Planning the last meal of the day
Planning the last meal of the day should depend on the time you go to bed to ensure the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep. If e.g. you need to wake up at 7 o’clock in the morning ideally be in bed around 10pm and your last big meal of the day should be around 3 hours before bed or about 1 hour before if you are consuming a small meal or snack before bed. This way digestion should not disturb sleep.
Furthermore, physical activity in the afternoon or late evening will require you to move a good portion of your all-day protein intake after the activity itself. Ideally, we want to provide at least 20 g of complete protein immediately after training to encourage maximum protein synthesis and recovery. After that at least an additional 40 g of protein before bed to ensure a positive nitrogen balance and a significant level of protein synthesis during the overnight recovery.
This requires that after the afternoon workout we leave enough time to consume two meals. Given that for many this is an impossible mission, at least one meal with a protein dose of 40 g would be desirable, and the choice of protein source will depend on the time you have available so that its digestion does not interfere with sleep. Carbohydrate and fat intake primarily depends on your own needs, preferences and time when you have a workout.
I would recommend that the bedtime meal does not contain too much fat which slows down digestion and gastric emptying, and I would increase my carbohydrate intake towards the end of the day if intense physical activity is carried out in the afternoon or later in the evening.
Examples of meals and snacks before going to bed
Below we will give an example of dinner and a snack each with 40 g of protein that you can try as your own meals before bed. One meal contains fish, a source of easily digestible protein and omega-3 fatty acids that help regulate inflammation and stress, while the other contains a combination of slow and quickly digestible milk proteins ideal for a bedtime snack with cherries, one of the melatonin-rich foods such as and fish, which can contribute to the regulation of your circadian rhythm (the internal biological rhythm that regulates sleep and wakefulness).
- Example of meal before going to bed
Groceries: 5 g of olive oil 150 g salmon 400 g of potatoes 75 g of kale 5 g of garlic
Nutritional value of the meal: 645 kcal 42 g of protein 70 g of carbohydrates 24 g fat
- Example of snack before going to sleep
Groceries: 150 g of quark 35 g whey protein 50 g cherries ½ teaspoons of cinnamon
Nutritional value of the meal: 262 kcal 40 g of protein 18 g of carbohydrates 3 g fat