Are You Forgetting Something?                                                                            

Muscle recovery drinks, post exercise recovery foods and dietitians have become a part of the athletic strength training culture.  But for some reason sleep has failed to become an important part of the equation.

Skeletal muscle mass is regulated by signaling pathways that govern protein synthesis.  Terms such as IGF-1, AMPK and mTOR, p70S6K grace the literature.  Using molecular markers and monitoring protein synthesis tells you much about exercise, muscular metabolism and what is occurring as a resultant. 

When you strength train amino acid uptake can occur for more than 24 hours.  The net anabolic response to amino acids following exercise is greater than the sum of the amino acid effect and the exercise effects alone.   A huge reason coaches are interested in diet.

Athletes, coaches and scientists are trying to time protein ingestion pre and post exercise to optimize protein synthesis in order to maximize strength gains.  Athletes often feed shortly after training as protein synthesis initially begins to spike.  Others believe in feeding an hour or two after training as synthesis oscillates and more recently athletes have chosen to eat later in the evening to insure plasma level of amino acids as they sleep.


Late eating has evolved because it has been shown that after exercise protein ingested immediately prior to sleep is effectively digested and absorbed.  In studying older populations researchers have found dietary protein administration during sleep stimulates muscle protein synthesis and improves overnight whole body protein balance.

The problem for the athlete especially in high school and college is not the timing of meals or the ingestion of amino acids before sleep, but the issue of sleep.

It is hypothesized that lack of sleep damages muscle physiology and impairs muscle recovery, because of increased stimulation of protein degradation.  What this means is that growth requires a balance of synthesis and degradation.  Protein synthesis is accelerated through exercise, but the rates of degradation are heavily influenced by the quality of sleep.

Without proper sleep excess protein cannot be construed as a good thing.  Supplementing is adding what is needed to make up for a deficiency.  More often than not with athletes the deficiency in maximizing development is adequate sleep.

As a coach do you emphasize sleep with your athletes?  Do you set up your training regimes to give them an opportunity to maximize their rest?


Train on The Squat Pro before you Sleep



Train, eat and Sleep to Get Strong.