having the opportunity to present some of my research on female distance runners, I also very much enjoyed the opportunity to find out what many other researchers around the world have been working on. I saw many presentations, with topics ranging from resistance training effectiveness, to weight loss techniques, and of course, performance and recovery for athletes. While many topics were very intriguing, probably the most interesting had to do with nighttime eating and it's affect on weight management, and recovery.
It has been generally accepted that eating (or drinking) a large amount of calories right before bedtime would result in weight gain. This is particularly true of carbohydrates, as these usually serve as our quick fuel source. Eating them before bed means they get converted into fat, as we don't need quick energy while we are sleeping.
The newest research is now showing that eating protein right before bedtime may actually improve muscle recovery, and hence improve exercise performance! Researchers had subjects eat a normal dinner, followed by 30 grams of protein (about 120 calories) right before bed. Following three months, the subjects didn't experience weight gain, but did see an improvement in muscle recovery, as this additional protein in their diet enhanced protein synthesis within the muscles! Also, exercise training efficiency improved for the night time snackers when compared to a control group.
So- grab a handful of almonds as you head off to bed, and watch your muscles recover, and your exercise performance sky rocket!!
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