Nav: Home

Bedtime protein for bigger gains? Here's the scoop

March 06, 2019

Drinking a casein shake just before overnight sleep increases gains in muscle mass and strength in response to resistance exercise. But to date, no study has directly addressed whether this effect is due to increased total protein intake only, or if a bedtime beverage is better.

According to a review published in Frontiers in Nutrition, existing findings nevertheless suggest that overnight sleep is a unique nutritional window for boosting muscle gains - while late-night protein calories needn't increase body fat.

Casein point: Snijders' seminal study

"Several one-night studies have shown that pre-sleep protein intake increases muscle protein synthesis during overnight sleep in young adults" says lead author Dr. Tim Snijders, Assistant Professor at Maastricht University. "These have fueled the idea that over a longer period, a pre-sleep protein supplement can maximize the strength and muscle mass gains during regular resistance exercise training."

Snijders' 2015 study is the most compelling demonstration to date for this.

His team put 44 healthy young men on a 12-week lifting program. Half were given a nightly pre-sleep protein shake with about 30g of casein and 15 grams of carbs, while the other half got an energy-free drink.

The training was effective - both groups ended with a bigger squat (one rep max) and bigger quads - but the protein-before-bed group gained significantly more muscle strength and size.

Is pre-sleep protein consumption better?

But are muscle gains boosted by pre-sleep protein per se, or just higher total intake of protein and calories?

Just one study has attempted - unsuccessfully - to test this question. It showed that fat-free mass gains over 8 weeks of unaltered training in regular lifters were greater (+1.2 kg vs +0.4 kg) with a nightly casein supplement, compared to the same supplement taken in the morning. The difference was not statistically significant however, perhaps because there were only 26 participants.

"Based on our own studies, we calculated that a huge number of participants would be needed to prove whether a difference might exist in response to pre-sleep protein, versus protein intake at other times of the day," explains Snijders.

However, there are already numerous indirect indicators that pre-sleep protein specifically is beneficial for healthy young lifters.

Sleep is a unique opportunity for muscle recovery and growth

Fundamentally, pre-sleep protein can be used to improve protein intake distribution over the day, says Snijders.

Muscles can only grow and repair themselves when the right building blocks - amino acids from protein - are available in the blood. But unlike blood glucose, the body does not store and release amino acids to maintain near-constant circulating levels.

"A survey of over 500 athletes found they were typically consuming at total of more than 1.2g protein per kilo of bodyweight across three main meals, but only a paltry 7g of protein as an evening snack. As a result, lower levels of amino acids would be available for muscle growth during overnight sleep."

But if pre-sleep protein consumption allows muscles to cram in more amino acids at night, will they simply use less during the day? Apparently not, claims Snijders.

"The muscle-building effects of protein supplementation at each meal seem to be additive. In one study we found that the consumption of ample amounts of protein (60g whey) before overnight sleep did not alter the muscle protein synthetic response to a high-protein breakfast the following morning.

"What's more, others have shown that adding a protein supplement at bedtime does not affect appetite the following morning - so it is unlikely to compromise total protein or calorie intake."

Bedtime protein won't 'make you fat' or ruin your sleep

While the case for pre-sleep protein remains preliminary, is there any harm in trying it? After all, it does involve consuming calories just before a long period of inactivity.

The evidence is sparse, but encouraging.

"In the 8-week morning vs evening casein study, the additional consumption of protein calories did not result in any increase in fat mass despite the fact that exercise volume did not change," reports Snijders. "But again, these results should be interpreted with caution due to the low number of volunteers included.

"Supporting this, another group found in 11 young active men that a pre-sleep casein shake actually increased the rate of fat burning the following day. This might be because casein ingestion reduces the insulin response to subsequent meals, which pushes your body to use more fat."

Based on the results of these studies at least, pre-bed protein consumption, especially casein, doesn't appear to 'make you fat.' Indeed, it appears to actually increase fat metabolism.

Finally, pre-sleep protein may be what keeps Snijders up at night - but it won't stop you getting your well-earned rest.

"It has been consistently shown that pre-sleep protein ingestion has no effect on sleep onset latency or sleep quality."

In conclusion: we don't yet have conclusive evidence for adding pre-sleep protein supplement to your fitness regime: but it's worth a try - and it's worth further research.
-end-
Please link to the original research article in your reporting: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2019.00017/full

Frontiers is an award-winning Open Science platform and leading Open Access scholarly publisher. Our mission is to make research results openly available to the world, thereby accelerating scientific and technological innovation, societal progress and economic growth. We empower scientists with innovative Open Science solutions that radically improve how science is published, evaluated and disseminated to researchers, innovators and the public. Access to research results and data is open, free and customized through Internet Technology, thereby enabling rapid solutions to the critical challenges we face as humanity. For more information, visit http://www.frontiersin.org and follow @FrontiersIn on Twitter.

Frontiers

Related Sleep Articles:

Baby sleeping in same room associated with less sleep, unsafe sleep habits
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends parents keep babies in the same room with them to sleep for the first year to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Alternating skimpy sleep with sleep marathons hurts attention, creativity in young adults
Skimping on sleep, followed by 'catch-up' days with long snoozes, is tied to worse cognition -- both in attention and creativity -- in young adults, in particular those tackling major projects, Baylor University researchers have found.
Sleep trackers can prompt sleep problems
A researcher and clinician in the sleep disorders program in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Rush University Medical Center and an associate professor at Rush University, Baron says use of these devices follows a pattern reflected in the title of the Sleep Medicine study: 'Orthosomnia: Are Some Patients Taking the Quantified Self Too Far?'
UW sleep research high-resolution images show how the brain resets during sleep
Striking electron microscope pictures from inside the brains of mice suggest what happens in our own brain every day: Our synapses -- the junctions between nerve cells -- grow strong and large during the stimulation of daytime, then shrink by nearly 20 percent while we sleep, creating room for more growth and learning the next day.
What is good quality sleep? National Sleep Foundation provides guidance
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recently released the key indicators of good sleep quality, as established by a panel of experts.
Homeless sleep less, more likely to have insomnia; sleep improvements needed
The homeless sleep less and are more likely to have insomnia and daytime fatigue than people in the general population, findings researchers believe suggest more attention needs to be paid to improving sleep for this vulnerable population, according to a research letter published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.
Losing sleep over discrimination? 'Everyday discrimination' may contribute to sleep problems
People who perceive more discrimination in daily life have higher rates of sleep problems, based on both subjective and objective measures, reports a study in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, the official journal of the American Psychosomatic Society.
Mouse mutants with sleep defects may shed light on the mysteries of sleep
The first unbiased genetic screen for sleep defects in mice has yielded two interesting mutants, Sleepy, which sleeps excessively, and Dreamless, which lacks rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Brain circuit that drives sleep-wake states, sleep-preparation behavior is identified
Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have identified a brain circuit that's indispensable to the sleep-wake cycle.
Recharge with sleep: Pediatric sleep recommendations promoting optimal health
For the first time, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has released official consensus recommendations for the amount of sleep needed to promote optimal health in children and teenagers to avoid the health risks of insufficient sleep.

Related Sleep Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#520 A Closer Look at Objectivism
This week we broach the topic of Objectivism. We'll be speaking with Keith Lockitch, senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, about the philosophy of Objectivism as it's taught through Ayn Rand's writings. Then we'll speak with Denise Cummins, cognitive scientist, author and fellow at the Association for Psychological Science, about the impact of Objectivist ideology on society. Related links: This is what happens when you take Ayn Rand seriously Another Critic Who Doesn’t Care What Rand Thought or Why She Thought It, Only That She’s Wrong Quote is from "A Companion to Ayn Rand"