According to a review published in Frontiers in Nutrition, drinking a casein protein before sleep can increase gains in muscle mass and strength, and protein calories consumed before bed does not increase body fat. These findings suggest that sleep is a unique window for boosting muscle gains.
“Several one-night studies have shown that pre-sleep protein intake increases muscle protein synthesis during overnight sleep in young adults” says lead author Dr. Tim Snijders, Assistant Professor at Maastricht University, who conducted the most compelling study to support these findings to date.
Dr. Tim Snijders studied 44 healthy young men over aon a 12-week lifting program. Half of the men were given a protein shake before sleep with about 30g of casein and 15 grams of carbs. After the 12 weeks both groups had improved their squat (one rep max) and had bigger quads, but the group that consumed the protein shake before bed had significantly more muscle strength and size.
Sleep is the perfect opportunity for muscle recovery and growth
Muscle repair and growth can only occur when amino acids (protein) is available in the blood. But the body does not store and release amino acids into the blood (like glucose) to maintain near-constant circulating levels. Snijders states, protein before sleep is used to improve protein intake distribution over the day.
“A survey of over 500 athletes found they were typically consuming at total of more than 1.2g protein per kilo of bodyweight across three main meals, but only a paltry 7g of protein as an evening snack. As a result, lower levels of amino acids would be available for muscle growth during overnight sleep.”
Bedtime protein won’t ‘make you fat’ or ruin your sleep
“In an 8-week morning vs evening casein study, the additional consumption of protein calories did not result in any increase in fat mass despite the fact that exercise volume did not change,” states Snijders. He goes on to state that “Supporting this, another group found in 11 young active men that a pre-sleep casein shake actually increased the rate of fat burning the following day. This might be because casein ingestion reduces the insulin response to subsequent meals, which pushes your body to use more fat.”
This suggests that consuming protein, especially casein before bed, doesn’t appear to ‘make you fat, infact it seems to increase fat metabolism.
So in conclusion, consider using a casein protein before bed to improve your strength gains, muscle size, and fat metabolism.
Reference for Bedtime Protein for Bigger Muscle Gains:
- Tim Snijders, Jorn Trommelen, Imre W. K. Kouw, Andrew M. Holwerda, Lex B. Verdijk, Luc J. C. van Loon. The Impact of Pre-sleep Protein Ingestion on the Skeletal Muscle Adaptive Response to Exercise in Humans: An Update. Frontiers in Nutrition, 2019; 6 DOI: 10.3389/fnut.2019.00017