T Nation

Bedtime Snack when Dieting?

When you sleep you have a respiratory quotient of 0.7 or so(RQ is the amount of CO2 expired divided by the amount of O2 inhaled). At this value, I’ve been taught that your body is burning 100% fat as fuel. If 100% fat is being burned, where does the notion of sleep being such a catabolic state come from?
Furthermore, when dieting, if Fat is the only fuel source being used while sleeping, would it not make sense to sleep on an empty stomach and supplement with glutamine peptide (mixed with water) and ZMA. The two raise IGF-1 and glutamine is anti-catabolic. ZMA will improve endocrine function that is sometimes adversely effected when dieting and both will help with immune function as well.


Does it make sense to forget the pre-bedtime snack in favor of glutamine and ZMA when fat loss is the goal? I’ve had favorable results in the past. What are your thoughts?

BigRob - when we bodybuilders think of catabolism we usually think of it in terms of muscle wasting and not fat utilization. i think the notion of sleep being catabolic is that the body disassembles complex molecules (fat) to release energy and is the part of metabolism that does not contribute to growth, so by definition this is catabolism. i read somewhere that the process of repair and growth during the night is fueled strictly by fatty acids which speaks to your point of fat being used as the fuel source during sleep. but isn’t the repair and growth of muscle tissue anabolic? so how can we be both catabolic and anabolic at the same time? maybe it is because this particular brand of catabolism DOES contribute to growth and is the exception to the rule?. i assume this is the point you were addressing in your first question? i would like to know the answer to this one as well. as for your second question, zma is supposed to be taken on an empty stomach or at the very least with food that contains little to no calcium, so this cancels out ever popular pre-sleep casein protein milk products and syncs well with your idea of sleeping on an empty stomach. thoughts anyone? kevo

ZMA can be taken between the last two meals of the day. Problem solved.

Honestly, I think the rest of this discussion is getting into the minutia category. It’s interesting, but it kind of reminds me of the natural GH arguments. Not eating raises GH. So does smacking yourself on the forehead with a blunt object. But does that make a bit of difference when it comes to looking good and having a muscular body? Nope. And the big question is: Since when is not eating led to a great body? A skinny, puny body maybe, but not the kind of body we’re all shooting for.

I talked to Jeff over at Biotest recently (he’s known as a contest prep guru for bodybuilders) and you know what he has his clients eat before bed? Steak! Why? To stave off any possible catabolic activity caused by 8 hours of no food. Keep in mind he’s working with dieting bodybuilders here. He likes them to eat a protein/fat meal before bed.

I have no doubt that you’ll lose weight by going hours without food, but where does that weight come from? As for the “body burning 100% fat at night”, I don’t know exactly, but I doubt it. It’s like those people who don’t eat for three hours before bed ("'cause it makes you fat"), then do morning cardio on an empty stomach, then wait two hours before they eat to “keep the fat burning going”. How dumb is that? Sure, they lose weight. And they look like shit when they’re done, especially when the fat quickly packs back on them because their metabolisms are shot.

Also, keep in mind that it’s the overall daily caloric intake that’s important here. Will a meal before bed make you fat? Depends if it fit into your calorie goals for that day and it depends on what that meal is made up of. (Low Carbs/High Protein/Moderate to High Fat meals before bed - like an hour before you sleep - works best.)

Chris, I’m feeling a little flamed here. I guess I really didn’t get my question across at all. As far as your body burning 100% fat as fuel goes, JMB may be the best to explain that because it comes straight out of my Exercise Physiology Class.

Now I’m not saying this is the holy truth, I’m just trying to meld science with Bodybuilding (something that Testosterone does better than anyone).

I also eat a protein+fat meal before bed (usuaslly 6 whole eggs and cottage cheese), and the dosing for ZMA wasn't an issue.

I was more concerned with by what mechanism sleep becomes so catabolic. I realize the absence of food over an extended period of time is going to lead to catabolism, but if during sleep, your body is burning 100% fat (we have to verify this), how is it actually breking down muscle for fuel as well? Now it makes sense to feed dieting BB’s to eat before bed because their fat stores are alredy low, but what about the average Joe at 20%?

Calories would obviously be calculated properly. That goes with without saying. Listen, I’m a big advocate of the pre-bedtime meal, just read my threads. I’m just trying to find the common ground between real world nutrition and the stuff that’s floating around in my head from the land of academia.

What about the supplement strategy. You're the supplement "voice of reason" on this here forum so I was hoping to hear on that as well. I realize that you may not be a man of science and I seem to be turning into one, but is there a middle ground here?

I appreciate the time and the healthy debate. Still, my ass is burning from the flaming. Minutia is such a nasty word. Peace.

Kevo, catabolism is a state of muscle wasting. You seemed to have implied that it is a state of “no growth”. If I missunderstood, I apologize. Straighten me out. Peace.

Ok go without those spikes of “unnecessary GH” during slow wave sleep, say you block it with a drug, you will get weak and sick very rapidly, in fact it will eventualy kill you.

Eating steak before sleep shouldnt realy raise insulin that much compared to like a bowl of white rice, so you could expect it to compliment the GH somewhat.

Unless I’m useing some amino acid that must cross the BBB for GH release, I eat a slow burn protien before sleep, and avoid high GI food, seems to work well.

Basically, what we’re talking about is starvation. That is, if you don’t consume ANY food before you go to bed, you’re basically starving yourself. So what happens during starvation? The first few hours after you go to bed, you’ll be depleting glycogen stores. After this, you’ll begin using amino acids to form glucose(gluconeogenesis), which occurs in the liver. Now during this time, fat is also a major source of energy but we’re certainly not utilizing 100%. Of course, the longer you fast or starve, the less protein is utilized and more fat is used.

GH has little to do with the nature of my post. IGF-1 was mentioned but that’s different. Slow digesting protein is definetely best before bed and Insulin spikes aren’t the issue. I’m trying to understand how sleep is catabolic and if it is, does the ZMA/glutamine stack work in theory when dieting?

Cy, basically, what I’m taking away from this whole flamefest is that what I was taught was alittle short sighted. Originally I disagreed with the notion of fat solely being burned as fuel during sleep. But it got me thinking.

Even still, if it turned out better to not eat in order to lode fat, i’d still eat because I’m trying to gain strength and size.

Thanks for the dose of clarity. Peace.

Not meant as a flame at all, BigRob.

Chris, no worries. Even if it wasn’t meant as a flame, a flame may have been in order. I truly never agreed with the notion of 100% fat being burned while sleeping. It was something put forth by one of my profs. I’m rehashing here. Anyway, e-mailing back and fourth with Cy helped straighten things out. I appreciate the time. Peace.

BigRob - the definition of catabolism is “The breaking down of complex molecules to release energy; the part of metabolism that does not contribute to growth.” anytime the body disassembles itself (any complex molecule) for energy production it is performing a catabolic process. catabolism does not apply only to muscle wasting although muscle wasting certainly is catabolism in its’ most evil form and is what is generally referred to when discussing weight training. kevo

Kevo,
Ya man, I figured I just missunderstood. I’ve got my head right now though. Thanks for wading in here. Did a little reading on gh and IGF and to a degree you’re correct in implying the two are interchangeable. Peace.