Protein before Sleep: Optimizing Recovery

Garret Seacat, C.S.C.S.

Eating protein before sleeping can help with recovery and weight loss.

Eating before bed, especially protein before sleeping, has always had a negatthorneive stigma that has been following it around for decades. Recommending eating before bed sounds backwards until you look closer at what it can do for you. Consuming protein before bed can improve recovery from your workouts, helps you wake up less hungry, and helps with weight loss! More than likely you are below the recommended amount of protein you should be consuming everyday and a protein shake before bed can help boost your intake dramatically.

Why protein before sleeping?

Without the proper intake of protein you are likely hurting your potential results. Protein is key to the repair and building of muscle in your body and insuring adaptation to the workouts you are completing. Dietary protein ingestion stimulates muscle growth and dramatically slows muscular breakdown. This leads to a greater skeletal muscle adaptive response to each successive exercise bout and results in more efficient skeletal muscle reconditioning. Athletes who consumed protein before bed showed a 22% improvement in muscular synthesis in the morning compared to the placebo groups.

What should I eat before bed and how much?

It really comes down to your preference for protein source. We know from research that you will want 40 grams whey or casein proteins because they are the most effective. The reason for this is their amino acid profile and high leucine content. These proteins are also some of the most popular because of ease of digestion and bio-availability. If you prefer to go a plant based route, you will need more protein because of the low amount of leucine. However, recent research shows similar results as long as enough protein is consumed so picking the correct source for you is really a matter of your dietary preference.

Athletes who consumed protein before bed showed a 22% improvement in muscular synthesis in the morning compared to the placebo groups.

Who can benefit the most?

Getting the recommended about of daily protein can be difficult, especially for athletes, which is where pre-sleep protein consumption can be most beneficial. The goal amount of protein should be 40 grams, which will definitely help any athlete reach their daily protein goals. The general population can also see benefits for the same reasons as an athlete including improved muscle synthesis, recovery from exercise, and increased lean muscle mass. This is especially important for individuals who are exercising in the evenings.

Why protein before sleeping can be good for you

Why you won't gain fat

Data from men and women indicate that protein before sleeping does not change overnight fat metabolism. When research participants consumed either casein protein or a non-caloric placebo, there was zero difference in the overnight fuel use or energy expenditure, or the amount of fat liberated from the fat cell measured with a technique called microdialysis. This may be a big surprise to you as it is often though that eating before bed will inhibit fat metabolism. It turns out that protein, taken presleep, does not blunt fat metabolism and may even help improve body composition over time.

Learn more about what proper nutrition can do for you with Absolute Nutrition Coaching.


Saracino PG, Saylor HE, Hanna BR, Hickner RC, Kim JS, Ormsbee MJ. Effects of Pre-Sleep Whey vs. Plant-Based Protein Consumption on Muscle Recovery Following Damaging Morning Exercise. Nutrients. 2020;12(7):2049, 2020.

Allman BR, Morrissey MC, Kim JS, Panton LB, Contreras RJ, Hickner RC, Ormsbee MJ. Lipolysis and Fat Oxidation Are Not Altered with Presleep Compared with Daytime Casein Protein Intake in Resistance-Trained Women. J Nutr. 1;150(1):47-54, 2020.

Ormsbee MJ, Kinsey AW, Eddy WR, Madzima TA, Arciero PJ, Figueroa A, Panton LB. The influence of nighttime feeding of carbohydrate or protein combined with exercise training on appetite and cardiometabolic risk in young obese women. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 40(1):37-45, 2015

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Beelen M., A. Zorenc, B. Pennings, J.M. Senden, H. Kuipers, and L.J. van Loon (2011b). Impact of protein coingestion on muscle protein synthesis during continuous endurance type exercise. Am. J. Physiol. 300:E945-954.