Protein is a vital nutrient involved in the muscle-building process. You may have also heard that eating right before bedtime can lead to unwanted weight gain and so should be avoided. However, that’s not always the case. If you’re looking to build and maintain lean muscle mass as part of a consistent resistance training program, drinking the right type of protein before you go to bed is a critical part of the equation.
As you sleep, your body steadily gets closer to a catabolic state. This is the process of your body utilizing vital protein and amino acids – the building blocks of protein – as energy. This process is counterproductive if you’re looking to build muscle. Eating right before bedtime can help to slow down this process by making sure your body is properly fed throughout the seven or more hours you sleep.
- As you sleep, your body steadily gets closer to a catabolic state.
- Eating right before bedtime can help to slow down this process by making sure your body is properly fed throughout the seven or more hours you sleep.
Do Protein Shakes Give You Instant Energy?
Drinking just any type of protein shake before going to bed won’t do the trick. A fast-absorbing protein, such as whey, will promote protein synthesis – the muscle-building process – for only a short period of time. The solution is to choose a slow-absorbing protein, such as casein, that will help to maintain steady levels of amino acids in your bloodstream. According to Jeff S. Volek, Ph.D., R.D., casein can help to boost the protein synthesis process for up to seven or more hours while you sleep if it is consumed just before bedtime 1.
- Drinking just any type of protein shake before going to bed won’t do the trick.
- The solution is to choose a slow-absorbing protein, such as casein, that will help to maintain steady levels of amino acids in your bloodstream.
The exact amount of casein protein that is ideal for your pre-bedtime snack varies depending upon your body weight. Bodybuilding professional John Berardi believes that 30 g of casein protein is usually ideal. He says this amount can keep your blood amino acid levels elevated for more than seven hours. However, it’s important to factor in your pre-bedtime protein shake with your total protein intake for the day. Exceeding your protein needs can lead to unwanted weight gain due to the increased calorie intake. Berardi suggests consuming about 1 g of protein per pound of body weight if you’re actively working out and trying to build lean muscle mass. Divide your total protein intake equally among each of your meals – 20 g to 30 g per meal is usually idea.
- The exact amount of casein protein that is ideal for your pre-bedtime snack varies depending upon your body weight.
When Protein Isn't OK
Protein for Women for Weight Gain
A protein shake before bedtime isn’t right for everyone. If you’re not lifting weights or doing some sort of resistance training on a regular basis, a nighttime protein shake will only lead to weight gain in the form of fat. A single gram of protein contains about four calories, so a 30 g protein shake will contain at least 120 calories, and these calories can add up fast. Additionally, you should check with your doctor before taking any protein supplement, since they are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- A protein shake before bedtime isn’t right for everyone.
- If you’re not lifting weights or doing some sort of resistance training on a regular basis, a nighttime protein shake will only lead to weight gain in the form of fat.
Do Protein Shakes Give You Instant Energy?
Protein for Women for Weight Gain
How do I Eat Casein Protein?
How to Determine Protein Requirements
How Long Should You Wait After a Meal to Drink Muscle Milk?
Lack of Sleep & Bodybuilding
Diet for a Power Athlete
How Much Protein Should a Female Bodybuilder Consume?
Differences Between Weight Gainers & Protein Powders
Casein Protein for Weight Loss
- Nutrition Express; The Best Protein; Jeff S. Volek, Ph.D., R.D.
- McColl P. 9 things to know about how the body uses protein to repair muscle tissue. ACE Fitness. Updated March 5, 2018.
- Jäger R, Kerksick CM, Campbell BI, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017;14:20. doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8
- Snijders T, Trommelen J, Kouw IWK, Holwerda AM, Verdijk LB, Van Loon LJC. The impact of pre-sleep protein ingestion on the skeletal muscle adaptive response to exercise in humans: An update. Front Nutr. 2019;6:17. doi:10.3389/fnut.2019.00017
- Holwerda AM, Kouw IW, Trommelen J, et al. Physical activity performed in the evening increases the overnight muscle protein synthetic response to presleep protein ingestion in older men. J Nutr. 2016;146(7):1307-14. doi:10.3945/jn.116.230086
- Kouw IW, Holwerda AM, Trommelen J, et al. Protein ingestion before sleep increases overnight muscle protein synthesis rates in healthy older men: A randomized controlled trial. J Nutr. 2017;147(12):2252-2261. doi:10.3945/jn.117.254532
- Trommelen J, Van Loon LJ. Pre-sleep protein ingestion to improve the skeletal muscle adaptive response to exercise training. Nutrients. 2016;8(12). doi:10.3390/nu8120763
- Res PT, Groen B, Pennings B, et al. Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012;44(8):1560-9. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e31824cc363
- Snijders T, Res PT, Smeets JS, et al. Protein ingestion before sleep increases muscle mass and strength gains during prolonged resistance-type exercise training in healthy young men. J Nutr. 2015;145(6):1178-84. doi:10.3945/jn.114.208371
- Sahni S, Mangano KM, Hannan MT, Kiel DP, Mclean RR. Higher protein intake is associated with higher lean mass and quadriceps muscle strength in adult men and women. J Nutr. 2015;145(7):1569-75. doi:10.3945/jn.114.204925
- Robinson MM, Dasari S, Konopka AR, et al. Enhanced Ttranslation underlies improved metabolic and physical adaptations to different exercise training modes in young and old humans. Cell Metab. 2017;25(3):581-592. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2017.02.009
- Pesta DH, Samuel VT. A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: Mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2014;11(1):53. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-11-53
- How many calories are in one gram of fat, carbohydrate, or protein? U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Pritchett K, Meyer EL Eds. Nutrition, Health and Athletic Performance. MDPI. 2017.
- Deeth HC, Bansal N, Eds. Whey Proteins: From Milk to Medicine. Academic Press. 2019.
- Witard OC, Wardle SL, Macnaughton LS, Hodgson AB, Tipton KD. Protein considerations for optimising skeletal muscle mass in healthy young and older adults. Nutrients. 2016;8(4):181. doi:10.3390/nu8040181
- Miranda JM, Anton X, Redondo-valbuena C, et al. Egg and egg-derived foods: Effects on human health and use as functional foods. Nutrients. 2015;7(1):706-29. doi:10.3390/nu7010706
- Marangoni F, Corsello G, Cricelli C, et al. Role of poultry meat in a balanced diet aimed at maintaining health and wellbeing: An Italian consensus document. Food Nutr Res. 2015;59:27606. doi:10.3402/fnr.v59.27606
- Kerksick CM, Wilborn CD, Roberts MD, et al. ISSN exercise & sports nutrition review update: Research & recommendations. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018;15(1):38. doi:10.1186/s12970-018-0242-y
Joseph Eitel has written for a variety of respected online publications since 2006 including the Developer Shed Network and Huddle.net. He has dedicated his life to researching and writing about diet, nutrition and exercise. Eitel's health blog, PromoteHealth.info, has become an authority in the healthy-living niche. He graduated with honors from Kellogg Community College in 2010 with an Associate of Applied Science.