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Protein Shake Before Bed: Is It a Good Idea?

Ask any bodybuilder, athlete, or sports star what their go-to supplement is and they’ll likely tell you it’s their protein shake. This isn’t surprising as most people usually have a protein shake as a pre or post-workout recovery drink to give their muscles the nutrients they need for a speedy recovery and increased muscle growth.

However, a growing number of studies suggest consuming a protein shake before bedtime may be the most effective method for building muscle with some added benefits thrown in the mix too.

Protein Shake

A few reasons why you should add your protein shake to your new bedtime routine

Increased protein synthesis

According to a recent study, taking a protein supplement shortly before you go to bed means your body will continue synthesizing new proteins while you sleep. This allows your body to generate new muscle mass through the night. In fact, some scientists believe this may be more beneficial than taking it as a post-workout drink, although this is still up for debate. Even so, research has shown that taking 40g of protein shake before sleeping stimulates muscle protein synthesis by up to 20%, which is definitely not something to be scoffed at.

Increased muscle mass and strength gains

Another recent study conducted by Snijder found that drinking a protein supplement before bed led to greater strength and improved muscle gains. If you’re the kind of person who likes to hit the gym, this is excellent news for you. Improvements in strength and increases in muscle mass mean you will be able to lift heavier weights and for longer in your next sessions. If you compound this effect over a long period of time, the added results can be quite significant.

In the same study, those who regularly had protein shakes before bed saw their one-rep max score across six different exercises increase by 150kg. This was 30kg more than the people who didn’t take their protein before sleeping.

Improved recovery

When you consume protein shake before bed, you recover faster between workouts according to a recent study. This is great news for those of you who are looking to pile on muscle quickly. How so? Well, the faster you can recover, the more frequently you can train, and the more frequently you can train, the more muscle you will build. Simple.

Reasons why you shouldn’t drink a protein shake before bed

Before you decide to swap out your supper for a protein shake, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind beforehand.

May disturb sleep

Some reports suggest supplementing protein before bedtime might reduce the quality of your sleep. The reason being is that most protein powders consist of simple sugars that could cause a surge of energy while you’re trying to get to sleep. The severity of this will vary from person to person, but if you know you’re the kind of person who is highly sensitive to sugar spikes, or if you already struggle to sleep, you may want to take your protein earlier on in the day.

If your main goal is to get lean

A large consensus of scientists believes consuming calories before bed is detrimental to shedding body fat as you are not allowing your body to enter into a fasted state, here’s why.

When we sleep, our body enters a natural fast. After you wake, if you remain in a fasted state for long enough, you will enter into a bodily process called autophagy.

Autophagy is the body’s way of clearing out dead and damaged cells so that it can regenerate newer, healthier ones. It’s an essential bodily process that contributes to your overall mental and physical well being, which is why you must give your body a chance to reach this state from time to time. On that note, even if your goal is to gain muscle mass and improve strength, it’s recommended to skip the protein shake before bed at least once or twice a week so you can allow your body the chance to enter into autophagy.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to increase your muscle mass and improve athletic performance, consuming a protein shake before bed is an excellent way to speed up your results. In doing so, you allow your body to continue growing new muscle tissue while you sleep as your body has access to all of the nutrients and essential amino acids required for protein synthesis.

With that said, this is not something you should do every night. Take at least one or two days off per week and give your body the chance to enter into a fasted state while sleeping. This allows your body to regenerate new cells, which improves your overall well being.

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