In order to reach your desired weight, whether it be to lose or gain, it is essential to include a sufficient amount of protein in your diet. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest your daily calories should consist of:
- 10 to 35 percent of protein
- 45 to 65 percent from carbohydrates
- 20 to 35 percent of fat
It is advised that one consume 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of their body weight every day. Studies suggest that athletes require more protein to get the best results in terms of muscle gain.
Those who habitually partake in strength or resistance training could gain advantages from ingesting 1.3 to 1.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight per day.
A 180-pound man who exercises regularly should have a daily protein intake of between 106 and 147 grams in order to build muscle. A female weighing 140 pounds should consume an amount of protein between 83 and 114 grams per day in order to be active.
Is there an optimal time to consume this protein? It is essential to meet daily nutritional requirements, however, studies suggest that the timing of protein intake can be a factor of importance.
Research is inconclusive about whether eating protein right after exercise will help with muscle development. Research indicates that having protein before going to sleep may be beneficial for building muscles.
Protein supplies amino acids, which build our muscles. Our muscles repair themselves and grow while we sleep. Growth hormone is elevated during this time. This hormone boosts muscle growth and decreases fat.
Research indicates that if you eat a substantial amount of protein prior to going to sleep, you can take full benefit of the rise in growth hormone and get the most out of your muscle growth. This occurs due to the fact that you are supplying the essential amino acids that are essential for restoration and development.
A research project conducted in 2012 investigated the result of consuming protein prior to going to sleep with 16 young and healthy male participants. They did one session of weightlifting at night and got 20 grams of protein right after the workout.
Eight men drank a liquid containing 40 grams of casein approximately half an hour before going to bed. The eight men who drank the casein drink prior to going to sleep had an augmented rate of muscle protein synthesis. This provided evidence that protein increases postexercise overnight recovery.
A further research from 2015 kept track of 44 young males as they finished a 12-week strength training course. Everyone involved in the study ate a diet that was high in protein (1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight).
A particular group drank a beverage just before going to sleep which included 27.5 grams of protein and 15 grams of carbohydrates. The other group received a placebo drink. The group who had the protein drink experienced greater enhancement in muscle strength, bulk, and muscle fiber dimensions.
However, both of these studies had limitations. It is uncertain from the research if the greater total amount of protein consumed per day or the protein specifically consumed before bedtime led to muscle growth.
Research on the relationship between protein intake and muscle growth has led the International Society of Sports Nutrition to conclude that consuming around 30-40 grams of casein protein before bedtime can help to increase both muscle protein synthesis and the metabolic rate throughout the night.
Athletes who either train in the early morning without having breakfast or in the evening post-dinner are encouraged to consume protein during the night hours. In 2015, a study compared the effects of consuming carbohydrate snacks to consuming protein snacks before bed, and the results showed that the protein snacks had a positive effect on metabolism.
Why Consume a Protein Shake Before Bed
It is possible that drinking a protein shake before going to sleep will allow the body to absorb the amino acids it needs to recover and repair muscle tissue during the night.
Research findings have been inconclusive and the potential advantages of something depend on what your intentions are.
Protein and Muscle Recovery
Some people consume a protein shake prior to going to bed in order to facilitate muscle growth and aid in the recovery process from weight lifting or athletics. The research is not completely positive, yet the evidence from reviews of peers suggests that this is the most reliable rationale.
In a 2012 experiment involving 16 fit young men, it was observed that when they lifted weights and then had 40 grams of casein protein powder or a placebo beverage before going to sleep, there were certain effects.
The researchers discovered that the slow-acting casein protein was able to boost certain metrics such as muscle protein synthesis and net protein balance. This means that the casein seemed to boost the rate of repair that happened during the nighttime, as well as the young men’s capacity to build muscle.
However, other evidence casts doubt on the advantages of consuming casein protein before bedtime. A research concluded that drinking a protein shake at night did not provide any additional advantages when compared to consuming one during the day.
A study done in 2019 determined that consuming a shake prior to going to sleep could be advantageous only if you exercise in the evening, based on what is currently known.
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Protein and Improved Performance
You may anticipate that if you have a protein drink before going to sleep, your body’s capability to recover itself at night may be augmented, thus leading to improved athletic performance.
It is essential that athletes who train vigorously take time to rest in order to remain at a high level of performance and protect themselves from harm. Recent investigations have looked at how casein protein impacts performance when taken prior to bedtime.
Research conducted on both males and females in 2018 revealed that consuming a casein shake before going to sleep had no positive effect on the recovery period, athletic performance, or strength training performance.
A research study was conducted which included whey protein and the results revealed that it had no impact at all.
In spite of its small sample size, a 2019 study on 10 professional soccer players revealed that consuming 40 grams of casein prior to bedtime after a game significantly aided in the recovery process, based on physical performance and muscle soreness.
Protein for Better Sleep
The food you consume can certainly have an impact on the quality of your sleep, and this includes the amount of protein you take in. No proof exists to demonstrate that a physical activity done before bedtime has any influence on sleeping.
That said, numerous studies link overall dietary protein intake (and protein quality) to sleep quality:
- The authors of a series of clinical trials published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that “consumption of a greater proportion of energy [20-30% of overall calories] from protein while dieting may improve sleep in overweight and obese adults”
- A study of nearly 500 women published in 2020 found that excess calories or inadequate protein consumption increased the risk of insomnia.
- Some researchers think whey protein, which is rich in the amino acid tryptophan, could improve sleep quality if taken close to bedtime–but there isn’t strong evidence from trials at this time.
If you have trouble sleeping, attempting to modify your protein intake may be something to try in order to enhance your sleeping patterns. However, it is not essential to consider the timing of protein (whether it is consumed before bed or during the day) or if it is a slow-digesting protein when it comes to sleep.
Protein and Weight Loss
It is clear that eating a lot of top-notch protein can help with slimming down. Here’s how it works:
- Protein appears to be more filling than other macronutrients, making portion control less challenging if you eat a relatively high-protein diet.
- A high-protein meal may reduce hunger hormones, further decreasing your appetite and making weight loss easier.
- Extra protein can help boost your metabolic rate, which can speed fat loss (as long as you don’t overeat calories).
Swapping out a typical evening meal for a high-protein snack or protein shake could help keep you from overindulging late at night. The effectiveness of eating high amounts of protein prior to going to sleep for the purpose of shedding weight is debatable.
Protein and Better Energy
If you’re feeling tired, not getting enough protein could be a possible cause.
A study from 2019 featuring 1,590 participants that was published in the journal Nutrients indicates that replacing other macronutrients with protein while retaining the same number of calories appears to reduce excessive sleepiness during the day.
If you are into sports or doing intense physical activities, it is important to make sure you consume enough protein and calories in order to avoid overworking your body.
If you do not consume sufficient amounts of protein, you may become exhausted and have impaired recovery and performance since your body is unable to bounce back properly after working out and competing.
In the end, the answer is to make sure you get enough protein throughout the day. It is not likely to be beneficial to consume protein before bedtime any more than it is to increase your protein intake during the day.
2011 study explored the loss of muscle mass with age. Sixteen “healthy elderly men” participated in the study. Eight ingested casein, a slow-digesting protein, before bed. The other half had a placebo.
A protein shake before bed isn’t for everyone.
Generally speaking, this strategy will not be beneficial unless you are an athlete, engage in strenuous workouts, or are looking to gain lean muscle mass.
Before you think about having a protein shake or meal prior to bedtime, make sure your other meals throughout the day are properly balanced. It is necessary for you to have an accurate count of the calories, macronutrients, and daily protein you consume in order to gain any benefit.
If you are already taking in a lot of protein throughout the day and you are not doing weightlifting or physical activity right before bed, the likelihood that you will benefit greatly from having protein before you sleep is insignificant.
What type of food should you consume in order to enhance muscle growth while sleeping? It is recommended that an adult should strive to consume a meal or snack containing roughly 10 to 20 grams of protein.
Good sources of protein include:
- fish and seafood
- legumes, lentils, and peas
- Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and ricotta cheese
Approximately 3 ounces of chicken, salmon, 90-percent lean ground beef, or 1 cup of cooked beans or lentils are enough to provide you with 20 grams of protein. Some appropriate high-protein snacks include:
- 1 cup of 1 percent milk fat cottage cheese
- one slice of bread with peanut butter and a glass of 1 percent milk
- a single-serving container of plain Greek yogurt with berries
- three hard-boiled eggs
- bruschetta chicken, featuring colorful cherry tomatoes and basil
- skinny lemon tilapia, with a cream cheese lemon sauce
- mushroom bison sliders, with melted cheese and a slice of tomato
- braised lentils with vegetables, great with crusty bread
- the ultimate vegan protein burrito, packed with quinoa and black beans