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What Are The Benefits Of Having A Protein Shake Before Bed?

We asked a group of nutrition and fitness experts to give us their thoughts about having a protein shake before bed

Protein Shake Before Bed
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

What are the benefits of having a protein shake before bed?

If you’re reading this article, then the chances are that you’re looking to find out whether having a protein shake before bed is a good idea for you or not.

Protein shakes are very popular nutritional supplements, and they can provide a convenient way to increase your protein intake where necessary.

As you probably already know, protein is an important macronutrient that contributes to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. This is why it’s such a crucial dietary inclusion for gym goers, athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

But what are some of the key things to bear in mind when it comes to having a protein shake before bed?

We asked a group of nutrition and fitness experts to give us their thoughts on having a bedtime protein shake.

Here’s what they said.

Editor's note: The content on this website is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. Our articles and the products featured in them are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. Always speak with a certified medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle, diet, exercise routine, and/or taking any supplements.

It Can Help To Continue Muscle Protein Synthesis During The Night

Aja Gyimah, MHSc, kuudose Founding Registered Dietitian

A protein shake before bed is a great way to continue muscle protein synthesis overnight.

While we sleep our protein synthesis rates drop. However, those seven to nine hours of sleeping could be used to adapt to training.

Stimulating muscle protein synthesis overnight can be crucial for gaining lean body mass over time.

If you typically use a whey protein isolate, you may want to switch to a casein-based protein shake for your bedtime dose because it is slower to digest and may continue muscle protein synthesis over a longer period of time.

A Smoothie Is A Convenient Way To Get In Bedtime Protein

Sue Heikkinen, Registered Dietitian at MyNetDiary

Our muscles are constantly rebuilding and repairing, requiring a steady supply of protein for the best results.

Research shows that bedtime protein promotes muscle building. This effect of bedtime protein is especially important for strength training athletes, but may also have benefits people trying to lose weight.

While we don’t know the ideal amount of bedtime protein for muscle-building, most studies used between 20 and 40 grams of protein.

A smoothie is a convenient and easily-digested way to get in bedtime protein. After all, most people don’t want to prepare and eat a three-egg omelet at bedtime.

Smoothies empty the stomach faster than high-fat solid foods, minimizing the risk of poor sleep from digestive issues such as heartburn.

Although whey is a go-to protein for post-exercise muscle recovery, casein (another milk-based protein) is a better choice for a bedtime protein due to its slow release of amino acids needed for muscle building.

Protein Shake

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

It Can Shorten The Time The Body Is Without Protein

Leslie Bonci, Sports Dietitian and Owner of Active Eating Advice

Why would a protein shake before bed be a good idea? It shortens the time the body is without protein, which means more muscle building than breakdown over a 24-hour period.

A protein shake before bed can also be a good idea for those who find they have a hard time controlling their hand to mouth activity at night with frequent snacking. This is because a protein shake takes up more real estate in the stomach than crackers, chips, pretzels or ice cream.

Having a protein shake is also a way of optimizing fluid, since most people don’t eat the protein powder by itself.

The research generally recommends even protein distribution over the day, so if someone is trying for 100 grams of protein a day, the best breakdown would be:

Breakfast: 20 grams
Lunch: 20 grams
Snack: 10 grams
Dinner: 30 grams
Late night: 20 grams

So, a protein shake at night does not have to contain more than 20 grams of protein.

It should include good sources of leucine, the amino acid most involved with muscle protein synthesis. Whey protein is best for this, as other protein sources do not have as much leucine.

The calories in a protein shake before bed should not be too extreme – maybe 200 to 300 calories maximum – and it’s best for it to be a protein-carb combo, not just protein alone.

Whey protein isolate powder mixed with water or milk and added fruit is a great way to end the day to help the body repair and prepare.

Protein Shake Fitness

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Choose A Casein Protein Shake Before Bed

Joe Costello, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant

My top tip is to invest in a protein shake that utilizes casein as its source of protein.

Standard protein sources such as whey protein concentrate or whey protein isolate are very fast-digesting.

These types of protein are designed to be used for immediate post workout recovery and are absorbed by the body in 30 minutes or less. However, they are not as ideal when it comes time for your late-night shake.

On the other hand, casein is a very slow-digesting form of protein that takes hours for your body to absorb.

Therefore, casein shakes are ideal before bed time because they continue to feed your muscles with protein, amino acids, and other nutrients while you sleep.

This is the reason why professional bodybuilders use casein before bed – to keep their muscles nourished even while they aren’t awake.

Plus, if you’re someone who gets late night cravings, casein is even more beneficial because it can help prevent late night cravings by keeping you feeling fuller for longer due to its slow-digesting nature.

Protein Is Key To Building And Maintaining Muscle For Athletes And Non-athletes Alike

Jordan Mazur MS RD, Coordinator of Nutrition and Team Sports Dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers

Protein intake throughout the day is key to building and maintaining muscle and health for athletes and non-athletes alike.

There is recent research to show that taking in protein prior to sleep may actually help to increase muscle growth, increase muscle protein synthesis, increases the release of natural HGH (human growth hormone), and prevent muscle mass loss in older adults.

Your body is able to do all of these things while you sleep when you ingest protein before you go to bed.

For those that are worried about potentially gaining weight, research shows that it didn’t make participants gain weight and actually encouraged the body to burn fat more effectively.

In fact, a research study from Florida State University showed that casein protein may be consumed before sleep without impeding overnight or morning fat metabolism in young, obese men.

It is recommended anywhere between 25 to 40 grams of whey or casein protein to be consumed 30 to 60 minutes before bed. And it’s best to seek out a protein that is well-sourced and NSF certified for sport such as Momentous, as these are the cleanest and most effective.

A Shake Before Bed Can Help You Reach Your Protein Intake Goals

Robert Herbst, Personal Trainer and Wellness Expert

Having a protein shake before bed is a great way to finish things off and make sure you get the recommended one gram of protein for every kilogram of bodyweight each day.

Also, since much muscle growth and repair occurs during sleep, having a protein shake before bed ensures that your body has protein available when it needs it.

You should go for a slow-digesting protein such as casein so that it gets used evenly throughout the night. This is as opposed to a quick-digesting kind such as whey protein, which one should take immediately following exercise when you want protein to get to the muscles quickly.

Protein Shake Drink

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

A Protein Shake Before Bed Can Help To Keep Your Muscles Fed During The Night

Dani Singer, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist

The reason why people have protein before bed is that every night your body is fasting, and if your body doesn’t have any protein to break down, it may turn to muscle while you’re sleeping.

So, that is why people drink casein protein shakes before bed. Casein is similar to whey, in the sense that they both are derived from milk and both very high in protein.

However, whey is a fast-digesting protein, while casein is a slow-digesting protein. While whey is digested in 30 to 60 minutes, casein is digested over six to eight hours. That’s why casein can keep your muscles fed all night long.

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