Eating protein before bedtime does not cause weight gain - The truth behind the myth

It is a common belief that consuming food before bed leads to weight gain as the body is at rest for several hours after eating.

Once upon a time, it was a common belief that if you eat before you go to bed, you will gain weight. People thought that when you sleep you don't burn the calories from food, so they just turn into fat in your body. But that's not true if you eat protein before bed.

Eating protein before bed has many benefits, such as building muscle, making the body stronger and keeping it healthy. Scientists have found that people should eat at least 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day, and athletes should eat about 2 grams per kilogram. If you eat protein before bed, you won't be as hungry in the morning and you won't eat too much.

The best proteins to eat before bed are whey and casein, but some people prefer vegetable proteins as well, use soy protein here as it is the best for your body to incorporate into your muscles. Athletes need to eat plenty of protein every day, and taking it before bed can help them get enough. You should have a food at every meal that has protein, such as meat, fish, cottage cheese, eggs, or even tofu, tempeh, or lentils and cherry peas.It is best to eat 40 grams of protein before going to bed. This can help you build more muscles and strengthen your body. Eating protein before bed will not cause you to gain weight, but can actually help your body recover even faster over time.

So if you feel hungry before bed, don't be afraid to eat some protein. It will help your body in many ways and will not cause you to gain weight. On the contrary, it will help you increase and stabilize your muscle growth.

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It is a common belief that consuming food before bed leads to weight gain as the body is at rest for several hours after eating. However, studies indicate that consuming protein before sleep does not have this effect.

What are the benefits of consuming protein before sleep?

Protein consumption before sleep has various benefits such as promoting protein synthesis, lean muscle growth, strength, and recovery from exercise. It also helps in maintaining and improving overall health. Research suggests that the average person should consume at least 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (g/kg), and athletes should consume around 2g/kg. Additionally, consuming protein before bedtime has been found to decrease morning hunger, as it increases satiety and reduces overeating tendencies.

Which type of protein is best to consume before bedtime?

When it comes to choosing a protein source to consume before bed, personal dietary preference plays a role. However, most studies suggest that whey or casein proteins are the most effective due to their high content of the amino acid leucine, which is believed to stimulate muscle growth. These proteins are also well-tolerated and easily absorbed by the body. It is important to note that plant-based proteins typically contain less leucine, so a larger quantity may be necessary to achieve the same effects as a smaller amount of animal-based protein. Casein is the protein most commonly used in pre-sleep protein research, with whey being a close second. However, recent studies have found that consuming either dairy or plant-based proteins such as a rice/pea combination prior to sleep does not affect muscle recovery as long as an adequate amount is consumed.

Who can benefit from consuming protein before sleep?

Achieving the recommended daily protein intake, particularly for athletes, can be challenging. Consuming protein before sleep can aid in reaching this goal. The suggested dosage for pre-sleep protein consumption is 40g, which makes it easier for athletes to reach their daily protein needs. This also applies to the general population to support healthy muscle and body composition. Consuming protein before sleep can lead to several benefits such as enhanced muscle protein synthesis, recovery from exercise, and increased lean muscle mass, especially when exercise is performed in the evening as opposed to the morning.

Eating protein before bedtime does not cause weight gain

Research on both men and women has shown that consuming protein before sleep does not affect overnight fat metabolism. Studies where participants consumed either casein protein or a non-caloric placebo found no difference in overnight fuel use, energy expenditure, or the release of fat from fat cells as measured by a technique called microdialysis. This may come as a surprise, as it is commonly believed that eating before bed hinders fat metabolism. However, it appears that consuming protein before sleep does not inhibit fat metabolism and may even improve body composition over time.

Let’s sum up the article

Consuming protein before sleep can aid in reaching daily protein intake goals. This added protein intake at night provides the same benefits as consuming protein during the day, such as enhanced protein synthesis, lean mass growth and improved muscle recovery, especially when exercise is done in the evening. Contrary to common misconceptions, consuming these extra calories before bedtime does not negatively impact fat metabolism during sleep or the next morning's resting metabolic rate.

Science for a deep dive

  1. Schattinger CM, Leonard JT, Pappas CL, Ormsbee MJ, Panton LB. The effects of pre-sleep consumption of casein protein on next-morning measures of RMR and appetite compared between sedentary pre- and postmenopausal women. Br J Nutr. 2021 Jan 28;125(2):121-128. doi: 10.1017/S0007114520001506. Epub 2020 May 4. PMID: 32364091.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. Kinsey AW, Ormsbee MJ. The health impact of nighttime eating: old and new perspectives. Nutrients. 9;7(4):2648-62, 2015.
  6. Kinsey AW, Cappadona SR, Panton LB, Allman BR, Contreras RJ, Hickner RC, Ormsbee MJ. The Effect of Casein Protein Prior to Sleep on Fat Metabolism in Obese Men. Nutrients. 27;8(8):452, 2016.
  7. Snijders T, Trommelen J, Kouw IWK, Holwerda AM, Verdijk LB, van Loon LJC. The Impact of Pre-sleep Protein Ingestion on the Skeletal Muscle Adaptive Response to Exercise in Humans: An Update. Front Nutr. 6;6:17, 2019.
  8. Snijders T, Res PT, Smeets JS, van Vliet S, van Kranenburg J, Maase K, Kies AK, Verdijk LB, van Loon LJ. Protein Ingestion before Sleep Increases Muscle Mass and Strength Gains during Prolonged Resistance-Type Exercise Training in Healthy Young Men. J Nutr. 145(6):1178-84, 2015.
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