Protein, no doubt, is the king when it comes to building muscles. It helps in muscle protein synthesis and recovery. And I am sure, Just like me, even you have experimented with it to maximise your gains. Experimented how? You might have tried switching the timings of your meals. Changing proportions of protein per meal or maybe experimented with the timing of protein after your workout. All in all, be it you or me, we have all looked and tried for ways to maximise gains.
And there always has been this one way we all have/had a doubt about- Consuming protein at night before sleep. And maybe, you even thought of trying it but held on to that thought because you probably heard/read from somewhere protein at night before bed can prevent muscle mass. If not, I for sure did and later when I finally conducted the long-awaited experiment, I was shocked by the results.
Now the answer to your question- Consuming protein at night before bed…
…is it good or bad?
Well, surprisingly, it is good! And today, I will talk about how and why protein before bed is good so that you do not get late on the gain train and climb aboard right away. I will also list down the best snacks and sources of protein you can consume in the night to join the gain party ASAP.
Let’s get started…
Protein before bed for gains
While we sleep-
- Growth hormone in our body is at peak.
- Our muscles repair and grow.
Just keep the above two points in mind, we will get back to them. Protein, as you know, helps in building muscles by supplying amino acid to them. The amino acids help in repairing the muscles, thus muscle growth. So amino acids are like fuel to help your muscle grow. Now that you have a clear understanding of this concept. Remember those two points. If you still cannot figure out the relationship. I will give you an overview of how. If you consume a good amount of protein at night before bed. Your body will take advantage of the amino acids from that protein and the spike in hormones, to increase the muscle repairing and building process. The results of which will be maximised muscle and strength gains.
Let’s have a look at some studies which prove the above point:
Oxford conducted a study in 2015 on 44 young men to understand the benefits of protein at night. These men followed a 12-week resistance training program. One group was given 27.5 g of protein, 15 g of carbohydrate, and 0.1 g of fat every night before sleep. The other group received a placebo. Muscle mass and strength gains increased in the protein supplemented group after 12-weeks.
Another study investigated that consuming at least 40gm of protein before bed resulted in increased MPS [muscle protein synthesis] overnight. But regular training should be combined with to get the desired results.
Some other benefits of consuming protein at night before bed:
An increase in muscle mass is not the only benefit of having protein before bed. Some of the other benefits include-
Ovid conducted a study on 16 young healthy men. All 16 men trained in the evening and followed a standardised diet all day. 30 minutes before sleep they consumed 40g of protein beverage with or without casein. It was noticed, Casein got effectively digested throughout the night. Which resulted in a continuous supply of amino acid to the muscles. This supply lasted all night. The study concluded- Protein shake before sleep results in increased whole-body protein synthesis rates thus improved post-exercise overnight recovery
Increased performance and metabolism
Cambridge University conducted a study in 2014. 11 men participated in this study. Doses of Whey Protein [30 g], Casein Protein [30 g)] Carbohydrates [30 g] or placebo was consumed 30 minutes before sleep randomly. Satiety, hunger and desire to eat were measured among the eleven men the next morning. The study concluded- Bedtime consumption of whey protein and casein protein immensely boosted metabolism compared to the placebo group.
Which protein source before sleep?
If you want to benefit from consuming protein at night. Aim for 20-40gm of protein before sleep. Casein is the best protein to have at night. Casein takes up to 8 hours to digest. The amino supply to your muscles is continuous. Thus your muscles get fed the entire night.
Also, snack on some real food instead of relying on supplements. If you cannot incorporate a meal then only supplement with a whey protein shake or a casein protein shake.
Following are some great snack ideas before sleep-
- Milk along with peanut butter. [Now you know why your parents told you to have milk every night.]
- Paneer. [Around 200gm of paneer would do the job. Just salt and pepper it the easiest way.]
- Hard-boiled eggs.
- Greek yoghurt.
- Whey protein shake. [Mix it in milk and you have a casein-whey blend.]
- Casein protein shake.
- Protein bar.
- Cottage cheese.
It is pretty evident from all the studies, having protein before you sleep is very beneficial for you. Although you should always consume whole food instead of supplements. Whole foods carry essential nutrients which can help you with other body functions as well. Protein powders are definitely good but keep at them as your last resort. It is best to have casein protein before bed, considering its nature. I think having protein before bed is very useful and you should definitely try and implement it in your daily nutritional regime.