Craving a healthy late-night snack? Cottage cheese may be the way to go.
Academics at Florida State University have followed a group of study participants, active young women in their early 20s, who ate samples of cottage cheese 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime in order to see if this food has an impact on metabolic rate and muscle recovery.
Accordingly, the researchers found that consuming 30 grams of protein about 30 minutes prior to hitting the hay appears to have a positive effect on overall health and "no gain in body fat".
This is one of the first nutrition studies where participants consumed a whole food as opposed to a protein shake or supplement.
"Until now, we presumed that whole foods would act similarly to the data on supplemental protein, but we had no real evidence," said Dr. Michael Ormsbee. "This is important because it adds to the body of literature that indicates that whole foods work just as well as protein supplementation, and it gives people options for pre-sleep nutrition that go beyond powders and shaker bottles."
The research team now hope to examine more pre-sleep food options and conduct longer-term studies to learn more about the optimal food choices to aid people in recovery from exercise, as well as in the repair and regeneration of muscle.
"While protein supplements absolutely have their place, it is important to begin pooling data for foods and understanding the role they can play in these situations," research dietitian Samantha Leyh added. "Like the additive and synergistic effects of vitamins and minerals when consumed in whole food forms such as fruits or veggies, perhaps whole food sources may follow suit. While we can't generalize for all whole foods as we have only utilized cottage cheese, this research will hopefully open the door to future studies doing just that."
Full study results have been published in the British Journal of Nutrition.