Sleep-Friendly Diet Maximizes Your Training Progress!

In order to maximize progress in the gym, you need to maximize your sleep. Eating the right food is a great way to do so. Here are types of foods and other tips you should know to create a sleep-friendly diet.

Article Summary:
  • Many forget how important sleep is to the progress of their goals.
  • Dairy and carbs will help sleep by promoting melatonin and serotonin.
  • Avoid lots of fats, caffeine, alcohol and spicy food before bed.

  • Sleep-Friendly Diet Maximizes Your Training Progress!

    Almost all people are very aware of the fact that what they do in the gym on a daily basis will play a very large role in the progress they make. Most people understand that the foods they are putting into their body are also going to influence the results they get, sometimes even more than what they are doing in the gym in certain situations.

    One aspect that slips under the radar though for a number of people is the impact that sleep has on their progress as well. Sleep is going to be the primary time during the 24 hour period where the body really works overtime to repair all the damage that has taken place in the body, not only in the muscle tissues themselves, but on a full body cellular level as well.

    Sleep Is The Primary Time Where The Body Works To Repair All The Damage That Has Taken Place In The Body.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    Sleep Is The Primary Time Where The Body Works To
    Repair All The Damage That Has Taken Place In The Body.

    Every day you encounter a variety of different stresses and the body can only deal with so much at once. So when you short yourself on sleep, it's only going to be able to take care of the most urgent tissues in need of repair, which could mean your muscles don't get all the attention they need.

    Therefore, in order to maximize the progress you make in the gym, you need to maximize your sleep. Eating the right types of foods is one really great way to do so. Here is what you should know to create a sleep-friendly diet.

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    Dairy Products

      Dairy products are a great selection before the sleeping hours because they contain a slower form of digesting protein known as casein ( cottage cheese in particular is great for this) and also because they have the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan then acts as a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which places you in a 'feel good' state where you are calm and relaxed and can also be converted into melatonin, a neurohormone that regulates the entire sleep cycle.

      Consuming foods that are high in tryptophan is therefore a really good way to help encourage a regular sleeping pattern throughout the evening.

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    Carbohydrates

      Most people are under the belief that eating carbohydrates before bed is a sure-fire plan for fat gain. While it can help increase fat loss if you remove these types of foods from a decreased calorie intake (since most foods people eat before bed are naturally higher in carbohydrates), it's not the actual carbohydrate itself that's causing the fat gain - it's the increase in calorie intake.

      If you can schedule these carbohydrates into your daily total then they will not lead to fat gain and could potentially help boost your sleep quality. Every time you eat foods containing carbs the body will release serotonin, which as mentioned above tends to be quite soothing and can induce sleep.

      This is a big reason why you may have heard the old wives tale that eating toast and milk will help put you to sleep - it contains two of the most powerful ingredients that encourage this.

    Eating Toast And Milk Will Help Put You To Sleep.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    Eating Toast And Milk Will Help Put You To Sleep.


    Fat Avoidance

      When it comes to what you want to avoid before bed, the biggest one is going to be high levels of dietary fat. Some healthy fats (say a spoonful of peanut butter mixed in with your cottage cheese or some almonds with a half a turkey sandwich) would be okay, but avoid deep fried foods or other processed foods with hydrogenated fats such as potato chips or regular popcorn.

      These are going to cause a high volume of blood to be transferred to the stomach region to aid with digestion and will make it problematic to continue sleeping. Since fats are also the slowest nutrient to digest, the more of them you're taking in, the longer it will take for the digestion process to be completed and the harder it may be for you to fall asleep.

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    Caffeine

      Most individuals would have the common sense to know that consuming caffeine isn't going to be a smart idea before you turn in for the night, but most are also not aware that caffeine can lurk in some foods they would have never suspected.

      Some of the big ones you should be watching out for include chocolate pudding, chocolate bars, any types of energy drinks (avoid these 3 hours before bed), decaf coffee or tea (may still contain small amounts of caffeine), colas, and cold tablets.

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    Alcohol

      Many individuals will have a beer, glass of wine, or some other alcoholic beverage to help them unwind after a hard day at work. While they may think this is a positive thing that is going to relax them, you need to be careful with this because as the body digests the alcohol, it could actually cause you to wake up during the night, disrupting the natural rhythm of your sleep.

      In one study researchers looked at the impacts that one drink of alcohol had on the melatonin release in the body and found that at 140 and 190 minutes after consumption, melatonin was reduced by 15% and 19% respectively.


    Hot Or Spicy Foods

      Another thing you may want to skip in the evening hours is indulging in your favorite spicy dish. This will be especially the case in those who suffer from heartburn as the spicy foods will very likely keep them up during the night.

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      As long as you're leaving the spicy meal for an early dinner and eating foods that help calm heart burn later on (if you suffer from it), you shouldn't have too much to worry about with regards to this issue.


    Should You Wake Up To Eat?

      Finally, the last thing you might wonder about occasionally if your goal is to build muscle is whether it's worth it to actually wake up in the middle of the night to eat more food.

      Many of those who struggle to gain weight think this will help them take in the additional calories but in almost all cases, it's going to do more harm than good. Since disrupting the natural sleep to get up halfway through the night will bring you out of deep recovery mode, you're much better off making the effort to just consume more calories during the day. Utilize plenty of shakes if you must to get the calories in but don't sacrifice sleep to take in a midnight shake.

    Disrupting The Natural Sleep To Get Up Halfway Through The Night Will Bring You Out Of Deep Recovery Mode.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    Disrupting The Natural Sleep To Get Up Halfway Through
    The Night Will Bring You Out Of Deep Recovery Mode.

      If you wake up naturally, then fine, you may want to have something but be sure you don't make it too heavy and still follow the guidelines for food selections here so that you can get right back to sleep.

      Practicing good sleep habits including keeping your room cooler, making sure it's as dark as possible, and using a proper supportive mattress will also go a long way towards ensuring that you get a good night's sleep.

    Reference:

    1. Acebo, C. Carskadon, MA. Rupp, TL. (2007). Evening alcohol suppresses salivary melatonin in young adults. Chronobiol Int. 24(3):463-70.