Many bodybuilding theories exist in regards to achieving maximum muscle gains with the smallest possible body fat percentage, with weight lifters attempting to manipulate diet variables, including whether food is consumed prior to sleep, in order to improve progress. Some bodybuilders understand the value of bedtime meals, but others fear consumption of food prior to sleep, especially bodybuilders who either gain fat quickly when aiming for muscle growth, or who are focusing specifically on fat loss, and wish to amplify the speed of results.

The theory is that food prior to sleep increases the risk of fat gain, and although there is no inherent harm to body fat levels when consuming a late meal, because many diet plans are structured with an incorrect use of calories and carbohydrates, not to mention improper meal division, which can detract from building a more efficient metabolism, the bedtime meal encourages fat storage for many, and some in the bodybuilding world classify later eating as destructive towards body fat control.

The common mistake made is to either use excessive carbohydrates for a bedtime meal, or consume a food intake that is beyond the body's core requirements for muscle growth or preservation (depending upon the goal), which then clearly will result in body fat increase, as energy needs during an overnight fast are less than at any other time. Yet, unlike certain mistaken theories may suggest, a bodybuilder is in great need of calories during sleep, as this is when muscle gains occur at their greatest proportion. In fact, since the body has a lengthy uninterrupted period to repair and grow lean muscle tissue, sufficient protein and calories must be present in order to maximize such progress, which is why a bedtime meal becomes crucial. When nutrients are withheld prior to a lengthy sleep period, although muscles seek to grow during such hours, they are unable to do so, and if an individual is consuming a lower calorie diet for fat loss, many times muscle mass will even decline dramatically.

During fat loss periods, one of the most challenging obstacles for many bodybuilders is muscle maintenance, and making dramatic alternations to a diet, whether it be reducing food intake below the maximum necessary for fat loss due to impatience, or eliminating food later in the evening, will greatly enhance the chance for lost muscle, which further suppresses metabolism, making future fat loss difficult. Unbeknownst to many, a properly structured bedtime meal can actually assist in the fat reduction process, as metabolism benefits from a frequent meal structure, and withholding food for prolonged periods can cause the body to restrict calorie burn. This can occur not only when decreasing frequency of meals during the daylight hours, but also by skipping a moderately sized meal prior to sleep. This is contradictory to the notion that food before bed increases the chance of fat gain or slows fat loss, but far too many who pursue bedtime meals are consuming a larger intake than is necessary to properly stimulate metabolism and sustain muscle mass, or are using excessive carbohydrates, as if the meal were preceding a weight lifting workout as opposed to a lengthy sleep session. A meal before sleep should be comprised of mostly protein, as the body during rest is seeking primarily recovery and growth (by way of protein synthesis), but eliminating carbohydrates completely will cause the body to use protein for energy, which robs nutrients for muscle recuperation, and places metabolism at risk.

Certain bodybuilders understand the importance of bedtime meals, and try to consume several during the evening, waking up once or twice for extra food, believing this will aid muscle growth, but such a technique is harmful to overall results, as consuming one correctly designed bedtime meal is sufficient to allow for muscle gains and proper metabolic function, while waking up for another one or two meals will disrupt proper sleep patterns, which are just as vital for muscle gains and proper metabolism as the meal itself. Waking up for extra food during the evening prevents the body from utilizing calories properly, so for maximum muscle building and fat reduction, aiming for a bedtime meal with controlled carbohydrate intake and sufficient protein once before a lengthy sleep session is the most effective method.

Author's Bio: 

Francesco Castano is the owner of IncrediBody, a physical fitness company dedicated to helping others learn exactly how to gain muscle mass and lose weight without supplements or drugs. He authors two programs, one called MuscleNOW, teaching the correct , and Fat Vanish, which teaches how to lose weight & burn stomach fat for natural weight loss, at He includes lifetime email personal training with both programs, where he personally assists all of his clients with training and diet questions, and has hundreds of testimonials validating the effectiveness of his techniques. He also offers weight lifting equipment, egg protein powder and acne therapy at Please visit his web sites, and feel free to contact Francesco at any time with your muscle building or weight loss questions!