Have you heard someone say something like this before: “You shouldn’t eat before you sleep, it’s not good for you.” Or maybe you’ve heard, “If you eat after 7 PM, you will gain weight.”
The good news is that both of these statements are false! Shocking, right? We hear so many misconceptions when it comes to our nutrition around bedtime that it can be hard to filter out the good from the bad.
The truth is though, your body does a lot of things while you’re asleep. It doesn’t just shut off like your phone does. Actually, these body processes that occur while you’re asleep require calories, which means you burn calories while you’re sleeping.
So, you can definitely eat just before bed, as long as it fits into your daily caloric intake for your goals. If it's in line with your nutrition plan, eating late at night won’t cause you to gain weight … and it’s certainly not bad for you.
If you can eat before bed though, what should you eat? Are there foods that are better than others?
The safest answer when it comes to that question is to eat protein! Can you eat other things? For sure. But, when it comes to building muscle or burning fat, protein will help you the most.
So if you’re curious whether you SHOULD drink a protein shake before bed or not, the answer is ... it depends.
CAN you drink a protein shake before bed? Absolutely. Let’s talk about it.
Should You Drink a Protein Shake Before Bed?
If you want to drink a protein shake before bed, you can. If you don’t want to drink a protein shake before bed, you don’t have to. Either way, drinking a protein shake before bed is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be a great thing.
Whether you should drink a protein shake, or eat a protein source before bed, depends on your nutrition as a whole. If you’re getting your protein and calories in throughout the day … it’s not necessary. If you aren’t, drinking a protein shake before bed is a great way to help you get in that last bit of protein before you fall asleep.
Outside of helping you reach your protein and calorie goals, there are also other benefits to drinking a protein shake before bed. Let’s talk about those as well!
Benefits of Drinking a Protein Shake Before Bed
Before we talk about the benefits of protein shakes before bed, you need to know the different kinds. There are rapid assimilation protein shakes and there are sustained assimilation protein shakes.
Rapid-assimilation protein shakes digest quickly and are designed for post-workout recovery.
Sustained-assimilation protein shakes are designed to mimic the digestion of whole foods. These are the kind of protein shakes you want to drink before bed. This is because they’ll give your body a steady supply of protein overnight.
With that in mind, what are these extra benefits?
Drinking a Protein Shake Before Bed Can Help With Fat Loss
If you are eating in a caloric deficit, you are going to lose weight. Eating protein, though, can help your body to prioritize fat loss by sparing muscle tissue in a calorie deficit (3).
After all, your body doesn't need a whole lot of muscle to survive. That’s why we have body fat. Body fat is stored energy designed to last longer and keep you alive for longer.
By eating protein, you can preserve more muscle and prioritize carbs and fats for fuel. This process also takes place while you’re asleep!
Drinking a Protein Shake Before Bed Can Help Build Muscle Tissue
If you do any form of resistance training, your body has to repair the muscle tissue you break down. Oftentimes, your body will repair this muscle tissue overnight too.
If you get proper sleep and eat protein right before bed, your body can initiate muscle protein synthesis. This can allow your body to build muscle while you sleep (1, 2).
Drinking a Protein Shake Before Bed Can Be Cheaper, Tastier, and More Convenient
In terms of price per serving, you can oftentimes save a lot of money by using protein shakes, especially with how pricey trips to the grocery store can be nowadays!
Not only can you save money using protein shakes, but they are more convenient as well. It's much easier to drink a protein shake before bed than it is to eat a whole chicken breast right before you go to sleep.
If it's easier, then you are more likely to stick with it and reap the rewards! Plus, I don’t know too many people who want to snack on beef or chicken before bed. For me, I like mixing up a dessert-flavored protein shake that really hits the spot.
When is the Best Time to Drink a Protein Shake?
I know we talked a lot about drinking protein shakes before bed, but there are plenty of other times you can take them as well. Really, the best time to drink a protein shake is all dependent on you and your goals.
If you struggle to hit your protein goal, then a protein shake can be very helpful. They can also be especially helpful for anyone with a busy lifestyle.
Finding the Best Protein Shake
When it comes to drinking a protein shake before bed, you want a sustained assimilation protein shake. These are slow-digesting protein shakes designed to mimic the digestion of whole food!
Drinking this before bed will give your body a sustained release of protein over the course of 2-4 hours. This can help you to build and preserve muscle, while prioritize fat loss while you’re asleep.
In addition to that, you want to look for quality. Not all protein is created equal. If your body can’t absorb the protein, it’s of no use to you! This is when I’d recommend our Level-1 or Vegan Power Pro.
Level-1 is a high-quality blend of whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, and milk protein. It also comes low-temperature processed and cross-flow microfiltrated. These are high-quality processing standards that can preserve the bioavailability of the protein. On top of that, the protein isn't exposed to harsh chemicals or excessive heat during the processing.
There are a bunch of amazing flavors to choose from, especially if you’re looking for one to satisfy your sweet tooth!
Vegan Power Pro, on the other hand, is a high-quality plant-based protein powder. This can be a great option for you if you follow a vegan lifestyle or prefer plant-based sources.
Bottom Line: Make Sure You're Getting Enough Protein
If you’re looking to get more protein in your diet and take your results to the next level ... drinking a protein shake before bed can be a great addition to your routine.
But again, this will only make sense if you aren’t getting enough protein in your diet currently. If you’re having trouble figuring out how much protein you need, or need help with your nutrition in general, we have you covered!
In fact, we actually created the perfect all-in-one tool to help: The 1st Phorm App!
The 1st Phorm App makes it easy to configure and track your nutrition. You actually get to work 1-on-1 with a certified advisor to help you do just that!
Inside the app, you’ll also get workout programs catered to your goals, educational content, and instructional videos. You even have the ability to track your progress and body metrics amongst so much more!
All you have to do is download the app and get started now!
If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out! Our team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches are more than happy to help out. Just give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 or send us an email at CustomerService@1stPhorm.com anytime!
(1) Dattilo, M., et al. “Sleep and Muscle Recovery: Endocrinological and Molecular Basis for a New and Promising Hypothesis.” Medical Hypotheses, vol. 77, no. 2, Elsevier BV, Aug. 2011, pp. 220–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2011.04.017.
(2) Res, Peter T., et al. "Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery." Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 44.8 (2012): 1560-1569.
(3) Carbone JW, McClung JP, Pasiakos SM. Recent Advances in the Characterization of Skeletal Muscle and Whole-Body Protein Responses to Dietary Protein and Exercise during Negative Energy Balance. Adv Nutr. 2019 Jan 1;10(1):70-79. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmy087. PMID: 30596808; PMCID: PMC6370268.ABOUT THE AUTHOR