T Nation

Eating before sleeping

Is it really terrible to eat shortly before going to bed? I have a schedule where I can’t workout until late, so after lifting I take Surge and then wait an hour before having dinner which means I am going to bed within the hour after that. Would it be better to restructure my meals so that I take the Surge as my last meal? Or does it all come down to how many calories and nutrients consumed overall? My goal now is to put on muscle while minimizing fat gain. But would it be different if I were trying to lose fat while minimizing muscle loss? Thanks

Eating before bed is fine, especially if your goal is muscle gain. I always eat an hour or so before bed, but I do like to keep the carbs low. Take Surge right after training as usual. Then have a high protein, moderate fat, low carb meal before bed. Mine is usually two scoops of Advanced Protein with added fat (PB, flax, handful of fish oil caps ect.)

Another idea given to me by Jeff McCarrell at Biotest (who’s also known as a contest prep guru) is to eat steak as your last meal. This would digest slowly and hold off any possible catabolic activity. I’ve been doing this all week. And no, for me at least, it does not interfere with sleep. It’s quick too, as I just use my countertop grill and cook up little strips of beef designed for stir fry. Takes 5 minutes.

Gotta agree w/ Chris on this one. Eating before bed is fine, and it actually helps me sleep better. If I eat carbs right before bed, I seem to feel sluggish in the morning, and I’m not sure I want a load of carbs sitting in my gut when I’m not active or glycogen depleted.

Actually, if I don't eat something within an hour or so before bed, I wake up at 5:00 AM to a ravenous hunger that sets me flying through the kitchen.

I ‘try’ to get in something like 7oz tuna and a 40g whey shake before bed. I haven’t seen any growth in a few weeks now so I’m really pushing to get in the right calories at the right time.

I’ve eaten a plain old ordinary meal (steak, potato, broccoli) an hour before bed without any problems. Everyone’s different in this respect though. If you’re trying to lose weight then definitely follow Chris’ suggestion and eat some steak or cottage cheese or something.

I wonder if the steak would be an especially good idea on weight-training days.

What I do is is cut up 200 grams of chicken breast into small pieces. Take a pan and pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil on it. Then I just fry the chicken in olive oil. And bang im done. I’ve been told by a few people that protein before bed doesn’t help you sleep well, and leads to vivid dreams(sex with goats)… but obviously I don’t have those dreams… anyways I sort of have a sleeping disorder, it’s hard for me to fall asleep. But I doubt the food has anything to do with it. If i don’t eat before bed my stomach will be wimpering all night :frowning:

I’m just wondering about the health implications of having a meal before bed or waking up to eat in the middle of the night. After all sleep is supposed to be about resting and repairing your body -yet if your digestive system is working overtime digesting more and more food - could this be healthy? I would probably opt for a protein shake or something very light, but I wouldn’t fancy eating a piece of steak or something large before bed.

I eat 2 cups cottage cheese b/f sleep

Hi gang! Have we not all forgotten the golden rule of not eating 2 hours b4 bed. This is to ensure that blood sugar levels are low thus promoting max output of growth hormone. Whether on a diet or a binge, surley this free hormone surge has 2 b considered worthwhile.

Actually, John, that golden rule is about as good as “fat makes you fat”, “squats are bad for the knees” and “high protein diets will harm your kidneys.” Golden rules have a way of becoming antiquated fallacies in this game.

Not eating may cause some natural GH release, but so what? You don’t build muscle without food. And keep in mind that most experts will tell you that even if you inject real GH, it’s only useful as a “minor fat burner”, at least by itself. To paraphrase John Berardi, if Biotest sold real GH, half of it would get returned because people would see no results. Now, do you really think that manipulating your natural GH levels would do any good? Probably not.

To paraphrase TC, this issue constitutes minutia; it’s absurd. There are much more important and helpful things to focus on.

I used to fall for this crap too, I admit. For example, as a newbie I read about how T levels are higher in the morning, so I started getting up at 5 and training before work. Are T levels higher in the morning? Yep. Did training without adequate sleep, on an empty stomach, and in a “cold”, tight, drowsy state help me gain muscle? Nope. My progress was awful during that time, despite the higher morning T levels. I was worried about the little, near inconsequential stuff and missing the big picture. It’s an easy mistake to make.

I know, I know, a dozen people are going to write in and say, “But I’ve been doing that for years and I grow real good.” I’m sure you can still make progress, but you’ll make better progress by getting some protein before bed. Try it both ways for a few months and see for yourself.

Chris, you are the voice of reason on this site. I think I get more from your articles and insights than almost anyone else on this site. You seem to have every piece of pratical real-world advice down great and present it in a very well written manner. I enjoy the in depth scientific stuff, that’s what drew me to this site, but most progress is made in the gym through good fundamentals just like any other athletic endeavor (remember “Hoosiers” everyone). Just thought I would give you some props. Thanks.

Chris:- Point taken and appreciated. JR.

Thanks, Beefy! You’ve made my week!

Chris i am 18 and i think im still gonna grow taller do u think if i didnt eatbefore bed i would have a better chance at growing taller since insulin opposes gh?

For goodness sakes, eat, Johnny, eat! GH, insulin, blah, blah, blah… you’re over-thinking this. Your height is genetically determined. When you’re born you’ve got your maximal height “dialed in”. Nothing you can do get any taller than you’re supposed to be (well, nothing practical at least.) But you can end up shorter than you’re supposed to be. How? Not eating! Of course, I’m talking about severe malnutrition here, not just skipping a meal.

So, no reason to even spend the mental energy thinking about the issue. Hope this helps.

There is an interesting series of articles on Paul Chek’s site about sleep and biorhythms–http://www.chekinstitute.com/articles.cfm?select=19. I’m pretty sure one of these articles recommended not eating right before bed in order to allow the body to concentrate on physical recovery, which occurs mostly during the first few hours of sleep.