Protein Before Bed

Protein shakes help you give an added boost of protein to your diet to help you build muscle, drop weight, and improve your overall health. There are many ways to make the most out of your protein consumption, but does taking protein before bed make it more effective?

Unwanted weight gain, reduced appetite…this article will bare the truth about some common beliefs about consuming protein before bed.

Is It Good Or Bad To Consume Protein Shakes Before Bed?

Consuming protein shakes before bed can have several benefits, but it can also have potential drawbacks depending on your personal health goals and body condition.

Here are some potential benefits:
● Muscle Growth and Repair: When you sleep, your body enters a state of repair and recovery. Consuming a protein shake before bed can provide your body with the amino acids it needs to repair and grow your muscles throughout the night.
● Reduced Muscle Breakdown: During a period of fasting, such as sleep, your body can enter a state of negative protein balance. Consuming protein before bed can help to reduce the degree of protein breakdown that occurs.
● Satiety: Consuming protein before bed can help you feel full and may prevent late-night snacking, which can be beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight.

However, there can be some drawbacks as well:
● Digestive Issues: Depending on the type of protein and your body’s response to it, consuming a protein shake before bed could potentially cause digestive issues such as gas, bloating, and discomfort.
● Caloric Intake: If you’re trying to lose weight and are already meeting your daily calorie and protein requirements through meals, the additional calories from the protein shake could lead to weight gain.
● Potential Sleep Disturbance: In some people, consuming a protein shake before bed might lead to disruptions in sleep due to the body processing the nutrients.

The Science of Protein Absorption and Muscle Growth

When you eat food, the body’s digestive system processes its protein content into individual amino acids, which are absorbed and used by cells to create new proteins. Protein absorption occurs when some proteins are absorbed from the small intestine through cells in the intestinal wall into the blood, which carries them wherever they are needed in the body. 

The two major enzymes that digest the proteins in the small intestine are chymotrypsin and trypsin. The latter activates proteases, which are protein-digesting enzymes, and together, these enzymes break down the proteins into tripeptides, dipeptides, and individual amino acids.

Protein Synthesis & Muscle Growth

The amino acids, specifically the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, isoleucine, and valine, are then used in different combinations in protein synthesis, which is the process where cells make proteins. 

Protein synthesis then occurs in two stages, transcription, where the genetic instructions of DNA are transcribed to mRNA in the nucleus, and translation, where the mRNA along with transfer RNA (tRNA) and ribosomes work together to produce proteins. When the body is asleep, the muscle recovery and growth process since the growth hormone is elevated during this time, which also eliminates fat. 

Studies on Consuming Protein Before Bed

According to a study published in the Frontiers in Nutrition Journal, overnight sleep, coupled with pre-sleep protein intake, can help aid boost muscle synthesis and growth. Existing studies suggest that the amount of protein used for muscle growth may be capped at around 25 to 40 grams per meal. Another study shows that consuming 20 to 40 grams of casein protein half an hour before sleeping improves protein synthetic response.  

Another study that shows consuming 60 grams of whey protein before bedtime did not affect post-prandial muscle protein synthesis rates the following morning. The same study showed that protein intake can further increase the gains in muscle mass and strength when compared to no protein supplementation and has been hypothesized to attenuate muscle mass loss in hospitalized older adults.

A 2022 study showed that taking whey/casein protein supplementation, especially when paired with resistance exercise can significantly increase sleep energy expenditure (SEE) and the feeling of fullness in the morning. It can likewise improve sleep energy metabolism in the sedentary population.

Since casein protein is a slow-release and slow-digesting protein, it may prolong the anabolic milieu and effectively help with recovery and reduce muscle breakdown during sleep. 

Types of Protein & Their Effects

Having a protein shake before bed can help with muscle recovery and promote synthesis and growth. Each protein type may also have its individual effects when consumed before bedtime:

Whey Protein

Whey is a high-quality protein because it contains important amino acids needed by the body, and is particularly beneficial for increasing the production of new proteins for muscle synthesis. It’s a watery film left behind by the coagulated milk fat during the production of cheese and is the same substance found in yogurt, giving it its familiar tang and health benefits. 

Experts agree that a serving of whey protein before bed can raise the amino acid profile within the body, improving strength and muscle size, hastening muscle recovery, and increasing the body’s metabolism. 

Casein Protein

Casein accounts for about 80% of milk’s total nitrogen and is responsible for its white color. It’s a rich source of essential amino acids, making it a high-quality and highly nutritious protein. Like whey protein, casein is a milk-based protein. 

More experts recommend casein protein than other protein types as the best option to drink right before bed since it’s a slowly digested protein that assists in muscle recovery and an overall feeling of “fullness,” and may help people fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer,

Plant-Based Proteins

While its effects are lesser known than whey and casein, studies show that plant-based proteins before sleeping are just as effective in increasing muscle protein synthesis and growth due to the high levels of leucine present in certain plant proteins like soy, chia seeds, and peas.

Like casein protein, soy also is digested slowly, which can also promote muscle recovery and growth, with the added benefit of inducing sleep effectively. Likewise, taking hemp protein before bed promotes sleep by pushing the amino-acid tryptophan into your system

Expert Opinions

On increased muscle protein synthesis:

Dutch health sciences expert Dr. Tim Snijders says that pre-sleep protein intake increases muscle protein synthesis during overnight sleep, particularly among young adults.

On the myth that protein consumption causes weight gain

Frontiers Science News writer Matthew Prior debunks the idea that consuming protein before bedtime causes unwanted weight gain. In his study, it shows that taking casein shake increases muscle mass and strength gains from resistance training, without causing weight gain.  

On its benefits on sleep quality

Nutrition and dietetics director Samantha Coogan attests that taking slow-digesting protein like soy or casein before a shake prolongs the duration of muscle protein synthesis, building muscles while simultaneously improving one’s sleep quality.

Impact On Different Demographics

Consuming protein before bedtime might vary among different groups of people such as…

Athletes vs. non-athletes

Muscle growth is integral and essential for athletes’ health. According to experts, it’s important for athletes to consume protein between dinner and bedtime to help repair, maintain, and build new tissue in muscles that have been stressed by physical activity.

Protein consumption is just as important for sedentary people just as it is for the physically active. Even if they don’t exercise, protein supplementation is still a must-do and effective way to support existing muscles and refill them to prevent muscle wastage.

Older adults vs. younger adults

Protein ingestion before sleep has been proven to represent an effective nutritional strategy to preserve muscle mass in the elderly. One study prescribes that older adults should consume about 40 grams of casein protein right before sleep to stimulate overnight muscle protein synthesis. 

For younger adults, experts recommend taking about 30 to 40 grams of protein before bed can help promote weight loss, stimulate muscle growth, and help preserve muscle mass.

Men vs. women

While males tend to have greater protein needs and more muscle mass compared to females, 

protein consumption before bedtime equally benefits both sexes. It prolongs the duration of muscle protein synthesis to build muscles during bed and improve one’s sleep quality.

Potential Concerns and Precautions

Drinking a protein shake before may occasionally disturb your sleep, often caused by the simple sugars in a protein supplement could cause a boost of energy. It may also depend on the protein type taken.

Drinking protein shakes are generally safe when taken under the recommended daily amounts. However, when taken in excess, it may cause the following side effects:

Other protein powders contain ingredients with allergens like milk, soy, wheat, and tree nuts among other things which don’t suit those with dietary restrictions and lifestyles. Some brands also contain high amounts of sugar, unhealthy sweetener substitutes, or sodium, which may lead to bloating and retain body fat than gain muscle mass.

Negative Effects Of Midnight Snacking

If you tend to have late-night snacks, this habit could trigger weight gain, which in turn can lead to obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Studies show that eating beyond 8PM can double food cravings, increased blood levels of hunger hormones, decrease satiety, and decreased energy consumption in the body, which changes a person’s metabolism which could make it more difficult to lose weight.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it beneficial to consume protein before bed?

Many studies and experts agree that taking protein shakes half an hour before bedtime may further promote muscle synthesis and growth as well as improve sleep quality. 

What type of protein is best to consume before bed?

All protein types are good for pre-sleep consumption, but most experts recommend taking slow-digesting proteins like casein or soy.

How much protein should I consume before bed?

The amount of protein you should take before bedtime varies on your age, sex, and lifestyle. Older adults are recommended to take 40 grams of casein protein right before sleep to stimulate overnight muscle protein synthesis, while younger ones are prescribed 30 to 40 grams of protein before bedtime.

Does consuming protein before bed aid in weight loss?

Yes. Some studies show that taking protein before bed can boost morning metabolism, which may help you burn more calories at a higher rate. 

Does consuming protein before bed improve muscle recovery?

Yes. Taking protein shakes before sleeping promotes muscle protein synthesis and recovery during the REM cycle. 

Are there any potential risks or side effects of consuming protein before bed?

The simple sugars found in some protein powders may cause an energy boost and disrupt sleep, so it may be best to opt for sugar-free protein powders if you have this tendency. 


  • Opposite to the common myth that protein shakes before bedtime cause unwanted weight gain, having a protein shake before bed can help with muscle recovery, promote synthesis and growth, and positively affect one’s metabolism.
  • While all protein types are recommendable, slow-digesting proteins like casein and soy are more recommended by experts for their ability to promote muscle recovery and growth and induce better sleep quality.


Proteins work wonder for our overall health and protein shakes are an excellent and way to make sure you get your daily protein needs. Whether or not you choose to take them before going to bed, following a strict diet and workout regimen tailored to your health goals yields the best results.

If you’re unsure about pre-sleep protein shake consumption, consult a nutritionist or a health experts to discuss whether it may benefit you and tackle possible options. 

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.

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