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The Real Reason You Should Eat Protein Before Bed

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The Real Reason You Should Eat Protein Before Bed

If you want to build muscle and strength as quickly as possible, you should eat protein before bed…but probably not for the reasons you think.

 

When it comes to getting fit, or getting good at anything, really, there are two distinct phases:

  1. Learning and applying the fundamentals.
  2. Learning and applying ways to optimize your results.

And if you want to build muscle and strength faster, eating protein before bed can help…

…but it’s not nearly as important as some people would have you believe.

You see, eating protein before bed falls squarely in bucket #2 above. If you don’t have the fundamentals in place, such as…

…when you eat protein simply won’t matter.

And nor will many other things, like what types of supplements you take, how many carbs you eat, how “clean” your diet is, how often you change up your workouts, and much more.

Once you have #1 squarely in place (fundamentals), though, and you’re looking for ways to get more out of your training, then it makes sense to start dipping into #2 (optimization).

And this article will help.

Does Protein Before Bed Prevent Muscle Loss?

how much protein before bed

I used to think the reason for eating protein before bed was preventing muscle loss.

If you eat your last meal at, let’s say, 6 PM, your body will have finished processing it by midnight (if not earlier), which leaves it without nutrients for many hours.

That sounds like bad news.

Once your body runs out of amino acids to “feed” the muscles, it starts to break muscle tissue down, right?

Well, the simple answer is no. That’s not how it works at all, actually.

Your body doesn’t cannibalize muscle so easily and you don’t have to eat protein before bed to preserve it.

That said, I do recommend you eat protein before bed. Just for a different reason.

Is Eating Protein Before Bed Good for Building Muscle?

whey protein before bed

Yes. And this is why I recommend it.

Let’s go back to the 6 PM dinner example given earlier. Your body has finished processing your meal by midnight and doesn’t get another infusion of nutrients for another eight hours.

Well, muscle growth requires two things: a stimulus and the raw materials.

Training your muscles is a stimulus, of course, but so is eating protein. Both of these things tell your body to build and repair muscle, and you need both to increase your total lean mass over time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amino acids, which are obtained through eating protein, are the raw materials that muscle tissue is built from.

If no amino acids are available for use, your body can’t build any muscle. This is why research has shown that, if protein isn’t eaten before bed, protein synthesis rates are quite low when we sleep.

This, then, leads us to how eating protein before bed helps you build muscle and strength faster:

It gives your body amino acids to use for repair while you sleep.

This means that instead of having to put protein synthesis “on hold” while you sleep, your body can continue building and repairing muscle tissue.

And as most people spend about 1/3 of their day sleeping, you can see why this adds up over time.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

Is Eating Protein Before Bed Good for Weight Loss?

protein before bed weight loss

It’s often claimed that protein before bed will “boost your metabolism” and help you lose fat faster.

There’s even research that if often cited to “prove” this:

One study found that eating 30 grams of whey or casein protein 30 minutes before sleep increased  subjects’ resting energy expenditure the next morning compared to those that ate nothing or carbohydrates alone.

That makes for a good sound bite but it’s not proof that protein before bed in going to help you lose weight.

It’s just proof that protein costs more energy to digest and process than carbswhich cost more energy than dietary fat.

What will help you lose fat faster, though, is a high-protein diet, and one of the reasons relates to this “energy cost” of food.

The energy required to metabolize food is known as the thermic effect, which is also the metabolic “boost” that comes with eating.

The magnitude and duration of the boost depends on how much you eat. A small meal causes a small, temporary metabolic spike that and a large meal produces a larger spike that lasts longer.

Now, when you look at the bigger picture of weight loss–burning more energy than you consume–the total energy burned every day from the thermic effect of food matters.

The higher the combined thermic effect of all the meals you eat every day, the more your diet will help you lose weight.

(You can erase the advantage completely by eating too many calories, of course, but you get the idea.)

Now, when you allot a large percentage of your daily calories to protein, you burn more of those calories while at rest. And this is one of the reasons why a high-protein diet is great for losing weight.

That said, one individual high-protein meal–like one before bed–isn’t better or different than another, and certainly isn’t going to make a difference in the absence of a high-protein diet.

If someone is eating a low-protein diet, a serving of protein before bed isn’t going to help them lose weight faster.

And if they’re eating a high-protein diet, their last bit of protein for the day could come at dinner or before bed and the thermic effect is the same.

This is why it’s misleading to say that protein before bed helps you lose weight faster.

A more accurate statement would be that protein before bed can help you follow a high-protein diet, which can help you lose weight faster.

How Much Protein Should You Eat Before Bed?

protein before bed bodybuilding

To answer this question, let’s define our goal with eating protein before bed. It’s twofold:

  1. Maximally stimulate protein synthesis.
  2. Keep amino acids in our blood for as much of the sleep period as possible.

Let’s look at these points separately.

How Much Protein For Maximal Protein Synthesis?

The thing that determines protein’s potency in stimulating protein synthesis is the amount of leucine it contains.

This is because leucine is the amino acid in protein that is most responsible for initiating protein synthesis.

And this is why research shows that high-protein meals higher in leucine stimulate more protein synthesis than high-protein meals lower in it.

Now, there’s obviously a ceiling to this effect. Unfortunately, eating 150 grams of protein in one sitting isn’t ten times more anabolic than 15 grams.

The question, then, is how much protein (and leucine) maximally stimulates protein synthesis rates? 

Well, a study conducted by researchers at McMaster University had six young, healthy men resistance train their legs and then eat 0, 5, 10, 20, or 40 grams of egg protein.

What the scientists found is that 40 grams (containing about 3.5 grams of leucine) resulted in the most protein synthesis. It was only slightly higher than 20 grams, however, which was significantly higher than 10 grams.

Another interesting study on the matter found that tripling the post-workout dose of leucine from 5 to 15 grams increased protein synthesis rates  by only 13%, which is relatively low given the large increase in leucine.

Yet another study found only slight differences in protein synthesis rates between post-workout protein doses containing 1.8 and 3.5 grams of leucine respectively.

The key takeaway here is once you get over 2 grams of leucine, or about 20 grams of a high-quality protein like whey or egg, the benefits to protein synthesis rates greatly diminish.

Personally, when I eat protein, I eat at least 30 to 40 grams.

So now that we’ve found out how much protein you need to maximally stimulate protein synthesis, let’s look at the next point:

How to keep amino acids in our blood for as much of the sleep period as possible.

Fortunately, this one is pretty straightforward.

What Kind of Protein Should You Eat Before Bed?

protein before bed good or bad

Many people have whey protein before bed. This is better than nothing but it’s not quite ideal because whey is digested and abosrbed fairly rapidly.

Specifically, research shows that the human body can absorb 8 to 10 grams of whey protein per hour. This means a large amount would be required before bed to keep plasma amino acid levels high throughout the night.

Better choices are (cooked) egg protein or casein protein, which are absorbed at 3 and 6.1 grams per hour respectively.

As you can see, 30 to 40 grams of either egg or casein protein before bed is accomplishes both of our goals: it maximally stimulates protein synthesis rates and keeps amino acids in our blood for the entire night.

For egg protein, you can eat eggs or egg whites or use a powder, and for casein, you can eat a casein-rich food like cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, or use a powder.

What About Carbs Before Bed?

protein before bed to lose weight

Since we’re on the subject of eating before bed, let’s take a quick detour and talk about another much-misunderstood aspect of pre-sleep nutrition: carbs.

I used to think that a large insulin spike before bed may (to some degree) impair weight loss by suppressing growth hormone production, much of which occurs during sleep, but my fears were unfounded.

The long story short is the body works around it and, in the end, weight loss isn’t affected whatsoever by eating carbs lat at night. And there’s clinical evidence of this.

  • This study found that calorie intake in the morning or evening didn’t affect weight loss or body composition parameters.
  • This study demonstrated interesting results: subjects that normally ate breakfast lost more weight skipping it and eating the majority of calories at dinner, whereas subjects that normally skipped breakfast lost more weight eating breakfast every day. Researchers chalked this up to greater levels of satiety and thus better dietary compliance.
  • This study showed that splitting up calories into 5 equal meals per day eaten between 9 AM and 8 PM, eating all calories in the morning, or all in the evening, didn’t affect weight loss parameters or body composition.

The point here is so long as your calorie intake and macronutrient balance are right, when you eat your food doesn’t matter. Do what you like best.

Personally I eat about 250 grams of carbs at 9 or 10 PM every day because I enjoy it. And here’s the look I maintain year round:

The Bottom Line on Protein Before Bed

You don’t have to eat protein before bed to make good progress in building muscle and strength, but research clearly shows that it helps. And when you’re a natural weightlifter, you want to take every little boost you can get.

So, take advantage of what you now know and plan 30 to 40 grams of a slow-burning protein like egg or casein into your daily meal plans.

 

What’s your take on protein before bed? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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    • RealaStater

      Great Article Mike! Having trouble working in Protein right before bed as I am finding Intermittent Fasting to be a very hassle free and effective way to maintain a calorie deficit. Hence, try to stop eating a min of 2 hours before bed while doing 3 days of Leangains style and then one 20-24hr fast on the weekend breaking the fast with pretty much anything I want to eat making sure it’s high protein and “good carbs”. Then, on Sunday we could eat be looking at Mexican , or Pancakes and French toast at Ihop with Pizza and whatever for dinner and running up calories to 1000-2000 over my daily goal. Just wondering if you could clarify what you mean by “don’t go crazy” on the refeed day.

      • Thanks!

        That’s cool. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Protein before bed is one of those things that’s a good idea but not crucial by any means.

    • Donsods

      Mike. In your articles regarding stubborn fat, you advocate being in a fasted state for workouts because of the lack of insulin. The graph shows sleep as no-insulin/weight loss. Does eating protein before sleep compress the period of sleep/ fasted weight loss?

      • That graph is just an example of a typical day for a typical person.

        Don’t worry–elevated insulin levels at night doesn’t mean you don’t burn fat. You just burn less while sleeping but so long as your cals/macros are set up right, you’ll be fine.

  • Tony

    Very interesting article. I’ll probably up my pre-bed protein snack from one cup of greek yogurt to two cups to match the recommendation. I assume that as long as I eat it within an hour before going to bed, it should work fine; although, I wonder if there would be any negative side effects to the fairly large amount of sugar I’d be consuming in the form of lactose (other than obvious GI issues that could be alleviated with lactase).

    • Thanks! You can also add some whey powder to the 1 cup of yogurt, which slows down the absorption.

      If you do fine with dairy you shouldn’t have issues.

    • Other than lactose intolerance, you won’t have an issue. Just be sure that your bedtime protein snack fits into your daily macros so that you don’t go into calorie surplus.

  • Bobby Juncosa

    Mike, I just wanted to say thanks for being a breath of fresh air in the nutrition / lifting community. I really enjoy your articles. They’re conversational, direct, humanizing, and include links to actual clinical studies. I’ve read your book, and these articles are like free little excerpts / additions to an already wealth of information.

    As a fellow entrepreneur, I know how much work it takes.
    All the best.

    • Thanks for the kind words and support brother.

      Glad you enjoy all the writing and info.

      LMK if you have any questions. I’m happy to help!

    • Thanks man! I really appreciate that.

  • Nailed it. Again

    Theoretically, as long as your daily/weekly numbers are on point, would consuming another 30-40g of high-quality protein half-way through the night provide equal additional benefit? (say, 4-5 hours after falling asleep)

    • Thanks Sean.

      Probably not. Only guys I know that swear by it are drugged up bodybuilder that can benefit from sky-high protein intake (2+g/lb.).

    • Shawn B

      Mike is right. Also, if you are awaking just for the purpose of consuming the protein, you are not doing your self any favor due to the disruption of sleep patterns.

      • Thanks, but I typically get up at least once a night to take a piss anyways. I did tried this with whey for about a month last year, and it wasn’t an issue. I didn’t wake up a few times so I missed it, but never got up just to get the protein. Based on this article, I thought I might try it with casein next time.

        Thanks again Shawn

        • Shawn B

          Casein might be a good choice, Sean. It is absorbed a lot more slowly than whey, especially if you take it with a small amount of healthy fat.

    • Theoretically, yes, because you are maintaining the positive protein balance.

  • Zeppelin

    250g of carbs before bed. Lord, I’m jealous. I’m eating 165g for the DAY. Please let this cut end.

    • Haha. Yeah I love it. Get to 10-12% BF. Reverse diet and then enjoy those bulking cals. 🙂

    • LOL!

  • Matt

    Hey Mike – given the importance of leucine here, is it worth backing up the pre sleep protein intake with some BCAAs or HMB?
    Thoughts welcome.
    Thanks
    Matt

    • Ehh. Not really. I only recommend those before fasted training. Otherwise, they just aren’t needed.

    • If you are eating a complete source of protein, you’ll get leucine in there. So, that takes care of itself!

  • Franc

    Hi Mike, another great article! Congrats!
    Didn’t understand one thing: you said eat 250g of carbs at night, before
    sleep. No problem about weight loss. But eat carbs at night will inhibit the
    growth hormone, as you said in BLS (first edition, at least).
    I’m a bit confused now…Thanks!

    • Thanks!

      Yeah I’ve changed my position on that point since writing BLS. The second edition doesn’t have that.

      • Franc

        Oh,oh…think I’m going to read the updated edition soon!

    • Thanks!

      I was hypothesizing that based on existing research at the time but it has since been disproved, so the second edition doesn’t contain that advice.

    • Thanks!

      I was talking about that theoretically in the first edition but after doing more research, it’s not an issue.

  • Franc

    Mike, sorry, one last question, please: if HMB is more effective than Leucine, having more anti-catabolic effects, why don’t you choose HMB to add in your Whey+, instead of Leucine? Thanks

    • Juan Aguilar

      To my understanding, HMB would be more effective for weight loss because of those great anti-catabolic effects. Leuicine would be more effective with the anabolic side. I could be wrong.

      • Franc

        Yes, I think you match it. All depends what we are looking for: anti-catabolic (HMB) or anabolic effects (leucine). Thanks for help! And, if we are wrong, Mike will say!!!

    • Juan said it. 🙂

      HMB is more effective in terms of preventing muscle breakdown. Leucine is better regarding protein synthesis. Check this out:

      http://examine.com/supplements/HMB/

    • NP. I actually took the leucine out of the whey because it tastes too damn bad.

    • I actually removed the leucine because it tastes very bad. HMB does as well.

  • Alex Wunder

    1. Should I continue to do refeeds while I am reverse dieting back up to maintenance?

    2. Is it a poor decision to go below my BMR by 50 calories my last week of cutting before reverse dieting back up to maintenance?

    3. Do you still do a refeed day during your deload week? I’m guessing yes?

    4. Once I begin maintaining and bulking should I switch to cheat meals instead of refeed day?

    Thanks, Alex

    • 1. Sure. They’re fun. 😉

      2. Nah fine.

      3. You can yes.

      4. Up to you. Just gotta make sure you don’t go crazy.

  • Alex Wunder

    Also, does doing cardio fasted lose its benefit while maintaining and bulking?

    • You can do it fasted if you like it that way but IMO the only GOOD reason to train fasted is cutting and using supplements like caffeine, yohimbine, and synephrine.

  • Daniel Henao Posada

    Hi Mike,

    Have you ever thought about put (I don’t know if this is the word) subtitles in spanish on your youtube videos??

    You should consider it. There’s a lack of good fitness experts in our language, you will be very popular.

    Thanks for your posts. Greetings from Colombia.

    And I’m sorry if my english is clumsy

    • Yeah definitely I will need to hire someone to do this. It’s on the list, haha.

  • Maxwell

    Hi Mike, so how about eating carbs on an empty stomach, like breakfast? Would it store as fat easier and hinder the fat loss?

    Thank you for all your hard works. 🙂

    • Doesn’t matter. What matters is your totals for the end of the day of cals and macros.

      My pleasure for everything!

  • thank you very much for such a easy understanding and cleary explanation, i w’ll definitely apply

  • Ross Byrne

    Hey mike , 250g of carbs in one sitting ? That’s a portion of pasta , 3 slices of bread and skme breakfast cereal – what are you eating to get your 250g of carb ? Currently I’m eating an omelette + some Protein milk and cheese at around 9 pm after training and then I’m going back for a portion of cereal usually weetabix ! At around 10:30-11pm

    • There’s an oatmeal dish I’ve been obsessed with for a few months ha. I save almost all my carbs for it.

      You’re eating a pretty good amount before bed too!

  • Gary Lewis

    As always another great article which informs us all. Nice one Mike.

  • Donna Messinger

    I wrote a question the other day, but it appears to have disappeared. I have an issue with bloating after my workout. I breathe properly during the workout and drink sips of water througout; however, as I leave the gym, I feel 6 months pregnant. All bloated. No one seems to have an answer for me. I hope you can help.

    • Hey hey! I believe you posted this elsewhere and I answered it?

  • TD

    For years before I was into any kind of fitness, I always had some cottage cheese before bed as a snack. I found it helped me sleep a lot better without waking up in the middle of the night hungry.

    • There you go! You’ve been doing it right before you even knew it. 🙂

  • Jonathan Padilla

    I drink whey protein before bed, and I do it just the days I workout (4 days per week), my workout its at night, around 8:00 pm… Would it work right in that way?

  • Sudder

    HI, I was reading your article to a friend and she asked if this is good advice for women as well and also were you always slender or did you start out over weight?

    • Yup it applies to women wanting to build muscle and strength.

      I always had a skinny/normal type of physique.

  • 88keyman

    I read over at T Nation that ideally most carbs should be eaten around workout time. If that’s so, then eating 250 gms — more than I would get in some entire days — at bedtime seems less than ideal. Of course, if it works for you, it works.

  • rouge

    What about yogurt? I sometimes have yogurt before bed with some PB if having a scoop of Casein doesnt fit my macros?

    • Regular yogurt works too but greek yogurt is better. It’ll take a LOT of regular yogurt to get the protein you need…

      • Rouge Surreah

        I have fat free Greek yogurt if I don’t want to use up all my remaining “cutting” calories on casein…. Haha. The brand Of casein I use also has a bit of carbs unfortunately. When is legion gonna make casein?!

        • No set time, but it is definitely something we’ll do.

          I have a few other products and flavors ahead of it in the pipeline, but it’s coming.

          Stay tuned!

  • becky

    hi is becky

  • Leah

    Hi, another nice article! I tried some egg white powder recently (unflavored) and it’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted, how do you drink it before going to bed? do you have a flavored version, or what do you mix it with?

    • Haha yeah unflavored is gross. Get a flavored one. 🙂 I just mix with water.

    • Anthony Renzi

      Try cookies n cream protein with milk, heavenly.

      • Sounds delicious. As long as it’s egg or casein protein that works!

  • Charlotte Grøftehauge

    Again another great article – emphasizing that you need to get your big rocks in place before the grains of sand matters. That beeing said – 1 month from my first bikini comp I never skip my nighttime protein meal ( greek youghurt/cottagecheese) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f91cf25b6487218d72ca9d2d890425fd65b188bf88181998d070f499c8f0d3e6.jpg

    • Exactly.

      That’s exciting! Good to know you’re keeping your late night protein in. 🙂

  • Anthony Renzi

    Hey Matt, what’s up?
    I have 2 questions and I could use your wisdom,

    1) If I hit my target protein of around 150g by night, should I still have 25g of a protein shake (the protein im currently using has an 8 hour release affect).

    2)”Personally I eat about 250 grams of carbs at 9 or 10 PM every day because I enjoy it”
    How do you do this? That is about 60-70% of the carbs I consume daily and i’m bulking. What are you typically eating? And also you mentioned in your book about a hormone you’d prefer to avoid by not eating carbs past 6 I thought.

    Thanks

  • Kevin Smith

    Hey mike! Thanks for all the help uyouve been posting, been reading and learning alot. I have 2 questions though 🙂 ive read in the comments that you changed your mind about the late carb eating after 6 and thats allright 🙂 i change my diet and workout all the time. But ive read your book leaner stronger and some other free stuff of you and noticed youve changed your mind so i wonder whats your latest overall work you recommend? Should i be updated about some things (i love carbs after 6 ) btw!) or will i be fine? And i read eggs are fast digestive protein? Is this true or is their just a difference with regular eggs and egg powder? Thanks again! Looking forward to my journey for muscles 🙂

    • My pleasure!

      My latest second editions reflect all my current “positions” on things, haha. One of the nice things of my ongoing maintenance of my work–I do regular updates as I learn more and such.

      Eggs are a slower digesting protein.

      • Kevin Smith

        Ok cool! Thanks for answering! Last question though 🙂 is it ok to do other exercises while waiting 3-4 minutes for you next set? For ex. On arms day after my first set barbell curls i would go inmediatly in tricep presses or extensions? I believe this would be a spuperset if not mistaken :).

        • YW!

          For the most part, I recommend sticking to the rest times. You’ll need it to lift heavy for 9-12 sets.

          That being said on arms day, I’m okay with it since you work two different muscles.

          I like to alternate between biceps and triceps sets to save time. I don’t superset the exercises, but instead I do it like this: biceps exercise 1 set 1, rest 60 seconds, triceps exercise set 2, rest 60 seconds, biceps exercise 1 set 2, rest 60 seconds, triceps exercise set 2, rest 60 seconds, and so forth.

        • For arms, it’s not that big a deal. Or for example, a chest/abs superset. But, we do not recommend it for big compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, etc.

  • Aikas

    Hello brother,
    What is your opinion about protein blends?

    • The actual protein. Will be less per scoop due to sweetener, flavoring, etc.

      Whey/casein and pea/rice blends are good.

      Thanks for the support!

  • Aikas

    Hey Mike!

    As the vegan protein sources are poorer in certain amino acids, do you have a rule of the thumb about how much of your daily protein intake should come from them? Or you haven’t thought about that..?

    • I asked the same thing today. 1g of plant protein =/= 1g of meat protein. How do you account for that?

    • The more you get from animal sources the better. 70-80% or more from animal sources is a good rule of thumb.

      • Aikas

        I’ve been keeping at 80-85%, but it’s definitely more expensive. There is an economic crisis in my country and you start to realise that bodybuilding is an expensive hobby. 😀

  • Phillip

    If I have a protein shake(either casein or egg protein) before bed(midnight) will I still be training in a fasted state if I begin my training at 7?
    If not, when would my basal metabolism be low enough to train in the morning for it to be considered “fasted training”?

    • Yup, you’ll be fine for fasted training the following morning. No worries.

  • 250g of carbs in one sitting? I don’t eat nearly that much in the entire day. How do you not get fat? 10 hours of HIIT/week?

    • Nope! I do HIIT 3 days a week.

      I do save the majority of my carbs for that meal though haha.

      • Ha no wonder. It’s been quite an eye opener to read about the slowdown of your metabolism when you constantly give your body less energy than it expends. I’m sure that must be the reason why you eat so many more carbs and food in general than me. I’ve got my carbs back up to 1g/lb now so hopefully as I keep reverse dieting my weight won’t increase much. So far it’s been going great. Still at the same weight!

        • Yep haha.

          And yeah, that’s what happens as you cut! Hope you enjoyed learning about it.

          Cool you’re reverse dieting and getting those cals back up. If you do it right, there will be little to no weight gain.

          Sounds like you’ve been doing it right so far. Keep it up!

          • I enjoy learning about all this stuff thanks. I have a long way to go as far as the reverse dieting goes. Currently I am just about equal on protein and carbs and according to your calculator I should eat WAY more than that on a maintenance diet.

            So according to your science my metabolism has slowed down a ridiculous amount. I just hope as I keep upping the carbs that I don’t gain extra weight. I can see by looking at myself whether it’s fat or muscle anyway.

            And as long as it’s fat I refuse to increase my calories. This brings me to something else. I find it really hard to count fat intake. How much fat is there on a pork chop for instance? They all have different amounts of fat.

            Or how much fat goes into a piece of meat that you fry in olive oil? Any solutions on how to count fat intake? Thanks!

          • YW.

            You just need to make a proper meal plan as laid out here:

            https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

  • Aikas

    Hey brother,

    How much of my Daily Protein Intake could be from Whey and Caseine in my Diet? Currently I’m cutting and it’s 75.5% in my Workout days, which makes my diet much easier but I could cut it down to 63%.. Otherwise, It’s 36% in my non-workout days. 🙂

    • Hmm personally I try to get 70%+ of my daily protein from whole food.

  • Phillip

    Hey Mike,

    If I am doing a cut right now and I am also trying to incorporate LG(16/8) intermittent fasting, does it matter that my early-ish dinner is the last bit of protein I consume? I train right after I wake up(around 8) and do cardio late in the afternoon. My dinner usually falls right after my cardio session. I am afraid that my casein shake before bed will counteract the idea of my intermittent fasting schedule. What do you recommend? 🙂

    • Nope. The early dinner isn’t a problem and the casein won’t counteract the effects of fasting.

      As long as you’re hitting your daily numbers of cals and macros and are getting results, keep doing what you’re doing.

  • Aikas

    Hey Mike 🙂
    Is the increase in Protein Synthesis only Worth it when there is added additional Leucine in your Post-workout shake or it is also worth it to add it in your Pre-workout shake and in your casein Before sleep? And is 15gr of Leucine in total (plus the one already in the protein), the Best Amount to aim for?

    Take care!

    • IMO an additional 8ish grams in your post-workout meal should be good.

      • Aikas

        And what the absorbation rate of Egg protein powder, Isn’t it around 2.9gr per hour as opposed to the given 1.3gr per hour in BLS? You know, I’ve swapped the Casein for Egg protein and now I to take 30gr before bed, instead of 36gr of Casein and save the deduced grams for an earlier meal 🙂

        • Cooked is around 3 grams per hour and nice. 🙂

          • Aikas

            So in powder form – 1.3gr per hour?

            PP: I’m really enjoying Fortify, can’t wait for your next supplement 🙂

          • No powdered is cooked.

            Awesome man me too. We’re getting a LOT of good feedback on it.

  • Elaine

    Thanks for writing this article! Very helpful and I enjoyed reading it. kudos to you for incorporating scientific studies to back up your statements.

    How many grams of protein (I prefer cottage cheese) would you recommend for women as a pre-bedtime snack?

    • My pleasure Elaine. Glad you enjoyed the article and referencing!

      30-40g of protein, just as I say in the article. 🙂

  • Scott

    Hey Mike,
    I’m going to start taking cottage cheese before bed, but I’m currently take ZMAs just before bed too, and I hear dairy affects zinc/mag intake. Know anything about this? OK to take both? (I’ll probably switch to Triumph for my zinc/mag when it’s available in UK).

    • There shouldn’t be any issue.

      • Scott

        Thanks Mike, appreciate the reply. No idea where you find the time for everyone! best wishes, Scott

        • NP! I spend several hours a day answering everybody. 🙂

          Happy to stay in touch!

  • Phillip

    Hey Mike. Been doing research and haven’t been able to find solid scientific info on whether ingesting Casein along with a fat, usually almond or almond butter, before to slow down digestion even more. What are your thoughts? If you think eating fat along with casein protein powder, would you recommend almonds or almond butter?

    Your information is so great! Been seeing awesome results and its not hard to follow!

    • Fat slows down the absorption of anything you eat, so yes, it will.

      Thanks! Glad to hear it!

      • Phillip

        So would u recommend almonds or would almond butter be better?

      • Cole Lomas

        Do you know how much it slows it down by? I.e., if egg white/casien digests 3/6 g/h respectively, what do you expect this to adjust to consumed with fat? And also, how many actual grams of fat required to do so? 5g, 10g, 15g???

        • No, sorry. Nothing comes to mind as far as specifics.

  • Anthony Renzi

    Hi Mike,

    I hear people say all the time that metabolism slows down at night. I see you’ve wrote about carbs at night not making a difference, but have you wrote about metabolism in general in terms of time of day. My mom owned her own nutrition business and believes this to be true, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.

    • No, that’s not true. Your metabolism fluctuates mainly based on when you eat (it “speeds up” after you eat, “slows down” after your body is done processing the food, etc.).

      • John McGrath

        I’m a personal trainer, my best friend is a physiologist for Wigan Warriors with a Msc in sports nutrition and i have to say that is conpletley inaccurate. There are so many factors that affect matabolism.When you eat, What you eat, hydration levels, temperature, (inside and outside the body)activity levels, genetics and even endocrine efficiency. It’s actually a complex subject and although the above factors play a huge part it’s largely subjective.
        Don’t usually comment on blogs this old but this inaccurate.

  • Thi Ri Aung

    Hi
    Is Casein before bed good for women as well?
    Thanks.

  • Howard

    Hi Mike
    Thanks for sharing this great article with us!
    But I have a question here.
    Before going to bed, would you add any low GI carb into your slow-burning protein shake or just purely protein without carb would be enough for body to absorb over night??

    • Hey hey! My pleasure!

      Just protein is fine. If you like eating carbs before bed, go ahead. But, in terms of results, what matters most is that you hit your target cals/macros daily.

  • Benny Castro

    How many complete boiled eggs should i eat before bed? I am 5’6″ and 81kg. At the moment I have decreased about 15kg and following a healthy diet at the moment.

  • Mukesh Shinde

    Hi Mike,
    I go for jogs at night. Is whey protein shake good for me after my jog before going to bed?? Need to lose few pounds!!

  • Marck Lester

    Hi Mike,

    Another great article I came across from you! Quick question, I have heard conflicting information as to weather having casein before bed counts as part of your total calories for the day or not.

    For example, say if I have already hit my calories for the day, weather I’m bulking/cutting etc, would having casein before bed mean I go over my calories target and consequently put on more fat than otherwise/make cutting less effective?

    Also, if by having casein my protein intake goes above the 1.2 gram/pound body weight mark, would it be worth reducing protein intake earlier in the day?

    Many thanks,

    Marck

    • Hey Marck,

      Having anything before bed definitely counts towards your total calorie intake for the day. You are consuming energy, after all! The principles of energy balance still apply. You can reduce the protein during the day or take it away from carbs.

  • Perry

    Hello Michael.
    I’m sorry to say, that of all the articles I agree with you on, this one is an about face.
    Doesn’t the body have plenty of stored amino acids from the food eaten that day (amino acid pool) that will keep the muscles “fed” till the next day?
    And look at all of the natural bodybuilders, like Reg Park (old-time bodybuilder), for example, who don’t eat that late in the evening.
    What am I missing here, do ya think?
    Thanks Michael.

  • Carnell Johnson

    Hey man I recently tore a muscle in my back and have lost my abs from a lack of cardio (I played college football) i also stopped drinking alot of protein i used to take in over 200G’s a day. Do you think that protein before bed will help my back recover faster since it is a muscle and “protein build muscle”?

  • Phil

    Your talking about two different things my friend healing muscle and building muscle. Healing muscle you want to boost you immune system. Supplimenting GH is the quickest way.

  • Amelia Melmo

    Is there a reason you said eggs must be cooked? I have 250g of raw egg whites with coconut milk, and blended sweet potato and blueberries an hour before bed every night. Would it be better for me to cook the egg whites?

    • Yes. Definitely cook them. You significantly increase the amount of protein your body can absorb due to the structure of the proteins being altered when cooked.

  • Miguel Ribeiro

    Hello Mike,

    Just give me here a advise please. Right now i m training at 8pm, dinning right next, making a last meal at midnight with some protein, and taking whey protein in the breakfast. Is this right? Or should i take whey after the training too?
    Nice arthicle and thank you.

  • ivantoxie

    What if I get pre bedtime protein from tuna, you know anything about the difference in the absorption rate of tune compared to casein?

    • Hmm I can’t say I’ve seen anything on the digestion rate of tuna, but it’s probably relatively fast, like most meats.

  • Kari Burl

    Hi Mike, for someone who is trying to lose the last 10 pounds of fat, what would you say is important to do or not do, are small strict meals a must for losing the last bit of fat?

    • Kari, it’s going to be business as usual with the cutting diet–a negative energy balance. As long as you eat fewer calories than you use, you will lose fat. Track everything that you eat, and adjust your calories and exercise based on your results.

  • ArchDoc

    Hey Mike, so i heard that insulin inhibits GH which is evidently true in the researches you and other people provide. So if this is the case, wouldnt eating carbs be counterproductive post workout and in sleep where the GH is the highest of the day?. You provided research saying carbs dont matter and only energy balance. But GH isnt just a fat regulating but a muscle growth hormone too right? So for someone trying to gain mass wouldnt spiking insulin at those time affect gains? Btw if u take 25g of whey vs casein before bed wouldnt protein synthesis rate be the same. Whey gives faster bigger but shorter spike while casein gives slow steady small spikes? Doesnt 25g protein balance out? If it doesnt shouldnt i just eat casein/egg all the way other than post workout

    • While that sounds theoretically sound, it doesn’t play out like that. Your body simply adjusts its pulse times. Don’t worry about when you eat your carbs. It won’t negatively impact anything.

      No, the whey will be processed within a few hours.

      • ArchDoc

        For the 2nd part maybe u misunderstood me or i dont understand protein metabolism. Why does 25g casein/egg> 25g whey at night time assuming same amount of leucine? If this is true wouldnt this say that slow digesting protein is always superior compare to whey other than post workout? Also how does eating protein at night helps if say u hit your protein number of the day already?

        • Not necessarily. To keep plasma amino acid levels high while you sleep through the night, a slow digesting protein is better than fast digesting whey. You’d need more whey than egg/casein if you want to keep those levels up due to the different rates of absorption.

  • rb

    u heard casein causes hair loss? is it true? and would u recommend casein as part of last meal while intermittent fasting while cutting or bulking? thanks

    • Nah. Casein is great before bed no matter what your plan is.

      • rb

        thanks for replying, just to clear up, casein wouldnt effect hairloss? super sensitive about that matter lol thanks.

        • Yeah no problem there. Shoot me an email if you wanna talk hair loss. I’ve got more info on that. roger at muscleforlife.com

  • Elioth

    Is there any other slow digesting protein? Perheps greek yogurt. At what rate does it digest?

  • TrevorL

    If a nighttime protein is so good it feels there might be a product missing from your range! Any news on that?

    • I definitely have plans to do a casein or egg protein powder! I’ll be releasing it sometime next year. 🙂

      • Defected Salvations

        Could I count a protien shake as a meal? Have 3 main meals and 3 protien shakes throughout the day.

        • I don’t recommend turning a main meal into a shake since you already are having 3 protein shakes. Best to get all your nutrition from real food sources.

          • Defected Salvations

            Can less carbs hurt your strengh? I was in the gym today and could not push what I did last week…. I question my carb intake more than protien.

          • Sure can!

  • Simon

    Since protein synthesis only occurs while the body is in deep sleep, this must be more than just important, its vital right?

    • Protein synthesis does not only occur while you’re sleeping…

  • Anthony Zasimovich

    Mike, I gotta say that I love your stuff. The books, the articles. It’s all very well thought out, and provocative. For instance, I’ve been trying to find a solid take on eating before bed. The single greatest thing that I hate about Sports nutrition is the lies and “common” thoughts that are mixed in with the true science. Although the science data you listed doesn’t have sources attached, it still is quite interesting. Because I love your material, I wanted to tell you that I think you should take another look at the syntax and spelling of your article. There are a couple mistakes that could easily be made correct. Just looking out for your movement!

    Thanks again for your material!

    A

    • Thank you!

      If you click on the links in the article, you’ll be taken to the studies I’m referencing.

      Typos. Damn typos. They never go away, lol.

  • Obviously amazing blog posting thanks for sharing.
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  • Gökşen Baki Demirel

    Hi Mike,
    I love your articles and they keep me motivated.
    So first thing first ; i thank you deeply 🙂
    Here is my question ;
    İm now on cut, so i understand protein synthesis (growing more muscle) is not happening for me right ?
    Using casein protein before bed is still beneficial for me if yes how so ?

    • Awesome! I’m happy to hear it. You are welcome. Glad I could help.

      When cutting, you can still build strength and muscle. It just won’t be as significant as when bulking. Casein helps by giving you a slow steady supply of protein when you sleep so your body can use it for growth and recovery.

  • ivette

    great article… but what if you are not a weight lifter and just do yoga and hit workouts 3x a week… I know it might not help me lose weight instantly BUT will it make me gain weight?…I’ve been told YES… but I really love my vega plant based protein at night.
    Taking all your info in…I’d say NO..but that thing about weight lifting got mw thinking..’cause I certainly dont burn the same calories as you.
    Thoughts?

    • Hey Ivette, glad you liked the article. You will gain weight if you consume more calories than you burn.

  • Lorenzo

    Since I started taking casein before bed, I’ve had sleepless nights. I realize this is uncommon, but have seen the same in other bodybuilding posts.

    Any reason why this would be happening? I’m at a place where I want to stop taking casein so I can have better sleep!

    • Hmm. Not sure why that’s happening. Do you normally do fine with dairy?

      Try reducing the intake and/or taking it a bit earlier before bed. If that doesn’t work, maybe try an egg protein.

    • Taylor Kuzik

      Maybe try 1-2% low-fat cottage cheese with some raw or 100% organic pure honey. I add it to my casein protein shake since I read that raw or pure honey helps with sleep due to the fact that it gets converted into serotonin in the brain and produces the sleep hormone melatonin. Works great for me. Takes a little bit to take effect but once it hits you, you’re out like a light. It works for me. Try that, see what happens. As an added bonus it helps with the fat burning process while you sleep.

  • shanmatee reddick

    What about night shift workers? I plan on hitting the gym at 7am.

  • minxigyal

    Hello Mike, I recently purchased your book Thinner, Leaner, Stronger… I’m super excited to get started cutting.
    Here’s my question.

    I work nights. My plan is to take my pre workout protein then, workout when I get off at 7am, workout for an hour, do the post workout protein then got to sleep by 9 or 10 am. I was wondering if I this method will be okay.
    Thanks

    • Awesome! That’s great you picked up a copy of the book. Totally fine to do it the way you described.

  • Taylor Kuzik

    I typically have nonfat to 1% low-fat cottage cheese or casein protein shake with skim milk and honey before hitting the sack. I sometimes even combine honey with cinnamon. The reason for this is two fold. The first is contrary to what you may believe, a teaspoon of raw honey can help burn fat and improve sleep because the honey gets converted into serotonin by the brain and helps production of the sleep hormone melatonin. The second being cinnamon, in addition to being a powerful anti-oxidant, imitates insulin and helps prevents too much fatty triglycerides from accumulating in the blood.

    • Great!

      • Taylor Kuzik

        Do you do the same for pre-bed snack?

        • Not quite, but cottage cheese is a great option for protein before bed.

  • Tyler

    I am thinking of having 40g of casein everyday before bed but I am sceptical about how much of a difference it will actually make.
    Does casein/egg before bed actually make a noticeable difference in your experience?
    Thanks !

    • What’s most important is that you’re hitting your daily protein target daily.

      That being said having a slow digesting protein before bed will help. As a natural, there are a bunch of little things you can do to help improve results. Doing just one of them won’t amount to much, but if you do all the little things they can make quite a difference.

      • Tyler

        Thanks! That’s because I read a lot of articles saying casein is a scam and completely not necessary!

  • Jordan

    One or two nights a week my schedule dictates that I workout, have my protein/carb/ect shake on the drive home, then I’d like to be in bed within an hour. I’ve sometimes thought it would be better if I had an actual meal between my shake and cottage cheese before bed(instead of creating a “gap” between fast digesting whey protein and slow digesting casein). Or other times I’ll just stay up an extra hour and let my shake digest more before I eat my casein.

    Assuming I hit my protein macro for the day, is there any problem with having my whey/carb shake and cottage cheese before bed within an hour of each other?

  • Andrew

    Hi Mike,

    Do I need to take casein/egg protein every night before bed or just on workout nights?

  • Jackson R

    Mike,

    What do you think of taking BCAAs before bed instead of a protein shake or whole food protein? Do you think that this would be equally effective?

    I am allergic to dairy so whey or casein doesn’t work, and not really wanting to eat meat or eggs right before bed, because I find eating something right before sleep makes me wake up at least once during the night to urinate. As a side note, do you think being woken up in the middle of the night/having disturbed sleep would hinder muscle gains ?

    Thanks!

  • Ryan

    Hey Mike, great article! I’m doing BLS and in a bulking phase atm. I’m curious though, how the hell do you get a 250g carb meal at 9-10pm?! Lol
    Does it matter if low GI or high GI when eating carbs late (when bulking)?
    Thanks.

  • Briscan Andrei

    It is true that carbs before bed make your sleep much better ? I ask this question because when I eat a lot of carbs I fall asleep very quick , like a baby 🙂 .

    • I can’t say everyone has that reaction, but I know eating a very large meal can make me sleepy!

  • Nathan Chase

    This article is not only 10x (literally) the length it should be, but it is clearly not well thought out. Think about it – the article says don’t eat protein before bed to prevent muscle loss, just eat it before bed to promote muscle gain…? Thank you for making something so simple so complex. Here’s all you need to know: if you want to add an extra element to your muscle building, eat casein protein before bed (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc)

    • Hey Nathan, considering muscle protein breakdown and protein synthesis are two separate processes, it’s worth differentiating between them. That’s unfortunate the article complicated things for you, but overall I recommend something very similar–having some form of slow digesting protein before bed.

  • Nade

    Should the addition of the pre sleep protein be under my daily calories or can it go outside??

    • Calories from pre-sleep protein do count, so it will need to be factored into your total intake.

  • Jess

    Thank you for this article! Rather than just making broad claims about the topic you explained how the process works and how it could be helpful to a person, or not, based on their other lifestyle choices. This is just what I was looking for in my research on the best foods to eat before bed. Thank you!

    • Thanks for the kind words! I’m glad you liked the article, Jess 🙂

  • Adam W. Nardini

    Powders are not ideal and the best is egg protein or milk-based protein, but what if you’re vegan? Would a vegan protein powder be the ideal despite the faster absorption or would plant-based foods that would have a slower burn than the powder make more sense?

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