Everyone gets the bedtime ‘munchies’. As athletes, these moments can be especially detrimental to your nutritional health and performance if this means grabbing a bag of your favorite nacho cheese-flavored chips or a bowl of chocolate crunchies cereal. Is there a food that can satisfy these cravings and be beneficial at the same time? Surprisingly, cottage cheese can fill the bill.
Cottage cheese was a byproduct of the butter-making process but now is produced separately. This food is power packed with protein, with 13 g per 1/2 cup. Many have heard of whey protein as is commonly used in many protein shakes and protein supplements. Whey protein is high in branched-chain amino acids, commonly known as BCAAs, that are critical in building lean muscle. That said, cottage cheese is very high in the other milk protein, casein. About 88% of the protein in cottage cheese is casein, with the balance being whey. Although casein is higher in BCAAs compared to other protein sources, it’s not as high as whey, so is used less frequently as a protein source for athletes.
Why cottage cheese before bed?
The casein in cottage cheese takes longer to digest and thus has a longer sustained release into your bloodstream. This is helpful during sleep as your body is still building cells and operating as you are sleeping. Protein is the only macro-nutrient that is not stored in your body, so ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’. Having your body ready to go, especially for early morning workouts is crucial. Whey protein is recommended as a post workout supplement for the reasons stated above but casein in cottage cheese is a good benefit before bed. So grab a bowl of it with a little fruit and satisfy that bedtime craving with a healthy and ‘good for your body’ snack.
Here’s another healthy alternative to cottage cheese: