Benefits of Drinking a Protein Shake Before Bed

A convenient breakfast drink can double as an excellent pre-sleep drink, too. Protein shakes are best known for building muscles, but they can have extra advantages when consumed at bedtime. Since…

Last Updated On August 30th, 2021
Benefits of Drinking a Protein Shake Before Bed

A convenient breakfast drink can double as an excellent pre-sleep drink, too. Protein shakes are best known for building muscles, but they can have extra advantages when consumed at bedtime.

Since early mornings are the best time for working out, drinking a post-workout protein shake during breakfast is common amongst many health-conscious Americans. Protein compensates for energy expenditure during exercise and helps build muscles. However, several Wiley studies Verified Source Wiley Multinational publishing company specializing in academic and instructional materials. View source show protein-ingestion at bedtime can improve your muscle strength, size, and fiber intake.

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How Much Protein Does The Body Need?

According to the Dietary Guidelines For Americans, your daily calorie consumption should be 10 to 35 percent protein. The average rule of thumb for protein consumption is to have 0.5 grams per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 170 pounds, you should have at least 85 grams of protein daily for healthy muscle growth.

However, those who are into intense weight lifting and resistance exercises should consume more protein to make up for the extra muscle tissue breakdown. They should eat at least 0.7 grams of protein per pound of their body weight for sufficient muscle gain.

Dietary Protein Intake Chart

Fitness LevelProtein Needs
Average/Sedentary0.5 grams of body weight
Adults in an active fitness regime0.7 grams of body weight

Benefits of Drinking a Protein Shake Before Bed

After calculating the amount of daily protein you get from your regular diet, you can compensate for any deficits by drinking protein shakes. Drinking a protein shake before bed can increase muscle mass, improve energy, accelerate weight loss, and enhance sleep quality.

Builds and Preserves Muscles

Drinking a protein shake at bedtime enhances overnight Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS), a biochemical process crucial for building muscle mass. Our muscles constantly go through a cycle of MPS and MPB (Muscle Protein Breakdown), but prolonged resistance training accelerates MPB. Pre-sleep protein ingestion helps maintain a positive protein balance during this cycle, which is required for muscle building.

When you are sleeping, chances of stimulating your muscle growth may decrease, leading to MBP. However, if you have enough protein in your body before you go to bed, it improves your chances of preserving and building muscle at rest.

Amino acids present in protein are the building blocks of muscle mass. There may be a scarcity of amino acids in your body when you work out more. If you aren’t balancing it out with a high-protein diet, a protein shake before bed can help.

Improves Energy

protein shake before bed

An increase in lean muscle mass boosts your energy level so you can work out for longer periods. According to a 2016 study, consuming 40 grams of protein in the form of a shake before bed promotes skeletal muscle adaptive response. Your adaptive response indicates endurance for rigorous exercising and resistance training. A protein supplement before you sleep enhances muscle repair and reconditioning, leading to increased strength.

Accelerates Weight Loss

If you are trying to lose weight, drinking a protein shake before bed helps you burn calories even as you sleep. Drinking a protein shake not only promotes MPS, but it also pushes your metabolism into overactivity. Your body needs more energy to absorb and digest the protein you washed down before sleeping. While consuming more energy, your body burns calories even as you sleep, leading to weight loss.

However, in this equation, you have to watch your total intake of calories as well. If you are trying to lose weight, you must account for the calories your protein shake adds to the diet.

For example, if you mix 40 grams of protein powder in a glass of water, you are adding 160 calories (4 calories per gram of protein) to your daily diet. If you mix the protein powder with milk or fruits, it could further add to your calories, leading to unwanted weight gain.

In a weight loss program, you eat in a calorie deficit, consuming fewer calories than your body needs to maintain your current weight. These are called your “maintenance calories,” which are different for different individuals. The number depends on age, height, weight, gender, and level of physical activity.

If your daily intake should be 1500 calories, then be cautious to not exceed your limit by including a protein shake in your diet. You can still capitalize on the benefits of pre-sleep protein ingestion by adjusting calories from your food.

Moreover, protein kills hunger pangs by suppressing your hunger hormone ghrelin and promoting the satiety hormone leptin. If you feel less hungry, you eat less, reducing the chances of weight gain.

In a low-protein weight loss program, muscle tissues break down, leading to sagging skin. Pre-sleep protein drinks can prevent skin from sagging, often seen as a side effect of weight loss.

Enhances Sleep Quality

Drinking a protein shake before bed promotes sleep by pushing the amino-acid tryptophan into your system. Tryptophan enhances the production of the happy hormone serotonin and the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. You can mix your protein powder in milk, yogurt, or soy milk, all rich sources of tryptophan.

In the deep sleep NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) stage, your brain releases Human Growth Hormone (HGH) into the bloodstream. This hormone promotes blood flow to the muscles, improving tissue repair and regeneration.

Types of Protein Shakes

There are three types of protein powders: whey, casein, and soy. All of them stimulate muscle growth differently.

Whey protein is digested faster, providing instant MPS, making it a good post work-out drink. Soy and casein are digested slowly, prolonging MPS through the night. Casein protein is the slowest, making it the best for overnight recovery.

FAQs

Are there any negative impacts of drinking a protein shake before bed?

Not if you choose one low in sugar. Sugar instantly increases your energy levels, disrupting sleep. Before buying your protein powder, check the sugar content in it. If you are weight watching, take into account the added calories from your protein shake. Don’t exceed your daily limit.

What food can improve muscle growth during sleep?

High protein sources such as Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and nuts improve muscle growth. Poultry, seafood, tofu, legumes, and lentils are also rich in protein. You can have any of these for dinner, or as a late-night snack before bed.

How many glasses of protein shakes can you have in a day?

The answer to this depends on your body weight and level of physical activity. On average you need 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. If you work out regularly, you need about 0.7 to 0.8 grams per pound of weight. Most of this protein need is met by eating protein-rich food. But if you feel you aren’t getting enough protein, you can compensate for your normal diet with protein shakes.

You could drink one or two glasses of protein shake in a day, depending on your deficit. In your pre-sleep drink, mix 40 grams of protein for optimal benefits.

Can you have a protein shake before bed only if you work out regularly?

No. Anyone can have a protein shake before bed because it has many advantages. Shakes are a convenient option to ensure you’re incorporating enough protein into your diet. Everyone needs a certain amount of protein in their body for muscle growth. The pre-sleep protein shake gives you the added advantage of muscle growth during sleep. It also improves sleep and may help in weight loss.

Conclusion

Protein has many benefits and having a certain amount of it before sleep optimizes its advantages. Slow-digesting protein in a bedtime shake prolongs the duration of muscle protein synthesis, building muscles as you sleep. A protein shake at bedtime enhances your quality of rest and fuels you for the day ahead.


About the author

Mitchell Tollsen is a graduate student and a freelance writer who’s contributed to the Early Bird blog for three years. Mitchell’s always been fascinated by the science of sleep and the restorative processes our bodies undergo when at rest. The self-titled “Sleep Expert” is always looking for ways to improve his shut-eye, and throughout the years has implemented numerous lifestyle changes and tried dozens of sleep-promoting gadgets to determine the best ways to truly get better rest.

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