No doubt about it, the supplementation industry is big business. With so many companies vying to secure your dollar with a sale, they are always trying to out do each other. Some will try and make existing products better in either quality or affordability, and others will play the game with a little cleaver marketing - to create products that sound too good to be true. One of the most recent products to make me laugh has been the influx of specially designed and marketed 'night time proteins'. Basically, is there any truth to the night time proteins (what they claim to do) and are they any better then conventional blended proteins currently available?
Some of the claims made by manufacturers have been ridiculous at best. Hey, I am the first to admit that I am no bio-chemist and the science behind these products might be a little out of my league, but I am using a very powerful tool to make this judgment - common sense. In 9 times out of 10, if a product sounds too good to be true, it usually is and some of the claims made, well I just cannot see how they could be possible.
I have seen the marketing from a company that claims that they have a protein that provides a sustained release for up to 7 hours! This just puzzles me as to why you would want a protein powder to digest so slowly. Why? What happens to the delicate protein fractions sitting in your gut for that length of time. Surely after 7 hours, they will have been affected to some degree. Stomach acids are pretty powerful!
Also, some time back I saw another company claim that they bonded the protein to an 'insulin matrix' (whatever that is) which slowed the digestion to a full 10 hours. I just want to know what is the point of that? If you consume 40g of protein and then go to sleep, their 'sales pitch' is that the protein is absorbed over a 10hr period, so lets just say 4g per hour. What would 4g of protein per hour accomplish? In my opinion, not a lot.
I just cannot see the point of this. I mean, if we eat every 2 to 3 hours during the day, why should the night be any less important? It's not, and the supplement folk know this. So instead of recommending a nightly feed, some companies will create a new product, make some outrageous claims on digestion speed and then jack up the price because this is a 'specialty' product.
So on a whole, I believe the whole array of specialty 'night time' proteins are crap. So with that being said, what would I recommend you consume to take you through the night? Well, nothing is going to cover you all through the whole night, but I do have a solution.
Before bed, have a protein shake which comprises of some Whey Protein Isolate (WPI), Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) and Casein. A blended protein works best because it gives you some fast, medium and slow acting protein. Also, very important to mix it in skim milk. Milk is a great source of protein and is mainly based on Casein - a more slowly digestible protein. Now have this shake, brush your teeth and hit the sack. This shake will probably supply your body with about 4hrs worth of growth and repair. If you crash at 10pm, this brings us to about 2am.
If your shake was big enough, you might be waking up to go to the toilet. This is also the perfect time to have another protein hit. All you need to do is have some pre-measured protein sitting on your kitchen bench in a dry shaker, so just stumble in, add some milk, quick shake, drink, shaker into the sink and you back to bed. This whole exercises will take you about 3 minutes.
What happens now is that your body is again stocked up on quality nutrients for another couple hours of quality sleep to enable optimal recovery and growth. It is often stated that sleep is the time that we grow and recover from our intense workouts, so why is it that we usually starve ourselves through the process? It only takes a few minutes to have a quick shake and capitalize on the muscle building process.
In 2004 I was looking for a way to GUARANTEE that I kept all of my hard earned muscle whilst dieting down for the Musclemania Australia and I looked into several of the night time proteins. Right away I realized that a lot were filled with just empty promises. I experimented with this 2am feeding myself and I am certain that this was one of my secret weapons for the increased mass I carried onto the stage. Even a week out from the show, I was drinking a full meal replacement at 2am and going straight back to bed. Most people view that as a no no, I just viewed it as (a) not getting sucked into the scam marketing and (b) maximizing my nutrition to deliver me outstanding success! You eat every 2-3 hrs during the day, and the night is no different. Your body doesn't really know what time it is and nor does it care. It only cares about being supplied the right nutrients at the right time - when it needs them.
Forget about the marketed 'night time' proteins and give this method a go. I am 100% confident that by having a full shake (with milk) before going to bed and then at a time during the night (half way through sleep) will result in gains in quality mass and enhanced recuperation. Plus, staying away from the marketed 'night time' proteins will also save you a few bucks too.
More muscle, more recovery, more money in my pocket - it's a win-win situation for everyone!