Gatorade Is Working On Yogurt For Workout Recovery: How Casein Protein Builds Muscle While You Sleep

Gatorade Muscle
One of Gatorade's newest product hopes to aid muscle recovery. Photo courtesy of Getty Images/The Washington Post

In an effort to go beyond its traditional sports drinks, Gatorade is working on a new line of products, including a smart hydration water bottle, an energy boost shot, and a night protein yogurt to boost workout performance. The yogurt alone, though, may be the start of a new workout trend.

"What will make you a better athlete is not just what you drink on the field," Xavi Cortadellas, Gatorade’s senior director of global innovation and design, told Fox Business. "It’s what you put in your body throughout the day. We want to help athletes better fuel themselves, to have better health and nutrition. The more regimented they are on what they are eating and what they are drinking, the better athletes they'll be."

The company is increasing the timeframe for athletes to use its products from morning, noon, and night by creating a full "fuel profile" designed to customize the consumer's performance on and off the field. A technologically advanced water bottle and a 2.5-ounce nitrate shot aren't far off from the brand’s typical product line; however, the yogurt stands out as one of the few food items in the industry to address overnight muscle repair. 

The protein content found in Greek yogurt is almost entirely casein, which is also found in milk and other milk products. Since it digests slowly in the body, it's ideal for rebuilding muscle while consumers sleep. A study from the Netherlands found sourcing casein after a workout and just 30 minutes before bedtime led to greater muscle protein synthesis. In another 12-week study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2012, researchers found ingesting protein before going to sleep led to a greater increase in muscle mass and strength compared to participants who took a placebo before bed.

That said, the company is still testing their night yogurt and expects its late-night snack to hit shelves within the next two years. Until then, consumers can rely on other milk-based products already found in a grocery store to reap the restorative benefits of casein protein.

A classic 4-to 6-ounce serving of Greek yogurt can be incorporated into a pre-bedtime muscle recovery routine. The casein found in yogurt acts as the building block for lean-muscle development and maintains muscle growth after a hard workout. It typically contains 12 to 15 grams of protein, though that's assuming consumers skip the more decadent options. Some varieties of the healthy snack are more like a sugar-laden dessert.

If you're not a fan of yogurt, cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein with an added blend of amino acids also thought to aid in muscle repair. On average, a cup of cottage cheese contains 11 to 12 grams of protein, which can also help stave off any late-night hunger pangs.

Lactose intolerant? There’s a good chance the casein in dairy products is the root cause of your allergy. As an alternative, choose a 1-to-1 tablespoon scoop of natural peanut butter to provide 7 grams of protein right before bed. It doesn’t contain casein, but because it supplies 9 grams of healthy monounsaturated fats, it helps to aid with slower breakdown of proteins.

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