Rest and Recovery

The First Growth Factors

Saving Muscle At Bedtime

Arginine. Best known today for its ability to boost nitric oxide production that enhances muscle pumps and increases blood flow to muscles. Arginine works by suppressing the activity of somatostatin, a hormone in the brain that halts GH secretion.

Suggested dose: 3 to 5 grams at bedtime.

CLA. Conjugated linoleic acid is widely known for its ability to shrink the size of fat cells, enhance lean muscle development and utilize stored fat as a fuel source. Studies indicate that CLA elevates metabolism and increases the amount of fat burned while sleeping, by stimulating GH release.

Suggested dose: 1 to 3 grams.

GABA. The amino acid gamma-aminobutyric acid is considered to be a powerful neurotransmitter which transmits nerve impulses. GABA is highly concentrated in the hypothalamus and helps regulate sleep cycles and the pituitary gland, which is the gland that releases GH. Researchers at the First Medical Clinic at the University of Milan recently reported that GABA increased blood levels of GH by 5½ percent after 90 minutes of intake.

Suggested dose: 500 milligrams to 1 gram.

Glutamine. The most abundant amino acid found on skeletal muscle, and a powerful recovery agent that boosts immunity. Current data indicates that 2 grams of glutamine is effective in raising growth-hormone levels more than four times that of base levels, versus a placebo. Glutamine also preserves muscle mass and prevents muscle acidosis to boot, which increases muscle wasting and fatigue.

Melatonin. As mentioned earlier, melatonin induces sleep and has anti-aging properties. Its ability to stimulate GH production at sleep has been well-documented. Recently reporting in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers looking at melatonin and heavy resistance training found that 5.0 milligrams in both males and females increased serum GH levels, while lowering SST (somatostatin) levels, the compound that blocks the release of GH. Additionally, researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin reported that melatonin given to men with low levels of GH reduced fat levels by 14 percent, with a 9 percent increase in lean tissue development.

Ornithine. This amino acid is considered to be arginine’s twin brother and converts to arginine, thus stimulating growth hormone release when taken before bedtime and during exercise. Orthinine also increases glutamine synthesis.

Suggested dose: 3 to 5 grams at bedtime.

Tryptophan. Tryptophan is best known as an agent that promotes sleep and relaxation. It also has powerful GH-releasing capabilities. This nutrient is converted to serotonin, the brain chemical that causes GH release. Studies indicate that 5 to 7 grams causes elevation of serum GH between 30-90 minutes after supplementation, before going to sleep.

ZMA. The combination of zinc magnesium and B-6 has been shown to increase muscle strength and enhance recovery. Studies suggest that this synergistic combination can improve sleep quality and promote GH release. Researchers at Western Washington University reported that after eight weeks of ZMA supplementation, total testosterone levels increased by 32.4 percent while IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) increased by 3.6 percent, corresponding with increased preservation of lean muscle tissue during sleep.

Stimulating The Natural Growth Hormone Within

While the above supplements can be great aids at bedtime, the following protocols can also help along the way:

• Consume low-glycemic foods like pasta or oatmeal before workouts.
• Reduce carb intake before bedtime.
• Maintain a balance of carbs, protein and fats during feeding times.
• Consume five to seven small meals daily.
• Utilize powerlifts like squats and deadlifts.
• Train in short, intense bursts two to three times daily versus long, 2-hour workouts.
• Aerobic exercise encourages GH release and can keep plasma GH levels elevated for 2 hours after stopping.

Some Anti-Catabolic Facts to Ponder

• Each part of your body that you exercise needs a minimum of 24-48 hours of rest. And in some cases, five to seven days to re-adapt from exercise-induced micro-trauma to muscle tissue.
• Each muscle group should be worked vigorously only once each week, to ensure that full recovery occurs.
• Don’t train a muscle group if it’s still sore from the last session.
• Limit workouts per week to three to four, and shoot for 1-hour sessions.
• Being awake for a 24-hour period has the same effect as a blood alcohol content of 0.096, a level above the legal driving limit in many states. Get your rest.
• Make sure you sleep comfortably through the night, at least 8 full hours.
• Neither the mind nor the body shuts down during sleep.
• Don’t exercise before going to bed.
• Reduce stressful episodes before bedtime.
• Establish a bedtime routine (glass of warm milk, meditation, biofeedback exercises, meditation).

NOTE: Sleep specialists suggest a 1-hour window that supports the time you need to wind down. Studies indicate that individuals who are relaxed before bedtime with the methods listed above demonstrate brain wave activity that is comparable to early phases of sleep.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine and other fluids before bedtime to limit bathroom trips, and consider ingesting some casein protein before bedtime to minimize muscle protein breakdown.

Last Words
Based on an overwhelming body of evidence, sleep management should not be an afterthought in reference to your exercise routine. It’s more than a final frontier you need to conquer when the time arises; it is the first one and paradoxically, the most important one— in which you are doing nothing but lying down on the job!

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