Sleep is one of the most important issues for muscle growth and repair. When we sleep a few things happen to us that are very important biological processes that make growth during this key time critical for anyone who wants to get the most out of their workouts.
Quality sleep reduces cortisol and other stress hormones. At night is when the cortisol levels start to rise, usually the second half of your sleep. This means that depending on your goals you will either want to leave this alone or blunt this effect.
If you want to lose fat and do your fasted cardio in the morning, then certainly don’t reduce cortisol at night. If you are looking to put on muscle mass, then we will want to lower cortisol right before bed. The best cortisol lowering supplement is Phosphytidal Serine or “PS”.
PS is a natural plant fatty acid that has been shown to lower cortisol and is great for those who wish to gain muscle mass. Cortisol has been shown to tear down muscle, which is not a good thing for those who are wishing to gain mass.
Growth Hormone And IGF-1
During sleep you release a cascade of hormones that repair and help with recovery and growth. The most important one is growth hormone which then leads to higher IGF-1 levels. IGF-1 has taken center stage as one of the most anabolic hormones in the body, so boosting it at this critical time is key to muscle growth!
You want high circulating levels of IGF-1 all day and all night and taking products that boost IGF-1 will certainly help in your recovery.
IGF-1 can be increased by supplementing with it and by inducing growth hormone and by taking betaine anhydrous.
Glycine is an amino acid that is also a signaling molecule which has been shown in animal studies to reduce muscle tear down and wasting. According to a 2014 study from the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 2014, “ Glycine protects skeletal muscle from cancer-induced wasting and loss of function, reduces the oxidative and inflammatory burden, and reduces the expression of genes associated with muscle protein breakdown in cancer cachexia. Importantly, these effects were glycine specific.”
We learn a lot about muscle wasting from cancer patients, that’s where steroid research comes from in many cases. Cachexia is the extreme muscle wasting that is caused by cancer, and as bodybuilders we can learn from this research.
As you see in the chart below, many anabolic processes rely on glycine, which means that it makes sense to supplement with this powerful amino acid.
Fat Mobilizers & Amino Acids
At night we go into a “fast” which means you will want to have ingredients that help to mobilize fat. Using fat as energy means that your body will not look to muscle protein as fuel. This will help you to maintain muscle mass during sleep where it can be broken down for fuel.
L-Carnitine is a potent fat mobilizer and can help the release of fatty acids from fat cells to be used as fuel. This will give you more fuel to use at night which means we are sparing protein. You should take L-Carnitine at night for fat mobilization.
I don’t suggest you take amino acids at night in the form of protein. Protein can be easily converted to SUGAR (glucose) and this is counter to growth hormone release and also fat mobilization. The fasted state is a good thing for sleep but we may want to increase our amino acid pool while sleeping.
I believe taking singular amino acids before bed will reduce the chance of conversion to sugar because I theorize that singular amino acids are treated differently in the body than peptides and proteins.
I don’t want to mention products in the article, but for this purpose there is only one choice. HumaPro from ALRI. This contains singular amino acids that are free form, which means they won’t be readily available as glucose (sugar).
If you take the right combination of supplements can release anabolic hormones, mobilize fat and spare muscle loss.
Of course as you know we sell products here on mind and muscle but we also do give the same advice to you that we use ourselves. We make products that we want to use and will benefit you!
Hi-Tech makes an excellent PS product. Nocturnus from Liquid Labs has Glycine and Carnitine along with GH boosters. HumaPro from ALR contains free form essential amino acids!
Combine them all before bed!
Hi-Tech Phosphytidal Serine